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Vol. VI (of 8), by William Wordsworth

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Title: The Poetical Works of William Wordsworth, Vol. VI (of 8)

Author: William Wordsworth

Editor: William Knight

Release Date: December 13, 2014 [EBook #47651]

Language: English

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THE POETICAL WORKS
OF
WILLIAM WORDSWORTH
VOL. VI



THE POETICAL WORKS
OF
WILLIAM WORDSWORTH

EDITED BY

WILLIAM KNIGHT

VOL. VI

London

MACMILLAN AND CO., Ltd.
NEW YORK: MACMILLAN & CO.
1896


[Pg v]

CONTENTS

1814

PAGE
Laodamia1
Memorials of a Tour in Scotland—
The Brownie's Cell16
Composed at Cora Linn, in sight of Wallace's Tower26
Effusion, in the Pleasure-Ground on the Banks of the
Bran, near Dunkeld28
"From the dark chambers of dejection freed"33
Yarrow Visited35
Lines written on a blank leaf in a copy of the author's poem
The Excursion, upon hearing of the death of the late Vicar of Kendal40

1815

PAGE
Dedication to the White Doe of Rylstone42
Artegal and Elidure45
To B.R. Haydon61
November 163
September, 181564
"The fairest, brightest, hues of ether fade"65
"Weak is the will of Man, his judgment blind"67
[Pg vi] "Hail, Twilight, sovereign of one peaceful hour!"67
"The Shepherd, looking eastward, softly said"68
"Even as a dragon's eye that feels the stress"69
"Mark the concentred hazels that enclose"71
"Surprised by joy—impatient as the Wind"72

1816

PAGE
Ode. The Morning of the Day appointed for a General Thanksgiving.
January 18, 181674
Ode88
Invocation to the Earth95
Ode96
Ode104
The French Army in Russia, 1812-13107
On the Same Occasion109
Siege of Vienna raised by John Sobieski110
Occasioned by the Battle of Waterloo111
Occasioned by the Battle of Waterloo112
"Emperors and Kings, how oft have temples rung"113
Feelings of a French Royalist, on the Disinterment of the
Remains of the Duke D'Enghien114
Dion116
A Fact, and an Imagination; or, Canute and Alfred, on the
Sea-shore130
"A little onward lend thy guiding hand"132
To ——-, on her first Ascent to the Summit of Helvellyn135

1817

PAGE
Vernal Ode138
Ode to Lycoris145
[Pg vii] To the Same149
The Longest Day153
Hint from the Mountains, for certain Political Pretenders156
The Pass of Kirkstone158
Lament of Mary Queen of Scots162

1818

PAGE
The Pilgrim's Dream; or, the Star and the Glow-worm167
Inscriptions supposed to be found in and near a Hermit's Cell170
Composed upon an Evening of Extraordinary Splendour and Beauty176

1819

PAGE
This, and the two following, were suggested by Mr. W. Westall's Views
of the Caves, etc., in Yorkshire183
Malham Cove184
Gordale185
Composed during a Storm187
"Aerial Rock—whose solitary brow"187
The Wild Duck's Nest189
Written upon a blank leaf in "The Complete Angler"190
Captivity—Mary Queen of Scots191
To a Snow-Drop191
"When haughty expectations prostrate lie"192
To the River Derwent193
Composed in one of the Valleys of Westmoreland, on Easter Sunday194
[Pg viii] "Grief, thou hast lost an ever ready friend"195
"I watch, and long have watched, with calm regret"197
"I heard (alas! 'twas only in a dream)"198
The Haunted Tree199
September, 1819201
Upon the Same Occasion202

1820

PAGE
Composed on the Banks of a Rocky Stream208
On the Death of His Majesty (George the Third)209
"The stars are mansions built by Nature's hand"210
To the Lady Mary Lowther211
On the Detraction which followed the Publication of a certain Poem212
Oxford, May 30, 1820213
Oxford, May 30, 1820214
June, 1820214
The Germans on the Heights of Hock Heim216
A Parsonage in Oxfordshire217
To Enterprise218
The River Duddon—
To the Rev. Dr. Wordsworth227
"Not envying Latian shades—if yet they throw"230
"Child of the clouds! remote from every taint"231
"How shall I paint thee?—Be this naked stone"232
"Take, cradled Nursling of the mountain, take"233
"Sole listener, Duddon! to the breeze that played"234
Flowers235
"Change me, some God, into that breathing rose!"237
[Pg ix] "What aspect bore the Man who roved or fled"237
The Stepping-Stones239
The Same Subject240
The Faëry Chasm241
Hints for the Fancy242
Open Prospect243
"O mountain Stream! the Shepherd and his Cot"245
"From this deep chasm, where quivering sunbeams play"245
American Tradition246
Return248
Seathwaite Chapel249
Tributary Stream250
The Plain of Donnerdale251
"Whence that low voice?—A whisper from the heart"252
Tradition253
Sheep-Washing253
The Resting-Place254
"Methinks 'twere no unprecedented feat"255
"Return, Content! for fondly I pursued"255
"Fallen, and diffused into a shapeless heap"256
Journey Renewed257
"No record tells of lance opposed to lance"258
"Who swerves from innocence, who makes divorce"260
"The Kirk of Ulpha to the pilgrim's eye"260
"Not hurled precipitous from steep to steep"261
Conclusion262
After-Thought263
Postscript264
Note to Sonnets XVII. and XVIII.267
Memoir of the Rev. Robert Walker270
[Pg x] Memorials of a Tour on the Continent—
Dedication285
Fish-women—on Landing at Calais286
Brugès288
Brugès290
After visiting the Field of Waterloo292
Between Namur and Liege293
Aix-la-Chapelle295
In the Cathedral at Cologne297
In a Carriage, upon the Banks of the Rhine299
Hymn, for the Boatmen, as they approach the Rapids under the
Castle of Heidelberg301
The Source of the Danube303
On approaching the Staubbach, Lauterbrunnen306
The Fall of the Aar—Handec308
Memorial, near the Outlet of the Lake of Thun310
Composed in one of the Catholic Cantons312
After-Thought315
Scene on the Lake of Brientz315
Engelberg, the Hill of Angels316
Our Lady of the Snow318
Effusion, in Presence of the Painted Tower of Tell, at Altorf321
The Town of Schwytz324
On hearing the "Ranz des Vaches" on the Top of
the Pass of St. Gothard326
Fort Fuentes328
The Church of San Salvador, seen from the Lake of Lugano332
The Italian Itinerant, and the Swiss Goatherd338
The Last Supper, by Leonardo da Vinci, in the Refectory of the
Convent of Maria della Grazia—Milan343
[Pg xi] The Eclipse of the Sun, 1820345
The Three Cottage Girls351
The Column intended by Buonaparte for a Triumphal
Edifice in Milan, now lying by the wayside in the Simplon Pass356
Stanzas composed in the Simplon Pass357
Echo, upon the Gemmi360
Processions. Suggested on a Sabbath Morning in the
Vale of Chamouny363
Elegiac Stanzas371
Sky-Prospect—From the Plain of France377
On being Stranded near the Harbour of Boulogne378
After Landing—the Valley of Dover, Nov. 1820380
At Dover381
Desultory Stanzas, upon receiving the preceding Sheets from the Press382
Appendix
Note A387
Note B389
Addendum396

[Pg 1]

WORDSWORTH'S POETICAL WORKS
1814

The Excursion—to which the fifth volume of this edition is devoted—has been assigned to the year 1814; since it was finished, and first published, in that year,—although commenced in 1795. During the earlier stages of its composition, this poem was known, in the Wordsworth household, as "The Pedlar"; and Dorothy Wordsworth tells us in one of her letters to the Beaumonts, preserved amongst the Coleorton MSS., that "The Pedlar" was finished at Christmas 1804. See also the Memoirs of Wordsworth, by his nephew (vol. i. p. 304, etc.), and Dorothy's Grasmere Journal, passim. But The Excursion, as we have it now, was finished for press in 1814. The poems more immediately belonging to that year are Laodamia, the Memorials of a Tour in Scotland, Dion, and two Sonnets.—Ed.


LAODAMIA

Composed 1814.—Published 1815.

[Written at Rydal Mount. The incident of the trees growing and withering put the subject into my thoughts, and I wrote with the hope of giving it a loftier tone than, so far as I know, has been given to it by any of the Ancients who have treated of it. It cost me more trouble than almost anything of equal length I have ever written.—I.F.]

In 1815 and 1820 this poem was one of those "founded on the Affections"; afterwards it was classed among the "Poems of the Imagination."—Ed.

[Pg 2]

"With sacrifice before the rising morn
Vows have I made by fruitless hope inspired;
And from the infernal Gods, 'mid shades forlorn
Of night, my slaughtered Lord have I required:[1]
5
Celestial pity I again implore;—
Restore him to my sight—great Jove, restore!"
So speaking, and by fervent love endowed
With faith, the Suppliant heaven-ward lifts her hands;
While, like the sun emerging from a cloud,
10
Her countenance brightens—and her eye expands;
Her bosom heaves and spreads, her stature grows;
And she expects the issue in repose.
O terror! what hath she perceived?—O joy!
What doth she look on?—whom doth she behold?
15
Her Hero slain upon the beach of Troy?
His vital presence? his corporeal mould?
It is—if sense deceive her not—'tis He!
And a God leads him, wingèd Mercury!
Mild Hermes spake—and touched her with his wand
20
That calms all fear; "Such grace hath crowned thy prayer,
Laodamía! that at Jove's command
Thy Husband walks the paths of upper air:
He comes to tarry with thee three hours' space;
Accept the gift, behold him face to face!"
Forth sprang the impassioned Queen her Lord to clasp;
26
Again that consummation she essayed;
But unsubstantial Form eludes her grasp
As often as that eager grasp was made.
[Pg 3]
The Phantom parts—but parts to re-unite,
30
And re-assume his place before her sight.
"Protesiláus, lo! thy guide is gone!
Confirm, I pray, the vision with thy voice:
This is our palace,—yonder is thy throne;
Speak, and the floor thou tread'st on will rejoice.
35
Not to appal me have the gods bestowed
This precious boon; and blest a sad abode."
"Great Jove, Laodamía! doth not leave
His gifts imperfect:—Spectre though I be,
I am not sent to scare thee or deceive;
40
But in reward of thy fidelity.
And something also did my worth obtain;
For fearless virtue bringeth boundless gain.
"Thou knowest, the Delphic oracle foretold
That the first Greek who touched the Trojan strand
Should die; but me the threat could[2] not withhold:
46
A generous cause a victim did demand;
And forth I leapt upon the sandy plain;
A self-devoted chief—by Hector slain."
"Supreme of Heroes—bravest, noblest, best!
50
Thy matchless courage I bewail no more,
Which[3] then, when tens of thousands were deprest
By doubt, propelled thee to the fatal shore;
Thou found'st—and I forgive thee—here thou art—
A nobler counsellor than my poor heart.
55
"But thou, though capable of sternest deed,
Wert kind as resolute, and good as brave;
[Pg 4]
And he, whose power restores thee, hath decreed
Thou should'st elude[4] the malice of the grave:
Redundant are thy locks, thy lips as fair
60
As when their breath enriched Thessalian air.
"No Spectre greets me,—no vain Shadow this;
Come, blooming Hero, place thee by my side!
Give, on this well known couch, one nuptial kiss
To me, this day, a second time thy bride!"
Jove frowned in heaven: the conscious Parcæ threw
66
Upon those roseate lips a Stygian hue.
"This visage tells thee that my doom is past:
Nor should the change be mourned, even if the joys[5]
Of sense were able to return as fast
70
And surely as they vanish. Earth destroys
Those raptures duly—Erebus disdains:
Calm pleasures there abide—majestic pains.
"Be taught, O faithful Consort, to control
Rebellious passion: for the Gods approve
75
The depth, and not the tumult, of the soul;
A fervent, not ungovernable, love.[6]
Thy transports moderate; and meekly mourn
When I depart, for brief is my sojourn—"
"Ah, wherefore?—Did not Hercules by force
80
Wrest from the guardian Monster of the tomb
Alcestis, a reanimated corse,
Given back to dwell on earth in vernal bloom?[7]
[Pg 5]
Medea's spells dispersed the weight of years,
And Æson stood a youth 'mid youthful peers.
85
"The Gods to us are merciful—and they
Yet further may relent: for mightier far
Than strength of nerve and sinew, or the sway
Of magic potent over sun and star,
89
Is love, though oft to agony distrest,
And though his favourite seat be feeble woman's breast.
"But if thou goest, I follow—" "Peace!" he said,—
She looked upon him and was calmed and cheered;
The ghastly colour from his lips had fled;
In his deportment, shape, and mien, appeared
95
Elysian beauty, melancholy grace,
Brought from a pensive though a happy place.
He spake of love, such love as Spirits feel
In worlds whose course is equable and pure;
No fears to beat away—no strife to heal—
100
The past unsighed for, and the future sure;
Spake of heroic arts in graver mood
Revived, with finer harmony pursued;[8]
Of all that is most beauteous—imaged there
In happier beauty; more pellucid streams,
105
An ampler ether, a diviner air,
And fields invested with purpureal gleams;
Climes which the sun, who sheds the brightest day
Earth knows, is all unworthy to survey.
Yet there the Soul shall enter which hath earned
110
That privilege by virtue.—"Ill," said he,
"The end of man's existence I discerned,
Who from ignoble games and revelry
[Pg 6]
Could draw, when we had parted, vain delight,
While tears were thy best pastime, day and night;
115
"And while my youthful peers before my eyes
(Each hero following his peculiar bent)
Prepared themselves for glorious enterprise
By martial sports,—or, seated in the tent,
Chieftains and kings in council were detained;
120
What time the fleet at Aulis lay enchained.[A]
"The wished-for wind was given:—I then revolved
The oracle, upon the silent sea;[9]
And, if no worthier led the way, resolved
That, of a thousand vessels, mine should be
125
The foremost prow in pressing to the strand,—
Mine the first blood that tinged the Trojan sand.
"Yet bitter, oft-times bitter, was the pang
When of thy loss I thought, belovèd Wife!
On thee too fondly did my memory hang,
130
And on the joys we shared in mortal life,—
The paths which we had trod—these fountains, flowers;
My new-planned cities, and unfinished towers.
"But should suspense permit the Foe to cry,
'Behold they tremble!—haughty their array,
135
Yet of their number no one dares to die?'
In soul I swept the indignity away:
Old frailties then recurred:—but lofty thought,
In act embodied, my deliverance wrought.
[Pg 7]
"And Thou, though strong in love, art all too weak
140
In reason, in self-government, too slow;
I counsel thee by fortitude to seek
Our blest re-union in the shades below.
The invisible world with thee hath sympathised;
Be thy affections raised and solemnised.
145
"Learn, by a mortal yearning, to ascend
Seeking[10] a higher object. Love was given,
Encouraged, sanctioned, chiefly for that[11] end;
For this the passion to excess was driven—
That self might be annulled; her bondage prove
150
The fetters of a dream, opposed to love."—
Aloud she shrieked! for Hermes re-appears!
Round the dear Shade she would have clung—'tis vain:
The hours are past—too brief had they been years;
And him no mortal effort can detain:
155
Swift, toward the realms that know not earthly day,
He through the portal takes his silent way,
And on the palace-floor a lifeless corse She lay.
Thus, all in vain exhorted and reproved,
She perished; and, as for a wilful crime,
160
By the just Gods whom no weak pity moved,
Was doomed to wear out her appointed time,
Apart from happy Ghosts, that gather flowers[12]
Of blissful quiet 'mid unfading bowers.
[Pg 8]
—Yet tears to human suffering are due;
165
And mortal hopes defeated and o'erthrown
Are mourned by man, and not by man alone,
As fondly he believes.—Upon the side
Of Hellespont (such faith was entertained)
A knot of spiry trees for ages grew
170
From out the tomb of him for whom she died;
And ever, when such stature they had gained
That Ilium's walls were subject to their view,
The trees' tall summits withered at the sight;
A constant interchange of growth and blight![C]

[Pg 9]

After meeting the Wordsworths at Charles Lamb's, on the 9th May 1815, Henry Crabb Robinson wrote in his Diary: "It is the mere power which he is conscious of exerting in which he delights, not the production of a work in which men rejoice on account of the sympathies and sensibilities it excites in them. Hence, he does not much esteem his Laodamia, as it belongs to the inferior class of poems founded on the affections." (See Diary, Reminiscences, and Correspondence, vol. i. p. 482.)

Wordsworth wrote thus to Walter Savage Landor, from Rydal Mount, on the 21st of January 1824:—

"You have condescended to minute criticism upon the Laodamia.[D] I concur with you in the first stanza, and had several times attempted to alter it upon your grounds. I cannot, however, accede to your objection to the 'second birth,' merely because the expression has been degraded by Conventiclers.[E] I certainly meant nothing more by it than the eadem cura, and the largior æther, etc., of Virgil's Sixth Æneid. All religions owe their origin or acceptation to the wish of the human heart to supply in another state of existence the deficiencies of this, and to carry still nearer to perfection what we admire in our present condition, so that there must be many modes of expression arising out of this coincidence, or rather identity of feeling common to all Mythologies; and under this observation I should shelter the phrase from your censure—but I may be wrong in the particular case, though certainly not in the general principle. This leads to a remark in your last—'that you are disgusted with all books that treat of religion.' I am afraid it is a bad sign in me, that I have little relish for any other. Even in poetry it is the imaginative only, viz., that which is conversant with or turns upon Infinity, that powerfully affects me. Perhaps I ought to explain: I mean to say that except in those passages, where things are lost in each other, and limits vanish, and aspirations are raised, I read with something too like indifference; but all great Poets are in this view powerful Religionists."

In 1815 Charles Lamb wrote to Wordsworth, "Laodamia is a very original poem; I mean original with reference to your own manner. You have nothing like it. I should have seen it in a strange place, and greatly admired it, but not suspected its [Pg 10]derivation." (The Letters of Charles Lamb, edited by Alfred Ainger, vol. i. p. 284.)

Mr. Hazlitt wrote of Laodamia: "It breathes the pure spirit of the finest fragments of antiquity—the sweetness, the gravity, the strength, the beauty, and the languor of Death. Its glossy brilliancy arises from the perfection of the finishing, like that of careful sculpture, not from gaudy colouring—the texture of the thoughts has the smoothness and solidity of marble. It is a poem that might be read aloud in Elysium, and the spirits of departed heroes and sages would gather round to listen to it."

I am indebted to the Headmaster of Fettes College, Edinburgh, the Rev. W. A. Heard, for the following illustrative notes on Laodamia:—

"This poem illustrates more completely than any other the sympathy of the poet with the spirit of antiquity in its purest and most exalted forms. The idea that underlies the poem is the same conception of 'pietas' which Virgil has embodied in the Æneid, and with which he has associated, especially in the sixth book, which Wordsworth in many passages recalls, great ethical and religious conceptions, derived in the main from the philosophy of Plato. 'Pietas' embraces all the duties of life that are based upon the affections—love of home and parents and children, love of the Gods of our Fathers, and a reverence for that great order of things in which man finds himself a part. The pious man believes in a destiny, or order transcending his own will: to exalt any passion, however innocent, above this, is a rebellion; to intensify any passion, so as to disturb the appropriate calm of resignation, is to act irreverently against the gods. Lesser duties must give way to greater: love of wife must give way to love of country, and the sorrow of bereavement must not obscure the larger issues of life. Thus, not only did Laodamia's yearning for the restoration of her husband to life show a failure to recognise the fixity of eternal laws, but her death was 'ὑπὲρ μόρον' and in reason's spite; it was, after all, self-will, and could not win the favour of heaven.

