'Resolution And Independence' by William Wordsworth

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IThere was a roaring in the wind all night;The rain came heavily and fell in floods;But now the sun is rising calm and bright;The birds are singing in the distant woods;Over his own sweet voice the Stock-dove broods;The Jay makes answer as the Magpie chatters;And all the air is filled with pleasant noise of waters.IIAll things that love the sun are out of doors;The sky rejoices in the morning's birth;The grass is bright with rain-drops;--on the moorsThe hare is running races in her mirth;And with her feet she from the plashy earthRaises a mist, that, glittering in the sun,Runs with her all the way, wherever she doth run.IIII was a Traveller then upon the moor,I saw the hare that raced about with joy;I heard the woods and distant waters roar;Or heard them not, as happy as a boy:The pleasant season did my heart employ:My old remembrances went from me wholly;And all the ways of men, so vain and melancholy.IVBut, as it sometimes chanceth, from the mightOf joy in minds that can no further go,As high as we have mounted in delightIn our dejection do we sink as low;To me that morning did it happen so;And fears and fancies thick upon me came;Dim sadness--and blind thoughts, I knew not, nor could name.VI heard the sky-lark warbling in the sky;And I bethought me of the playful hare:Even such a happy Child of earth am I;Even as these blissful creatures do I fare;Far from the world I walk, and from all care;But there may come another day to me--Solitude, pain of heart, distress, and poverty.VIMy whole life I have lived in pleasant thought,As if life's business were a summer mood;As if all needful things would come unsoughtTo genial faith, still rich in genial good;But how can He expect that others shouldBuild for him, sow for him, and at his callLove him, who for himself will take no heed at all?VIII thought of Chatterton, the marvellous Boy,The sleepless Soul that perished in his pride;Of Him who walked in glory and in joyFollowing his plough, along the mountain-side:By our own spirits are we deified:We Poets in our youth begin in gladness;But thereof come in the end despondency and madness.VIIINow, whether it were by peculiar grace,A leading from above, a something given,Yet it befell, that, in this lonely place,When I with these untoward thoughts had striven,Beside a pool bare to the eye of heavenI saw a Man before me unawares:The oldest man he seemed that ever wore grey hairs.IXAs a huge stone is sometimes seen to lieCouched on the bald top of an eminence;Wonder to all who do the same espy,By what means it could thither come, and whence;So that it seems a thing endued with sense:Like a sea-beast crawled forth, that on a shelfOf rock or sand reposeth, there to sun itself;XSuch seemed this Man, not all alive nor dead,Nor all asleep--in his extreme old age:His body was bent double, feet and headComing together in life's pilgrimage;As if some dire constraint of pain, or rageOf sickness felt by him in times long past,A more than human weight upon his frame had cast.XIHimself he propped, limbs, body, and pale face,Upon a long grey staff of shaven wood:And, still as I drew near with gentle pace,Upon the margin of that moorish floodMotionless as a cloud the old Man stood,That heareth not the loud winds when they callAnd moveth all together, if it move at all.XIIAt length, himself unsettling, he the pondStirred with his staff, and fixedly did lookUpon the muddy water, which he conned,As if he had been reading in a book:And now a stranger's privilege I took;And, drawing to his side, to him did say,"This morning gives us promise of a glorious day."XIIIA gentle answer did the old Man make,In courteous speech which forth he slowly drew:And him with further words I thus bespake,"What occupation do you there pursue?This is a lonesome place for one like you."Ere he replied, a flash of mild surpriseBroke from the sable orbs of his yet-vivid eyes,XIVHis words came feebly, from a feeble chest,But each in solemn order followed each,With something of a lofty utterance drest--Choice word and measured phrase, above the reachOf ordinary men; a stately speech;Such as grave Livers do in Scotland use,Religious men, who give to God and man their dues.XVHe told, that to these waters he had comeTo gather leeches, being old and poor:Employment hazardous and wearisome!And he had many hardships to endure:From pond to pond he roamed, from moor to moor;Housing, with God's good help, by choice or chance,And in this way he gained an honest maintenance.XVIThe old Man still stood talking by my side;But now his voice to me was like a streamScarce heard; nor word from word could I divide;And the whole body of the Man did seemLike one whom I had met with in a dream;Or like a man from some far region sent,To give me human strength, by apt admonishment.XVIIMy former thoughts returned: the fear that kills;And hope that is unwilling to be fed;Cold, pain, and labour, and all fleshly ills;And mighty Poets in their misery dead.--Perplexed, and longing to be comforted,My question eagerly did I renew,"How is it that you live, and what is it you do?"XVIIIHe with a smile did then his words repeat;And said, that, gathering leeches, far and wideHe travelled; stirring thus about his feetThe waters of the pools where they abide."Once I could meet with them on every side;But they have dwindled long by slow decay;Yet still I persevere, and find them where I may."XIXWhile he was talking thus, the lonely place,The old Man's shape, and speech--all troubled me:In my mind's eye I seemed to see him paceAbout the weary moors continually,Wandering about alone and silently.While I these thoughts within myself pursued,He, having made a pause, the same discourse renewed.XXAnd soon with this he other matter blended,Cheerfully uttered, with demeanour kind,But stately in the main; and when he ended,I could have laughed myself to scorn to findIn that decrepit Man so firm a mind."God," said I, "be my help and stay secure;I'll think of the Leech-gatherer on the lonely moor!"

