Crafting a Picturesque Portrait of Pastoral Life and Nature in Wordsworth’s ‘Michael’

As everyone is aware, the enlightened poet, William Wordsworth presents his enigmatic masterpiece, “Michael” to showcase the pastoral life in a vibrant picture and he has come across different perspectives about it accordingly. He brings out the life of the countryside through Michael’s family who has been the protagonist of the poem. Therefore, this analysis subtly spotlights how Wordsworth has used literary techniques to effectively portray the pastoral setting and its life throughout his poem.

Predominantly, Wordsworth uses his imagination to introduce the subject of the poem and to take every reader along his journey to enjoy this immaculate view with himself. Firstly, he travels through “a struggling heap of unhewn stones” to learn the “domestic tales that spake to him of shepherds, dwellers in the valets, men who he already loved.” He personifies many nature elements along his journey such as “the land, boisterous brook, the wind” and so on. The main motif of Wordsworth is that he wants to take the readers into a mountainous area where they can find many visual imageries and personifications throughout. He describes the place as “Greenhead Ghyll” which is far from “public way.” This is the place where the protagonist, “Michael” and his family live with “utter solitude.”From the very beginning of the poem, Wordsworth intends to construct the country life in readers’ minds by saying that Michael lives in a mystic and solitary place where humans and nature have become one common object that everyone can witness on. The poet says that Michael and his family live a life like “kites, that overhead are sailing in the sky” where they own “a hidden valley” and “pastoral mountains” all over themselves. He uses a picturesque language to elaborate their cottage that is named as “the evening star” which navigates all the villagers in the village unlike any other place. He has embedded this metaphor to the poem to showcase that the pastoral life is always woven with the nature and that is such a divine division throughout. Therefore, one can witness that Wordsworth has used visual imageries to bounce a picture-perfect creation towards the readers accordingly.Moreover, Wordsworth tends to discover through pastoral setting, its eye-opening view and also he uses his language to explain that rural people are not absent minded but carry full of knowledge along their lives throughout his poem. So, Michael knows “the meaning of all winds” and how to deal with them consequently. This further showcases the way he has become a nature lover who can even understand the climatic changes in the atmosphere. The poet says he carries many experiences throughout his life such as his “vigorous steps” in the hills, the “hardship, skill or courage, joy or fear” that he encountered and all the “memory of dumb animals” are “like a book” which a person in suburbs can never experience in his entire life time. Unlike in urban areas, rural people are always there to uplift their families whenever they need support. This is what Michael’s wife, his “helpmate” of the journey does. The poet says that she is a “woman of stirring life.” Even though she is quite old, she never wanted to stay at home without doing anything but sharing the breadwinning mission with herself while dealing with “spinning wheel.” In here, the poet portrays the rural corruption using pastoral setting consequently. Since she has one alternative wheel, she could use it while the other “wheel had rest.” Even though Michael and his son come home after doing their livelihood, their “labour does not cease” by then. They further work at home even after doing their farming and all.  As above- mentioned, Wordsworth tends to romanticize the pastoral nature while bringing out the rustic reality of the rural atmosphere through his techniques. On one hand, as in most of the pastoral poems, Wordsworth starts off the poem by explaining the way that rural people tend to survive with the nature. On the other hand, he idealizes the realistic view of the rustic life in his poem where he says that he observed “no habitation can be seen” in that area. As everyone knows, pastoral refers to shepherds in Latin. Therefore, the protagonist’s career is also defined as a “shepherd” who owns “an unusual strength” and “watchful more than ordinary men.” Similarly, the poet describes Michael’s character by adapting along with the pastoral setting. Even though Michael is in his “eightieth year”, he is described as an unhesitant, hardworking person to nurture his family. Wordsworth has thoroughly described the characters of pastoral life while introducing characterization as another distinguishable technique in the poem.

In sum, by going through all of these evidence, one can comprehend to the fact that William Wordsworth has used many techniques to portray the pastoral setting and its life panoramically and richly throughout his masterpiece. 


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