From the poem "An Evening Walk" by William Wordsworth (emphasis added):

FAR from my dearest Friend, 'tis mine to rove
Through bare grey dell, high wood, and pastoral cove;
Where Derwent rests, and listens to the roar
That stuns the tremulous cliffs of high Lodore;
Where peace to Grasmere's lonely island leads,
To willowy hedge-rows, and to emerald meads;
Leads to her bridge, rude church, and cottaged grounds,
Her rocky sheepwalks, and her woodland bounds;
Where, undisturbed by winds, Winander sleeps
'Mid clustering isles, and holly-sprinkled steeps;
Where twilight glens endear my Esthwaite's shore,
And memory of departed pleasures, more.

Fair scenes, erewhile, I taught, a happy child,
The echoes of your rocks my carols wild:
The spirit sought not then, in cherished sadness,
A cloudy substitute for failing gladness,
In youth's keen eye the livelong day was bright,
The sun at morning, and the stars at night,
Alike, when first the bittern's hollow bill
Was heard, or woodcocks roamed the moonlight hill.

What does the line "The echoes of your rocks my carols wild" mean?

  • Welcome to Literature! I edited your post to mention what poem this is from and who wrote it. Context like that may help in answering the question, and some form of attribution is probably required.
    – Rand al'Thor
    Dec 11, 2017 at 0:32

1 Answer 1


"The echoes of your rocks" is an indirect object, and "my carols wild" is a direct object.

That's the only way I can make sense of this sentence. The words "a happy child" are a descriptive comment on the pronoun "I". So we could rewrite these phrases as follows, for clearer meaning:

  • (original)

    I taught, a happy child, [t]he echoes of your rocks my carols wild

  • (rewrite)

    As a happy child, I taught my wild carols to the echoes of your rocks

The narrator is reminiscing nostalgically about his carefree childhood spent in this place. He used to sing childish songs ("carols wild") there, which echoed off the rocks. Poetically, he "taught" these songs to the echoing rocks, who sang them back to him.

With verbs like "taught" (or "gave", "sent", etc.) which can take both direct and indirect objects simultaneously, the indirect object always goes before the direct object in English. For example:

  • "I taught the lads a lesson" = "I taught a lesson to the lads"
  • "Did she give you a letter?" = "Did she give a letter to you?"
  • "Send them the answer" = "Send the answer to them"
  • "I taught the echoes of your rocks my carols wild" = "I taught my carols wild to the echoes of your rocks".

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