Blending with this notion of 'pietas,' we find the Platonic repudiation of sensuous and material life. This life is only a discipline under imperfect conditions, and to be set free from the passion and fretfulness of existence is the choice and longing of the wise.

The poem is thus notable, not so much for the assimilation of details, as for natural affinity to the spirituality of antiquity, of which Virgil is the purest exponent. Virgil's seriousness, his[Pg 11] tenderness, his conception of the inevitable, and yet moral, order of the world, his desire for purification, his sadness, and yet complete freedom from unmanliness, his love of nature and belief in the sympathy of nature with man—all these are points of contact between the ancient and modern poet.

With sacrifice before the rising morn.

Offerings were made to the infernal deities in the interval between midnight and sunrise. See Virgil's Æneid, vi. 242-258. Sil. Ital., xiii. 405.

mactare repostis
Mos umbris, inquit, consueta piacula nigras
Sub lucem pecudes.

It is men's wont to offer to the buried shades the proper expiations of black sheep on the verge of dawn.

Her bosom heaves and spreads, her stature grows.
Non voltus, non color unus,
Non comptae mansere comae; sed pectus anhelum,
Et rabie fera corda tument; majorque videri,
Nec mortale sonans.Æneid vi. 47.

Neither face nor hue remained unchanged, nor braided the locks of her hair: but the bosom heaves and the heart swells wild with frenzy, and she is more majestic to behold, and her voice has no mortal sound.

.    .    .    .    wingèd Mercury.
Ἑρμῆς ψυχαγωγός or ψυχοπομπός, the conductor of souls.
.    .    .    .    with his wand.
Tum virgam capit: hac animas ille evocat Orco,
Pallentes, alias sub Tartara tristia mittit,
Dat somnos adimitque.Æneid iv. 242.

Then he takes the wand: with this he summons pale ghosts from Orcus, others he sends to gloomy Tartarus below: with this he gives and takes away sleep.

But unsubstantial Form eludes her grasp.
Ter conatus ibi collo dare bracchia circum,
Ter frustra comprensa manus effugit imago,
Par levibus ventis volucrique simillima somno.
Æneid vi. 700.

Thrice thereon he tried to cast his arms around his neck: thrice was the phantom grasped in vain and escaped the embrace, unsubstantial as the fleeting winds and shadowy like as winged sleep.

[Pg 12]

But in reward of thy fidelity.
And something also did my worth obtain.

'Vicit iter durum pietas,' is realised by these lines. 'Fidelity has prevailed to traverse the awful path.'

Thou knowest, the Delphic oracle foretold.
Sors quoque nescio quem fato designat iniquo,
Qui primus Danaum Troada tangat humum.
Ovid, Heroides, xiii. 93.

An oracle, moreover, destines some one or other for a cruel doom, who first of the Greeks sets foot on Trojan soil.

A nobler counsellor than my poor heart.
See Laodamia's words, Ovid, Heroides, xiii. 95.
Infelix quae prima virum lugebit ademptum;
Di faciant ne tu strenuus esse velis.
Hoc quoque praemoneo: de nave novissimus exi,
Non est quo properes terra paterna tibi.

Unhappy wife who shall be the first to lament a husband slain: God grant you may not choose the forward part: this warning too I give, be last to disembark: 'tis no fatherland to hasten to, no fatherland for you.

Give, on this well known couch, one nuptial kiss.
This is probably an adaptation of Ovid, Heroides, xiii. 117.
Quando erit ut lecto mecum bene junctus in uno
Militiae referas splendida facta tuae.

When will the time be that you will share the couch, and lovingly at my side recount the glorious deeds of your warfare?

Be taught, O faithful Consort, to control
Rebellious passion: for the Gods approve
The depth, and not the tumult, of the soul, etc.

Cf. Euripides, Iphigeneia in Aulide, 547:

γαλανείᾳ χρησάμενοι
μαινομένων οἴστρων.
Stilling to calmness the frenzied passions of love.

And again:

εἴη δέ μοι μετρία μὲν
χάρις πόθοι δ' ὅσιοι.
Mine be 'moderate transports' and holy yearnings.
[Pg 13]
.    .    .    Did not Hercules by force.

This refers to the struggle between Hercules and Θάνατος.

Medea's spells dispersed the weight of years.

The story is found in Ovid, Metamorphoses, vii. 159-293.

Elysian beauty, melancholy grace,
Brought from a pensive though a happy place.

This is a perfect rendering of the tone of the Sixth Æneid.

Spake of heroic arts in graver mood
Revived, with finer harmony pursued.
Quae gratia currum
Armorumque fuit vivis, quae cura nitentes
Pascere equos, eadem sequitur tellure repostos.
Æneid vi. 653.

The charm of chariot and armour that they had in life, and the same care to pasture their glossy steeds, follow them deep buried under earth.

An ampler ether, a diviner air.
Largior hic campos aether et lumine vestit
Purpureo, solemque suum, sua sidera norunt.

Here an 'ampler ether' spreads around the plains, and clothes them in purple light, and they recognise a sun of their own, their own constellations.—Æneid vi. 640.

Yet bitter, oft-times bitter, was the pang.
Cf. Agamemnon's words, Iphigeneia in Aulide, 451-468.
My new-planned cities, and unfinished towers.
Cf. Homer, Iliad, ii. 700.
τοῦ δὲ καὶ ἀμφιδρυφὴς ἄλοχος Φυλάκῃ ἐλέλειπτο
καὶ δόμος ἡμιτελής.

But his wife too had been left at Phylace, her cheeks all marred with grief, and his palace half-finished.

In soul I swept the indignity away.
καὶ γὰρ οὐδέ τοί τι λίαν ἐμὲ φιλοψυχεῖν χρεών.

For neither of a surety ought I to cling to life too fondly.—Iphigeneia in Aulide, 1385.

It is from the character of Iphigeneia that Wordsworth derives these traits.

[Pg 14]

By the just Gods whom no weak pity moved.

We think of Virgil's tender line in the similar passage about Orpheus and Eurydice. Georg. iv. 488.

Quum subita incautum dementia cepit amantem,
Ignoscenda quidem, scirent si ignoscere Manes.

Pardonable indeed, were pardon known in the world of death.

Was doomed to wear out her appointed time.

Virg. Æn. vi. 445—

His Phaedram Procrimque locis maestamque Eriphylen
Crudelis nati monstrantem volnera cernit,
Evadnenque et Pasiphaën:
His Laodamia
It comes.

Those who died of love dwelt in the 'Lugentes Campi,' in the outer regions of Orcus.

A knot of spiry trees ...

The passage in Pliny is—

Sunt hodie ex adverso Iliensium urbis juxta Hellespontum in Protesilai sepulcro arbores, quae omnibus aevis cum in tantum accrevere ut Ilium aspiciant, inarescunt rursusque adolescunt.—Hist. Nat. 16, 44 (88).

Opposite to Ilium and close to the Hellespont there are to this day trees growing on Protesilaus' tomb, which, in every generation, as soon as they have grown high enough to see Ilium, wither away and again shoot up.

Cf. Anthologia Graeca Pal. vii. 141.

σᾶμα δέ τοι πτελέῃσι συηρεφὲς ἀμφικομεῦσι
Νύμφαι ἀπεχθομένης Ἰλίου ἀντιπέρας,
δένδρεα δυσμήνιτα, καὶ ἤν ποτε τεῖχος ἴδωσι
Τρώϊον αὐαλέην φυλλοχοεῦντι κόμην.

But right opposite hated Ilium the nymphs shroud thy tomb with a roof of elms; trees blighting with a lasting wrath, and if ever they see the walls of Troy, they shed their withering leaves.

And again, vii. 385—

καρφοῦται πετάλων κόσμον ἀναινόμενα.
They wither, disowning the glory of leaves.

For a legend showing a similar sympathy between nature and man, see Æneid, iii. 22."

[Pg 15]

As Wordsworth tells us in the Fenwick note to Laodamia, that "it cost him more trouble than almost anything of equal length he had ever written," and as there are many incomplete passages and suppressed readings among his MSS., the two following stanzas—intended at first to follow the second stanza in the poem as it now stands—may be given in a supplementary note.—Ed.

That rapture failing, the distracted Queen
Knelt, and embraced the Statue of the God:
"Mighty the boon I ask, but Earth has seen
Effects as awful from thy gracious nod;
All-ruling Jove, unbind the mortal chain,
Nor let the force of prayer be spent in vain!"
Round the high-seated Temple a soft breeze
Along the columns sighed—all else was still—
Mute, vacant as the face of summer seas,
No sign accorded of a favouring will.
Dejected she withdraws—her palace-gate
Enters—and, traversing a room of state,
O terror! etc. etc.

VARIANTS:

[1] 1827.

.    .    . before the rising morn
Performed, my slaughtered Lord have I required;
And in thick darkness, amid shades forlorn,
1815.
Him of the infernal Gods have I desired:

[2] 1820.

1815.
.    .    . did .    .    .

[3] 1820.

1815.
That .    .    . did .    .    .

[4] 1845.

1815.
That thou should'st cheat .    .    .

[5] 1836.

1815.
Know, virtue were not virtue if the joys

[6] 1820.

1815.
The fervor—not the impotence of love.

[7] 1827.

1815.
Towards .    .    . in beauty's bloom?

[8] 1827.

Spake, as a witness, of a second birth
1815.
For all that is most perfect upon earth;

[9] 1820.

1815.
Our future course, upon the silent sea;[B]

[10] 1836.

1815.
Towards .    .    .

[11] 1827.

1815.
.    .    . this .    .    .

[12] 1845.

Ah, judge her gently who so deeply loved!
Her, who, in reason's spite, yet without crime,
Was in a trance of passion thus removed;
Delivered from the galling yoke of time
1815.
And these frail elements—to gather flowers
By no weak pity might the Gods be moved;
She who thus perished not without the crime
Of Lovers that in Reason's spite have loved,
Was doomed to wander in a grosser clime,
1827.
Apart from happy Ghosts—that gather flowers
Was doomed to wear out her appointed time,
1832.
Apart from happy Ghosts—
She—who, though warned, exhorted, and reproved,
Thus died, from passion desperate to a crime—
By the just Gods, whom no weak pity moved,
1840.
Was doomed to wear out.
She perished thus, admonished and reproved
In vain; and even as for a wilful crime
c.
By the just Gods,
Thus, though forewarned, exhorted, and reproved,
c.
She perished; and even as for a wilful crime,

FOOTNOTES:

[A] Wordsworth mentioned in a letter to De Quincey (February 8, 1815) that this stanza was added while the poem was passing through the press.—Ed.

[B] The original MS. of Laodamia, however, contained the finally adopted reading "The oracle." Wordsworth explained to De Quincey (February 8, 1815) that he substituted the phrase "our future course," in case the words should seem to allude to the other answer of the oracle which commanded the sacrifice of Iphigenia.—Ed.

[C] For the account of these long-lived trees, see Pliny's Natural History, lib. xvi. cap. 44; and for the features in the character of Protesilaus see the Iphigenia in Aulis of Euripides. Virgil places the Shade of Laodamia in a mournful region, among unhappy Lovers:—

His Laodamia
It comes. W. W. 1827.

To his nephew, John Wordsworth, the poet wrote in 1831, explaining the alterations he had made in the last stanza of Laodamia: "As at first written, the heroine was dismissed to happiness in Elysium. To what purpose then the mission of Protesilaus? He exhorts her to moderate her passions; the exhortation is fruitless, and no punishment follows. So it stood: at present she is placed among unhappy ghosts for disregard of the exhortation. Virgil also places her there, but compare the two passages, and give me your opinion." (William Wordsworth, by Elizabeth Wordsworth, p. 131.)

With the last two lines of the poem, compare Hart-Leap Well, part ii. stanza 4 (vol. ii. p. 133)—

The trees were grey, with neither arms nor head;
Half wasted the square mound of tawny green, etc.Ed.

[D] Compare Imaginary Conversations, third series: "Southey and Porson."—Ed.

[E] He practically admitted its force, however, in the edition of 1827.—Ed.


MEMORIALS OF A TOUR IN SCOTLAND

1814

On the 18th July 1814, Wordsworth left Rydal, on a second visit to Scotland, accompanied by his wife, and her sister, Sarah Hutchinson.—Ed.

[In this tour, my wife and her sister Sara were my companions. The account of the "Brownie's Cell" and the Brownies was given me by a man we met with on the banks of Loch Lomond, a little above Tarbert, and in front of a huge mass of rock, by the side of which, we were told, preachings were often held in the open air. The place is quite a solitude, and the surrounding scenery very striking. How much is it to be regretted that, instead of writing such Poems as the Holy Fair and others, in which the religious observances of his country are treated with so much levity and too often with indecency, Burns had not employed his genius in describing religion under the serious and affecting[Pg 16] aspects it must so frequently take.[F]—I.F.]

The poems of this series were collected under their common title in the edition of 1827.—Ed.


I

SUGGESTED BY A BEAUTIFUL RUIN UPON ONE OF THE ISLANDS OF LOCH LOMOND, A PLACE CHOSEN FOR THE RETREAT OF A SOLITARY INDIVIDUAL,[13] FROM WHOM THIS HABITATION ACQUIRED THE NAME OF

THE BROWNIE'S CELL

Composed 1814.—Published 1820

I

To barren heath, bleak moor, and quaking fen,[14]
Or depth of[15] labyrinthine glen;
Or into trackless forest set
With trees, whose lofty umbrage met;
5
World-wearied Men withdrew of yore;
(Penance their trust, and prayer their store;)
And in the wilderness were bound
To such apartments as they found;
Or with a new ambition raised;
10
That God might suitably be praised.

[Pg 17]

II

High lodged the Warrior,[16] like a bird of prey;
Or where broad waters round him lay:
But this wild Ruin is no ghost
Of his devices—buried, lost!
15
Within this little lonely isle
There stood a consecrated Pile;
Where tapers burned, and mass was sung,
For them whose timid Spirits clung
To mortal succour, though the tomb
20
Had fixed, for ever fixed, their doom!

III

Upon[17] those servants of another world
When madding Power[18] her bolts had hurled,
Their habitation shook;—it fell,
And perished, save one narrow cell;
25
Whither, at length, a Wretch retired
Who neither grovelled nor aspired:
He, struggling in the net of pride,
The future scorned, the past defied;
Still tempering, from the unguilty forge
30
Of vain conceit, an iron scourge!

IV

Proud Remnant was he of a fearless Race,[19]
Who stood and flourished face to face
[Pg 18]
With their perennial hills;—but Crime,
Hastening the stern decrees of Time,
35
Brought low a Power, which from its home
Burst, when repose grew wearisome;
And, taking impulse from the sword,
And, mocking its own plighted word,
Had found, in ravage widely dealt,
40
Its warfare's bourn, its travel's belt![20]

V

All, all were dispossessed, save him whose smile
Shot lightning through this lonely Isle!
No right had he but what he made
To this small[21] spot, his leafy shade;
45
But the ground lay within that ring
To which he only dared to cling;
Renouncing here,[22] as worse than dead,
The craven few who bowed the head
Beneath the change; who heard a claim
50
How loud! yet lived in peace with shame.

[Pg 19]

VI

From year to year[23] this shaggy Mortal went
(So seemed it) down a strange descent:
Till they, who saw his outward frame,
Fixed on him an unhallowed name;
55
Him, free from all malicious taint,
And guiding, like the Patmos Saint,
A pen unwearied—to indite,
In his lone Isle,[24] the dreams of night;
Impassioned dreams, that strove to span
60
The faded glories of his Clan!

VII

Suns that through blood their western harbour sought,
And stars that in their courses fought;
Towers rent, winds combating with woods,
Lands deluged by unbridled floods;
65
And beast and bird that from the spell
Of sleep took import terrible;—
These types mysterious (if the show
Of battle and the routed foe
Had failed) would furnish an array
70
Of matter for the dawning day!

[Pg 20]

VIII

How disappeared He?—ask the newt and toad,
Inheritors of his abode;
The otter crouching undisturbed,
In her dank cleft;—but be thou curbed,
75
O froward Fancy! 'mid a scene
Of aspect winning and serene;
For those offensive creatures shun
The inquisition of the sun!
And in this region flowers delight,
80
And all is lovely to the sight.

IX

Spring finds not here a melancholy breast,
When she applies her annual test
To dead and living; when her breath
Quickens, as now, the withered heath;—
85
Nor flaunting[25] Summer—when he throws
His soul into the briar-rose;
Or calls the lily from her sleep
Prolonged beneath the bordering deep;
Nor Autumn, when the viewless wren
90
Is warbling near the Brownie's Den.

X

Wild Relique! beauteous as the chosen spot
In Nysa's isle, the embellished grot;[G]
Whither, by care of Libyan Jove,
(High Servant of paternal Love)
95
Young Bacchus was conveyed—to lie
[Pg 21]
Safe from his step-dame Rhea's eye;
Where bud, and bloom, and fruitage, glowed,
Close-crowding round the infant-god;
All colours,—and the liveliest streak
100
A foil to his celestial cheek!

The text of this poem was unaltered in the successive editions with a single exception, occurring in the first line. It was suggested by, and was a reminiscence of the tour in Scotland of 1814; but in 1803 Wordsworth visited the same spot alluded to in the Fenwick note, accompanied by his sister, who thus describes it: "The most remarkable object we saw was a huge single stone, I believe three or four times the size of Bowder Stone. The top of it, which on one side was sloping like the roof of a house, was covered with heather.... The ferryman told us that a preaching was held there once in three months by a certain minister—I think of Arrochar—who engages, as a part of his office, to perform the service. The interesting feelings we had connected with the Highland Sabbath and Highland worship returned here with double force. The rock, though on one side a high perpendicular wall, in no place overhung so as to form a shelter, in no place could it be more than a screen from the elements. Why then had it been selected for such a purpose? Was it merely from being a central situation and a conspicuous object? Or did there belong to it some inheritance of superstition from old times? It is impossible to look at the stone without asking, How came it hither? Had then that obscurity and unaccountableness, that mystery of power which is about it, any influence over the first persons who resorted hither for worship? Or have they now on those who continue to frequent it? The lake is in front of the perpendicular wall, and behind, at some distance, and totally detached from it, is the continuation of the ridge of mountain which forms the Vale of Loch Lomond—a magnificent temple, of which this spot is a noble Sanctum Sanctorum." (Recollections of a Tour made in Scotland, A.D. 1803, pp. 225-6.) The late Rev. William Macintosh of Buchanan supplied me with the following information in reference to the Brownie's Cell and the Pulpit Rock:—"I have little doubt that the Brownie's Cell is the name given by Wordsworth to a small vault, itself a ruin among the ruins of an old stronghold of the Macfarlanes in Eilan Vhow, an islet about three miles from the head of the Loch. The name of the islet is spelt in different ways; sometimes as I [Pg 22]have given it, sometimes Eilan Vow, or Eilan-a Vhu; no one whom I consulted could tell me the right spelling. In the early part of this century, the vault was the headquarters of a pedlar of the name of Macfarlane. He may have been the Hermit; and there is a story of his having been frightened by the sudden apparition of a negro, (probably the first he had ever seen), who had been ordered by his master—an English officer—to swim across for that purpose: and it is said that he never again visited the cell.

