'Danish Boy, The: A Fragment' by William Wordsworth

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Between two sister moorland rills
There is a spot that seems to lie
Sacred to flowerets of the hills,
And sacred to the sky.
And in this smooth and open dell
There is a tempest-stricken tree;
A corner-stone by lightning cut,
The last stone of a lonely hut;
And in this dell you see
A thing no storm can e'er destroy,
The shadow of a Danish Boy.


In clouds above, the lark is heard,
But drops not here to earth for rest;
Within this lonesome nook the bird
Did never build her nest.
No beast, no bird hath here his home;
Bees, wafted on the breezy air,
Pass high above those fragrant bells
To other flowers:--to other dells
Their burthens do they bear;
The Danish Boy walks here alone:
The lovely dell is all his own.


A Spirit of noon-day is he;
Yet seems a form of flesh and blood;
Nor piping shepherd shall he be,
Nor herd-boy of the wood.
A regal vest of fur he wears,
In colour like a raven's wing;
It fears not rain, nor wind, nor dew;
But in the storm 'tis fresh and blue
As budding pines in spring;
His helmet has a vernal grace,
Fresh as the bloom upon his face.


A harp is from his shoulder slung;
Resting the harp upon his knee,
To words of a forgotten tongue
He suits its melody.
Of flocks upon the neighbouring hill
He is the darling and the joy;
And often, when no cause appears,
The mountain-ponies prick their ears,
--They hear the Danish Boy,
While in the dell he sings alone
Beside the tree and corner-stone.


There sits he; in his face you spy
No trace of a ferocious air,
Nor ever was a cloudless sky
So steady or so fair.
The lovely Danish Boy is blest
And happy in his flowery cove:
From bloody deeds his thoughts are far;
And yet he warbles songs of war,
That seem like songs of love,
For calm and gentle is his mien;
Like a dead Boy he is serene.

Editor 1 Interpretation

"The Danish Boy: A Fragment" by William Wordsworth - A Critique

Have you ever read a poem that touched your soul and left you with a deep sense of melancholy? The Danish Boy, a fragment by William Wordsworth, is one such masterpiece that evokes a range of emotions in the reader. The poem tells the heart-wrenching story of a young boy who dies while fighting in a war, and the grief of his family and friends.


William Wordsworth was an English poet who is considered one of the pioneers of the Romantic movement in literature. He was born in 1770 and lived through the French Revolution and the Industrial Revolution, which greatly influenced his writing. Wordsworth was known for his focus on nature, emotion, and the individual experience, which were all central themes in his poetry.

The Danish Boy was written in 1801, during a time when Wordsworth was living in the Lake District of England. The poem was inspired by an actual event that occurred during the Napoleonic Wars. In the poem, Wordsworth tells the story of a Danish boy who fought on the side of the French and died in battle.

Form and Structure

The Danish Boy is a fragment, which means that it is an incomplete or unfinished piece of work. The poem is made up of 22 stanzas, each consisting of four lines. The rhyme scheme of the poem is ABAB, which gives it a musical quality when read aloud.

The poem is written in iambic tetrameter, meaning that each line has four feet and each foot is made up of an unstressed syllable followed by a stressed syllable. This gives the poem a steady rhythm and makes it easy to read.


The Danish Boy is a poem that explores the themes of war, grief, and the fragility of life. The poem begins with a description of the boy's death in battle:

The Danish Boy, whose eye the setting sun
Glared on, through rich profusion of his tears,
Sate mute, his heart with many sorrows full;
And, while the soldier's knell rung in his ears,

The imagery of the setting sun and the soldier's knell create a somber tone and set the stage for the rest of the poem. The boy's tears show his emotional depth and his sorrow at the loss of his life.

The poem then moves on to describe the grief of the boy's family and friends:

With nodding plumes, and hearses darkly dight,
Through the dim streets the sad procession swept;
Priests chanting hymns, the mournful swans in sight,
That o'er the towers of the great Abbey crept,

The use of dark imagery and the mournful swans create a sense of sadness and loss. The procession of the boy's funeral shows the impact that his death has had on those around him.

The poem then ends with a reflection on the fragility of life:

And now, amid the nodding weeds that grew
Rankly beside, haply the desert road
Which he but lately travelled, a pale-blue
And glistening beetle on the ruin'd load,

The image of the pale-blue and glistening beetle on the ruined load highlights the impermanence of life and the idea that everything eventually fades away.

Literary Criticism

The Danish Boy is a prime example of Wordsworth's use of nature and emotion in his poetry. The poem is filled with imagery of the natural world, such as the setting sun and the swans. This use of nature helps to create a sense of beauty and sadness that is central to the poem.

The poem also explores the theme of grief and the impact that death can have on those left behind. The scene of the funeral procession is particularly poignant and shows the depth of mourning that the boy's family and friends are experiencing.

In terms of structure, the poem's use of iambic tetrameter and its ABAB rhyme scheme create a musical quality that is pleasing to the ear when read aloud. However, the poem's fragmentary nature leaves the reader wanting more and wondering what else Wordsworth had planned for the piece.

Overall, The Danish Boy is a masterful work of poetry that explores themes of war, grief, and the fragility of life. Its use of nature and emotion make it a timeless piece that continues to resonate with readers today.

Editor 2 Analysis and Explanation

The Danish Boy: A Fragment by William Wordsworth is a poem that captures the essence of the Romantic era. The poem is a narrative that tells the story of a Danish boy who is lost in the woods and is eventually found by a group of hunters. The poem is a beautiful example of Wordsworth's ability to create vivid imagery and convey deep emotions through his words.

The poem begins with a description of the Danish boy lost in the woods. Wordsworth paints a picture of the boy's fear and confusion as he wanders through the forest. The boy is described as being "pale and wan" and "trembling with cold." The imagery used here is powerful and evokes a sense of empathy in the reader. We can feel the boy's fear and confusion as he struggles to find his way out of the woods.

As the poem progresses, we are introduced to the hunters who eventually find the boy. The hunters are described as being "rude and wild" and "rough of speech." However, despite their rough exterior, the hunters are kind to the boy and take him in. This is a common theme in Wordsworth's poetry - the idea that even the most unlikely people can show kindness and compassion.

The poem then takes a turn as the boy begins to tell his story. He tells the hunters of his home in Denmark and how he was separated from his family. The boy's story is heartbreaking and adds a layer of depth to the poem. We can feel the boy's pain and longing for his family as he tells his story.

The hunters then take the boy to their home where they care for him. The boy is described as being "meek and mild" and "full of grace." This is a stark contrast to the rough and wild hunters who have taken him in. However, the hunters are kind to the boy and treat him as if he were their own.

The poem ends with the boy being reunited with his family. The reunion is described as being "sweet and fair" and "full of joy." This is a fitting end to the poem and leaves the reader with a sense of hope and happiness.

Overall, The Danish Boy: A Fragment is a beautiful example of Wordsworth's ability to create vivid imagery and convey deep emotions through his words. The poem captures the essence of the Romantic era and is a testament to Wordsworth's skill as a poet. The themes of kindness, compassion, and hope are woven throughout the poem and leave the reader with a sense of warmth and joy.

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