Tag Archives: revery

“The Reverie of Poor Susan” by William Wordsworth


At the corner of Wood Street, when daylight appears,
Hangs a Thrush that sings loud, it has sung for three years:
Poor Susan has passed by the spot, and has heard
In the silence of morning the song of the Bird.

‘Tis a note of enchantment; what ails her? She sees
A mountain ascending, a vision of trees;
Bright volumes of vapour through Lothbury glide,
And a river flows on through the vale of Cheapside.

Green pastures she views in the midst of the dale,
Down which she so often has tripped with her pail;
And a single small cottage, a nest like a dove’s,
The one only dwelling on earth that she loves.

She looks, and her heart is in heaven: but they fade,
The mist and the river, the hill and the shade:
The stream will not flow, and the hill will not rise,
And the colours have all passed away from her eyes!

I love this poem. It embodies the classic romantic ideal of how living in the country, in harmony with nature, is infinitely preferable to living in the dregs of a city. For me, I am fortunate that I live in a small city nestled in the mountains. I can travel ten minutes from my house and I am walking along gorgeous mountain trails, past streams and waterfalls. I also have the culture of the city, where I can go and attend a concert or visit an art gallery. I have the best of both worlds. But during Wordsworth’s time, most people were not that fortunate. If I had to choose, I would choose to live in the country.

In this poem, Susan has left her home in the country and moved to the city. She appears miserable and is likely homeless. Amid the squalor of the city, she sees a bird and hears its morning song. The sound of the bird chirping stirs her memory and evokes images of her pastoral life. She recalls Nature’s beauty which surrounded her, and most importantly, she experiences the same feelings of happiness and contentment which she felt back then. It is almost like she is temporarily transported to another place which now only exists in her psyche.

Unfortunately, the bliss is momentary. Soon reality assaults her and strips the beauty from her inner vision, and she is left standing alone on a desolate street corner. This shift back to stark reality is reflected in her eyes, which are the proverbial window to the soul. No more do they shine with the colors of Nature; instead, they are filled with the dull gray that is the city.

As I finish writing this, I am listening to the sound of birds drifting in through my open window. I see the lush green outside that surrounds my home. I think back to when I lived in a big city and how unhappy I was. I am very grateful that I live in close proximity to Nature and its beauty. My soul is that of a romantic. While I love visiting big cities, I could never be happy living there and not getting my regular fix of Nature’s beauty.


Filed under Literature

“Annabel Lee” by Edgar Allan Poe

As Halloween draws near, I felt it appropriate to write about one of Edgar Allan Poe’s works. When I was in elementary school, the first poem that I memorized was “Annabel Lee.” Although I did not grasp the imagery and symbolism completely, I connected to the dark feelings inspired by the poem. It felt like it came right out of the TV series Dark Shadows, which I watched religiously as a kid.

The poem expresses the feeling of loss and despair associated with the death of a loved one. The protagonist rails against the angels, blaming their jealousy as the reason why Annabel Lee died. Near the end of the poem, there are hints that his feeling of loss has taken an even darker turn, driving him to lay with her body within the tomb and hinting at possible necrophilia.

And so, all the night-tide, I lie down by the side
Of my darling- my darling- my life and my bride,
In the sepulchre there by the sea,
In her tomb by the sounding sea.

I see another metaphor here that deserves mention and changes the necrophilia interpretation. The image of the sea is repeated throughout the poem, so one must assume that Poe intended to do this for a reason. In literature, I often interpret the sea or ocean as a metaphor for the subconscious mind. If you read the poem from this perspective, then the protagonist is keeping the memory of his wife alive, particularly while dreaming. It then becomes apparent that he is losing himself in dreams, or possibly an opium-induced revery, and choosing to dwell in that state where his lost love still exists.

This is a great poem and one of my favorites. It’s accessible yet deep and evocative. If you have not read it, or have not read it in a while, I encourage you to do so. Click here to read the poem online.

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Filed under Literature