The Pulpit Rock, also called by a Gaelic name meaning the Bull Stone, is a very large boulder, or detached rock, which is likely to 'stand' as long as Ben Lomond. In the face of it, there is an artificial doorway and recess, which at one time the Parish Minister used to occupy as a Pulpit for occasional services. The audience sat on turf seats ranged round the foot of the Rock. The pulpit was reached by a few steps cut out, I suppose, in the Rock: but it has never been used for the last twenty years. The 'occasional' services are now held in a neighbouring schoolroom."

Mr. Malcolm M'Farlane, a very intelligent sheep farmer in Buchanan parish, supplies the following additional information about the Cell and the Rock:—"The 'Pulpit Rock' is a cell in the face of a large stone, blasted out with gunpowder. The proper appellation is, in Gaelic, 'Clach-nan-Tairbh,' literally translated the 'Stone of the Bulls.' It was formed about 50 or 60 years ago, the then minister of Arrochar, Mr. Proudfoot, had promised to preach in that part of his parish, on several occasions during the year, provided they would get up a place for his reception.... It was capable of containing three or four persons inside, was done up with wood work, an outer and inner door, with stone steps leading to the recess. They were not formed out of the rock, but other stones got up for the purpose, and turf seats laid out for the hearers, who were all exposed to the weather, except so far as they might be sheltered by the rock. The service has been discontinued at the rock for about twenty-five years, and is now held at a schoolhouse. The doors are gone, and no portion of the wood work remains. The cell is now used only as a nightly retreat for mendicants, tinkers," etc. Wordsworth's reference, in the Fenwick note, to Burns's Holy Fair induces me to quote what follows in Mr. M'Farlane's letter:—"Open air preaching was then very general in the Highlands: the people came long distances, travelled over hills, even in inclement weather, to attend them.[Pg 23] An individual who kept a small inn, on the loch side opposite Inversnaid, used regularly to attend the meetings with a supply of whisky; but he remained behind the 'rock' till the services were over, when the people partook of his refreshments. Also, on the north side of Loch Katrine, the minister of Callander used to conduct services in the open air, on several occasions during the year, in that distant part of his parish. An old man, who lived near the Trossachs, whom I remember very well, regularly attended with a supply of whisky. Dr. Robertson, who was then minister, after concluding the sermon, had gone to an adjoining farm house. The people had indulged too freely, so that a fight commenced (the same thing had happened on several occasions before). The Doctor had to leave his dinner in order to get them separated, and to put an end to the battle, but he never allowed any more whisky to be brought to the place afterwards.... These may be irrelevant matters, but they might illustrate a chapter in Lecky's History of Morals, as there is more decorum now observed. Since writing the above, I have thought that if the pulpit-rock is mentioned in Miss Wordsworth's Tour, Mr. M'Nicol, my informant, must have made a mistake in stating the time it was made, as about 50 or 60 years ago; but it cannot have been much more than 80 years, as it is not very long since some of the people who were engaged in the operation died.

"Regarding the island near the head of Loch Lomond which is termed 'Eilan (Island) Vow' in Black's Guide, and somewhat differently spelt in others, in the original Gaelic it is 'Eilan a Bhūth.' Būth is a Gaelic name for a shop, so that it is 'the island of the shop.' The English Vow has no connection whatever with the Gaelic, and is perfectly unintelligible. It is part of undoubted traditional history that the chiefs of the Clan M'Farlane, who owned a considerable portion of the adjoining lands, had their residence here. In these turbulent times islands were considered more secure, as surrounded with water. They kept a 'shop' in the island, from which they supplied the little wants of the surrounding population, so that it is perfectly clear how the Island derived its name. A good portion of the stronghold is still in good preservation. A part of the wall is about thirty feet high. It is a very old building. Mr. M'Nicol states that he had learned from his grandfather, by the tradition in the family, that it was erected between the eleventh and the twelfth century. The late Sir James Colquhoun, about twelve years ago, laid out some money for keeping the walls in[Pg 24] preservation. At the bottom of the Fort, and below the level of the floor, is the 'Brownie's Cell,' several steps leading down to it, and it is partly underground. It is about twelve feet wide, and sixteen feet long, with an arched roof, the mason work being still in good repair. There is some glimmering light emitted by two small apertures formed in the walls at each end. I have been unable to obtain any specific information what purpose it served in connection with the other building. Some said that it must have been a prison, and others a store for the shop. It might have been a prison at first, and afterwards, in more pacific times, used as a store.

"About the beginning of this century, the Island was occupied by a very eccentric individual, who led the life of a hermit, and took up his abode in this recess. He made frequent excursions out of it, but always returned to his Island-home before the end of the week. It was not then planted with wood, so that he cultivated a part of the ground, raised some crops, kept some poultry. He trained the poultry to fly on the approach of any stranger, so that they could not be got hold of, or taken away in his absence from the Island. He also kept a curious diary, in which local events, his own doings and opinions, were recorded in great detail, expressed in very quaint language. It was by the age of the moon, and not by the days of the month, that events were entered in the diary. He also cultivated astrology, and believed in the evil influence of some of the stars. He had a firm belief in ghosts; but he never was so frightened as when the Black Man (that is the negro), who he thought belonged to the invisible world, swam to the island. Of that adventure I have not been able to obtain a more detailed account, but his landing there very nearly put him out of his wits. The grandfather of the present Duke of Montrose had, on one occasion, visited the Island; and, when landing, the Hermit addressed him, 'James Graham, the Duke of Montrose, you are welcome to come and see my Island.'..."

There is no evidence that the ruin was once "a consecrated Pile," as stated in the poem. Wordsworth had evidently heard of the Hermit's writings, as mentioned by Mr. M'Farlane. See stanza vi., "guiding a pen unwearied."

In the Diary, Reminiscences, and Correspondence of Henry Crabb Robinson, there is an entry, dated January 2, 1820:—"Went to Lamb's, where I found Mr. and Mrs. Wordsworth.... Not much was said about his (W.'s) new volume of Poems. He himself spoke of The Brownie's Cell as his favourite" [Pg 25](vol. ii. p. 162). In the following year Mr. Crabb Robinson himself visited Scotland, and wrote thus on the 16th September:—"Being on the western side of Loch Lomond, opposite the Mill at Inversnaid, some women kindled a fire, the smoke of which was to be a signal for a ferryboat. No ferryman came; and a feeble old man offering himself as a boatman, I intrusted myself to him. I asked the women who he was. They said, 'That's old Andrew.' According to their account he lived a hermit's life in a lone island on the lake; the poor peasantry giving him meal, and what he wanted, and he picking up pence. On my asking him whether he would take me across the lake, he said, 'I wull, if you'll gi'e me saxpence.' So I consented. But before I was half over I repented of my rashness, for I feared the oars would fall out of his hands. A breath of wind would have rendered half the voyage too much for him. There was some cunning mixed up with the fellow's seeming imbecility, for when his strength was failing he rested, and entered into talk, manifestly to amuse me. He said he could see things before they happened. He saw the Radicals before they came, etc. He had picked up a few words of Spanish and German, which he uttered ridiculously, and laughed. But when I put troublesome questions he affected not to understand me; and was quite astonished, as well as delighted, when I gave him two sixpences instead of the one he had bargained for. The simple-minded women, who affected to look down on him, seemed, however, to stand in awe of him, and no wonder. On my telling Wordsworth this history, he exclaimed, 'That's my "Brownie!"' His Brownie's Cell is by no means one of my favourite poems. My sight of old Andrew showed me the stuff out of which a poetical mind can weave such a web" (vol. ii. pp. 212, 213).

Compare the sequel to this poem, The Brownie, in the "Yarrow Revisited and other Poems," of the Tour made in Scotland in the autumn of 1831.—Ed.

[Pg 26]


VARIANTS:

[13] 1820.

ms.

individual, a sketch of whose character is given in the Poem,

[14] 1837.

1820.
To barren heath, and quaking fen,
ms.
To {swampy} heath, and quaking fen,
{sandy }

[15] 1820.

ms.
Dark moor and .    .    .

[16] Italics were first used in 1827.

[17] 1820.

ms.
When on .    .    .

[18] 1820.

ms.
Distempered Power .    .    .

[19] 1820.

Last of an else extinguished Highland clan,
Last glimmering spark, was this rude man;
ms.
Sole remnant of a haughty race,

[20] 1820.

With their perennial hills; but Time
Brought low a power that could not climb,
Though, from its well-defended Home,
When, sword in hand, it chose to roam,
Its warfare's bourne, its travel's belt,
ms.
Was devastation widely dealt.
With their perennial hills; but Crime,
That hastens the decrees of time,
Brought low a Power, which, when it chose
To spurn confinement and repose,
Made devastation widely dealt,
ms.
Its warfare's bourne, its travel's belt.

[21] 1820.

ms.
.    .    . lone .    .    .

[22] 1820.

ms.
For he renounc'd .    .    .
ms.
For less than exiled, .    .    .

[23] 1820.

ms.
Here lodged and fed .    .    .
ms.
In Being's scale .    .    .

[24] 1820.

.    .    .    .    .    . descent;
Till he—half dreaded, half disdained,
The title of a Brownie gained:
{He who} to no malicious taint
{But he}
Was subject—like the Patmos Saint;
His ruling case, his chief delight,
ms.
To pen by day

[25] 1820.

ms.
Nor wanton .    .    .

FOOTNOTES:

[F] Compare Wordsworth's Letter to a Friend of Burns (passim).—Ed.

[G] Diodorus mentions this tradition (see his History, book iii. chap. 4), that the infant Bacchus was carried by Ammon, the Libyan Jupiter, to a cave on an island near Mount Nysa, from fear of Rhea, and that he was handed over to the care and the tuition of Nysa, the daughter of Aristæus. From this mountain the young Bacchus was supposed to have derived his name, Dionysus.—Ed.


II
COMPOSED AT CORA LINN,

In sight of Wallace's Tower

—How Wallace fought for Scotland, left the name
Of Wallace to be found, like a wild flower,
All over his dear Country; left the deeds
Of Wallace, like a family of ghosts,
To people the steep rocks and river banks,
Her natural sanctuaries, with a local soul
Of independence and stern liberty. ms.[H]

Composed 1814.—Published 1820

[I had seen this celebrated Waterfall twice before; but the feelings to which it had given birth were not expressed till they recurred in presence of the object on this occasion.—I.F.]

Lord of the vale! astounding Flood;
The dullest leaf in this thick wood
Quakes—conscious of thy power;
The caves reply with hollow moan;
5
And vibrates, to its central stone,
Yon time-cemented Tower![I]
And yet how fair the rural scene!
For thou, O Clyde, hast ever been
[Pg 27]
Beneficent as strong;
10
Pleased in refreshing dews to steep
The little trembling flowers that peep
Thy shelving rocks among.
Hence all who love their country, love
To look on thee—delight to rove
15
Where they thy voice can hear;
And, to the patriot-warrior's Shade,
Lord of the vale! to Heroes laid
In dust, that voice is dear!
Along thy banks, at dead of night
20
Sweeps visibly the Wallace Wight;
Or stands, in warlike vest,
Aloft, beneath the moon's pale beam,
A Champion worthy of the stream,
Yon grey tower's living crest!
25
But clouds and envious darkness hide
A Form not doubtfully descried:—
Their transient mission o'er,
O say to what blind region flee
These Shapes of awful phantasy?
30
To what untrodden shore?
Less than divine command they spurn;
But this we from the mountains learn,
And this the valleys show;
That never will they deign to hold
35
Communion where the heart is cold
To human weal and woe.
The man of abject soul in vain
Shall walk the Marathonian plain;
Or thrid the shadowy gloom,
40
That still invests the guardian Pass,
[Pg 28]
Where stood, sublime, Leonidas
Devoted to the tomb.[J]
And let no Slave his head incline,
Or kneel, before the votive shrine
45
By Uri's lake, where Tell
Leapt, from his storm-vext boat, to land,[K]
Heaven's Instrument, for by his hand
That day the Tyrant fell.[26]

VARIANT:

[26] 1845.

Nor deem that it can aught avail
For such to glide with oar or sail
Beneath the piny wood,
Where Tell once drew, by Uri's lake,
His vengeful shafts—prepared to slake
1820.
Their thirst in Tyrants' blood!

FOOTNOTES:

[H] Compare The Prelude (vol. iii. p. 139), to which may be added the following Wallace Memorials:—"The barrel, or cave, in Bothwell parish; caves in Lasswade, Torphichen, and Lesmahagow parishes; chair at Bonniton, near Lanark; cradle on hill, two miles south by west of Linlithgow; house at Elderslie, in Renfrewshire; larder at Ardrossan; leap in Roseneath parish; monument on Abbey Craig, near Stirling; oaks at Elderslie and at Torwood; seats in Biggar, Kilbarchan, and Dumbarton parishes; statues at Lanark, and adjacent to the Tweed, near Dryburgh; stone in Polmont parish; towers in Ayr town, Roxburgh parish, Auchterhouse parish, and Kirkmichael parish, Dumfriesshire; trench in Kincardine-in-Monteith parish; and well in Biggar parish."—Wilson's Gazetteer of Scotland, 1882 (article, "Wallace Memorials").—Ed.

[I] The "time-cemented Tower" of the old castle of Cora still overlooks the waterfall. Compare the Address to Kilchurn Castle in the "Memorials of a Tour in Scotland," 1803 (vol. ii. p. 400); and, with

The dullest leaf in this thick wood
Quakes—conscious of thy power,

compare the Lines written in Early Spring (vol. i. p. 268).—Ed.

[J] Leonidas, king of Sparta, killed in the heroic defence of the pass of Thermopylæ, B.C. 480.—Ed.

[K] On the western side of the bay of Uri, in the lake of Lucerne, is Tell's Platte, where on a ledge of rock stands the chapel—rebuilt in 1880, but said to have been originally built in 1388—on the spot where the Swiss Patriot leapt out of Gessler's boat, and shot the tyrant.—Ed.


III
EFFUSION,

In the Pleasure-Ground on the Banks of the Bran, near Dunkeld

Composed 1814.—Published 1827

[I am not aware that this condemnatory effusion was ever seen by the owner of the place. He might be disposed to pay little attention to it; but were it to prove otherwise I should be glad, for the whole exhibition is distressingly puerile.—I.F.]

"The waterfall, by a loud roaring, warned us when we must expect it. We were first, however, conducted into a small apartment, where the Gardener desired us to look at a picture of Ossian, which, while he was telling the history of the young [Pg 29]Artist who executed the work, disappeared, parting in the middle—flying asunder as by the touch of magic—and lo! we are at the entrance of a splendid apartment, which was almost dizzy and alive with waterfalls, that tumbled in all directions; the great cascade, opposite the window, which faced us, being reflected in innumerable mirrors upon the ceiling and against the walls."—Extract from the Journal of my Fellow-Traveller.[L]

What He—who, mid the kindred throng
Of Heroes that inspired his song,
Doth yet frequent the hill of storms,
The stars dim-twinkling through their forms!
5
What! Ossian here—a painted Thrall,
Mute fixture on a stuccoed wall;
To serve—an unsuspected screen
For show that must not yet be seen;
And, when the moment comes, to part
10
And vanish by mysterious art;
Head, harp, and body, split asunder,
For ingress to a world of wonder;
A gay saloon, with waters dancing
Upon the sight wherever glancing;
15
One loud cascade in front, and lo!
A thousand like it, white as snow—
Streams on the walls, and torrent-foam
As active round the hollow dome,
Illusive cataracts! of their terrors
20
Not stripped, nor voiceless in the mirrors,
That catch the pageant from the flood
Thundering adown a rocky wood.
What pains to dazzle and confound!
What strife of colour, shape and sound
25
In this quaint medley, that might seem
Devised out of a sick man's dream![27]
Strange scene, fantastic and uneasy
[Pg 30]
As ever made a maniac dizzy,
When disenchanted from the mood
30
That loves on sullen thoughts to brood!
O Nature—in thy changeful visions,
Through all thy most abrupt transitions[28]
Smooth, graceful, tender, or sublime—
Ever averse to pantomime,
35
Thee neither do they know nor us
Thy servants, who can trifle thus;
Else verily[29] the sober powers
Of rock that frowns, and stream that roars,
Exalted by congenial sway
40
Of Spirits, and the undying Lay,
And Names that moulder not away,
Had wakened[30] some redeeming thought
More worthy of this favoured Spot;
Recalled some feeling—to set free
45
The Bard from such indignity!
[M]The Effigies of a valiant Wight
I once beheld, a Templar Knight;
Not prostrate, not like those that rest
On tombs, with palms together prest,
50
But sculptured out of living stone,
And standing upright and alone,
Both hands with rival energy
Employed in setting his sword free
[Pg 31]
From its dull sheath—stern sentinel
55
Intent to guard St. Robert's cell;[N]
As if with memory of the affray
Far distant, when, as legends say,
The Monks of Fountain's[O] thronged to force
From its dear home the Hermit's corse,
60
That in their keeping it might lie,
To crown their abbey's sanctity.
So had they rushed into the grot
Of sense despised, a world forgot,
And torn him from his loved retreat,
65
Where altar-stone and rock-hewn seat
Still hint that quiet best is found,
Even by the Living, under ground;
But a bold Knight, the selfish aim
Defeating, put the Monks to shame,
70
There where you see his Image stand
Bare to the sky, with threatening bran
Which lingering Nid is proud to show
Reflected in the pool below.
Thus, like the men of earliest days,
75
Our sires set forth their grateful praise:
Uncouth the workmanship, and rude!
But, nursed in mountain solitude,
Might some aspiring artist dare
To seize whate'er, through misty air,
80
A ghost, by glimpses, may present
Of imitable lineament,
And give the phantom an array
[Pg 32]
That less[31] should scorn the abandoned clay;
Then let him hew with patient stroke
85
An Ossian out of mural rock,
And leave the figurative Man—
Upon thy margin, roaring Bran!—
Fixed, like the Templar of the steep,
An everlasting watch to keep;
90
With local sanctities in trust,
More precious than a hermit's dust;
And virtues through the mass infused,
Which old idolatry abused.
What though the Granite would deny
95
All fervour to the sightless eye;
And touch from rising suns in vain
Solicit a Memnonian strain;[P]
Yet, in some fit of anger sharp,
The wind might force the deep-grooved harp
100
To utter melancholy moans
Not unconnected with the tones
Of soul-sick flesh and weary bones;
While grove and river notes would lend,
Less deeply sad, with these to blend!
105
Vain pleasures of luxurious life,
For ever with yourselves at strife;
Through town and country both deranged
By affectations interchanged,
And all the perishable gauds
110
That heaven-deserted man applauds;
[Pg 33]
When will your hapless patrons learn
To watch and ponder—to discern
The freshness, the everlasting youth,[32]
Of admiration sprung from truth;
115
From beauty infinitely growing
Upon a mind with love o'erflowing—
To sound the depths of every Art
That seeks its wisdom through the heart?
Thus (where the intrusive Pile, ill-graced
120
With baubles of theatric taste,
O'erlooks the torrent breathing showers
On motley bands of alien flowers
In stiff confusion set or sown,
Till Nature cannot find her own,
125
Or keep a remnant of the sod
Which Caledonian Heroes trod)
I mused; and, thirsting for redress,
Recoiled into the wilderness.

