Summary and Analysis of Written in March by William Wordsworth

About the Poet: William Wordsworth (7 April 1770 – 23 April 1850) was a major English Romantic poet who, with Samuel Taylor Coleridge, helped to launch the Romantic Age in English literature with their joint publication Lyrical Ballads (1798). Wordsworth’s magnum opus is generally considered to be The Prelude, a semi autobiographical poem of his early years that he revised and expanded a number of times. It was posthumously titled and published, before which it was generally known as “the poem to Coleridge”. Wordsworth was Britain’s Poet Laureate from 1843 until his death in 1850. Wordsworth had for years been making plans to write a long philosophical poem in three parts, which he intended to call The Recluse. In 1798–99 he started an autobiographical poem, which he referred to as the “poem to Coleridge” and which he planned would serve as an appendix to a larger work called The Recluse. In 1804 he began expanding this autobiographical work, having decided to make it a prologue rather than an appendix.

He completed this work, now generally referred to as the first version of The Prelude, in 1805, but refused to publish such a personal work until he had completed the whole of The Recluse. The death of his brother John, also on 1805, affected him strongly and may have influenced his decisions about these works.

Summary of Written in March by William Wordsworth

Like many of William Wordsworth’s poems, Written in March is a nature centric poem which tries to bring out the beauty of changing seasons. The poem is said to be written amidst the world war where people’s lives were changing with the seasons. This poem brings out the essence of nature and tries to draw parallels with human life as winter is being taken over by spring.


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1st Stanza: The first stanza consists of 10 lines each expressing the different aspects of nature and compelling the reader’s mind to imagine the scenic beauty that Wordsworth is describing. The day begins with the sound of the cock indicating the rise of a new day amidst the continuity of the stream flowing. The birds chirp around, the lake glitters as the sun moves over the green fields. People, young and old regardless of their age are seen to be working with utmost concentration, not raising their heads while the cattle graze around like one entity rather than a group of forty. A normal day in the world is described in order to show routine that’s set in. By stressing the different aspects of nature, Wordsworth draws a detailed picture in the reader’s head which adds to the authenticity of the emotions and feelings.

2nd Stanza: Snow is compared to a defeated army as it retreats and the spring takes over the earth. Now, without the snow, the hill is bare and open to change. The bare hills will be covered in green and flowers in no time as the spring time begins. A plowboy, is ecstatic with the change in season as he goes around with joy. The mountains and fountains seem to come to life as spring takes over the harsh winter days. The skies are blue and clear with small clouds moving smoothly. The days of rain, winter and harsh times are over and gone. While the first stanza expresses the normalcy of a day, the second stanza gradually shows the changing times with the changing seasons accounting the nature’s reaction to the positive change.


Analysis of Written in March by William Wordsworth

The poem begins with the crowing of the cock indicating the beginning of the day and consequently symbolizing the start of something new. The stream of water flowing amidst the land indicates the routine and continuity of the world. The poem describes the extrinsic details of nature like the glittering lakes to the twittering birds. The people are at work putting in all their strength regardless of their age and working with utmost concentration. Wordsworth seamlessly paints a picture in the readers head depicting a normal day where people are going about their work while the cattle graze and the birds chirp.

The poem marks the day of changing seasons where nature and human life, both flourish positively. Wordsworth compares the melting of snow to a defeated army retreating from the battleground indicating the end of difficult times and beginning of something new. The plowboy is filled with joy and the word anon being repeatedly used shows the excitement towards the changing times. As spring takes over, joy and happiness are slowly filling the environment.  The skies are getting clearer with small moving clouds showing the new changes seeping in with the onset of spring. The last line declares that the harsh times of rains are over indicating the end of a season.

Wordsworth in his poems has always tried to draw parallels between human life and nature. He has sought out to nature for solutions and answers. In this poem, he brings out the merging line between nature and humane life as we see how both rejoice at the end of troubled times. As one reads the poem, they are exposed to a beautiful scenic view that brings out the emotions of calm and peace. One of the main themes of the poem is change and its acceptance. We see that nature and humans adapt and blend with the positive change that comes by. This, in turn, instills a sense of calm and resilience within the reader. Nature is sometimes used synonymously with peace. With this poem, Wordsworth tries to show that nature is subjected to troubled times as man is. March is the time of gradual change where spring takes over and the last of snow melts away. Therefore, the usage of March within the title holds a lot of importance throughout the poem.

The poem was written amidst the war where people were subjected to drastic changes and difficult living. As the war gradually ended, the good days arrived. Wordsworth through this poem has tried to symbolize war and its hardships through winter and interpreted springs as the coming of good days. Written in March stands out from the rest of the nature-centric poems by Wordsworth as it does not glorify nature, rather it shows nature in a different light where nature is perceived in par with humans.

Abhishek is a marketing research and social media consultant who developed a keen interest in blogging. He can be contacted at dey.abhishek99@gmail.com

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