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She Was a Phantom of Delight

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One of the most outstanding poets of the Romantic period was William Wordsworth. Wordsworth wrote many interesting poems, and one of his finest was “She was a Phantom of Delight”. Wordsworth had relations with many women and so it wasn’t known for whom he wrote this poem. In his poem, he never describes any particular women, nor mentions a trait distinctive to one of the women he met. Thus, the women to whom he wrote this poem remained a secret.

Wordsworth starts off the poem saying, “She was a Phantom of delight”. There is an oxymoron here since the word phantom suggests an evil mood, but it brings delight to the speaker. The word phantom is capitalized because it refers to the women where she is imaginary like a phantom. On the third line he says, “A lovely Apparition, sent” and again, the word apparition is capitalized because it refers to the woman. The author uses the words phantom and apparition to refer to his love to show that his love is imaginary and exists only in his mind. On the last line of the first stanza, he uses the word “haunt” to furthermore emphasize his point that his love is nothing but an imaginary thought that preoccupies his mind like phantoms and apparitions. The diction in this paragraph is paradoxical since the speaker uses different kinds of words in describing his loved one. For example, he sounds blissful and delighted when he used the words “delight”, “lovely Apparition”, “ornament”, “cheerful”, and “gay”. But his mood seems to be exactly the opposite when he used the words “phantom”, “dusky”, “startle”, and “haunt” which exhibits a dark gloomy mood. The speaker shows confusion in his writing since he doesn’t know if the woman is real or just a creation of his imagination.

In the second stanza, the speaker says that he saw the woman, this time at a closer range, “I saw her upon nearer view, A Spirit, yet a Woman too!” The speaker still seems a bit confused about the nature of the woman, if she was a reality or just a “Spirit” as he describes her. Another argument could be brought up here for the speaker described the woman as a spirit, which could mean that the woman is dead and he was seeing visions of her. The words he used in this stanza were positive, like the words “sweet”, “light and free”, and “bright or good”. These words provide a sense that the speaker really loves that woman because he used these words to an apparition he saw. Confusion can again be sensed in the last line of this stanza where he said, “Praise, blame, love, kisses, tears, and smiles” where the descriptions tend to contradict each other like the words “praise” and “blame”, and “tears” and “smiles”.

The third stanza further describes the beauty of the woman. He claims to have seen here much betternow and uses a metaphor to compare the way he saw her to a machine. He then says, “A Traveler between life and death;” which shows that he is still unable to figure out if she is part of reality or just another conception of his imagination. He characterizes her by using the words, “Endurance, foresight, strength, and skill;” which indicates the perfectness of the woman. He further emphasizes his point by saying, “A perfect Woman, nobly planned, To warn, to comfort, and command;” In the last couplet Wordsworth pointed that even though the woman was an apparition all made up in his mind, he sensed angelic characteristics in her.

Wordsworth was a very qualified poet and this poem was beautifully written. He used many figurative figures to extend his emphasize on his ideas, which were in this case the description of the beauty of the woman. Diction was another aspect Wordsworth perfected to set a certain mood for the poem.

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