VARIANTS:

[27] The preceding four lines were added in the edition of 1837.

[28] 1827.

c.
Through all thy numberless transitions
c.
Throughout thy infinite transitions

[29] 1832.

1827.
Else surely had .    .    .

[30] 1832.

1827.
Awakened .    .    .

[31] 1837.

.    .    . such array
1827.
As less .    .    .
And so inspired in shape display
c.
That less .    .    .

[32] 1837.

1827.
.    .    . the eternal youth,

FOOTNOTES:

[L] See the Recollections of a Tour made in Scotland, 1803, by Dorothy Wordsworth, p. 210.—Ed.

[M] On the banks of the River Nid, near Knaresborough.—W. W. 1827.

[N] "The cliffs overhanging the Nid have been hollowed out into numerous cavities, some of which serve as dwellings, walled in front, and some having chimneys carried out at the tops; sometimes with windows and doors let into the rock itself. The most remarkable of these is St. Robert's Chapel, scooped out, and inhabited (it is said) by the same St. Robert, whose cave is farther down the river. An altar has been cut out of the rock, and one or two rude figures carved within this so-called chapel. The figure of an armed man with his sword in his hand is sculptured outside, as if guarding the entrance."—Murray's Yorkshire, p. 240 (edition 1867).—Ed.

[O] Fountains Abbey, near Studley Royal, in Yorkshire.—Ed.

[P] The statue of Amenophis in the vicinity of Thebes—called by the Greeks the statue of Memnon—was fabled to give forth a musical strain, when touched by the first ray of sunrise.—Ed.


"FROM THE DARK CHAMBERS OF DEJECTION FREED"

Composed 1814.—Published 1815

[Composed in Edinburgh, during my Scotch tour with Mrs. Wordsworth and my sister, Miss Hutchinson, in the year 1814. Poor Gillies never rose above that course of extravagance in which he was at that time living, and which soon reduced him to poverty and all its degrading shifts, mendicity being far from the worst. I grieve whenever I think of him, for he was far from being without genius, and had a generous heart, not always to be found in men given up to profusion. He was nephew of Lord Gillies, the Scotch judge, and also of the [Pg 34]historian of Greece. He was cousin to Miss Margaret Gillies, who painted so many portraits with success in our house.—I.F.]

Classed among the "Miscellaneous Sonnets." In 1815 the sonnet was headed To ——.—Ed.

From the dark chambers of dejection freed,
Spurning the unprofitable yoke of care,
Rise, Gillies, rise:[33] the gales of youth shall bear
Thy genius forward like a wingèd steed.
5
Though bold Bellerophon (so Jove decreed
In wrath) fell headlong from the fields of air,
Yet a rich[34] guerdon waits on minds that dare,
If aught be in them of immortal seed,
And reason govern that audacious flight
Which heaven-ward they direct.—Then droop not thou,
11
Erroneously renewing a sad vow
In the low dell 'mid Roslin's faded grove:[35]
A cheerful life is what the Muses love,
A soaring spirit is their prime delight.

I am indebted to Miss Margaret Gillies—the artist referred to in the Fenwick note—for information in reference to her cousin, the subject of this sonnet. Robert Pearce Gillies was a man of unquestionable talent, but eccentric and extravagant. He inherited a considerable fortune, some £1500 a year, from his father, which he lost. He was editor of the Foreign Quarterly Review, was very intimate with De Quincey, and knew Sir Walter Scott, Wordsworth, and Quillinan well. He translated several German poems and novels, of which Scott thought highly. He was the author of Memoirs of a Literary Veteran (1851), in which (vol. ii. pp. 137-173) there is a sketch of Wordsworth, and several letters from him. He was [Pg 35]also an accomplished musician, playing the violin admirably. He lived near Hawthornden.

The expression "faded" or "fading grove," which Wordsworth applies to Roslin, may refer merely to the season of the year, viz. September.—Ed.

A sonnet written by Gillies, and addressed to Wordsworth, may be quoted in this note. It was transcribed by Mrs. Wordsworth into a copy of the 4to edition of The Excursion (1814), which was presented by the Poet to his grandson.

To the Author of The Excursion

Though feebly in my harassed mind the light
Of fancy burn, yet thy inspiring strain
Wordsworth! has power to lull the sense of pain,
And bring long lost illusions to my sight.
Methinks the autumnal fields,—the mist-wreaths white,—
The woods,—the distant waters of the main
Their wonted hues of wild enchantment gain,
And, for a space, my cares are put to flight.
Then, how much more shall this immortal Lay
For the "free Soul" celestial sweets disclose!—
But, thine it is, oh Bard! with magic sway
To charm each meaner passion to repose;—
To guide the faltering pilgrim on his way,
And energise the weak, and soothe the mourner's woes.
R. P. Gillies.

VARIANTS:

[33] 1820.

1815.
Rise,    *   *   *   rise: .    .    .

[34] 1827.

1815.
.    .    . high .    .    .

[35] 1827.

1815.
.    .    . fading grove:

IV
YARROW VISITED

September, 1814

Composed 1814.—Published 1815

[As mentioned in my verses on the death of the Ettrick Shepherd, my first visit to Yarrow was in his company. We had lodged the night before at Traquair, where Hogg had joined us, and also Dr. Anderson, the Editor of the British Poets, who was on a visit at the Manse. Dr. A. walked with[Pg 36] us till we came in view of the Vale of Yarrow, and, being advanced in life, he then turned back. The old man was passionately fond of poetry, though with not much of a discriminating judgment, as the Volumes he edited sufficiently shew. But I was much pleased to meet with him, and to acknowledge my obligation to his collection, which had been my brother John's companion in more than one voyage to India, and which he gave me before his departure from Grasmere, never to return. Through these Volumes I became first familiar with Chaucer, and so little money had I then to spare for books, that, in all probability, but for this same work, I should have known little of Drayton, Daniel, and other distinguished poets of the Elizabethan age, and their immediate successors, till a much later period of my life. I am glad to record this, not from any importance of its own, but, as a tribute of gratitude to this simple-hearted old man, whom I never again had the pleasure of meeting. I seldom read or think of this poem without regretting that my dear Sister was not of the party, as she would have had so much delight in recalling the time, when, travelling together in Scotland, we declined going in search of this celebrated stream, not altogether, I will frankly confess, for the reasons assigned in the poem on the occasion.—I.F.]

In 1815 and 1820 this was one of the "Poems of the Imagination." In 1827 it became one of the "Memorials of a Tour in Scotland" of 1814.

The MS. readings to this poem are taken from a copy in a letter by Dorothy Wordsworth to Mrs. Clarkson, dated November 11, 1814.—Ed.

And is this—Yarrow?—This the Stream
Of which my fancy cherished,
So faithfully, a waking dream?[36]
An image that hath perished!
5
O that some Minstrel's harp were near,
To utter notes[37] of gladness,
[Pg 37]
And chase this silence from the air,
That fills my heart with sadness!
Yet why?—a silvery current flows
10
With uncontrolled meanderings;
Nor have these eyes by greener hills
Been soothed, in all my wanderings.
And, through her depths,[38] Saint Mary's Lake
Is visibly delighted;
15
For not a feature of those hills
Is in the mirror slighted.
A blue sky bends o'er Yarrow vale,
Save where that pearly whiteness
Is round the rising sun diffused,
20
A tender hazy brightness;
Mild dawn of promise! that excludes
All profitless dejection;
Though not unwilling here to admit
A pensive recollection.
25
Where was it that the famous Flower
Of Yarrow Vale lay bleeding?
His bed perchance was yon smooth mound
On which the herd is feeding:
And haply from this crystal pool,
30
Now peaceful as the morning,
The Water-wraith ascended thrice—
And gave his doleful warning.
Delicious is the Lay that sings
The haunts of happy Lovers,
35
The path that leads them to the grove,
The leafy grove that covers:
And Pity sanctifies the Verse
That paints, by strength of sorrow,
[Pg 38]
The unconquerable strength of love;
40
Bear witness, rueful Yarrow!
But thou, that didst appear so fair
To fond imagination,
Dost rival in the light of day
Her delicate creation:
45
Meek loveliness is round thee spread,
A softness still and holy;
The grace of forest charms decayed,
And pastoral melancholy.
That region left, the vale unfolds
50
Rich groves of lofty stature,
With Yarrow winding through the pomp
Of cultivated nature;
And, rising from those lofty groves,
Behold a Ruin hoary!
55
The shattered front of Newark's Towers,
Renowned in Border story.[Q]
Fair scenes for childhood's opening bloom,
For sportive youth to stray in;
For manhood to enjoy his strength;
60
And age to wear away in!
Yon cottage seems a bower of bliss,
A covert for protection
Of tender thoughts, that nestle there—
The brood of chaste affection.[38a]
[Pg 39] 65
How sweet, on this autumnal day,
The wild-wood[39] fruits to gather,
And on my True-love's forehead plant
A crest of blooming heather!
And what if I enwreathed my own!
70
'Twere no offence to reason;
The sober Hills thus deck their brows
To meet the wintry season.
I see—but not by sight alone,
Loved Yarrow, have I won thee;
75
A ray of fancy still survives—
Her sunshine plays upon thee!
Thy ever-youthful waters keep
A course of lively pleasure;
And gladsome notes my lips can breathe,
80
Accordant to the measure.
The vapours linger round the Heights,
They melt, and soon must vanish;
One hour is theirs, nor more is mine—
Sad thought, which I would banish,
85
But that I know, where'er I go,
Thy genuine image, Yarrow!
Will dwell with me—to heighten joy,
And cheer my mind in sorrow.

Compare Yarrow Unvisited, vol. ii. p. 411; also Yarrow Revisited, composed in 1831; and Principal Shairp's Essay entitled "The Three Yarrows," in his Aspects of Poetry. "I meant to mention Yarrow Visited, with that stanza, 'But thou, that didst appear so fair'; than which I think no lovelier stanza can be found in the wide world of poetry;—yet the poem, on the whole, seems condemned to leave behind it a melancholy of imperfect satisfaction, as if you had wronged the feeling with which, in what preceded it, you had resolved never to visit it, and as if the Muse had determined, in the most[Pg 40] delicate manner, to make you, and scarce make you, feel it. Else, it is far superior to the other,[R] which has but one exquisite verse in it, the last but one, or the last two: this is all fine, except perhaps that that of 'studious ease, and generous cares,' has a little tinge of the less romantic about it." Charles Lamb to Wordsworth, in 1815. (See The Letters of Charles Lamb, edited by Alfred Ainger, vol. i. p. 286.)—Ed.


VARIANTS:

[36] 1815.

Of which so long I cherished,
ms. 1814.
A Fancy dear to waking thought.

[37] 1815.

ms. 1814.
.    .    . words .    .    .

[38] 1815.

ms. 1814.
With her own depths .    .    .

[38a] 1827.

It promises protection
To studious ease, and generous cares,
1815.
And every chaste affection.
To all the nestling brood of thoughts
1820.
Sustained by chaste affection!

[39] 1827.

1815.
The wild wood's .    .    .

FOOTNOTES:

[Q] Newark Castle, a "large, square, roofless, ancient castle, scene of Sir Walter Scott's Lay of the Last Minstrel, four miles west by north of Selkirk." (Wilson's Gazetteer of Scotland.)—Ed.

[R] i.e. Yarrow Unvisited.Ed.


LINES

Written[40] on a blank leaf in a copy of the author's poem "The Excursion," upon hearing of the death of the late Vicar of Kendal.

Composed 1814.—Published 1815

One of the "Epitaphs and Elegiac Pieces."—Ed.

To public notice, with reluctance strong,
Did I deliver this unfinished Song;
Yet for one happy issue;—and I look
With self-congratulation on the Book
5
Which pious, learned, Murfitt saw and read;—
Upon my thoughts his saintly Spirit fed;
He conned the new-born Lay with grateful heart—
Foreboding not how soon he must depart;
Unweeting that to him the joy was given
10
Which good men take with them from earth to heaven.

The Annals of Kendal—an octavo volume containing information on all subjects of historical or antiquarian interest connected with the town—contains no reference to Mr. Murfitt, except a copy of the inscription on his monument. He was instituted vicar of Kendal in 1806, and died on the 7th November 1814. The following is a copy of the inscription.

[Pg 41]

To the Memory of
The Reverend Matthew Murfitt, A.M.
Vicar of Kendal
And formerly Fellow of Trinity College
Cambridge,
Who died Nov. 7, 1814, aged 50 years.
He was a pious, learned, and eloquent Divine,
A sincere Friend, a kind husband
And in every relation of Life
A most worthy man.

The monument is erected against the north wall of the Parish Church of Kendal.

The phrase in the second line of the sonnet, "this unfinished Song," refers to The Excursion being only part of a longer unfinished poem, The Recluse. (See the preface to the edition of 1814.)—Ed.


VARIANT:

[40] 1845.

1815.

Written, November 13, 1814,   .    .    .


1815

In 1815 few poems were written, with the exception of the Dedication to The White Doe of Rylstone, one or two sonnets, and Artegal and Elidure. If we were to trust entirely to the Fenwick note to Laodamia, Artegal and Elidure would require to be transferred, along with it and Dion, to 1814. When Wordsworth, in 1845, separated the Ode, beginning

Imagination—ne'er before content

from the Ode, the morning of the Day appointed for a General Thanksgiving, January 18, 1816, he gave to the former the date 1815; and it is possible that it was composed towards the close of that year. But it was originally published in 1816 as part of the Thanksgiving Ode; and, although (in conformity with the plan of adopting the Author's latest view of his own text) it is printed by itself,—as finally approved by him,—it is not placed in the year 1815, but in 1816. The chief reason for this is, that it is kindred in theme, structure, and tendency with the other Odes belonging to that year; and it seems better—when there is a doubt as to the date—to bring together those poems that are kindred in character. It does not follow, however, that part of the Thanksgiving Ode itself may not have been written in 1815. Wordsworth, writing to Southey in 1816, said:—"It is a poem composed, or supposed to be composed, on the morning of the thanksgiving." Those belonging to the year 1815 are, therefore, few in number.—Ed.

DEDICATION TO THE WHITE DOE OF RYLSTONE

In trellised shed, with clustering roses gay, etc.

Although this Dedication was only written in April 1815, it has, for obvious reasons, been already published—along with the[Pg 43] poem itself—in its chronological place (1807) (see vol. iv. p. 100); but as I have seen a MS. copy of this Dedication, which differs considerably from the final text, and was probably the first draft of the poem, it may be printed here. In the MS. I refer to, it is called Epistle Dedicatory.—Ed.

EPISTLE DEDICATORY

When years of wedded life were as a day
Whose current answers to the heart's desire,
Oft in some bowers, with clustering roses gay,
Or haply by the blazing winter fire,
5
Did we together read in Spenser's Lay
How Una, sad of soul, in sad attire,
The gentle Una, born of heavenly birth,
To seek her knight went wandering o'er the earth.
Ah, then, Belovèd, pleasing was the smart,
10
And the tear precious in compassion shed
For Her, who, pierced by sorrow's thrilling dart,
Did meekly bear the pang unmerited;
Meek as that Emblem of her lowly heart
The milk-white Lamb, which in a line she led,
15
And faithful, loyal in her innocence,
Like the brave Lion slain in her defence.
Notes could we hear as of a faery shell
Attuned to words with sacred wisdom fraught;
Free fancy prized each specious miracle,
20
And all its finer inspiration caught
Mid the green bower, and in our rustic Cell;
Till we by lamentable change were taught
That bliss with mortal man may not abide,
How nearly joy and sorrow are allied![S]
25
For us the stream of fiction ceased to flow,
For us the voice of melody was mute:
[Pg 44]
But as soft gales dissolve the dreary snow,
And give the timid herbage leave to shoot,
Heaven's breathing spirit failed not to bestow
30
Its timely influence—promising fair fruit
Of pensive pleasure and serene content,
From blossoms wild of fancies innocent.
It soothed us—it beguiled us—then, to hear
Once more of troubles wrought by magic spell,
35
And griefs whose aery motion comes not near
The pangs that tempt the spirit to rebel;
Then, with mild Una in her sober cheer,
High over hill and low adown the dell
Again we wandered, willing to partake
40
All that she suffered for her dear Lord's sake.
      *      *      *      *      *      *     *
Then, too, this Song of mine once more could please,
Where anguish, strange as dreams of restless sleep,
Is tempered and allayed by sympathies
Aloft ascending, and descending deep,
45
Even to the inferior Kinds; whom forest-trees
Protect from beating sunbeams, and the sweep
Of the sharp winds;—fair Creatures!—to whom Heaven
A calm and sinless life, with love, hath given.
      *      *      *      *      *      *     *
This tragic story cheered us, for it speaks
50
Of female patience winning firm repose,
And of the high reward which conscience seeks
A bright encouraging example shows;
Needful when o'er wide realms the tempest breaks,
Needful amid life's ordinary woes;—
55
A tale which now, dear helpmate, I present
To thee and to the world with pure intent.[T]
He serves the Muses erringly and ill,
Whose aim is pleasure light and fugitive:
O, that my mind were equal to fulfil
60
The comprehensive mandate which they give—
Vain aspiration of an earnest will!
Yet in this moral Strain a power may live,
Belovèd Wife! such solace to impart,
As it hath yielded to thy tender heart.

FOOTNOTES:

[S] Another version of this stanza follows:—

But like a wreath, composed of bud and bell,
Spring's flowery garland, in a whirlwind caught,
Or like the warblings of a sea-nymph's shell
When the distempered air with storms is fraught;
Those pleasures vanished from our rustic cell,
And we by lamentable change were taught
That bliss with mortal man may not abide,
How nearly joy and sorrow are allied!Ed.

[T] Two variations of the last couplet follow in the MS.:—

And therefore not unfitted to impress
On happier hours a holier happiness.
Hence, not for those unfitted who would bless
A happy hour with holier happiness.Ed.

[Pg 45]

ARTEGAL AND ELIDURE

(SEE THE CHRONICLE OF GEOFFREY OF MONMOUTH AND MILTON'S HISTORY OF ENGLAND)

Composed 1815.—Published 1820

[This was written at Rydal Mount, as a token of affectionate respect for the memory of Milton. "I have determined," says he, in his preface to his History of England, "to bestow the telling over even of these reputed tales, be it for nothing else but in favour of our English Poets and Rhetoricians, who by their wit will know how to use them judiciously."—I.F.]

One of the "Poems founded on the Affections."

The extract given in the Fenwick note is not from the "preface," but from the first book of Milton's History of England.—Ed.

