William Wordsworth’s “The Thorn,” tells a story about a woman’s hardship dealing with her incredible loss and grief. The poem starts with a large, wretched, old, grey thorn standing erect on a mountain top. Also on the mountain top is a muddy pond of water, a heap of moss, and what is understood to be an infant’s grave. At this location, a distraught woman in a scarlet cloak is crying out. The woman, Martha Ray, cries and cries day and night, sitting beside the thorn. Previously, Martha had experienced immense happiness while in a relationship with a man named Stephen Hill. However, on their wedding day, before their vows, Stephen abandoned her. Martha was pregnant with their baby, but what later happened to the baby is unknown. The villagers in town are curious to the whereabouts of her baby; some say it was hung, others say she drowned it in a pond, but no one even knows if the baby was born alive. However, the villagers believe the baby is buried beneath the fair moss that laid on top of the mountain. Martha sits on the mountain top next to the wretched thorn and the assumed grave of the baby and continually cries. One curious and brave man climbed the mountain to find Martha sitting on the ground crying out, “Oh misery! Oh misery!”
In “The Thorn,” found in the poetry collection “Lyrical Ballads,” nature is incorporated into the poems. I believe the thorn represents Martha’s grieving presence. After being jilted and left pregnant, Martha’s incredible sadness and subsequent loss is expressed through her continual cries. The thorn which is short, dark, old, and grey represents distraught Martha and her sadness. The beautiful mossy area which Wordsworth references to be the grave of the baby, represents the beautiful baby Martha Ray was pregnant with. A question that arose when reading “The Thorn” was did Martha Ray kill the baby? I do not think that Martha killed the baby and I believe something happened to the baby while it was still in her womb.
Wordsworth incorporates nature into all of his characters and all aspects of his poetry making it possible for readers to make a connection to his poetry through their daily contact with nature.