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She Was a Phantom of Delight-

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by

Naomi Emmanuel

on 31 March 2014

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Transcript of She Was a Phantom of Delight-

Analysis of the poem
She Was a Phantom of Delight- by William Wordsworth
She was a Phantom of delight
When first she gleamed upon my sight;
A lovely Apparition, sent
To be a moment's ornament;
Her eyes as stars of Twilight fair;
Like Twilight's, too, her dusky hair;
But all things else about her drawn
From May-time and the cheerful Dawn;
A dancing Shape, an Image gay,
To haunt, to startle, and way-lay.

I saw her upon nearer view,
A Spirit, yet a Woman too!
Her household motions light and free,
And steps of virgin-liberty;
A countenance in which did meet
Sweet records, promises as sweet;
A Creature not too bright or good
For human nature's daily food;
For transient sorrows, simple wiles,
Praise, blame, love, kisses, tears, and smiles.

And now I see with eye serene
The very pulse of the machine;
A Being breathing thoughtful breath,
A Traveller between life and death;
The reason firm, the temperate will,
Endurance, foresight, strength, and skill;
A perfect Woman, nobly planned,
To warn, to comfort, and command;
And yet a Spirit still, and bright
With something of angelic light.
Context
Wordsworth wrote this poem in
1803
but, it was published in 1807 which was during the
Romantic period.

Wordsworth wrote this poem about his wife, Mary,of whom he had married the year before. She was his
childhood sweetheart
and so the poem can be seen as autobiographical in its nature. Recalling the writing of the poem many years later Wordsworth said that
'it was written from my heart'.


In the first stanza Wordsworth starts by describing the woman as a "phantom of delight" which gives an almost unreal quality to her. The same description continues as he calls her a "lovely apparition" and he concludes the stanza by saying that she was sent to him to "haunt, startle and way-lay". The words "haunt and startle" give her a ghostly quality while the word "waylay" describes the woman as someone who can distract with her loveliness. To him her eyes and hair are "fair" like the "twilight" giving her almost ethereal and ghostly quality and yet she has very real qualities like being "cheerful", "gay" and being a "dancing shape".

In the second stanza he goes beyond the ethereal and the unreal and starts to see a "nearer view" of her. This means that he sees her in the role of a housewife as she carries out her household duties. Even then her motions stay "light and free" indicating the softness and gentleness of her character. Now he is discovering other qualities about her which make her human, she can love as well as cry and she can praise as well as blame. She is a "creature" not too "bright or good" as he sees the simplicity and virginal qualities in her nature. The words used are now "sweet", "simple" and he has moved beyond the first image of her as being a phantom, an apparition and too beautiful to be human, to a more realistic person going about her daily routine.

The third stanza describes her as a machine, someone who can work, yet is alive. He now sees her as a perfect woman. She has been "nobly plann'd" and has qualities of strength in her for which he uses words like "endurance, foresight, strength and skill". Although she is not of a "bad temperament" she can be firm and though she can "comfort" she can also "command". Each breath she takes is "thoughtful" and although he sees the strength of a woman in her, the angelic, spiritual being in her is still very evident- she is a "spirit" who has "something of an angel[ic] light. The poem ends on a relaxed feeling as he is getting used to her being around him and he looks at her going about her work with eyes that are "serene".
“She Was a Phantom of Delight” is a
continuous, lyrical ballad
with a perfect
AABBCCDDEE
rhyme in each ten-line stanza, and has an
iambic rhythmic
pattern.

The rhyme scheme unifies the three stanzas and emphasizes the beauty of the woman through the natural beauty of the rhyme.

The lyrical ballad is written in the
first person
in a
calm, amorous, marveling tone
. There isn't a particular setting to the poem, which suggests Wordsworth intended for the poem to solely focus on the female character, furthermore there is
one character,
Wordsworth’s wife-
Mary
.

Hyperbolic adjectives
are used to describe his wife- "
Phantom", "Apparition", "Spirit", "Being", "Creature"
. the words allude to an
ethereal quality
about the her, creating a
reverential tone.
Hyberbolic metaphors & similies
are also used-"Her eyes as stars of Twilight fair;/Like Twilight's, too, her dusky hair. Wordsworth uses metaphors and similes throughout the poem to show, first the
unreachable qualities
of his wife and later her
real qualities
as well.

Wordsworth uses
alliteration
for
aural effect
in the poem e.g.when he repeats the soft
"s" consonant
: "For transient sorrows, simple wiles," possibly to slow down the speaker and affect the speed at which the poem is read aloud for emphasis of his wife's real qualities. The
soft "s" sound
are also likely to
reflect the softness
of the woman.
Poetry links to 'She was a Phantom of Delight'
"To My Dear and Loving Husband"
-
Anne Bradstreet
( Links with amorous, admirable tone, married love)
"The Eve of St.Agnes"
-
John Keates
(Links with the ethereal, mystic language and imagery)
"They Flee From Me"- Thomas Wyatt
( The harsh bitter tone, contrasts with the marveling and calm tone of "SwaPoD". The, perhaps, demeaning animalistic imagery can be contrasted with the spiritual, elevated, ethereal imagery in SwaPoD.






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