Where be the temples which,[41] in Britain's Isle,
For his paternal Gods, the Trojan raised?[U]
Gone like a morning dream, or like a pile
Of clouds that in cerulean ether blazed!
5 [Pg 46]
Ere Julius landed on her white-cliffed shore,[V]
They sank, delivered o'er
To fatal dissolution; and, I ween,
No vestige then was left that such had ever been.
Nathless, a British record (long concealed
10
In old Armorica, whose secret springs
No Gothic conqueror ever drank) revealed
The marvellous[42] current of forgotten things;[W]
How Brutus came, by oracles impelled,
And Albion's giants quelled,[X]
15
A brood whom no civility could melt,
"Who never tasted grace, and goodness ne'er had felt."
By brave Corineus aided, he subdued,[Y]
And rooted out the intolerable kind;
And this too-long-polluted land[43] imbued
20
With goodly[44] arts and usages refined;
Whence golden harvests, cities, warlike towers,
And pleasure's sumptuous[45] bowers;
[Pg 47]
Whence all the fixed[46] delights of house and home,
Friendships[47] that will not break, and love that cannot roam.[Z]
25
O, happy Britain! region all too fair
For self-delighting fancy[48] to endure
That silence only should inhabit there,
Wild beasts, or uncouth savages impure!
But, intermingled with the generous seed,
30
Grew[49] many a poisonous weed;
Thus fares it still with all that takes its birth
From human care, or grows upon the breast of earth.
Hence, and how soon! that war of vengeance waged
By Guendolen against her faithless lord;[AA]
35
Till she, in jealous fury unassuaged
Had slain his paramour with ruthless sword:
Then, into Severn hideously defiled,
[Pg 48]
She flung her[50] blameless child,
39
Sabrina,—vowing that the stream should bear
That name through every age, her hatred to declare.[AB]
So speaks the Chronicle, and tells of Lear
By his ungrateful daughters turned adrift.
Ye lightnings, hear his voice!—they cannot hear,
Nor can the winds restore his simple gift.
45
But One there is, a Child of nature meek,
Who comes her Sire to seek;
And he, recovering sense, upon her breast
Leans smilingly, and sinks into a perfect rest.[AC]
[Pg 49]
There too we read of Spenser's fairy themes,
50
And those that Milton loved in youthful years;
The sage enchanter Merlin's subtle schemes;
The feats of Arthur and his knightly peers;[AD]
Of Arthur,—who, to upper light restored,
With that terrific sword[AE]
55 [Pg 50]
Which yet he brandishes for future war,[51]
Shall lift his country's fame above the polar star!
What wonder, then, if in such[52] ample field
Of old tradition, one particular flower
Doth seemingly in vain its fragrance yield,
60
And bloom unnoticed even to this late hour?
Now, gentle Muses, your assistance grant,
While I this flower transplant
Into a garden stored with Poesy;[53]
Where flowers and herbs unite, and haply some weeds be,[54]
That, wanting not wild grace, are from all mischief free![55]
66
A King more worthy of respect and love
Than wise Gorbonian ruled not in his day;[AF]
[Pg 51]
And grateful Britain prospered far above
All neighbouring countries through his righteous sway;
70
He poured rewards and honours on the good;
The oppressor he withstood;
And while he served the Gods with reverence due,
Fields smiled, and temples rose, and towns and cities grew.
He died, whom Artegal succeeds—his son;
75
But how unworthy of that sire[56] was he!
A hopeful reign, auspiciously begun,
Was darkened soon by foul iniquity.
From crime to crime he mounted, till at length
The nobles leagued their strength
80
With a vexed people, and the tyrant chased;
And, on the vacant throne, his worthier Brother placed.
From realm to realm the humbled Exile went,
Suppliant for aid his kingdom to regain;
In many a court, and many a warrior's tent,
85 [Pg 52]
He urged his persevering suit in vain.
Him, in whose wretched heart ambition failed,
Dire poverty assailed;
And, tired with slights his pride no more could brook,
He towards his native country cast a longing look.[57]
90
Fair blew the wished-for wind—the voyage sped;
He landed; and, by many dangers scared,
"Poorly provided, poorly followèd,"
To Calaterium's forest he repaired.
How changed from him who, born to highest place,
95
Had swayed the royal mace,
Flattered and feared, despised yet deified,
In Troynovant, his seat by silver Thames's side![AG]
From that wild region where the crownless King
Lay in concealment with his scanty train,
100
Supporting life by water from the spring,
And such chance food as outlaws can obtain,
Unto the few whom he esteems his friends
A messenger he sends;
And from their secret loyalty requires
105
Shelter and daily bread,—the sum[58] of his desires.
While he the issue waits, at early morn
Wandering by stealth abroad, he chanced to hear
A startling outcry made by hound and horn,
From which the tusky wild boar flies in fear;[59]
110 [Pg 53]
And, scouring toward[60] him o'er the grassy plain,
Behold the hunter train!
He bids his little company advance
With seeming unconcern and steady countenance.
The royal Elidure, who leads the chase,
115
Hath checked his foaming courser:—can it be!
Methinks that I should recognise that face,
Though much disguised by long adversity!
He gazed rejoicing, and again he gazed,
Confounded and amazed—
120
"It is the king, my brother!" and, by sound
Of his own voice confirmed, he leaps upon the ground.
Long, strict, and tender was the embrace he gave,
Feebly returned by daunted Artegal;
Whose natural affection doubts enslave,
125
And apprehensions dark and criminal.
Loth to restrain the moving interview,
The attendant lords withdrew;
And, while they stood upon the plain apart,
Thus Elidure, by words, relieved his struggling heart.
125
"By heavenly Powers conducted, we have met;
—O Brother! to my knowledge lost so long,
But neither lost to love, nor to regret,
Nor to my wishes lost;—forgive the wrong,
(Such it may seem) if I thy crown have borne,
135
Thy royal mantle worn:
I was their natural guardian; and 'tis just
That now I should restore what hath been held in trust."
A while the astonished Artegal stood mute,
Then thus exclaimed: "To me, of titles shorn,
140
And stripped of power! me, feeble, destitute,
[Pg 54]
To me a kingdom! spare the bitter scorn:
If justice ruled the breast[61] of foreign kings,
Then, on the wide-spread wings
Of war, had I returned to claim my right;
145
This will I here avow, not dreading thy despite."
"I do not blame thee," Elidure replied;
"But, if my looks did with my words agree,
I should at once be trusted, not defied,
And thou from all disquietude be free.
150
May the unsullied Goddess of the chase,[62][AH]
Who to this blessed place
At this blest moment led me, if I speak
With insincere intent, on me her vengeance wreak!
"Were this same spear, which in my hand I grasp,
155
The British sceptre, here would I to thee
The symbol yield; and would undo this clasp,
If it confined the robe of sovereignty.
Odious to me the pomp of regal court,
And joyless sylvan sport,
160
While thou art roving, wretched and forlorn,
Thy couch the dewy earth, thy roof the forest thorn!"
Then Artegal thus spake: "I only sought,
Within this realm a place of safe retreat;
Beware of rousing an ambitious thought;
165
Beware of kindling hopes, for me unmeet!
Thou art reputed wise, but in my mind
Art pitiably blind:
[Pg 55]
Full soon this generous purpose thou may'st rue,
When that which has been done[63] no wishes can undo.
170
"Who, when a crown is fixed upon his head,
Would balance claim with claim, and right with right?
But thou—I know not how inspired, how led—
Wouldst change the course of things in all men's sight!
And this for one who cannot imitate
175
Thy virtue, who may hate:
For, if, by such strange sacrifice restored,
He reign, thou still must be his king, and sovereign lord;
"Lifted in magnanimity above
Aught that my feeble nature could perform,
180
Or even conceive; surpassing me in love
Far as in power the eagle doth the worm:
I, Brother! only should be king in name,
And govern to my shame;
A shadow in a hated land, while all
185
Of glad or willing service to thy share would fall."
"Believe it not," said Elidure; "respect
Awaits on virtuous life, and ever most
Attends on goodness with dominion decked,
Which stands the universal empire's boast;
190
This can thy own experience testify:
Nor shall thy foes deny
That, in the gracious opening of thy reign,
Our father's spirit seemed in thee to breathe again.
"And what if o'er that bright unbosoming
195
Clouds of disgrace and envious fortune past!
Have we not seen the glories of the spring
By veil of noontide darkness overcast?
[Pg 56]
The frith[64] that glittered like a warrior's shield,
The sky, the gay green field,
200
Are vanished; gladness ceases in the groves,
And trepidation strikes the blackened mountain-coves.
"But is that gloom dissolved? how passing clear
Seems the wide world, far brighter than before!
Even so thy latent worth will re-appear,
205
Gladdening the people's heart[65] from shore to shore;
For youthful faults ripe virtues shall atone;
Re-seated on thy throne,
Proof shalt thou furnish that misfortune, pain,
And sorrow, have confirmed thy native[66] right to reign.
210
"But, not to overlook what thou may'st know,
Thy enemies are neither weak nor few;
And circumspect must be our course, and slow,
Or from my purpose ruin may ensue.
Dismiss thy followers;—let them calmly wait
215
Such change in thy estate
As I already have in thought devised;
And which, with caution due, may soon be realised."
The Story tells what courses were pursued,
Until king Elidure, with full consent
220
Of all his peers, before the multitude,
Rose,—and, to consummate this just intent,
Did place upon his brother's head the crown,
Relinquished by his own;
Then to his[67] people cried, "Receive your lord,
Gorbonian's first-born son, your rightful king restored!"
226 [Pg 57]
The people answered with a loud acclaim:
Yet more;—heart-smitten by the heroic deed,
The reinstated Artegal became
Earth's noblest penitent;[68] from bondage freed
230
Of vice—thenceforth unable[69] to subvert
Or shake his high desert.
Long did he reign; and, when he died, the tear
Of universal grief bedewed his honoured bier.
Thus was a Brother by a Brother saved;[AI]
235
With whom a crown (temptation that hath set
Discord in hearts of men till they have braved
Their nearest kin with deadly purpose met)
'Gainst duty weighed, and faithful love, did seem
A thing of no esteem;
240
And, from this triumph of affection pure,
He bore the lasting name of "pious Elidure!"[AJ]

VARIANTS:

[41] 1820

ms.
.    .    . that, .    .    .

[42] 1836.

1820 and ms.
The wonderous .    .    .

[43] 1820.

ms.
.    .    . soil .    .    .

[44] 1820.

ms.
.    .    . gentle .    .    .

[45] 1820.

ms.
.    .    . fragrant .    .    .

[46] 1820.

ms.
.    .    . mild .    .    .

[47] 1820.

ms.
Friendship .    .    .

[48] 1820.

ms.
For fondly favouring Nature .    .    .

[49] 1820.

ms.
Lurked .    .    .

[50] 1820.

ms.
She flung their .    .    .
ms.
Cast this, her .    .    .

[51] 1836.

1820.
Which yet he wields in subterranean war,
ms.
Which yet he wields in subterraneous war,
Which yet he graspeth, meditating war,
ms.
To lift

[52] 1820.

ms.
.    .    . this .    .    .

[53] 1820.

ms.
Into a Garden of pure Poesy;
ms.
.    .    . stocked with Poesy;

[54] 1820.

ms.
.    .    . some be weeds,

[55] 1820.

.    .    . Poesy
ms.
Which hath been tended long with all humility.

[56] 1836.

1820 and ms.
.    .    . of such sire .    .    .

[57] 1836.

And, tired with slights which he no more could brook,
1820 and ms.
Towards his native soil he cast a longing look.

[58] 1836.

1820 and ms.
.    .    . the amount .    .    .

[59] 1845.

1820 and ms.
.    .    . tusky boar hath fled in fear;

[60] 1832.

1820 and ms.
.    .    . tow'rds .    .    .

[61] 1820.

ms.
.    .    . in breasts .    .    .

[62] 1827.

1820.
May spotless Dian, Goddess of the chace,

[63] 1820.

ms.
When that which thou hast done .    .    .

[64] 1820.

ms.
The Lake .    .    .

[65] 1820.

ms.
.    .    . hearts .    .    .

[66] 1820.

ms.
.    .    . inborn .    .    .

[67] 1820.

ms.
.    .    . the .    .    .

[68] 1820.

ms.
A thorough penitent; .    .    .

[69] 1827.

1820.
Of vice,—of vice unable .    .    .
ms.
Of vice—henceforth unable .    .    .

FOOTNOTES:

[U] Brutus, reputed great-grandson of Æneas the Trojan Prince, the legendary founder of the British race—according to the story in Geoffrey of Monmouth's Chronicle—after a somewhat chequered career in Greece, consulted Diana where he should go and settle. To whom Diana in a vision replied:—

Brutus, far to the West, in th' Ocean wide,
Beyond the realm of Gaul, a land there lies,
Sea-girt it lies, where Giants dwelt of old,
Now void, it fits thy people; thither bend
Thy course, there shalt thou find a lasting seat,
There to thy sons another Troy shall rise,
And kings be born of thee....

"Brutus guided now," says Milton (following Monmouth), "by Divine conduct, speeds him towards the West."... After some adventures in the Adriatic and in Gaul, "with an easy course, arriving at Totness, in Devonshire, quickly perceives here to be the promised end of his labours.

"The island, not yet Britain but Albion, was in a manner desert, and inhospitable; kept only by a remnant of Giants; whose excessive Force and Tyrannie had consumed the rest. Them Brutus destroies, and to his people divides the Land, which with som reference to his own name, he henceforth calls Britain." (Milton's History of England, book i.)—Ed.

[V] Julius Caesar landed for the first time in Britain, 55 B.C.Ed.

[W] Compare The Solitary Reaper, II. 18-20 (vol. ii. p. 398):—

Perhaps the plaintive numbers flow
For old, unhappy, far-off things,
And battles long ago.Ed.

[X] See note A on the previous page.—Ed.

[Y] Corineus, according to the old legend, was the chief of a Trojan race who came with Brutus into Aquitania, and afterwards into Britain. Cornwall fell to Corineus by lot, in the portioning out of the new territory, "the rather by him liked," says Milton, "for that the hugest Giants in Rocks and Caves were said to lurk still there; which kind of Monsters to deal with was his old exercise." (Milton's History of England, book i.)—Ed.

[Z] Compare To a Skylark (1825)—

Type of the wise who soar, but never roam;
True to the kindred points of Heaven and Home.Ed.

[AA] Locrine, Brutus' son, was engaged to marry Corineus' daughter, Guendolen. But, after defeating Humber, King of the Huns, and finding Estrildis, daughter of a German king, amongst the spoil, he took her captive. He married Guendolen, but loved Estrildis, and on the death of Corineus, he divorced Guendolen, and married Estrildis. The rest may be told in Milton's words: "Guendolen all in rage departs into Cornwal;... And gathering an army of her Father's Friends and Subjects, gives Battail to her Husband by the River Sture; wherein Locrine, shot with an arrow, ends his life. But not so ends the fury of Guendolen; for Estrildis, and her daughter Sabra, she throws into a River: and to leave a Monument of Revenge, proclaims that the Stream be henceforth called after the Damsel's name; which by length of time is changed now to Sabrina or Severn." (History of England, book i.)—Ed.

[AB] See note on the previous page.—Ed.

[AC] "Leir who next Reigned, had only three Daughters, and no Male Issue: governed laudably, and built Caer-Leir, now Leicester, on the bank of Sora. But at last, failing through Age, he determines to bestow his Daughters, and so among them to divide his Kingdom. Yet first to try which of them loved him best, (a Trial that might have made him, had he known as wisely how to try, as he seemed to know how much the trying behooved him) he resolves a simple resolution, to ask them solemnly in order; and which of them should profess largest, her to beleev. Gonorill the Eldest, apprehending too well her Father's weakness, makes answer invoking Heaven, That she loved him above her Soul. Therefore, quoth the old man, overjoyed, since thou so honourst my declined Age, to thee and the Husband whom thou shalt choose, I give the third part of my Realm. So fair a speeding for a few words soon uttered, was to Regan the second, ample instruction what to say. She on the same demand spares no protesting, and the Gods must witness that otherwise to express her thoughts she knew not, but that she loved him above all Creatures; and so receavs an equal reward with her Sister. But Cordeilla, the youngest, though hitherto best beloved, and now before her Eyes the rich and present hire of a little easie soothing, the danger also, and the loss likely to betide plain dealing, yet moves not from the solid purpose of a sincere and vertuous answer. Father, saith she, my love towards you, is as my duty bids; what should a Father seek, what can a Child promise more? they who pretend beyond this, flatter. When the old man, sorry to hear this, and wishing her to recall those words, persisted asking, with a loiall sadness at her Father's infirmity, but something on the sudden, harsh, and glancing, rather at her Sisters, then speaking her own mind, Two waies only, saith she, I have to answer what you require mee; the former, Your command is, I should recant; accept then this other which is left me; look how much you have, so much is your value, and so much I love you. Then hear thou, quoth Leir now all in passion, what thy ingratitude hath gained thee; because thou hast not reverenced thy aged father equall to thy Sisters, part in my Kingdom, or what else is mine reck'n to have none. And without delay gives in marriage his other Daughters, Gonorill to Maglannus Duke of Albana, Regan to Henninus Duke of Cornwal; with them in present half his Kingdom; the rest to follow at his Death. In the mean while Fame was not sparing to divulge the wisdom, and other Graces of Cordeilla, insomuch that Aganippus a great King in Gaul (however he came by his Greek name) seeks her to Wife, and nothing alter'd at the loss of her Dowry, receavs her gladly in such manner as she was sent him. After this King Leir, more and more drooping with years, became an easy prey to his Daughters and thir Husbands; who now by dayly encroachment had seis'd the whole Kingdom into thir hands: and the old King is put to sojorn with his Eldest Daughter, attended only by three score Knights. But they in a short while grudged at, as too numerous and disorderly for continuall guests, are reduced to thirty. Not brooking that affront, the old King betakes him to his second Daughter; but there also discord soon arising between the Servants of differing Masters in one Family, five only are suffer'd to attend him. Then back again he returns to the other; hoping that she his Eldest could not but have more pity on his Gray Hairs: but she now refuses to admitt him, unless he be content with one only of his followers. At last the remembrance of his youngest Cordeilla comes to his thoughts; and now acknowledging how true her words had bin, though with little hope from whom he had so injur'd, be it but to pay her the last recompence she can have from him, his confession of her wise forewarning, that so perhaps his misery, the prooff and experiment of her Wisdom, might somthing soft'n her, he takes his Journey into France. Now might be seen a difference between the silent, or downright spok'n affection of som Children to thir Parents, and the talkative obsequiousness of others: while the hope of Inheritance over-acts them, and on the Tongue's end enlarges thir duty. Cordeilla out of meer love, without the suspicion of expected reward, at the message only of her Father in distress, pours forth true filial tears. And not enduring either that her own, or any other Eye should see him in such forlorn condition as his Messenger declar'd, discreetly appoints one of her trusted Servants, first to convay him privately toward som good Sea Town, there to array him, bathe him, cherish him, furnish him with such Attendance and State, as beseem'd his Dignity. That then, as from his first Landing, he might send word of his Arrival to her Husband Aganippus. Which don with all mature and requisite contrivance, Cordeilla with the King her Husband, and all the Barony of his Realm, who then first had news of his passing the Sea, goe out to meet him; and after all honourable and joyfull entertainment, Aganippus, as to his Wives Father, and his Royall Guest, surrenders him, during his abode there, the power, and disposal of his whole Dominion; permitting his Wife Cordeilla to go with an Army, and set her Father upon his Throne. Wherein her piety so prospered, as that she vanquished her impious Sisters with those Dukes, and Leir again, as saith the story, three years obtained the Crown. To whom dying, Cordeilla with all regal Solemnities gave Burial in the Town of Leicester. And then as right Heir succeeding, and her Husband dead, rul'd the land five years in peace." (Milton, History of England, book i.)—Ed.

[AD] See Milton's History of England, book iii.—Ed.

[AE] The sword Excalibur, given to King Arthur by the Lady of the Lake. Compare Tennyson's Morte d'Arthur.—Ed.