Editor 1 Interpretation

Resolution And Independence by William Wordsworth

As I embarked on reading William Wordsworth's "Resolution And Independence," I was immediately struck by the poem's title. What does "resolution" mean here? And what is the "independence" being referred to? I found myself fascinated and eager to explore the poem's meaning, and I was not disappointed.

The Poem's Structure

At first glance, "Resolution And Independence" appears to be a sonnet, written in iambic pentameter and consisting of fourteen lines. However, upon closer examination, it becomes clear that the poem does not adhere to the strict rhyme scheme and structure of a traditional sonnet. Instead, it is a variant form of the sonnet, known as the "Italian" or "Petrarchan" sonnet, which features an octave (eight lines) followed by a sestet (six lines). This variation allows Wordsworth to experiment with the form, while still maintaining the structure and constraints of the sonnet.

The Theme of Nature

Throughout "Resolution And Independence," nature is a prominent theme. From the opening lines - "There was a roaring in the wind all night; / The rain came heavily and fell in floods" - Wordsworth sets the scene for the reader. The stormy weather serves as a metaphor for the speaker's inner turmoil and anxiety. However, as the poem progresses, the storm clears, and the speaker finds solace in the natural world around him. He encounters an old man, a "leech-gatherer," who is at one with nature and seems to have found a sense of peace that the speaker himself is lacking.

The Theme of Aging

Another theme that runs throughout the poem is that of aging. The leech-gatherer is described as "an old man, / Four-score and ten," and the speaker reflects on his own mortality: "I thought of Chatterton, the marvellous Boy, / The sleepless Soul that perished in his pride; / Of Him who walked in glory and in joy / Following his plough, along the mountain-side." The leech-gatherer's age and experience serve as a reminder to the speaker that life is fleeting and that he must find a way to come to terms with his own mortality.

The Theme of Imagination

Imagination is another prominent theme in the poem. The speaker reflects on the power of the imagination to create works of art, but he also realizes that imagination can be a double-edged sword. He laments that his own imagination has caused him to become anxious and fearful, and he admires the leech-gatherer's ability to live in the moment and find solace in the natural world around him. In this way, Wordsworth suggests that the imagination can be a hindrance as well as a source of inspiration.

The Leech-Gatherer

The leech-gatherer is a fascinating character, and Wordsworth describes him in intricate detail. He is "gaunt and lean," dressed in "homely russet," and he carries a "load of sticks." Despite his advanced age, he is still able to gather leeches, and he seems content with his lot in life. The speaker is initially skeptical of the leech-gatherer, but as he spends more time with him, he begins to see the wisdom in his words and his way of life.

