The famous English poet, William Wordsworth, wrote the poem "Lines Written in Early Spring". This piece was first published in the collection Lyrical Ballads in 1798, though not under his name. It was then published again, crediting Wordsworth as the poet, in the second edition of Lyrical Ballads in 1800.
The poem consists of six quatrains, each with its unique ABAB rhyme scheme. All lines are written in iambic feet. As a result, the rhythm of the poem is generally constant. This lends to its musicality when read aloud, thus falling in place with ballads.
I heard a thousand blended notes,
While in a grove I sate reclined,
The poem begins with a lovely description of something melodious, something the reader can image the speaker (henceforth referred to with masculine pronouns) enjoys. The use of "sate" in this case is archaic for sat. The reader can then place the speaker in the natural setting of a grove.
In that sweet mood when pleasant thoughts
Bring sad thoughts to the mind.
These two lines are likely linked to memories and appreciation of the past, a longing for what was. He is enjoying the nature surrounding him, noting how it all comes together beautifully. However, while basking in this setting, he also feels a sadness overcome him. The reason for the low feelings is revealed as the poem unfolds.
To her fair works did Nature link
The human soul that through me ran;
The personification of Nature is demonstrated by the use of capitalization and the attribution of the feminine pronoun. This hints at the important role Nature plays in the sentiment of the poem, reflective of the speaker’s own feelings. This is also demonstrated through these lines in that they state Nature and the human soul are linked.
And much it grieved my heart to think
What man has made of man.
These lines are the first direct reveal of the cause behind the speaker’s sad feeling. At the onset, he is surrounded by nature but there is something preventing full enjoyment. It is the connection of man and Nature and what man has done that brings out the melancholy tone. The line "what man has made of man" bears much significance. To begin, it is a commentary on course man has taken. This can relate to how people treat each other, how society impacts life, and even foreign policy. Another, deeper level of meaning comes in with the connection to Nature. Since man’s soul and Nature are linked, anything man does affects Nature. This is the reason behind the speaker’s lament.
Through primrose tufts, in that green bower,
The periwinkle trailed its wreaths;
The poem continues with a visual description of natural beauty. In these lines, the reader can see how different flowers and trees come together in a shaded, peaceful place.
And ’tis my faith that every flower
Enjoys the air it breathes.
The speaker believes "every flower / Enjoys the air it breathes." This is possibly a continued commentary on mankind. Once again, Nature and human souls are linked. This personification of the flowers can be representative of people; the speaker believes and hopes every person can enjoy their life.
The birds around me hopped and played,
Their thoughts I cannot measure:—
The speaker is watching the birds presumably play. The description of the birds hopping around creates an air of excitement, almost as if it were a description of children. He then goes on to state he cannot be sure what they are thinking.
But the least motion which they made
It seemed a thrill of pleasure.
The reader knows the inference made by the speaker is a direct result of what he observes. Every movement of the birds, big or small, seems energetic and filled with joy.
The budding twigs spread out their fan,
To catch the breezy air;
In these two lines, the beginning of life is addressed. The poem is all encompassing of life in its various forms and stages. The "budding twigs" are growing and reaching out for what they need to survive. They are also reaching out to happiness, as the poem earlier mentioned flowers enjoying the air they breathe. Similarly, the twigs are not merely alive but should enjoy life.
And I must think, do all I can,
That there was pleasure there.
This quatrain continues in the same vein as the previous two. There is a belief and genuine hope on behalf of the speaker that nature, including animals, live happily and freely.
If this belief from heaven be sent,
If such be Nature’s holy plan,
The speaker is now connecting Nature and heaven. It is a wholly spiritual belief. He considers Nature to be holy and, thus, deserving of the utmost respect.
Have I not reason to lament
What man has made of man?
The poem ends with the speaker’s lament. Though he has described Nature beautifully throughout the poem, it served mainly to highlight what man is destroying. It reiterates the interconnectedness of mankind and Nature, demonstrating what people do has a huge effect on the natural world.
The third and fourth lines of the poem ("In that sweet mood when pleasant thoughts / Bring sad thoughts to the mind") are an excellent summary of the overall tone and message. Though the depiction of Nature is graceful, the negative effects of mankind can be felt throughout. There is a beauty and sorrow to everything mentioned in the poem. This applies to Nature herself, mankind, and to the connection forged between them. Just as the speaker describes plants, flowers, and birds enjoying life, this should apply to man. Sadly, it seems this is not the case and this grieving closes out the poem.
The major theme of this poem is nature, in all senses of the word. The poem touches on visually stimulating descriptions of a natural environment and the nature of mankind. It also underlines the natural connection between everything on Earth, both the tangible and intangible. Nature, as she is named in the poem, is not an entity man can see or touch in and of itself. However, through the theme of connection, we do see and touch Nature in all we consume, destroy, make, and love.