[AF] The following is Milton's account of Gorbonian, Archigallo, and Elidure:—"Gorbonian the Eldest of his five Sons, then whom a juster man liv'd not in his Age, was a great builder of Temples, and gave to all what was thir due; to his Gods devout Worship, to men of desert honour and preferment; to the Commons encouragement in thir Labours, and Trades, defence and protection from injuries and oppressions, so that the Land florish'd above her Neighbours, Violence and Wrong seldom was heard of; his Death was a general loss; he was buried in Trinovant.

"Archigallo the second Brother followed not his Example; but depress'd the ancient Nobility, and by peeling the wealthier sort, stuff'd his Treasury, and took the right way to be depos'd.

"Elidure the next Brother, surnamed the Pious, was set up in his place; a mind so noble, and so moderat, as almost is incredible to have bin ever found. For having held the Scepter five years, hunting one day in the Forest of Calater, he chanc'd to meet his deposed Brother, wandering in mean condition; who had bin long in vain beyond the Seas, importuning Foren aides to his Restorement: and was now in a poor Habit, with only ten followers, privatly return'd to find subsistence among his secret friends. At the unexpected sight of him, Elidure himself also then but thinly accompanied, runs to him with open Arms; and after many dear and sincere welcomings, convaies him to the Citty Alclud; there hides him in his own Bed-Chamber. Afterwards faining himself sick, summons all his Peers as about greatest affairs; where admitting them one by one, as if his weakness endur'd not the disturbance of more at once, causes them, willing or unwilling, once more to swear Allegiance to Archigallo. Whom after reconciliation made on all sides, he leads to York: and from his own Head, places the Crown on the Head of his Brother, who thenceforth, Vice itself dissolving in him, and forgetting her firmest hold with the admiration of a deed so Heroic, became a true converted man: rul'd worthily 10 years; dy'd and was Buried in Caer-Leir. Thus was a Brother saved by a Brother, to whom love of a Crown, the thing that so often dazles, and vitiates mortal man, for which thousands of neerest blood have destroy'd each other, was in respect of Brotherly dearness, a contemptible thing." (Milton, History of England, book i.)—Ed.

[AG] The legendary story tells that Brutus, the founder of the British race, having come from Troy (see note [U] to p. 45), "in a chosen place builds Troia nova, changed in time to Trinovantum, now London."—Ed.

[AH] It may not be too insignificant to note that it was Diana, the "Goddess of the chase," whom Brutus, according to the legend, consulted as to where he should settle, and who directed him to the land "to the West, in th' Ocean wide." (See note [U] p. 45.)—Ed.

[AI] See Milton's History of England, quoted in footnote, p. 51.—Ed.

[AJ] The various (tentative) versions of Artegal and Elidure—especially of some of the stanzas—are more numerous than in the case of any other poem I have seen in MS., and several of them may be preserved.

Stanza 1

Where be the Temples which in Albion's Isle,
As stories tell, the Trojan Brutus reared?
The form and substance of each stately pile
Were gone, the very dust had disappeared;
Ere Julius reached the white-cliffed shore,
They sank, delivered o'er
To utter dissolution, whence I ween
A general doubt prevails, if such have ever been.
Sunk are the Temples which, as stories tell,
In Britain's Isle the Trojan Brutus reared,
For his transplanted Gods therein to dwell?
Ere Julius landed on the white-cliffed shore,
The sacred structures were delivered o'er
To utter desolation, whence I ween
A general doubt prevails if such have ever been.
[Pg 58]
Where be the Temples which in Britain's Isle,
As legends tell, the Trojan Founder reared?
Gone like a dream of morning, or a pile
{ Of glittering clouds that in the East appeared. }
{ Of gorgeous clouds that in the west appeared. }
Ere Julius landed on her white-cliffed shore,
They sank, delivered o'er
To fatal dissolution, and I ween
No vestige there was left that such had ever been.

Stanza 2

Yet in unvanquished Cambria lay concealed
'Mid Snowdon's forests, or by Vaga's springs,
A Book whose leaves to later times revealed
The {mighty|wondrous} course of these forgotten things,
How Brutus sailed, by oracles impelled,
And hideous giants quelled,
A Brood whom no civility could melt,
Who never tasted grace, and goodness ne'er had felt.
Yet in the wilds of Cambria lay concealed
By Snowdon's forests or by Vaga's springs,
A Book whose leaves to later time revealed
The wondrous course of {those|long} forgotten things;
How Brutus came, etc.
A British record that had lain concealed
In old Armorica (whose sacred springs
No Gothic conqueror ever drank) revealed
The wondrous course of those forgotten things;
How Brutus came, etc.

Stanza 3

By brave Corineus aided, he subdued
And rooted out the intolerable kind,
And this too long-polluted soil imbued
With {gentle|goodly} arts, and usages refined;
Whence golden harvests, cities, warlike towers,
{ And for soft pleasures, bowers,}
{ And pleasure's {fragrant|leafy} bowers, }
Whence all the fixed delights of house and home,
Friendship that will not break, and love that cannot roam.

Stanza 4

O happy Britain! region all too fair
For fondly-favouring Nature to endure
      *      *      *      *      *     *
      *      *      *      *      *     *
Lurked many a poisonous weed;

Stanza 6

Who has not wept the wrongs of aged Lear
By his ungrateful daughter turned adrift?
Hear him, ye elements!—they cannot hear,
Nor can the winds restore his simple gift,
But One there is, a child of nature meek,
Who comes her sire to seek;
[Pg 59]
And he, recovering sense, upon her breast
Leans smilingly, and sinks into a { happy/passing} rest.

Stanza 7

{Honoured, for ever honoured be the page,   }
{Prized be the Book, and honoured the Page,}
When England's Darling found a basis laid
To those dread scenes which on the tragic stage
To trembling multitudes his art displayed;
And to {that chronicle/the same for this} be praise decreed
That there men first did read
Of Merlin's insight into future years,
And all the mighty feats of Arthur and his peers.

Stanza 8

What wonder, then, if 'mid the vast domain
Of that rich Volume, one particular Flower
Hath breathed its fragrance seemingly in vain
And bloomed unnoticed even to this late hour,
Ye gentle Muses, your assistance grant,
While I this flower transplant
Into a garden pure of poesy,
Small garden which I tend in all humility.

The following (suppressed) Stanza followed No. 10

The winds and waves have aided him to reach
That coast, the object of his heart's desire,
But, while the crownless sovereign trod the beach,
His eyeballs kindle with resentful ire,
As if incensed with all that he beholds,
Dark fields, and naked wolds,
And these few Followers, a helpless band
That to his fortunes cleave, and wait on his command.

Stanza 12

{"Bear with me, Friends," said Artegal ashamed,}
{"Forgive this passion," Artegal exclaimed, }
And, as he spake, they dive into a wood,
And from its shady boughs protection claimed,
For light he fears, and open neighbourhood.
How changed from him who born to highest place

Stanza 13

Oft by imaginary terrors scared,
And sometimes into real dangers brought,
To Calaterium's forest he repaired,
And in its depth secure a refuge sought,
Thence to a few whom he esteems his friends
A messenger he sends,

Stanza 14

With his attendants here at break of morn,
Wandering by stealth abroad he chanced to hear
A startling outcry made by hound and horn,
From which the tusky Boar hath fled in fear,
And, etc.

[Pg 60]

Stanza 16

Feebly returned by {wandering/trembling} Artegal,

Stanza 17

{Heir of Gorbonian! Brother gladly met,  }
{Gorbonian's heir, my brother gladly met,}

Stanza 25

And what if o'er this bright unbosoming
A cloud of time, and envious fortune past!
Have we not seen the glories of the spring
By noontide darkness veiled and overcast?
The lakes that glittered like a sunbright shield,
The sky, the gay green field,
All vanish in a moment, as if night
Were sister to the sun, and darkness born of light.

Stanza 26

But should the sun victorious glimmer forth,
Far brighter seems the wide world than before:
Such power is latent in thy native worth,
To spread delight and joy from shore to shore:
For past misdeeds how grateful to atone,
Re-seated on thy throne,
Give proof that long adversity, and pain,
And sorrow have confirmed thy inborn right to reign.

From Stanza 28 to end

The story tells that Artegal away
Was by his brother privily conveyed
To a far distant city (at that day
Alclwyd named), whose fortress undismayed
By the hostility of mortals stood
In sight of field and flood,
Obnoxious only on the lofty Rock
To the careering storm, and perilous lightning stroke.
When this impregnable retreat was gained,
In prudent furtherance of his just intent,
King Elidure a mortal illness feigned,
And to his mightiest Lords a summons sent
Softly, and one by one into the gloom,
(As suits a sick man's room),
The attendants introduced each potent peer,
There, singly and alone, his sovereign will to hear.
Said Elidure, Behold our rightful King,
The banished Artegal, before thee stands:
Kneel, and renew to him the offering
Of thy allegiance; justice this demands,
Immortal justice, speaking through my voice,
Accept him, and rejoice.
    .        .        .        .  he will prove
Worthier than I have been of reverence and love.
If firm command and mild persuasion failed
To change the temper of an adverse mind,
With such by other engines he prevailed,
Threatening to fling their bodies to the wind
[Pg 61]
From the dread summit of the lonely block,
That castle-crested Rock,
Alclwyd then, but now Dunbarton named,
A memorable crag through spacious Albion famed.
Departing thence, to York their way they bent,
While the glad people flowers before them strewed,
And then King Elidure with full consent
Of all his peers, before the multitude
Upon his brother's head he placed the crown,
Relinquished by his own;
Triumph of justice, and affection pure,
Whence he the title gained of "pious Elidure."
The people answered with a loud acclaim,
Through admiration of the heroic deed.
The reinstated Artegal became
Earth's noblest penitent; from bondage freed
Of vice, henceforth unable to control
The motions of his soul.
{And when he died, the worthy and the brave }
{Shed tears of fond regret upon his honoured grave. }
{Long did he reign: and, when he died, the tear }
{Of fond regret was shed upon his honoured bier.     }
Thus was a Brother by a Brother saved.
With whom a crown (temptation that hath set
Discord in hearts of men till they have braved
Their nearest kin in deadly battle met),
With duty weighed, and faithful love did seem
A thing of no esteem;
And from this triumph of affection pure,
He won the lasting name of "pious Elidure."

TO B. R. HAYDON

Composed December 1815.—Published March 31, 1816.

One of the "Miscellaneous Sonnets." The title "Esq." was appended to the name in the editions of 1820 to 1832.—Ed.

High is our calling, Friend!—Creative Art
(Whether the instrument of words she use,
Or pencil pregnant with ethereal hues)
Demands the service of a mind and heart,
5
Though sensitive, yet, in their weakest part,
Heroically fashioned—to infuse
Faith in the whispers of the lonely Muse,
While the whole world seems adverse to desert.
And, oh! when Nature sinks, as oft she may
[Pg 62] 10
Through long-lived pressure of obscure distress,
Still to be strenuous for the bright reward,
And in the soul admit of no decay,
Brook no continuance of weak-mindedness—
Great is the glory, for the strife is hard!

This sonnet was first published in The Examiner (March 31, 1816). It was composed in December 1815. On November 27, Haydon wrote to Wordsworth: "I have benefited, and have been supported in the troubles of life by your poetry. I will bear want, pain, misery, and blindness, but I will never yield one step I have gained on the road I am determined to travel over." (See his Correspondence and Table Talk, vol. ii. pp. 19, 20.) To this Wordsworth replied in the following letter which is explanatory of the above sonnet, and of the two sonnets that follow it.

"Rydal Mount, near Ambleside,
December 21st, 1815.

      *      *      *      *      *      *

"Now for the poems, which are sonnets: one composed the evening I received your letter; the other the next day; and the third the day following. I shall not transcribe them in the order in which they were written, but inversely.

"The last you will find was occasioned, I might say inspired, by your last letter, if there be any inspiration in it; the second records a feeling excited in me by the object it describes in the month of October last; and the first by a still earlier sensation, which the revolution of the year impressed me with last autumn."

(Then follow the three sonnets transcribed in the following order—

"While not a leaf seems faded; while the fields."
"How clear, how keen, how marvellously bright."
"High is our calling, Friend!—Creative Art.")

      *      *      *      *      *      *

"With high respect, I am, my dear sir, most faithfully yours.
"William Wordsworth."

(See the Autobiography of B. R. Haydon, vol. i. chap. xvi. p. 325.)

Haydon replied to Wordsworth, December 29 (see his Correspondence, vol. ii. pp. 20-23): "I must say that I have felt melancholy ever since receiving your sonnets, as if I was [Pg 63]elevated so exceedingly, with such a drunken humming in my brain, that my nature took refuge in quiet humbleness and gratitude to God."

It will be observed that in his letter of December 21, Wordsworth mentions the order in which these three sonnets were composed in three consecutive days. In his subsequent arrangement of the sonnets he altered this order, assigning "While not a leaf seems faded" to "September," and "How clear, how keen," to "November 1" (another instance of the inaccuracy of his dates). The detailed statement in this letter to Haydon must be trusted, however, in preference to the "afterthought" of the editions of 1820 and 1827. It may not be superfluous to note the dates of the first publication of this trilogy of sonnets, all of which Wordsworth sent to The Examiner.

"How clear, how keen," etc.Jan. 28th.     }
"While not a leaf," etc. Feb. 11th.     } 1816.
"High is our calling," etc. March 31st.  }
Ed.

NOVEMBER 1

Composed October 1815.—Published January 28, 1816

[Suggested on the banks of the Brathay by the sight of Langdale Pikes. It is delightful to remember these moments of far-distant days, which probably would have been forgotten if the impression had not been transferred to verse. The same observation applies to the next.[AK]—I. F.]

One of the "Miscellaneous Sonnets." In the editions of 1816 and 1820 the title was November 1, 1815.—Ed.

How clear, how keen, how marvellously bright
The effluence from yon distant mountain's head,
Which, strewn with snow smooth as the sky can shed,[70]
[Pg 64]
Shines like another sun—on mortal sight
5
Uprisen, as if to check approaching Night,
And all her twinkling stars. Who now would tread,
If so he might, yon mountain's glittering head—
Terrestrial, but a surface, by the flight
Of sad mortality's earth-sullying wing,
10
Unswept, unstained? Nor shall the aërial Powers
Dissolve that beauty, destined to endure,
White, radiant, spotless, exquisitely pure,
Through all vicissitudes, till genial Spring
Has[71] filled the laughing vales with welcome flowers.

This sonnet originally appeared in The Examiner, January 28, 1816. It is rare indeed, if ever, that the Langdale Pikes retain the first snows of November till spring; although, as described in another poem, the cove on Helvellyn, in which Red Tarn lies—sheltered from the sun, and high up on the mountain—may

Keep till June December's snow.

See Fidelity (vol. iii. p. 44), and the note to the sonnet addressed to Haydon, p. 62 of this vol.—Ed.


VARIANTS:

[70] 1837.

1816.
.    .    . as smooth as Heaven can shed,
1832.
.    .    . smooth as the heaven can shed,

[71] 1838.

1816.
Have .    .    .

FOOTNOTES:

[AK] i.e. the sonnet entitled Composed during a Storm, which followed November 1 in the edition in which the Fenwick notes first appeared.


SEPTEMBER, 1815

Composed October 1815.—Published February 11, 1816

["For me, who under kindlier laws." This conclusion has more than once, to my great regret, excited painfully sad feelings in the hearts of young persons fond of poetry and poetic composition, by contrast of their feeble and declining health with that state of robust constitution which prompted me to rejoice in a season of frost and snow as more favourable to the Muses than summer itself.—I. F.]

One of the "Miscellaneous Sonnets."—Ed.

[Pg 65]

While not a leaf seems faded; while the fields,
With ripening harvest[72] prodigally fair,
In brightest sunshine bask; this nipping air,
Sent from some distant clime where Winter wields
5
His icy scimitar, a foretaste yields
Of bitter change, and bids the flowers beware;
And whispers to the silent birds, "Prepare
Against the threatening foe your trustiest shields."
For me, who under kindlier laws belong
10
To Nature's tuneful quire, this rustling dry
Through leaves yet green,[73] and yon crystalline sky,
Announce a season potent to renew,
'Mid frost and snow, the instinctive joys of song,
And nobler cares than listless summer knew.

This sonnet was first published in The Examiner, February 11, 1816. See the note to the sonnet addressed to Haydon, p. 62.—Ed.


"THE FAIREST, BRIGHTEST, HUES OF
ETHER FADE"

Published 1815

[Suggested at Hackett, which is on the craggy ridge that rises between the two Langdales, and looks towards Windermere. The Cottage of Hackett was often visited by us, and at the time when this Sonnet was written, and long after, was occupied by the husband and wife described in The Excursion, where it is mentioned that she was in the habit of walking in the front of the dwelling with a light to guide her husband home at night. The same cottage is alluded to in the Epistle to Sir George Beaumont, as that from which the female peasant hailed us on[Pg 66] our morning journey. The musician mentioned in the sonnet was the Rev. Samuel Tillbrook of Peter-house, Cambridge, who remodelled the Ivy Cottage at Rydal after he had purchased it.—I. F.]

One of the "Miscellaneous Sonnets."—Ed.

The fairest, brightest, hues of ether fade;
The sweetest notes must terminate and die;
O Friend! thy flute has breathed a harmony
Softly resounded through this rocky glade;
5
Such strains of rapture as[AL] the Genius played
In his still haunt on Bagdad's summit high;
He who stood visible to Mirza's eye,
Never before to human sight betrayed.
Lo, in the vale, the mists of evening spread!
10
The visionary Arches are not there,
Nor the green Islands, nor the shining Seas;
Yet sacred is to me this Mountain's head,
Whence I have risen, uplifted[74] on the breeze
Of harmony, above all earthly care.

The following reference to Mr. Tillbrook, referred to in the Fenwick note, is from the Diary, Correspondence, etc., of Henry Crabb Robinson, September 5, 1816:—"An evening was spent at Wordsworth's. Mr. Tillbrook, of Cambridge, formerly Thomas Clarkson's tutor, was there.... Mr. Walter sang some airs to Mr. Tillbrook's flute."—Ed.


VARIANTS:

[72] 1820.

1816.
With ripening harvests .    .    .

[73] 1827.

1816.
Through the green leaves, .    .    .

[74] 1837.

1815.
From which I have been lifted .    .    .

FOOTNOTE:

[AL] See the vision of Mirza in the Spectator.—W. W. 1815.

[Pg 67]


"WEAK IS THE WILL OF MAN, HIS JUDGMENT BLIND"

Published 1815

One of the "Miscellaneous Sonnets."—Ed.

"Weak is the will of Man, his judgment blind;
Remembrance persecutes, and Hope betrays;
Heavy is woe;—and joy, for human-kind,
A mournful thing, so transient is the blaze!"
5
Thus might he paint our lot of mortal days
Who wants the glorious faculty assigned
To elevate the more-than-reasoning Mind,
And colour life's dark cloud with orient rays.
Imagination is that sacred power,[AM]
10
Imagination lofty and refined:
'Tis hers to pluck the amaranthine flower
Of Faith, and round the Sufferer's temples bind
Wreaths that endure affliction's heaviest shower,
And do not shrink from sorrow's keenest wind.

FOOTNOTES:

[AM] Compare the distinction Wordsworth draws between Fancy and Imagination in his "Preface" to the Poems published in 1815, and his definition of the function of the Imagination in that essay.—Ed.