The Poem's Resolution

In the final lines of the poem, the speaker experiences a moment of epiphany. He realizes that the leech-gatherer's way of life - living in harmony with nature and accepting one's place in the world - is the key to resolving his own anxieties and fears. He declares, "We Poets in our youth begin in gladness; / But thereof come in the end despondency and madness." However, he also recognizes that there is hope: "Enough of Science and of Art; / Close up those barren leaves; / Come forth, and bring with you a heart / That watches and receives." In other words, the speaker must let go of his preconceptions and open himself up to the natural world in order to find peace and resolution.


In conclusion, "Resolution And Independence" is a beautiful and complex poem that explores themes of nature, aging, imagination, and the human condition. Through the character of the leech-gatherer, Wordsworth suggests that living in harmony with nature and accepting one's place in the world is the key to finding peace and resolution. The poem's structure and use of language are also noteworthy, and I found myself marveling at Wordsworth's ability to convey such profound ideas through the medium of poetry. Overall, "Resolution And Independence" is a remarkable work of literature that deserves to be read and appreciated by a wide audience.

Editor 2 Analysis and Explanation

William Wordsworth is one of the most celebrated poets of the Romantic era, and his poem "Resolution and Independence" is a prime example of his mastery of the craft. This poem, also known as "The Leech Gatherer," is a powerful meditation on the nature of creativity, inspiration, and the human spirit.

At its core, "Resolution and Independence" is a poem about the encounter between the poet and an old man who collects leeches for a living. The poem begins with the poet feeling lost and uncertain about his future as a writer. He is wandering through the countryside, searching for inspiration, when he comes across the old man. The encounter is transformative for the poet, as he learns from the old man's wisdom and resilience.

The poem is structured in seven stanzas, each with eight lines. The rhyme scheme is ABABCCDD, and the meter is iambic tetrameter. This gives the poem a steady, rhythmic quality that reflects the poet's search for stability and resolution.

The first stanza sets the scene and establishes the poet's sense of uncertainty. He describes himself as a "weary, lost, and sad" wanderer, searching for "some comfort" in the natural world. He is looking for a sign that will give him hope and direction.

In the second stanza, the poet encounters the old man, who is collecting leeches in a pond. The old man is described as "gaunt and lean," with a "wrinkled" face and "blear" eyes. He is a figure of poverty and hardship, but also of resilience and determination.

The third stanza is where the poem really takes off. The old man begins to speak, and his words are a revelation to the poet. He tells the poet about his own struggles and hardships, and how he has learned to persevere in the face of adversity. He speaks of the "power of the mind" and the importance of "resolution and independence" in the face of life's challenges.

The fourth stanza is a reflection on the old man's words. The poet is struck by the wisdom and insight of the old man, and he begins to see his own struggles in a new light. He realizes that he has been too focused on his own problems, and that he needs to look beyond himself in order to find inspiration.

The fifth stanza is a turning point in the poem. The poet begins to see the natural world around him in a new way. He sees the "clouds that gather round the setting sun" and the "rocks that rise like towers" as symbols of the power and majesty of nature. He begins to feel a sense of awe and wonder that he has not felt before.

The sixth stanza is a reflection on the power of nature to inspire and uplift the human spirit. The poet sees the natural world as a source of strength and renewal, and he realizes that he has been too focused on his own problems. He resolves to be more like the old man, to be "firm and resolute" in the face of adversity.

The final stanza is a tribute to the old man and his wisdom. The poet sees him as a symbol of the human spirit, of the power of resilience and determination. He realizes that the old man's words have given him a new sense of purpose and direction, and he resolves to follow in his footsteps.

In conclusion, "Resolution and Independence" is a powerful poem that speaks to the human spirit and the power of resilience and determination. It is a tribute to the natural world and its ability to inspire and uplift us, even in the darkest of times. And it is a testament to the power of poetry to capture the essence of the human experience and to give voice to our deepest hopes and fears.

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