This is a item of poetry about childhood. Us think that is based on a boy knew called William Raincock who was famed as an owl-mimic. went to school with him and also later adhered to him to Cambridge. However, in the earliest version, i beg your pardon you will be looking in ~ here, writes as if the is the young calling come the owls. In later on drafts he explains the occasion in the third person.

You are watching: There was a boy william wordsworth’s great friend, and also fellow poet, Samuel Taylor Coleridge, as soon as the city was sent to the in a letter, responded by saying that:

ns should have recognised any kind of where; and had i met this lines to run wild in the deserts that Arabia, ns should have instantly screamed out "!" (STCL I, 453).

The extract originates from the faster manuscript (MS JJ) that’s autobiographical city The Prelude.

Teacher Advice

Ask the class to work-related in pairs and also give each pair a copy the the extract (A3 if possible).

Read the extract.

Ask the class, in your pairs, to study the extract, making notes on their sheet and looking specifically at something to perform with echoes and sound.

Go round every pair and ask because that one point they discovered. Comment on as a group. To fill in noþeles they’ve missed.

Other feasible points for discussion:

- description of childhood activity involving some kind of interaction with the organic world

- check of how responds come the experience

- exploration of roles of nature and imagination, both in the experience and in his response to it

- Themes of nature and also imagination

- see on childhood – this poem included into a section of his autobiographical poem, The Prelude in which he outlines his views on childhood and education. He passionately believes that children should be motivated to it is in imaginative and creative and to have actually a sense of wonder at the world, together opposed to gift ‘rationally’ educated, as it was called at the time, wherein the focus was on gaining knowledge and facts and figures.

Follow increase Activity: "Spots of Time"

This extract is what describes, later on in his autobiographical city The Prelude, together a "spot of time". A "spot of time" because that is a memory that remains important numerous years ~ the event. That is hosted in the mind indigenous a time when, as a son we do not yet have a clear chronological feeling of time. Together a an outcome these moments have actually a strange power because that us later on as adults.

Ask the youngsters to compose a city or piece of prose about one that their very own spots the time. It constantly works fine to ask them to write about their faster memory an initial and then why lock think they remember it. You can allude out to them the the storage is often apparently arbitrary and also insignificant. Nonetheless it becomes critical part of our self-identity.

"There to be a boy"

There to be a young ye knew the well, ye rocks

And islands of Winander & ye green

Peninsulas of Esthwaite countless a time

as soon as the stars began

To move along the edge of the hills

Rising or setting would he stand alone

Beneath the trees or through the glimmering lakes

And v his fingers woven in one near knot

Blow mimic hootings come the quiet owls

And bid lock answer him. And also they would shout

Across the wat"ry vale & scream again

Responsive to my contact with tremulous sobs

And long halloos & screams & echoes loud

Redoubled & redoubled a wild scene

Of mirth & jocund din. And when that chanced

That pauses of deep silence mocked mine skill

Then, often, in that silence while ns hung

Listening a sudden shock of gentle surprize

Would carry far into my love the voice

Of mountain torrents: or the visible scene

Would get in unawares into my mind

With all its solemn imagery its rocks

Its woods & the uncertain heaven received

Into the bosom the the steady lake . . .

(Created analysis Text from multiple sclerosis JJ Sr)


"There to be a boy" (Annotated Version)

There was a boy, ye knew that well, ye rocks

And islands of Winander & ye green

Peninsulas that Esthwaite. Many a time

When the stars began

To move along the edge of the hills,

Rising or setting would he was standing alone

Beneath the trees, or by the glimmering lakes,

And through his fingers, woven into one close knot,

Blow mimic hootings come the silent owls

And bid them answer him. And also they would certainly shout

Across the watr’y vale & shout again,

Responsive to mine call, with tremulous sobs,

And long halloos, & screams, & echoes loud

Redoubled & redoubled, a wild scene

Of mirth and jocund din. And when it chanced

That pauses of deep quiet mocked mine skill,

Then, often, in that silence, while i hung

Listening, a sudden shock of soft surprise

Would lug far into my heart the voice

Of mountain torrents: or the visible scene

Would get in unawares into my mind

With all its solemn imagery the rocks,

Its woods, & that uncertain heaven, received

Into the bosom the the steady lake . . .

(Reading Text created from ms JJ, Sr)

Annotated Notes for Teaching

mimic hootings

The young in the city mimics the owls in the hope the they will certainly answer him

shout . . . & shout again

The word "shout" is typically one we would associate with the human being voice. It likewise provides a contrast with the quiet owls of the vault line. uses repetition right here so the his language mirrors the recurring calls the the owls, and their echoing approximately the landscape.

tremulous sobs, /And long halloos, & screams, & echoes according to

A perform of the variation of sounds the the owls make. areas all the sound close with each other to increase the noise.

Again, offers repetition here, showing the "echoes" of the previous line: sound is all approximately him.

Of mirth and jocund din

"Mirth" and also "jocund" room both words an interpretation "happiness" and "happy", for this reason although does not repeat the very same word, together he has in other places in the extract, that is a repetition of ideas. Likewise the word "din" suggests the volume that sound, as carry out some the the words used in the previous lines.

Where the very first part the the extract is full of sound, the second part is, by contrast, complete of "silence". It is maybe the sudden lack of sound that renders the quiet "deep".


Another repetition: desires to emphasize the lack of sound right here just as lot as the lot of sound earlier.


The physical act that ‘listening’ is important to the entirety passage, yet here, in particular, it leader to the almost out-of-body endure at the end of the poem.

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the voice/ Of hill torrents

As with the owls earlier, offers a word more usually linked with person speech to define the sound the the landscape. currently realizes the in listening for the sound of the owls, he has actually opened increase his senses to absorb the impressions that the landscape. Where before there was ‘silence’ he have the right to now hear and see the civilization much more clearly.