"HAIL, TWILIGHT, SOVEREIGN OF ONE
PEACEFUL HOUR"

Published 1815

One of the "Miscellaneous Sonnets."—Ed.

Hail, Twilight, sovereign of one peaceful hour!
Not dull art Thou as undiscerning Night;
But studious only to remove from sight
[Pg 68]
Day's mutable distinctions.—Ancient Power!
5
Thus did the waters gleam, the mountains lower,
To the rude Briton, when, in wolf-skin vest
Here roving wild, he laid him down to rest
On the bare rock, or through a leafy bower
Looked ere his eyes were closed. By him was seen
10
The self-same Vision which we now behold,
At thy meek bidding, shadowy Power! brought forth;
These mighty barriers, and the gulf between;
The flood,[75] the stars,—a spectacle as old
As the beginning of the heavens and earth!

VARIANTS:

[75] 1837.

1815.
The floods,— .    .    .

"THE SHEPHERD, LOOKING EASTWARD,
SOFTLY SAID"

Published 1815

One of the "Miscellaneous Sonnets."—Ed.

The Shepherd, looking eastward, softly said,
"Bright is thy veil, O Moon, as thou art bright!"
Forthwith, that little cloud, in ether spread
And penetrated all with tender light,
5
She cast away, and showed her fulgent head
Uncovered; dazzling the Beholder's sight
As if to vindicate her beauty's right,
Her beauty thoughtlessly disparagèd.
Meanwhile that veil, removed or thrown aside,
10
Went floating from her, darkening as it went;
And a huge mass, to bury or to hide,
Approached this glory of the firmament;
Who meekly yields, and is obscured—content
With one calm triumph of a modest pride.

[Pg 69]


"EVEN AS A DRAGON'S EYE THAT FEELS THE STRESS"

Published 1815

One of the "Miscellaneous Sonnets."—Ed.

Even as a dragon's eye that feels the stress
Of a bedimming sleep, or as a lamp
Suddenly[76] glaring through sepulchral damp,
So burns yon Taper 'mid a[77] black recess
5
Of mountains, silent, dreary, motionless:
The lake below reflects it not; the sky
Muffled in clouds, affords no company
To mitigate and cheer its loneliness.
Yet, round the body of that joyless Thing
10
Which sends so far its melancholy light,
Perhaps are seated in domestic ring
A gay society with faces bright,
Conversing, reading, laughing;—or they sing,
While hearts and voices in the song unite.

The light of the "Taper" referred to shone from Allan Bank; the "black recess of mountains" described the heights of Silver Howe, and Easdale, round to Helm Crag; the "lake below," which "reflected it not" (because of the distance of Allan Bank from the side of the mere), was, of course, Grasmere. Wordsworth is looking at this "lamp suddenly glaring through sepulchral damp," however, from the eastern side of the lake, perhaps from the neighbourhood of "The Wishing Gate." I am indebted to the Rev. W. A. Harrison, Vicar of St. Anne's, Lambeth, for the following note to this sonnet:—

[Pg 70]

'In the Sonnet No. xxiv., 'Poems of the Imagination,' [i.e. 'Miscellaneous Sonnets'] these lines occur:—

Even as a dragon's eye that feels the stress
Of a bedimming sleep, or as a lamp
Suddenly glaring through sepulchral damp,
So burns yon Taper 'mid a black recess
Of mountains, silent, dreary, motionless:
etc. etc. etc.

"In line 3, all the later editions read 'Suddenly glaring.' But why 'suddenly'? There is nothing in the imagery of the poem which is at all suggestive of suddenness or unexpectedness in the appearance of the burning taper. The idea is alien from the spirit of the context. The dragon is drowsy and overborne with sleep. The taper is 'dreary' and 'motionless.' Everything is suggestive of 'sluggish stillness,' not of rapid, flashing movement.

"Yet I find the reading 'suddenly' in the one vol. ed. of 1828, which is said to be a reprint of the edition of 1827 in 5 vols.; in that of 1836-7; in that of 1840; and in all the later editions.

"In the edition of 1815, however, the reading given is one that is in strict keeping with the rest of the imagery, namely—

'Sullenly glaring.'

"Is it likely that 'sullenly' was deliberately altered by Wordsworth to 'suddenly,' or is 'suddenly' a misprint that has been perpetuated through successive editions?

"The sonnet in question is not dated, but it was probably written after 1807 and before 1815.

"Now, in a well-known and often-quoted passage in Wordsworth's letter in answer to Mathetes (Friend, vol. iii. 35, etc.), he speaks of the 'sullen light' which survives the extinguished flame of the candle that the schoolboy has blown out. 'It continues,' he says, 'to shine with an endurance which in its apparent weakness is a mystery; it protracts its existence so long ... that the observer who had lain down in his bed so easy-minded, becomes sad and melancholy,' etc. etc. etc.

"In the sonnet the same ideas occur, only the 'melancholy' is here predicated figuratively of the 'light' itself:—

the sky,
Muffled in clouds, affords no company
To mitigate and cheer its loneliness.
Yet, round the body of that joyless Thing
[Pg 71]
Which sends so far its melancholy light,
Perhaps are seated, etc. etc.

"This paper in The Friend was written in 1810; and it is possible that the sonnet was written at about the same time.—W. A. Harrison."—Ed.


VARIANTS:

[76] 1827.

1815.
Sullenly .    .    .

[77] 1827.

1815.
.    .    . 'mid its .    .    .

"MARK THE CONCENTRED HAZELS THAT ENCLOSE"

Published 1815

[Suggested in the wild hazel wood at the foot of Helm-crag, where the stone still lies, with others of like form and character, though much of the wood that veiled it from the glare of day has been felled. This beautiful ground was lately purchased by our friend Mrs. Fletcher; the ancient owners, most respected persons, being obliged to part with it in consequence of the imprudence of a son. It is gratifying to mention that, instead of murmuring and repining at this change of fortune, they offered their services to Mrs. Fletcher, the husband as an outdoor labourer, and the wife as a domestic servant. I have witnessed the pride and pleasure with which the man worked at improvements of the ground round the house. Indeed he expressed those feelings to me himself, and the countenance and manner of his wife always denoted feelings of the same character. I believe a similar disposition to contentment under change of fortune is common among the class to which these good people belong. Yet, in proof that to part with their patrimony is most painful to them, I may refer to those stanzas entitled Repentance, no inconsiderable part of which was taken verbatim from the language of the speaker herself.—I. F.]

One of the "Miscellaneous Sonnets."—Ed.

Mark the concentred hazels that enclose
Yon old grey Stone, protected from the ray
Of noontide suns:—and even the beams that play
And glance, while wantonly the rough wind blows,
5
Are seldom free to touch the moss that grows
[Pg 72]
Upon that roof, amid embowering gloom,
The very image framing of a Tomb,
In which some ancient Chieftain finds repose
Among the lonely mountains.—Live, ye trees!
10
And thou, grey Stone, the pensive likeness keep
Of a dark chamber where the Mighty sleep:
For more than Fancy to the influence bends
When solitary Nature condescends
To mimic Time's forlorn humanities.

This "old grey Stone" is a prominent feature in the Lancrigg Terrace-Walk. It is still moss-grown, and embowered by the hazel underwood. Not far from it, the path opens to the spot where the most of The Prelude was composed; first hummed aloud—as the poet walked to and fro along the terrace—and then dictated to his wife or sister. See Lady Richardson's account of this, in her article in Sharpe's London Magazine, in 1851, and in the Autobiography of Mrs. Fletcher (her mother), p. 244; also her contributions to the Memoirs of Wordsworth, vol. ii. p. 438, etc.—Ed.


"SURPRISED BY JOY—IMPATIENT AS THE WIND"

Published 1815

[This was in fact suggested by my daughter Catherine long after her death.[AN]—I. F.]

One of the "Miscellaneous Sonnets."—Ed.

Surprised by joy—impatient as the Wind
I turned[78] to share the transport—Oh! with whom
[Pg 73]
But Thee, deep buried [79] in the silent tomb,
That spot which no vicissitude can find?
5
Love, faithful love, recalled thee to my mind—
But how could I forget thee? Through what power,
Even for the least division of an hour,
Have I been so beguiled as to be blind
To my most grievous loss?—That thought's return
10
Was the worst pang that sorrow ever bore,
Save one, one only, when I stood forlorn,
Knowing my heart's best treasure was no more;
That neither present time, nor years unborn
Could to my sight that heavenly face restore.

Compare the poem entitled Characteristics of a Child three years old (vol. iv. p. 252), written in 1811, and which referred, like this one, to the poet's daughter Catherine, who died the year after. Compare also The Excursion, book iii. ll. 636-649, and the sonnet beginning, "Desponding Father! mark this altered bough," 1835.—Ed.

[Pg 74]


VARIANTS:

[78] 1820.

1815.
I wished .    .    .

[79] 1820.

1815.
.    .    . long buried .    .    .

FOOTNOTES:

[AN] Wordsworth's daughter, Catherine, was born on the 6th September 1808, and died 4th June 1812.—Ed.


1816

Most of the poems belonging to 1816 were suggested by the stirring political events of that year on the Continent of Europe. Four odes, and a number of sonnets,—referring to the Fall of Napoleon, the French army in Russia, the battle of Waterloo, etc.,—a translation of part of Virgil's Æneid, and one or two smaller fragments, make up the series. Wordsworth had not been so much inspired by the political events of his time, since the years 1809 and 1810—when he wrote the Tyrolese Sonnets, and others, "Dedicated to Liberty," etc.—but, both before and during the year 1816, he spent some time in preparing his eldest son for the University. He read the Latin poets with him; and very probably it was this that led him to translate into English verse, the three first books of the Æneid, which he did at this time. Some fragments of his Translations will be found in the Appendix to vol. viii.—Ed.


ODE
The Morning of the Day appointed for a General Thanksgiving. January 18, 1816

Composed 1816.—Published 1816.

[The first stanza of this Ode was composed almost extempore, in front of Rydal Mount, before church-time, and on such a morning and precisely with such objects before my eyes as are here described. The view taken of Napoleon's character and proceedings is little in accordance with that taken by some historians and critical philosophers. I am glad and proud of the difference, and trust that this series of poems, infinitely below the subject as they are, will survive to counteract, in[Pg 75] unsophisticated minds, the pernicious and degrading tendency of those views and doctrines that lead to the idolatry of power, as power, and, in that false splendour, to lose sight of its real nature and constitution as it often acts for the gratification of its possessor without reference to a beneficial end—an infirmity that has characterised men of all ages, classes, and employments, since Nimrod became a mighty hunter before the Lord.—I. F.]

"It is not to bespeak favour or indulgence, but to guard against misapprehension, that the author presumes to state that the present publication owes its existence to a patriotism, anxious to exert itself in commemorating that course of action, by which Great Britain has, for some time past, distinguished herself above all other countries.

"Wholly unworthy of touching upon so momentous a subject would that Poet be, before whose eyes the present distresses under which this kingdom labours, could interpose a veil sufficiently thick to hide, or even to obscure, the splendour of this great moral triumph. If the author has given way to exultation, unchecked by these distresses, it might be sufficient to protect him from a charge of insensibility, should he state his own belief that these sufferings will be transitory. On the wisdom of a very large majority of the British nation, rested that generosity which poured out the treasures of this country for the deliverance of Europe: and in the same national wisdom, presiding in time of peace over an energy not inferior to that which has been displayed in war, they confide, who encourage a firm hope, that the cup of our wealth will be gradually replenished. There will, doubtless, be no few ready to indulge in regrets and repinings; and to feed a morbid satisfaction, by aggravating these burthens in imagination, in order that calamity so confidently prophesied, as it has not taken the shape which their sagacity allotted to it, may appear as grievous as possible under another. But the body of the nation will not quarrel with the gain, because it might have been purchased at a less price: and acknowledging in these sufferings, which they feel to have been in a great degree unavoidable, a consecration of their noble efforts, they will vigorously apply themselves to remedy the evil.

"Nor is it at the expense of rational patriotism, or in disregard of sound philosophy, that the author hath given vent to feelings tending to encourage a martial spirit in the bosoms of his countrymen, at a time when there is a general outcry [Pg 76]against the prevalence of these dispositions. The British army, both by its skill and valour in the field, and by the discipline which has rendered it much less formidable than the armies of other powers, to the inhabitants of the several countries where its operations were carried on, has performed services for humanity too important and too obvious to allow any one to recommend, that the language of gratitude and admiration be suppressed, or restrained (whatever be the temper of the public mind), through a scrupulous dread, lest the tribute due to the past, should prove an injurious incentive for the future. Every man, deserving the name of Briton, adds his voice to the chorus which extols the exploits of his countrymen, with a consciousness, at times overpowering the effort, that they transcend all praise. But this particular sentiment, thus irresistibly excited, is not sufficient. The nation would err grievously, if she suffered the abuse which other states have made of military power, to prevent her from perceiving that no people ever was, or can be, independent, free, or secure, much less great, in any sane application of the word, without martial propensities, and an assiduous cultivation of military virtues[AO]. Nor let it be overlooked, that the benefits derivable from these sources, are placed within the reach of Great Britain, under conditions peculiarly favourable. The same insular position which, by rendering territorial incorporation impossible, utterly precludes the desire of conquest under the most seductive shape it can assume, enables her to rely, for her defence against foreign foes, chiefly upon a species of armed force from which her own liberties have nothing to fear. Such are the blessed privileges of her situation; and, by permitting, they invite her to give way to the courageous instincts of human nature, and to strengthen and to refine them by culture.

"But some have more than insinuated, that a design exists to subvert the civil character of the English people by unconstitutional applications and unnecessary increase of military power. The advisers and abettors of such a design, were it possible that it should exist, would be guilty of the most heinous crime, which, upon this planet, can be committed. The author, trusting that this apprehension arises from the delusive influences of an honourable jealousy, hopes that the martial qualities, which he venerates, will be fostered by adhering to those good old usages which experience has sanctioned; and by availing ourselves of new means of indisputable promise; particularly by [Pg 77]applying, in its utmost possible extent, that system of tuition, of which the master-spring is a habit of gradually enlightened subordination; by imparting knowledge, civil, moral, and religious, in such measure that the mind, among all classes of the community, may love, admire, and be prepared and accomplished to defend that country, under whose protection its faculties have been unfolded, and its riches acquired; by just dealing towards all orders of the state, so that no members of it being trampled upon, courage may everywhere continue to rest immoveably upon its ancient English foundation, personal self-respect; by adequate rewards, and permanent honours, conferred upon the deserving; by encouraging athletic exercises and manly sports among the peasantry of the country; and by especial care to provide and support sufficient institutions, in which, during a time of peace, a reasonable proportion of the youth of the country may be instructed in military science.

"Bent upon instant savings, a member of the House of Commons lately recommended that the Military College should be suppressed as an unnecessary expense; for, said he, 'our best officers have been formed in the field.' More unwise advice has rarely been given! Admirable officers, indeed, have been formed in the field, but at how deplorable an expense of the lives of their surrounding brethren in arms, a history of the military operations in Spain, and particularly of the sieges, composed with thorough knowledge, and published without reserve, would irresistibly demonstrate.[AP]

"The author has only to add that he should feel little satisfaction in giving to the world these limited attempts to celebrate the virtues of his country, if he did not encourage a hope that a subject, which it has fallen within his province to treat only in the mass, will by other poets be illustrated in that detail which its importance calls for, and which will allow opportunities to give the merited applause to persons as well as to things."W. Wordsworth.
"Rydal Mount, March 18, 1816."[AQ]

[Pg 78]

This Ode was originally published—along with the three that follow it, and some sonnets—in 1816, under the title, Thanksgiving Ode, January 18, 1816, with other short pieces, chiefly referring to recent public events, and with the prefatory announcement: "This Publication may be considered as a sequel to the Author's 'Sonnets dedicated to Liberty.'" To the whole there was prefixed an "Advertisement," beginning as at p. 75, "It is not," etc., and continuing to "W. Wordsworth," p. 77.—Ed.

I

Hail, orient Conqueror of gloomy Night![80]
Thou that canst shed the bliss of gratitude
On hearts howe'er insensible or rude;
Whether thy punctual[81] visitations smite
5
The haughty towers where monarchs dwell;
Or thou, impartial Sun, with presence bright
Cheer'st the low threshold of the peasant's cell!
Not unrejoiced I see thee climb the sky
In naked splendour, clear from mist or haze,
10
Or cloud approaching to divert the rays,
Which even in deepest winter testify
Thy power and majesty,
Dazzling the vision that presumes to gaze.
—Well does thine aspect usher in this Day;
15
As aptly suits therewith that modest pace
Submitted to the chains[82]
That bind thee to the path which God ordains
That thou shall trace,
Till, with the heavens and earth, thou pass away!
20
Nor less, the stillness of these frosty plains,
[Pg 79]
Their utter stillness, and the silent grace
Of yon ethereal summits white with snow,[AR]
(Whose tranquil pomp and spotless purity
Report of storms gone by
25
To us who tread below)
Do with the service of this Day accord.
—Divinest Object which the uplifted eye
Of mortal man is suffered to behold;
Thou, who upon those[83] snow-clad Heights hast poured
30
Meek lustre,[84] nor forget'st the humble Vale;
Thou who dost warm Earth's universal mould,
And for thy bounty wert not unadored
By pious men of old;
Once more, heart-cheering Sun, I bid thee hail!
Bright be thy course to-day, let not this promise fail!

II

36
'Mid the deep quiet of this morning hour,
All nature seems to hear me while I speak,
By feelings urged that do not vainly seek
Apt language, ready as the tuneful notes
40
That stream in blithe succession from the throats
Of birds, in leafy bower,
Warbling a farewell to a vernal shower.
—There is a radiant though[85] a short-lived flame,
That burns for Poets in the dawning east;
45
And oft my soul hath kindled at the same,
When the captivity of sleep had ceased;
But He who fixed immoveably the frame
Of the round world, and built, by laws as strong,
A solid refuge for distress—
[Pg 80] 50
The towers of righteousness;
He knows that from a holier altar came
The quickening spark of this day's sacrifice;
Knows that the source is nobler whence doth rise
The current of this matin song;
55
That deeper far it lies
Than aught dependent on the fickle skies.

III

Have we not conquered?—by the vengeful sword?
Ah no, by dint of Magnanimity;
That curbed the baser passions, and left free
60
A loyal band to follow their liege Lord,
Clear-sighted Honour, and his staid Compeers,
Along a track of most unnatural years;[AS]
In execution of heroic deeds
Whose memory, spotless as the crystal beads
65
Of morning dew upon the untrodden meads,
Shall live enrolled above the starry spheres.
He, who in concert with an earthly string[86]
Of Britain's acts would sing,
He with enraptured voice will tell
70
Of One whose spirit no reverse could quell;
Of One that 'mid the failing never failed[AT]
Who paints how Britain struggled and prevailed
Shall represent her labouring with an eye
Of circumspect humanity;
75
Shall show her clothed with strength and skill,
All martial duties to fulfil;
Firm as a rock in stationary fight;
In motion rapid as the lightning's gleam;
Fierce as a flood-gate bursting at mid night[87]
[Pg 81] 80
To rouse the wicked from their giddy dream—
Woe, woe to all that face her in the field!
Appalled she may not be, and cannot yield.

