William Wordsworth, The Thorn

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A tale of a forsaken, grief-stricken young mother, “The Thorn” is, in many ways, a conventional ballad. Wordsworth, to be sure, returned to the abandoned female figure throughout his career, in such works as “Margaret”, “Ruth”, “The Female Vagrant” and “The Complaint of a Forsaken Indian Woman”. With an abundance of end-stopped rhyming lines, internal rhyme, and a heavy use of refrain and incremental repetition, the form of “The Thorn”, too, looks familiar. But it eschews the common balladic a-b-a-b or a-b-c-b quatrains in favour of jagged looking eleven-line stanzas. As with many works in the genre, the metre runs at a frantic pace, even if the rhyming couplets that cap each stanza cause us, oddly, to take an unaccustomed pause. So, it is and is not a ballad.…

1945 words

Citation: Cook, Daniel. "The Thorn". The Literary Encyclopedia. First published 22 June 2013 [https://www.litencyc.com/php/sworks.php?rec=true&UID=34182, accessed 26 February 2024.]

34182 The Thorn 3 Historical context notes are intended to give basic and preliminary information on a topic. In some cases they will be expanded into longer entries as the Literary Encyclopedia evolves.

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