William Wordsworth – “There was a Boy” (1800)

INTRODUCTION:  Introducing his Lyrical BalladsWilliam Wordsworth writes, “Poets do not write for Poets alone, but for men…in order to excite rational sympathy, he must express himself as other men express themselves.”  In the following notes, one can see how Wordsworth seems (arguably) to translate the fantastical story of Echo & Narcissus into a contemporary, relatively plainspoken form, while still maintaining structural and conceptual similarities with the Roman poet Ovid’s version (written nearly 2,000 years earlier).   

ANNOTATED DOCUMENT:  WordsworthWilliam_TherewasaBoy

Annotations by:  Rachel Linn

The annotated text is adapted from: 

Works cited & consulted in the annotations: 

  • Damrosch, David, and Kevin J.H. Dettmar, editors. The Longman Anthology of British Literature, Vol. 2A. Pearson Education, 2006.
  • Ovid. The Metamorphoses. Project Gutenberg, 8 Jun. 2007, http://www.gutenberg.org/ebooks/21765. Accessed 1 Jun. 2017.