By Frances Austin (auth.)
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Extra resources for The Language of Wordsworth and Coleridge
This is reinforced in the second simile by the semantic relation to death in the outflowing of the lifeblood. Coincidental with the appearance of these similes, the language starts to become repetitive. The most notable repetition is that of the word dwindled, which occurs three times in the one stanza and is repeated in the last. It is also a verb that is marked out from most of the others by its semantic fullness. Apart from this single word, in the last five stanzas Wordsworth has the shepherd use a sort of refrain or burden.
The careful placing of shining in 'shining fair' gives the impression of shining armour, although it is not explicitly stated. Similarly, the word upright is a word more suited to the hero of a romance than to an idiot boy. The game is given away and we are proved right in this reading by the following stanza: Unto his horse, that's feeding free, He seems, I think, the rein to give; Of moon or stars he takes no heed; Of such we in romances read. The introduction of the word romances places Johnny once more in the world of steeds and spurs.
It is in effect another instance of apparent tautology, since all winds must blow by definition. It is more the sound of the postmodifying clause, however, that is important here, allowing as it does a falling away from the head of the nominal group wind, while itself finishing on the lexically full word blows. One odd stanza should be noted. This is Stanza XII, which has three instead of two three-stress lines. The extra one, which is the sixth line of the stanza, occurs at the turning point in the tale of Martha Ray, since from the information it conveys stems all the ensuing and foreseen tragedy: And they had fix'd the wedding-day, The morning that must wed them both; But Stephen to another maid Had sworn another oath.
The Language of Wordsworth and Coleridge by Frances Austin (auth.)