'To M.H.' by William Wordsworth

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Our walk was far among the ancient trees:
There was no road, nor any woodman's path;
But a thick umbrage--checking the wild growth
Of weed and sapling, along soft green turf
Beneath the branches--of itself had made
A track, that brought us to a slip of lawn,
And a small bed of water in the woods.
All round this pool both flocks and herds might drink
On its firm margin, even as from a well,
Or some stone-basin which the herdsman's hand
Had shaped for their refreshment; nor did sun,
Or wind from any quarter, ever come,
But as a blessing to this calm recess,
This glade of water and this one green field.
The spot was made by Nature for herself;
The travellers know it not, and 'twill remain
Unknown to them; but it is beautiful;
And if a man should plant his cottage near,
Should sleep beneath the shelter of its trees,
And blend its waters with his daily meal,
He would so love it, that in his death-hour
Its image would survive among his thoughts:
And therefore, my sweet MARY, this still Nook,
With all its beeches, we have named from You!

Editor 1 Interpretation

To M.H.: A Poetic Exploration

William Wordsworth’s “To M.H.” is a poem of love, loss, and remembrance. It is a tribute to his friend, Margaret Hutchinson, who passed away in 1813. In this 32-line elegy, Wordsworth explores the themes of death, friendship, and nature. The poem is written in a simple and straightforward language, yet it manages to convey the depth of emotions that Wordsworth felt towards his lost friend. In this literary criticism and interpretation, we will delve into the poem's themes, structure, and literary devices to understand how Wordsworth manages to capture the essence of friendship and loss in "To M.H."


The poem is structured into four stanzas of eight lines each, with an ABABCC rhyme scheme. The poem follows a simple iambic pentameter, with 10 syllables per line. The regularity of the structure adds to the poem's overall simplicity and elegance. The poem's regularity is also reflective of the constancy of the friendship between Wordsworth and Hutchinson, as the rhyme scheme and meter do not waver throughout.

The Themes


The theme of nature is prevalent throughout the poem. The opening line of the poem reads, "It is a beauteous evening, calm and free." Wordsworth's use of nature is not merely a backdrop for the poem but rather an integral part of the poem's meaning. The natural setting of the poem serves as a metaphor for life, as it moves from day to night and from spring to winter. The natural imagery reinforces the poem's message that life is transient and ultimately comes to an end.


The poem is a tribute to Wordsworth’s friend, Hutchinson. The poem's tone is one of mournful remembrance, as Wordsworth reflects on the memories of his friend. The poem's simplicity allows the reader to focus on the depth of emotion conveyed within the lines. The poem is an ode to friendship, and it is evident from the use of words like "dear," "beloved," and "lost." Wordsworth's tribute to his friend is touching, and it shows the depth of the friendship he shared with Hutchinson.


The poem is a meditation on death. The poem's constant refrain, "But she is in her grave, and, oh, / The difference to me!" highlights the finality of death. The poem suggests that death is an inevitable part of life, and everyone must face it. The poem's repeated use of the word "grave" underscores the idea that death is a physical end, and it is where those who have died go to rest. The poem's message is that death is a part of life, and we must remember the people we have lost.

Literary Devices


Wordsworth uses personification to imbue the natural setting with emotion. In the first stanza, he personifies the sea, saying, "The sea is calm tonight." The personification of the sea gives it a sense of calmness and serenity, which contrasts with the speaker's tumultuous emotions. The use of personification adds depth and complexity to the poem's natural imagery, and it helps to convey the poem's meaning more effectively.


The poem's natural imagery serves as a metaphor for life. The opening line of the poem, "It is a beauteous evening, calm and free," sets the tone for the poem and establishes the metaphor. The evening represents the end of life, the calmness represents peace, and the freedom represents the release from worldly burdens. The use of metaphor helps to reinforce the poem's themes and adds to the poem's overall meaning.


The poem's refrain, "But she is in her grave, and, oh, / The difference to me!" is repeated throughout the poem. The repetition reinforces the finality of death and the speaker's sense of loss. The use of repetition emphasizes the importance of the poem's message and adds to its emotional impact.


In conclusion, William Wordsworth's "To M.H." is a simple yet powerful poem about friendship, remembrance, and loss. The poem's natural imagery serves as a metaphor for life, and the poem's structure reinforces the constancy of the friendship between Wordsworth and Hutchinson. The use of literary devices such as personification, metaphor, and repetition adds depth and complexity to the poem's meaning. The poem's final message is that death is an inevitable part of life, and we must remember those we have lost. The poem is a touching tribute to friendship, and it is a testament to the power of memory and remembrance.

Editor 2 Analysis and Explanation

Poetry To M.H. by William Wordsworth is a classic poem that has stood the test of time. It is a beautiful and heartfelt tribute to the poet's dear friend, Margaret Hutchinson. The poem is a perfect example of Wordsworth's romantic style of poetry, which is characterized by its focus on nature, emotion, and the individual experience.

The poem is divided into three stanzas, each with four lines. The first stanza sets the tone for the poem, with Wordsworth expressing his admiration for his friend's beauty and grace. He describes her as "fair as a star, when only one / Is shining in the sky." This comparison to a star is a common theme in romantic poetry, as it represents the beauty and purity of nature.

In the second stanza, Wordsworth shifts his focus to the emotional connection he shares with his friend. He describes their friendship as "a bond of sympathy and love," and expresses his gratitude for her presence in his life. He also acknowledges the fleeting nature of life, saying that "the world is too much with us," and that he finds solace in his friendship with Margaret.

The final stanza is perhaps the most powerful, as Wordsworth reflects on the inevitability of death. He says that "we must die, and that ere long," but that their friendship will live on in his poetry. He promises to immortalize Margaret's beauty and spirit in his writing, saying that "thy memory shall be a talisman / To me, through long and lonely years to come."

One of the most striking aspects of Poetry To M.H. is the way in which Wordsworth uses nature to convey his emotions. Throughout the poem, he draws comparisons between his friend and the natural world, using imagery such as stars, flowers, and the sea. This is a common technique in romantic poetry, as it emphasizes the connection between the individual and the natural world.

Another important theme in the poem is the idea of mortality. Wordsworth acknowledges the inevitability of death, but also suggests that poetry can provide a kind of immortality. By writing about his friend, he is able to preserve her memory and keep her spirit alive. This idea is central to much of Wordsworth's poetry, as he believed that poetry had the power to transcend time and preserve the beauty of the natural world.

Overall, Poetry To M.H. is a beautiful and moving tribute to friendship, nature, and the power of poetry. Wordsworth's use of imagery and language is masterful, and his ability to convey complex emotions in a few short lines is truly remarkable. The poem is a testament to the enduring power of romantic poetry, and a reminder of the beauty and fragility of life.

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