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The poem She Was a Phantom of Delight has been written by William Wordsworth for his wife Mary Hutchinson. The poem has been divided into three stanzas having 10 lines each.
- The first stanza describes the romantic phase of seeing his beloved.
- The second stanza describes Mary as his wife.
- The third stanza describes her ability to maintain balance and becoming his spiritual partner.
In the first stanza, the poet calls his beloved ‘phantom of delight’. He is not considering her an ordinary human of flesh and blood but a spiritual being who made him quite happy when his eyes saw her for the first time. Poet is of the opinion that she is an apparition, sent on the earth so that he may feel proud of having her.
The poet praises her beauty. Her eyes seem to be shining like stars and her hair as black as dusk (time before evening). Nature would have collected all the beautiful things from spring (May-time) and the jolly dawn.
She has the hue of a graceful dancer. Her beautiful and pretty face often haunts him in his dreams (note that she is a spirit).
In the second stanza, the poet after marrying her gets an opportunity to observe her closely. Though she is the spirit, yet she possesses womanly qualities as well.
She moves in the house freely and gracefully. Such movements of natural liberty in her makes the poet believe that she is a virgin. Whenever he sees her face, he is reminded of sweet memories of her and also her sweet promises.
His beloved (now his wife) is not so extraordinary beautiful (as he considered in the first stanza) yet as a human being, she is good and possesses all the human qualities like brief sorrows, tricks, praise, blame, love, kisses, tears, and smiles.
In the third stanza, the poet tries to see her with calm eyes and finds that she works efficiently and is thus a machine having the pulse and breathes.
She is a traveller of life (meaning she is a living being) and has all the aspects of humans like firm reason, moderate desires, hope, patience, strength, and skill.
The poet considers her to be a perfect woman, created nobly by the Creator, who is capable of commanding, advising and comforting him.
Yet she is a spirit, who is shining with divine light. Thus his wife has both humanly as well as spiritual qualities.