The White Doe of Rylstone

The White Doe of Rylstone

The White Doe of Rylstone

The White Doe of Rylstone


Believing The White of Doe Rylstone to be, 'in conception, the highest work he had ever produced,' Wordsworth, in revising the poem, devoted 'much labor' to perfecting its execution. And James Russell Lowell has called it, among his poems, the most Wordsworthian of all, 'in the best meaning of the epithet.' Some critics have praised its melody, its diction, its imaginative power, and its spirituality; others have complained, with Francis Jeffrey, that they 'have not the good luck to understand what it means.'

Despite the poet's high regard for the poem, and despite repeated expressions by others of difficulty in comprehending its form, very little effort has been expended on the interpretation of it, and but moderately more upon its criticism. The only special editor, William Knight, added little to Wordsworth's own notes.

At the suggestion of Professor Lane Cooper, I have undertaken for the poem the task of the philologist, hoping to gain for it a freer access to the reader's heart, and a clearer, more significant hold on his mind.

The text is that of the Oxford edition by Hutchinson. The Wordsworth letters are necessarily quoted from two sources; De Selincourt's volumes are referred to as Early Letters, and Letters . . . [of] the Middle Years; Knight's edition in three volumes as Letters. The List of Books Consulted (pp. 289-95) explains all other references, and indicates the editions used.


Colby College,
March 1, 1940.

Search by... Author
Show... All Results Primary Sources Peer-reviewed


An unknown error has occurred. Please click the button below to reload the page. If the problem persists, please try again in a little while.