This is a piece of poetry about childhood. We think it is based upon a boy knew dubbed William Raincock who was famous as one owl-mimic. walk to institution with him and later adhered to him come Cambridge. However, in the more quickly version, i m sorry you will be looking at here, writes together if he is the boy calling to the owls. In later 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 out to him in a letter, replied by saying that:

i should have recognised any kind of where; and also had i met this lines running wild in the deserts that Arabia, i 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 course to work in pairs and also give every pair a copy that the extract (A3 if possible).

Read the extract.

Ask the class, in your pairs, to study the extract, making notes on their sheet and also looking particularly at noþeles to do with echoes and also sound.

Go round every pair and ask for one thing they discovered. Comment on as a group. Fill in anything they’ve missed.

Other feasible points because that discussion:

- description of childhood activity involving some kind of communication with the herbal world

- check of how responds to the experience

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

- Themes that nature and also imagination

- views on childhood – this poem incorporated into a ar of his autobiographical poem, The Prelude in which that outlines his see on childhood and also education. The passionately believes that children should be encouraged to be imaginative and creative and to have actually a sense of wonder at the world, as opposed to gift ‘rationally’ educated, together it was dubbed at the time, where the emphasis was on acquiring knowledge and facts and figures.

Follow increase Activity: "Spots the Time"

This extract is what describes, later on in his autobiographical poem The Prelude, as a "spot of time". A "spot of time" for is a memory that continues to be important countless years after ~ the event. It is held in the mind native a time when, together a child we carry out not yet have a clean chronological sense of time. As a an outcome these moments have a peculiar power for us later on as adults.

Ask the children to create a city or item of prose around one the their very own spots the time. It constantly works well to questioning them come write about their earliest memory first and climate why lock think castle remember it. Friend can allude out come them the the storage is often apparently arbitrary and insignificant. However it becomes crucial part of our self-identity.

"There was a boy"

There to be a boy ye knew him well, ye rocks

And islands of Winander & ye green

Peninsulas the Esthwaite numerous a time

once the stars began

To relocate along the edge of the hills

Rising or setting would he stand alone

Beneath the tree or by the glimmering lakes

And with his finger woven in one close knot

Blow mimic hootings to the quiet owls

And bid them answer him. And also they would shout

Across the wat"ry vale & shout again

Responsive to my contact with tremulous sobs

And long halloos & screams & echoes loud

Redoubled & redoubled a wild scene

Of mirth & jocund din. And also when that chanced

That pauses that deep quiet mocked mine skill

Then, often, in that silence while i hung

Listening a suddenly shock of gentle surprize

Would bring far into my love the voice

Of hill torrents: or the clearly shows scene

Would get in unawares into my mind

With all its solemn imagery that is rocks

Its woods & the uncertain sky received

Into the bosom that the secure lake . . .

(Created analysis Text from ms JJ Sr)


"There was a boy" (Annotated Version)

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

And archipelago of Winander & ye green

Peninsulas that Esthwaite. Plenty of 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 v his fingers, woven into one close knot,

Blow mimic hootings to the quiet owls

And bid lock answer him. And they would certainly shout

Across the watr’y vale & shout again,

Responsive to my call, v tremulous sobs,

And lengthy halloos, & screams, & echoes loud

Redoubled & redoubled, a wild scene

Of mirth and also jocund din. And also when it chanced

That pauses that deep silence mocked mine skill,

Then, often, in the silence, while i hung

Listening, a sudden shock of soft surprise

Would lug far into my heart the voice

Of hill torrents: or the clearly shows scene

Would enter unawares into my mind

With every its solemn imagery of rocks,

Its woods, & the uncertain heaven, received

Into the bosom the the steady lake . . .

(Reading Text created from ms JJ, Sr)

Annotated Notes for Teaching

mimic hootings

The boy in the poem mimics the owls in the hope that they will answer him

shout . . . & shout again

The word "shout" is usually one we would associate through the human being voice. It also provides a contrast with the silent owls that the previous line. supplies repetition below so that his language mirrors the repeated calls the the owls, and their echoing approximately the landscape.

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

A perform of the sport of sounds the the owls make. areas all the sounds close with each other to intensify the noise.

Again, uses repetition here, mirroring the "echoes" the the ahead line: sound is all approximately him.

Of mirth and also jocund din

"Mirth" and "jocund" are both words an interpretation "happiness" and also "happy", therefore although does no repeat the exact same word, together he has in other places in the extract, the is a repeat of ideas. An in similar way the word "din" suggests the volume that sound, as do some the the words supplied in the ahead lines.

Where the first part that the extract is full of sound, the second part is, through contrast, complete of "silence". The is probably the sudden lack of sound that makes the silence "deep".


Another repetition: desires to emphasize the absence of sound right here just as much as the quantity of sound earlier.


The physical act of ‘listening’ is important to the totality passage, however here, in particular, it leader to the virtually out-of-body endure at the finish of the poem.

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the voice/ Of mountain torrents

As with the owls earlier, provides a word much more usually connected 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 up his senses to absorb the impressions of the landscape. Where prior to there to be ‘silence’ he can now hear and see the world much more clearly.