Reading Aloud (#13): from William Wordsworth’s “The Ruined Cottage” (OUP edition)


from The Ruined Cottage

[. . .] I looked round
And near the door I saw an aged Man,
Alone, and stretched upon the cottage bench;
An iron-pointed staff lay at his side.
With instantaneous joy I recognized
That pride of nature and of lowly life,
The venerable Armytage, a friend
As dear to me as is the setting sun.
Two days before
We had been fellow-travellers. I knew
That he was in this neighbourhood and now
Delighted found him here in the cool shade.
He lay, his pack of rustic merchandize
Pillowing his head—I guess he had no thought
Of his way-wandering life. His eyes were shut;
The shadows of the breezy elms above
Dappled his face. With thirsty heat oppressed
At length I hailed him, glad to see his hat
Bedewed with water-drops, as if the brim
Had newly scooped a running stream. He rose
And pointing to a sun-flower bade me climb
The [          ] wall where that same gaudy flower
Looked out upon the road. It was a plot
Of garden-ground, now wild, its matted weeds
Marked with the steps of those whom as they passed,
The goose-berry trees that shot in long lank slips,
Or currants hanging from their leafless stems
In scanty strings, had tempted to o’erleap
The broken wall. Within that cheerless spot,
Where two tall hedgerows of thick willow boughs
Joined in a damp cold nook, I found a well
Half-chocked [with willow flowers and weeds.]
I slaked my thirst and to the shady bench
Returned, and while I stood unbonneted
To catch the motion of the cooler air
The old Man said, ‘I see around me here
Things which you cannot see: we die, my Friend,
Nor we alone, but that which each man loved
And prized in his peculiar nook of earth
Dies with him or is changed, and very soon
Even of the good is no memorial left.
The Poets in their elegies and songs
Lamenting the departed call the groves,
They call upon the hills and streams to mourn,
And senseless rocks, nor idly; for they speak
In these their invocations with a voice
Obedient to the strong creative power
Of human passion. Sympathies there are
More tranquil, yet perhaps of kindred birth,
That steal upon the meditative mind
And grow with thought. Beside yon spring I stood
And eyed its waters till we seemed to feel
One sadness, they and I. For them a bond
Of brotherhood is broken: time has been
When every day the touch of human hand
Disturbed their stillness, and they ministered
To human comfort. When I stooped to drink,
A spider’s web hung to the water’s edge,
And on the wet and slimy foot-stone lay
The useless fragment of a wooden bowl;
It moved my very heart.

 – William Wordsworth, (OUP Major Works edition, pp. 32-33)


  1. Your voice really transported me to the scene of the poem. I felt as if I was actually watching the action happen. The hint of different emotions added to some words/verses seemed genuine since they captured the meaning of the poem and what Wordsworth wanted to portray when he wrote it. I felt really calm while hearing you read this poem aloud. Great work.
    -Karla Laracuente

  2. I liked how the melancholic and sad tone with which the poem was read really captured the essence of the ruined cottage. It transports you there and conveys a mournful felling towards the lost beauty of things. Also the gentle speed of the readings drives further the sadness of the poem by allowing you to meditate on the images of decay and leaves you wondering about what was.

  3. I enjoyed reading this poem as I listened to your recording of it, not only because your voice allowed me to visualize what I was reading, but also because your voice complimented the poem in general. The emphasis you provided, and the somber, yet surprisingly variable tone you gave your voice, provided the poem an essence which could otherwise be missing if I would have simply read it.

  4. I am laying, my backpack behind my head, below a tree catching the cool shade while I hear and read the poem (curious coincidence). Couldn’t help but feel like the poem was being recited right here, with the characters laying next to me, talking about life and nature. Really touched me, as I wholeheartedly share the sentiments the old man expressed. The narrating voice soothed me as well, props for transporting me to the poem (or very well transporting the poem to me).

  5. Wow!!!! There is alot of imagery in this poem. I mean, from the start of this poem I could vividly imagine the cottage, the old man, the road… the widerness. Also, I got moved by the old man’s response about death for it looked like he accepted it; in contrast with other poems, where the voice mourns death. This is just to amaze.
    —————–Rafael Gonzalez Cartagena

  6. It’s amazing how the poet managed to turn something as simple as the deterioration of a cottage into a meaningful lesson for the protagonist of this somewhat narrative poem. This poem is a good example of just how important it is to not only read the poem to yourself, but to listen to it from a different perspective. The narrator captures in essence the melancholic and sad tone that “The Ruined Cottage” possesses. How the speaker emphasizes the old Man’s words when he compares the faltering of life with the wear of the cottage, opened my eyes to realize how fast our journey comes to an end and how we take nothing but our memories with us. The reader of the poem captures the feelings of the old Man in such an intense manner, that it made me believe that those words were directed to my person. A well written poem is just as important as the way it is recited. Thank you for the rendition of this poem. It was a meaningful experience.

  7. Amazing voice!!!! your voice really gives life to this poem. Your voice adds emotion and the low tone voice but the differences in pitches really gives the listener a glimpse of the emotions portrayed in the poem.

    -Andres Rivera

  8. With just closing my eyes I could see myself besides the cottage, contemplating it and the old man. The way the poem is read gives it a sense of nostalgia and melancholy, surely two things Wordsworth wanted to transmit. Hearing the poem and reading it as its being recited gives the lector the power of transforming his thoughts into real images and events in his head. Truly a wonderfull expirience.

