Poetry Sunday: Lines Written in Early Spring by William Wordsworth

The great poet William Wordsworth wrote this poem in 1798, more than 200 years ago, but it still seems just as relevant today. The poem was his meditation on the harmony of Nature and on the failure of humanity to take its place in that harmony. He sees joy in Nature and believes that he has a part in that joy. But all around him, he sees cruelty and selfishness in the actions of his fellow humans which leads him to bemoan "what man has made of man." 

Lines Written in Early Spring

by William Wordsworth

I heard a thousand blended notes,
While in a grove I sate reclined,
In that sweet mood when pleasant thoughts
Bring sad thoughts to the mind.

To her fair works did Nature link
The human soul that through me ran;
And much it grieved my heart to think
What man has made of man.

Through primrose tufts, in that green bower,
The periwinkle trailed its wreaths;
And ’tis my faith that every flower
Enjoys the air it breathes.

The birds around me hopped and played,
Their thoughts I cannot measure:—
But the least motion which they made
It seemed a thrill of pleasure.

The budding twigs spread out their fan,
To catch the breezy air;
And I must think, do all I can,
That there was pleasure there.

If this belief from heaven be sent,
If such be Nature’s holy plan,
Have I not reason to lament
What man has made of man?


  1. It is in fact more true today than ever.

    1. Truly it would grieve any caring heart to lament "what man has made of man."

  2. "And much it grieved my heart to think
    What man has made of man."

    Powerful lines.

    But I am reminded of the lines from Annie Dillard's book: "We have not yet encountered any god who is as merciful as a man who flicks a beetle over on its feet. There is not a people in the world who behaves as badly as praying mantises."

    1. Humans are complicated. I do love that Dillard quote, being a beetle flipper myself.

  3. Lovely poem. I like the stanza about the birds the best. :-)

    1. It is a lovely evocation of the avian experience.

  4. Ms. Dusty D. of GeorgiaMarch 22, 2023 at 11:44 AM

    Just stumbled into your blog and appreciate it! Can you or any of your readers help me as I try to remember a poem with a line something like "What is this sudden bursting into leaves...?" -- after the author had become so accustomed to the trees in their bare winter state? Thanks.

    1. I don't recognize the line. I asked Google if she knew it but she was no help. Perhaps one of my readers will see your comment and help us out.


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