Lucy Poems: Three Years She Grew in Sun and Shower

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Three years she grew in sun and shower,
Then Nature said, ‘A lovelier flower
On earth was never sown;
This Child I to myself will take;
She shall be mind, and I will make
A Lady of My own.
‘Myself will to my darling be
Both law and impulse: and with me
The Girl, in rock and plain,
In earth and heaven, in glade and bower,
Shall feel an overseeing power
To kindle or restrain.
‘She shall be sportive as the fawn
That wild with glee across the lawn
Or up the mountain springs;
And hers shall be the breathing balm,
And hers the silence and the calm
Of mute insensate things.
The floating clouds their state shall lend
To her; for her the willow bend;
Nor shall she fail to see
Even in the motions of the Storm
Grace that shall mould the Maiden’s form
By silent sympathy.
The stars of midnight shall be dear
To her; and she shall lean her ear
In many a secret place
Where rivulets dance their wayward round,
And beauty born of murmuring sound
Shall pass into her face.
‘And vital feelings of delight
Shall rear her form to stately height,
Her virgin bosom swell;
Such thoughts to Lucy I will give
While she and I together live
Here in this happy dell’.
Thus Nature spake—The work was done—
How soon my Lucy’s race was run!
She died, and left to me
This heath, this calm, and quiet scene;
The memory of what has been.
And never more will be


      Three Years She Grew in Sun and Shower was published in 1800. This poem is one of the many poems of Wordsworth which have Lucy for their theme. No one can say who this child was, nor does Wordsworth himself tell us much about her. All that we learn is that Lucy is a young girl who died in her youth. The poet appears to be very fond of the child and is grief-stricken at her death. The central idea of the poem is based on the teachings of the French philosopher Rousseau. According to him, a child allowed to develop his own natural curiosity and intuition is bound to shape into a better person than a child brought up in the artificial atmosphere of a city’s educational institutions.

      The poem is full of deep pathos. When we come to its close, we are shocked to read that Lucy, the beautiful child of Nature, possessing all the gifts which Nature can bestow upon her—dies a premature death. The poet is grief-stricken. We have sympathy for the poet in his loss. We feel sorry to find that such a gifted child died at such an early age. The poet’s own tribute to Lucy in the last lines of the poem shows his deep sense of pain. Our sympathy is evoked.


      There is a young girl Lucy by name. Innocent and lovely, she is loved by Nature who decides to take her away. Nature wants to bring her up on the right lines—curbing evil desires arid inspiring the child to lead a noble life. Nature feels that all natural objects such as rocks, plains, earth heaven, glades and bowers will exercise a very healthy influence on her and supervise her growth. Lucy will lead a very happy life. She will be as gay and cheerful as the young one of a deer that frisks about the mountains and the valleys. The floating clouds will lend her their beauty and she will not fail to see splendor even in the agitation of the storm:

      The beauty of the stars that look bright at midnight and the beauty of the sweet sounds produce by streams during their downward course will be reflected in her face. Nature will make her happy and her beautiful breast will rise and fall in a rhythmical movement. This is how Lucy will live in the company of Nature in whom she will find a guide, a teacher, and a friend.

      It happens exactly as Nature wills. The life of Lucy in this world comes to an abrupt end. She dies at a very early age. She is taken away by Nature and the poet is left quite alone in the valley. He cherishes the sad and sweet memory of the past—how they two, the poet and Lucy, lived together and how they are parted. He knows that Lucy is gone—gone forever. She will never return. Only her memory remains with the poet and consoles him in his moment of distress.



      Three Years She Grew is one of those well-known poems of Wordsworth which are generally known as “Lucy Poems”. In these poems, Wordsworth speaks about Lucy, a young beautiful girl who was very dear to the poet. The identity of Lucy has not been established. She died at a very young age and left the poet alone to himself with nothing but a sad and sweet memory of the past that was dead and could not be recalled. Who Lucy was, the poet does not tell us; but she figures in a large number of his poems and as such is a well-known lovely character of English poetry.

      The poet tells us in this poem that Lucy was so lovely and beautiful that Nature herself decided to take her away from this world and have her to herself. That way why the race of Lucy in this world was run so soon and her life came to an abrupt and an early end. She was removed by Nature who decided to rear the child herself, away from the common world of human beings.

As an Elegy

      The poem is in the form of an elegy. It is lyrical as the poet reproduces his personal experiences and talks in most pathetic words about the personal loss that he sustained in the ultimate death of Lucy. It is lyrical because of the sweet music that lends a peculiar charm to the theme of the poem. It is also a narrative poetry written under the romantic impulses. In this poem, there is a freshness and pensive sweetness which gives it an original place in literature.

Conception of Nature

      The poem illustrates very beautifully Wordsworth’s conception of nature. To him, nature is not mere vegetation, subject to the law of growth and decay but a manifestation of God. Nature in fact is the breath of God. Wordsworth was not content to experience at the sight of natural objects that child-like joy which satisfied Cowper and Burns, or to paint only the external features of nature, like Tennyson. On the other hand, with a rare skill he looks beyond the color of the flowers, the outline of the hills, the beauty of the clouds, at the spirit which breaths through them. That is why he personifies Nature in this poem and invests natural objects with a living, thinking and feeling power, It is this spirit of nature which speaks to us in this poem and tells us how it intends to act as a friend, a philosopher and a guide to Lucy whom it takes away from the world at a very early age. Nature, we learn, will act both as a ‘impulse’ and as a ‘law’ to the child—it will be a force to ‘rekindle and restrain’. It will arouse and stimulate in Lucy righteous ways and noble desires; it will also curb any evil propensities. Lucy as she grows up in the company of Nature will imbibe all the beauty of Nature which will be reflected in her figure, in her thoughts, feelings and aspirations. Nature will lend all its charms to her and act as an ideal teacher. Hence it is that Palgrave points out that the “education of Nature” would have been a more suitable title for the poem.


      The language used in the poem is simple and beautiful. There is sweet music, a very rare thing in Wordsworth, in this poem. The poem is written in stanzas of six lines each and the rhyme scheme is, ab ccb. The tale has a direct beginning and the keynote is struck in the very first line. The loftiness of the theme, the simplicity of the poetic diction, a pathetic touch at the end, a coloring of imagination are prominent traits of the poem.


      The poem Three Years She Grew in Sun and Shower, may be described as a lyrical ballad. It gives expression to the personal feelings of the poet on Lucy, while it narrates the story of Lucy in verse. Extreme simplicity and spontaneity marks the poem. It comes straight from the heart. It succeeds in creating a powerful impression. It has a fine singing quality which enhances its effect on our feelings.

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