I Travell'd Among Unknown Men by William Wordsworth: Summary and Analysis

I Travell'd Among Unknown Men is a series of Lucy poems composed by the English poet William Wordsworth in 1801. The poet shows his sincere love to his motherland. The sentiments presented here reflect Wordsworth's immense love for his homeland. Having returned from this continental visit, the poet realized that he preferred England to other countries because of its association with Lucy. When living away from the country only one realizes the love and value of one's motherland.

William Wordsworth (1770-1850)

Here the condition of the poet is also same. He is so homesick that he makes a promise not to leave his motherland to live abroad again. Wherever he goes his country too goes with him in his memory and thoughts. His long absence from his country has awakened the unspeakable love for the homeland. He is now happy that he is home, on the bosom of his beloved country. He recalls the beautiful surrounding of his homeland where he used to live. He memorizes the place where Lucy used to do some activities in a warm atmosphere. But, now she is no more with him, and everything is same except Lucy.

Although an interesting poem, it lacks the intensity and power of the other Lucy poems. The first stanza deals with Wordsworth's travels, which revealed to him how much he loved England. This leads him, in the second stanza, to a declaration that he will never leave England again. In the third he refers to the mountains, he loves and 'she (he) cherished', and in the final verse, still referring, directly to England, the poet writes, 'And thine too is the last green field/That Lucy's eyes surveyed', There is here an identification of a kind between the girl and the land, but it is a much altered kind of relationship. The love which the poet bears for Lucy is here mingled closely with the love he has for his own country.

The poet's arrival to his earlier love (may be England or Lucy) is a return to the previous pattern of life which involves loss and pain, but, yet acquainted and therefore to some degree comforting. Lucy’s history is told in a cyclical pattern: she is shown as moving through a cycle of childhood, maturity and death. In the last part of the poem the sense of return to a familiar pattern of life is so strong that it makes the story of Lucy seem prearranged and yet not painful. The rotating cycle of the wheel of day and night, youth and age, hearth and the mountains, speaks of a protective, encircling order. Her death is not directly revealed in the poem, but implicitly stated, as though she has gently completed the revolving of the wheel. Moreover, it is implied in an image of rest and peace.

In the lyric, “I travelled among unknown men”, Wordsworth almost seems to be saying, though indirectly, the story of his stay in Germany with Dorothy; in it, and he tells how he did not fully realize the depths of his passion for Lucy and the country she lived in until he left England. He says this with the utmost simplicity, and on one level the statement seems so slight that it is hardly worth making-and yet at the same time one feels some powerful, elusive pressure behind it, some heartfelt inner meaning that gives the poem its haunting quality. The words that the poem uses are just as clear and simple as those in the ballad stories, but unlike the ballad words they are large and vague.

 He describes his stay in this foreign country as 'a melancholy dream'. It was among the mountains of England, he says, that he first felt 'the joy of his desire', and this phrase is entirely typical of the poem; it seems perfectly straightforward, but the closer one looks at it; the less sure one becomes of its exact meaning, if he was speaking of desire for Lucy or desire for the mountains. England to the poet, is Lucy; to him at least the two things mean the same. In missing one, he misses the other; in discovering the depth of his love for one, he discovers the depth of his love for the other.

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Sharma, K.N. "I Travell'd Among Unknown Men by William Wordsworth: Summary and Analysis." BachelorandMaster, 25 July 2017, bachelorandmaster.com/britishandamericanpoetry/i-travelld-among-unknown-men.html.