To ----, in Her Seventieth Year

Wordsworth, William

Primary Category: Literature / Poetry

Genre: Poem

Annotated by:
Moore, Pamela
  • Date of entry: May-07-2001


Wordsworth describes his respect for an elderly female friend. Her wrinkles, grey hair, white cheeks, and bent head bring to mind a snowdrop. Like her, the delicate flower that blossoms on snow-covered mountains is a child of winter that prompts thoughts of gentle demise. Aging and death are compared to the moon growing brighter as night grows darker. Old age refines people into something more pure and exquisite.


This poem might serve as a contrast to less complimentary images of aging women. Nevertheless, it is worth noting that Wordsworth can only praise the old woman in so far as she is acorporal. She is no longer an old woman in his eyes but a symbol of purity, disembodiment. Women's non-reproductive bodies are often ignored or despised.


First published: 1827

Primary Source

Poetical Works


Oxford Univ. Press

Place Published

New York




Thomas Hutchinson