  9. Before listening to this reading out loud version of Wordsworth’s poem, I read the poem on my own so I could notice the importance of who and how reads the poem. Your voice really evokes the feeling the poet wants to convey on the readers. Thanks to your slow-paced narration and compassionate tonality, I felt melancholy, but also a sense of hope. Human suffering will never end and life will bring its hardship, but it is one’s decision of how to deal with it and embrace the situations. It is a bleak and excellent poem, and the recitation was just as good. Keep up the good work.

  10. It is amazing how the voice of the speaker can really change completely the tone of this poem. This tone that was given by the speaker gave the poem different emotions that i have not perceived the first time i read this story. When i read it first i perceived a more joyful type of tone, one which was the understanding of what death really is. But when you hear the voice that the speaker gives it is a completely different tone, one more melancholic, sad, a tone of a sad person. It was amazing to be able to see, I mean hear the difference that a speaker could give.
    -Sebastian Frau Alvarez(013)-

  11. I feel that I must admit that upon reading the poem first I knew that i couldn’t possibly be getting the full picture. Upon hearing the voice of the speaker I immediately knew that my first impression was completely wrong. The emotion in the speakers’ voice really takes you to the scene, you can practically feel whats going on, and yet you know that there is much more behind what you think the poem’s about. Ive realized that tone is everything when it comes to interpreting the poem, and the speaker does just that, his tone sets the mood, making the act of reading a poem seem more like an experience. I won’t pretend to be an expert on poetry, but I can say that I deeply enjoyed it.
    Rafael Figueroa (013)

  12. The way he describes the surroundings is astounding. The imagery and comparisons made the descriptions so vivid, the reader can easily get transported to the poem’s land. The character of the old man is wise and says profind lines that make the reader feel the sad emotions of the aged man’s story.
    Jan Pierre Rivera

  13. Astonishing poem. Just when I start to read I notice the flawless imagery that accompanies the entire poem and helps me imagine the scene. The tone is noticeable but hearing the voice of the speaker makes it effortless to perceive the feelings and emotions the writer wants to transmit. It conveys a sense of sorrow as the poem is narrated. That sense of sorrow is presented talking about death and how the writer explains it. In my opinion that was the most interesting part of the poem. I also found curios the title “The Ruined Cottage” fitted well as a metaphor. Overall it is an outstanding poem that keeps you thinking.

    – Víctor Marrero Bernardo

  14. The poem itself had a general nostalgic feeling towards the ruined cottage, but also for the ruined old man. Your slow pace was able to give a somber tone that really made you feel the decay that the narrator is perceiving in the environment. If I were to read this poem without your tone, I wouldn’t have been able to stop and link together the images that made the poem so melancholic. Your interpretation makes the ruined cottage feel like a forgotten land, much like the nature that surrounds it.

  15. I really loved the poem. Your voice spoke to me and I could picture everything you said on my mind. I felt that I was there with the characters.

  16. It is amazing how we just read poems, but we most of the time, do not really pay attention to details. I looked for information regarding to the poem, and it shows that this author’s poems are this way for a reason. It is amazing how the voice transports and helps understand it better. This melancholic tone reflects hardship in the woman’s life he is narrating about. It also shows hope for one and how we can preserve it. This poem was very deep and with the voice, it transports one and it adds more feeling to the poem.

  17. Orlando Medina Engl3211-023
    This way this poem uses words to present emotions gives it a deeper meaning and a it helps the reader obtain the idea or the topic the author is trying to present quicker. While I was reading the poem I felt like the lifes presented on the poem were part of my life and the situations were not only happining on the poem. Even though its tone doesn’t contain joy or happiness the way the poem presents life helped me reflect on mine and like i wrote before indirectly; I felt like I was part of the poem. Really good poem, with a good rhyme scheme and not hard to understand.

  18. I like how the voice goes so well with the poem because it gives it more meaning and sense. Also that only reading it does not help me to find the tone, one has to read it a couple of times to understand what is going on in the poem.

  19. Sometimes we read poems, but we do not pay attention to details. The cottage gets ruined by the same time the woman is facing her own problems, and that is how the overall story of the poem makes it melancholic. How she preserves hope, even on the hard situations. Also, the voice adds meaning to the poem, it helps one make the right pauses and understand it better. It also adds simplicity.

  20. The poet paints an image of a deteriorated cottage and its suffering and you help it come alive, by putting colors to the writing (all gray of course). One can perceive the melancholy, nostalgia, and sadness by the stillness of the narrators voice. Such stillness helps us grasp the image that the poet is portraying of the cottage and of life, since the cottage represents an old weary life. This poem is an amazing portrayal of life, and the narrator helps in this portrayal. Good work!!
    -Rebeca Reyes 052

  21. I usually don’t enjoy hearing stories read but the way you carry your voice definitely changes my view on that. The message was clear and entertaining.
    Sigfred Rodriguez

  22. Loved the poem! Couldn’t have imagined a voice more suitable for the declamation of it. I felt the passion and poetic power behind it. It felt like if I was hearing William Wordsworth’s mind while he was feeling and writing down the words. The poem made me reflect on life and appreciate more the beauty in the simple things. I was absolutely moved by the poem.

  23. It is greatly intriguing how soothing your almost breathless voice can convey so effectively the mood of this poem. I could sit back and contemplate the scarcity of life in the cottage. The relation the aged man made between the “Ruined Cottage and how life is being lived right now cought my attention, how he says that everything is “dying” and we waste our time agonizing about it, but he himself says that he feels sadness. The narrator even implies that he “had no thought Of his way-wandering life”. This is a great poem filled with figurative language, which makes one think deeply into the meaning of this poem.

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