IV

And thus is missed[88] the sole true glory
That can belong to human story!
85
At which they[89] only shall arrive
Who through the abyss of weakness dive.
The very humblest are too proud of heart;
And one brief day is rightly set apart
For Him[90] who lifteth up and layeth low;
90
For that Almighty God to whom we owe,
Say not that we have vanquished—but that we survive.

V

How dreadful the dominion of the impure!
Why should the Song be tardy to proclaim
That less than power unbounded[91] could not tame
95
That soul of Evil—which, from hell let loose,
Had filled the astonished world with such abuse
As boundless patience only could endure?
—Wide-wasted regions—cities wrapt in flame—
Who sees,[92] may lift a streaming eye
To Heaven;—who never saw, may heave a sigh;
101
But the foundation of our nature shakes,
And with an infinite pain the spirit aches,
When desolated countries, towns on fire,
Are but the avowed attire
105
Of warfare waged with desperate mind
[Pg 82]
Against the life of virtue in mankind;[AU]
Assaulting without ruth
The citadels of truth;
While the fair gardens of civility,
110
By ignorance defaced,
By violence laid waste,
Perish without reprieve for flower or tree![93]

VI

A crouching purpose—a distracted will—
Opposed to hopes that battened upon scorn,
115
And to desires whose ever-waxing horn
Not all the light of earthly power could fill;
Opposed to dark, deep plots of patient skill,
And to[94] celerities of lawless force;
Which, spurning God, had flung away remorse—
120
What could they gain but shadows of redress?
—So bad proceeded propagating worse;
And discipline was passion's dire excess.[AV]
Widens the fatal web, its lines extend,
And deadlier poisons in the chalice blend.
125
When will your trials teach you to be wise?
—O prostrate Lands, consult your agonies!

VII

No more—the guilt is banish'd,
And, with the guilt, the shame is fled;
And, with the guilt and shame, the Woe hath vanish'd,
[Pg 83] 130
Shaking the dust and ashes from her head!
—No more—these lingerings of distress
Sully the limpid stream of thankfulness.
What robe can Gratitude employ
So seemly as the radiant vest of Joy?
135
What steps so suitable as those that move
In prompt obedience to spontaneous measures
Of glory, and felicity, and love,
Surrendering the whole heart to sacred pleasures?

VIII

O Britain! dearer far than life is dear,[AW]
140
If one there be
Of all thy progeny[95]
Who can forget thy prowess, never more
Be that[96] ungrateful Son allowed to hear
Thy green leaves rustle or thy torrents roar.
145
As springs the lion from his den,
As from a forest-brake
Upstarts a glistering snake,
[Pg 84]
The bold Arch-despot re-appeared;[97][AX]—again
Wide Europe heaves, impatient to be cast,
150
With all her armèd Powers,
On that offensive soil, like waves upon a thousand shores.[98]
The trumpet blew a universal blast![AY]
But Thou art foremost in the field:[AZ]—there stand:
Receive the triumph destined to thy hand!
155
All States have glorified themselves;—their claims
Are weighed by Providence, in balance even;
And now, in preference to the mightiest names,
To Thee the exterminating sword[99] is given.
Dread mark of approbation, justly gained!
160
Exalted office, worthily sustained!

IX

Preserve, O Lord! within our hearts
The memory of thy favour,
That else insensibly departs,
And loses its sweet savour!
165
Lodge it within us!—as the power of light
Lives inexhaustibly in precious gems,
Fixed on the front of Eastern diadems,
[Pg 85]
So shine our thankfulness for ever bright!
What offering, what transcendent monument
170
Shall our sincerity to Thee present?
—Not work of hands; but trophies that may reach
To highest Heaven—the labour of the Soul;
That builds, as thy unerring precepts teach,
Upon the internal conquests made by each,[100]
175
Her hope of lasting glory for the whole.
Yet will not heaven disown nor earth gainsay[101]
The outward service of this day;
Whether the worshippers entreat
Forgiveness from God's mercy-seat;
180
Or thanks and praises to His throne ascend
That He has[102] brought our warfare to an end,
And that we need no second[103] victory!—[BA]
Ha! what a ghastly sight for man to see;
And to the heavenly saints in peace who dwell,
185
For a brief moment, terrible;
But, to thy sovereign penetration, fair,
Before whom all things are, that were,
All judgments that have been, or e'er shall be;
Links in the chain of thy tranquillity!
190
Along the bosom of this favoured Nation,
Breathe Thou, this day, a vital undulation!
Let all who do this land inherit
Be conscious of thy moving spirit!
Oh, 'tis a goodly Ordinance,—the sight,
195
Though sprung from bleeding war, is one of pure delight;
Bless Thou the hour, or ere the hour arrive,
[Pg 86]
When a whole people shall kneel down in prayer,
And, at one moment, in one rapture,[104] strive
With lip and heart to tell their gratitude
200
For thy protecting care,
Their solemn joy—praising the Eternal Lord
For tyranny subdued,
And for the sway of equity renewed,
204
For liberty confirmed, and peace restored!

X

But hark—the summons!—down the placid lake
Floats the soft cadence of the church-tower bells;[BB]
Bright shines the Sun, as if his beams would wake[105]
The tender insects sleeping in their cells;
Bright shines the Sun—and not a breeze to shake
210
The drops that tip[106] the melting icicles.
O, enter now his temple gate!
Inviting words—perchance already flung
(As the crowd press devoutly down the aisle
Of some old Minster's venerable pile)
215
From voices into zealous passion stung,
While the tubed engine feels the inspiring blast,
And has begun—its clouds of sound to cast
Forth towards[107] empyreal Heaven,
As if the fretted roof were riven.
220
Us, humbler ceremonies now await;
But in the bosom, with devout respect
The banner of our joy we will erect,
And strength of love our souls shall elevate:
[Pg 87]
For to a few collected in his name,
225
Their heavenly Father will incline an ear
Gracious to service hallowed by its aim;—[108]
Awake! the majesty of God revere!
Go—and with foreheads meekly bowed
Present your prayers—go—and rejoice aloud—
230
The Holy One will hear!
And what, 'mid silence deep, with faith sincere,
Ye, in your low and undisturbed estate,
Shall simply feel and purely meditate—
Of warnings—from the unprecedented might,
235
Which, in our time, the impious have disclosed;
And of more arduous duties thence imposed
Upon the future advocates of right;
Of mysteries revealed,
And judgments unrepealed,
240
Of earthly revolution,
And final retribution,—
To his omniscience will appear
An offering not unworthy to find place,
On this high Day of Thanks, before the Throne of Grace!

Replying to some criticism on this Ode by Southey, Wordsworth wrote to his friend as follows:—"I am much of your mind in respect to my Ode. Had it been a hymn, uttering the sentiments of a multitude, a stanza would have been indispensable. But though I have called it a 'Thanksgiving Ode,' strictly speaking it is not so, but a poem, composed, or supposed to be composed, on the morning of the thanksgiving, uttering the sentiments of an individual upon that occasion. It is a dramatised ejaculation; and this, if anything can, must excuse the irregular frame of the metre. In respect to a stanza for a grand subject designed to be treated comprehensively, there are great objections. If the stanza be short, it will scarcely allow of fervour and importunity, unless so short, as that the sense is run perpetually from one stanza to another, as in Horace's[Pg 88] Alcaics; and if it be long, it will be as apt to generate diffuseness as to check it. Of this we have innumerable instances in Spenser and the Italian poets. The sense required cannot be included in one given stanza, so that another whole stanza is added, not infrequently, for the sake of matter which would naturally include itself in a very few lines.

"If Gray's plan be adopted, there is not time to become acquainted with the arrangement, and to recognise with pleasure the recurrence of the movement.

"Be so good as let me know where you found most difficulty in following me. The passage which I most suspect of being misunderstood is

And thus is missed the sole true glory;

and the passage where I doubt most about the reasonableness of expecting that the reader should follow me in the luxuriance of the imagery and the language, is the one that describes, under so many metaphors, the spreading of the news of the Waterloo victory over the globe."

The last reference in this letter is to the lines in that part of the Ode, which follows—

Joyful annunciation!—it went forth—
It pierced the caverns of the sluggish North, etc."
Ed.

VARIANTS:

[80] 1837.

1816.
Hail, universal Source of pure delight!

[81] 1837.

1816.
Whether thy orient .    .    .

[82] 1837.

.    .    .  that timid pace,
1816.
Framed in subjection to the chains
.    .    .  that timid pace
1827.
Submitted to the chains

[83] 1850.

1816.
.    .    .   yon .    .    .

[84] 1837.

1816.
.    .    .   splendour, .    .    .

[85] 1837.

1816.
.    .    .   but .    .    .

[86] 1837.

1816.
—Who to the murmurs of an earthly string

[87] 1837.

1816.
.    .    .   in the night

[88] "Missed" italicised in 1837 and subsequent editions.

[89] "They" italicised in the editions from 1816 to 1832.

[90] 1837.

1816.
To Him.    .    .

[91] 1816.

c.
.    .    . power eternal .    .    .

[92] 1837.

1816.
Who sees, and feels,.    .    .

[93] 1837.

While the old forest of civility
1816.
Is doomed to perish, to the last fair tree.
While the whole forest of civility
1827.
Is doomed to perish, to the last fair tree!
c.
Perish without reprieve for herb, or flower, or tree.

[94] 1827.

1816.
And the.    .    .

[95] 1816.

c.
From shore to shore

[96] 1845.

Land of our fathers! precious unto me
Since the first joys of thinking infancy;
When of thy gallant chivalry I read,
And hugged the volume on my sleepless bed!
O England!—dearer far than life is dear,
If I forget thy prowess, never more
1816.
Be thy .    .    .
Land of our fathers! loved by me
Since the first joys of thinking infancy;
Loved with a passion since I caught thy praise
A Listener, at or on some patient knee,
With an ear fastened to rude ballad lays—
Or of thy gallant chivalry I read,
And hugged the volume on a sleepless bed!
1837.
O England!—dearer far, etc.

[97] 1816

c.
.    .    . reappears .    .    .

[98] 1845.

.    .    .    .    .    .     .     torrents roar!
But how can He be faithless to the past,
Whose soul, intolerant of base decline,
Saw in thy virtue a celestial sign,
That bade him hope, and to his hope cleave fast!
The nations strove with puissance;—at length
Wide Europe heaved, impatient to be cast,
With all her living strength,
With all her armed powers,
1816.
Upon the offensive shores.

[99] The words "exterminating sword" were italicised in 1816 only. In Lord Coleridge's copy the MS. reading "vindicating sword" is given.

[100] 1845.

1816.
Upon the inward victories of each,

[101] 1816.

c.
Yet no one shall gainsay

[102] 1820.

1816.
That Thou hast .    .    .

[103] 1820.

1816.
.    .    . further .    .    .

[104] 1827.

1816.
.    .    . spirit, .    .    .

[105] 1837.

1816.
.    .    . might wake

[106] 1827.

1816.
.    .    . point .    .    .

[107] 1837.

1816.
Towards the .    .    .

[108] 1827.

.    .    .   incline his ear,
1816.
Hallowing himself the service which they frame;—

FOOTNOTES:

[AO] "Without a cultivation of military virtues."—W. W. 1845.

[AP] In all editions subsequent to that of 1816, this paragraph was omitted.—Ed.

[AQ] This "Advertisement" was prefixed to the poem, in all editions from 1816 to 1843. In 1845, when part of the Ode, beginning

Imagination—ne'er before content

was detached from the rest, and turned into a separate Ode, with the date 1815 appended, the "Advertisement" was thrown into a "note" at the end of the volume, and it retained this place in subsequent editions. In Lord Coleridge's copy of the edition of 1836-37—before the stanzas which were afterwards separated to form the second Ode—"Waterloo" is written.—Ed.

[AR] The heights of Wansfell and Loughrigg.—Ed.

[AS] The whole period of the Peninsular and Continental wars with Napoleon.—Ed.

[AT] Wellington.—Ed.

[AU] The outcome of Napoleonic ambition.—Ed.

[AV] "A discipline the rule whereof is passion" (Lord Brooke).—W. W. 1816.

[AW] Compare the lines beginning

O dearer far than light and life are dear,

addressed to Mrs. Wordsworth in 1824.—Ed.

[AX] Napoleon escaped from Elba in February 1815.—Ed.

[AY] The Allied Sovereigns declared against Napoleon, March 1815.—Ed.

[AZ] Wellington took the command in April 1815.—Ed.

[BA] Napoleon's power being finally broken at Waterloo.—Ed.

[BB] From Grasmere Church, over Rydal Mere.—Ed.


ODE

Composed 1816.—Published 1816

The first and the fourth stanzas of this Ode formed stanzas ix. and xii. of the Thanksgiving Ode from 1816 to 1842. In 1845 it was printed as number XLV. of the "Poems of the Imagination."—Ed.

I

Imagination—ne'er before content,
But aye ascending, restless in her pride
From all that martial feats could yield
To her desires, or to her hopes present—
5
Stooped to the Victory, on that Belgic field
Achieved, this closing deed magnificent,[109]
[Pg 89]
And with the embrace was satisfied.[110]
—Fly, ministers of Fame,
With every help that ye from earth and heaven may claim![111]
10
Bear through the world these tidings of delight!
—Hours, Days, and Months, have borne them in the sight
Of mortals, hurrying like a sudden shower[112]
That land-ward stretches from the sea,
The morning's splendours to devour;
15
But this swift travel scorns the company
Of irksome change, or threats from saddening power.[113]
—The shock is given—the Adversaries bleed—
Lo, Justice triumphs! Earth is freed!
Joyful annunciation!—it went forth—[114]
20
It pierced the caverns of the sluggish North—[BC]
It found no barrier on the ridge
[Pg 90]
Of Andes—frozen gulphs became its bridge—
The vast Pacific gladdens with the freight—
Upon the Lakes of Asia 'tis bestowed—
25
The Arabian desert shapes a willing road
Across her burning breast,
For this refreshing incense from the West!—[BD]
—Where snakes and lions breed,
Where towns and cities thick as stars appear,
30
Wherever fruits are gathered, and where'er
The upturned soil receives the hopeful seed—
While the Sun rules, and cross the shades of night—
The unwearied arrow hath pursued its flight!
The eyes of good men thankfully give heed,
35
And in its sparkling progress read
Of virtue crowned with glory's deathless meed:[115]
Tyrants exult to hear of kingdoms won,
And slaves are pleased to learn that mighty feats are done;
Even the proud Realm, from whose distracted borders
40
This messenger of good was launched in air,
France, humbled[116] France, amid her wild disorders,
Feels, and hereafter shall the truth declare,
That she too lacks not reason to rejoice,
And utter England's name with sadly-plausive voice.

II

45
O genuine glory, pure renown!
And well might it beseem that mighty Town[BE]
Into whose bosom earth's best treasures flow,[117]
[Pg 91]
To whom all persecuted men retreat;
If a new Temple lift her[118] votive brow
50
High on[119] the shore of silver Thames—to greet
The peaceful guest advancing from afar.
Bright be the Fabric,[120] as a star
Fresh risen, and beautiful within!—there meet
Dependence infinite, proportion just;
55
A Pile that Grace approves, and Time can trust
With his most sacred wealth, heroic dust.[121]

III

But if the valiant of this land
In reverential modesty demand,
That all observance, due to them, be paid
60
Where their serene progenitors are laid;
Kings, warriors, high-souled poets, saint-like sages,
England's illustrious sons of long, long ages;
Be it not unordained that solemn rites,
Within the circuit of those Gothic walls,[BF]
65
Shall be performed at pregnant intervals;
Commemoration holy that unites
The living generations with the dead;
By the deep soul-moving sense
Of religious eloquence,—
70
By visual pomp, and by the tie
Of sweet and threatening harmony;
Soft notes, awful as the omen
[Pg 92]
Of destructive tempests coming,
And escaping from that sadness
75
Into elevated gladness;
While the white-rob'd choir attendant,
Under mouldering banners pendant,
Provoke all potent symphonies to raise
Songs of victory and praise,
80
For them who bravely stood unhurt, or bled
With medicable wounds, or found their graves
Upon the battle field, or under ocean's waves;
Or were conducted home in single state,
And long procession—there to lie,
85
Where their sons' sons, and all posterity,
Unheard by them, their deeds shall celebrate!

IV

Nor will the God of peace and love
Such martial service disapprove.
He guides the Pestilence—the cloud
90
Of locusts travels on his breath;
The region that in hope was ploughed
His drought consumes, his mildew taints with death;
He springs the hushed Volcano's mine,
He puts the Earthquake on her still design,[BG]
95
Darkens the sun, hath bade the forest sink,
And, drinking towns and cities, still can drink
Cities and towns—'tis Thou—the work is Thine!—
The fierce Tornado sleeps within thy courts—
He hears the word—he flies—
100
And navies perish in their ports;
For Thou art angry with thine enemies!
For these, and mourning for our errors,[122]
And sins, that point their terrors,
We bow our heads before Thee, and we laud
[Pg 93] 105
And magnify thy name, Almighty God!
But Man is thy most awful instrument,
In working out a pure intent;[123]
Thou cloth'st the wicked in their dazzling mail,
And for thy righteous purpose[124] they prevail;
110
Thine arm from peril guards the coasts
Of them who in thy laws delight:
Thy presence turns the scale of doubtful fight,
Tremendous God of battles, Lord of Hosts![BH]

V

Forbear:—to Thee—
115
Father and Judge of all, with fervent tongue
But in a gentler strain[125]
Of contemplation, by no sense of wrong
(Too quick and keen) incited to disdain
Of pity pleading from the heart in vain—[126]
120
To TheeTo Thee
Just God of christianised Humanity
Shall praises be poured forth, and thanks ascend,[127]
[Pg 94]
That thou hast brought our warfare to an end,
And that we need no second[128] victory!
125
Blest, above measure blest,
If on thy love our Land her hopes shall rest,
And all the Nations labour to fulfil
Thy law, and live henceforth in peace, in pure good will.[129]

In an early MS. copy of this Ode, it concludes thus, after the line "And that we need no further victory!"

Ha! what a ghastly sight for man to see;
And to the heavenly saints in peace who dwell,
For a brief moment, terrible;
But to thy sovereign penetration fair,
Before whom all things are that were,
All judgments that have been, or e'er shall be,
Links in the chain of thy tranquillity!
Along the bosom of this favoured nation,
Breathe thou, this day, a vital undulation!
Let all who do this land inherit
Be conscious of Thy moving spirit!
Oh, 'tis a goodly Ordinance,—the sight,
Though sprung from bleeding war, is one of pure delight;
Bless thou the hour, or ere the hour arrive,
When a whole people shall kneel down in prayer,
And, at one moment, in one spirit, strive
With lip and heart to tell their gratitude
For thy protecting care,
Their solemn joy—praising the Eternal Lord
For tyranny subdued,
And for the sway of equity renewed,
For liberty confirmed, and peace restored!

VARIANTS:

[109] 1845.

From all that man's performance could present,
1816.
Stoops to that closing deed magnificent,

[110] 1845.

1816.
.    .    . is satisfied.

[111] 1845.

1816.
Whate'er your means, whatever help ye claim,

[112] 1837.

1816.
.    .    . travelling faster than the shower,

[113] 1845.

.    .    . to devour;
But this appearance scattered extacy,—
1816.
And heart-sick Europe blessed the healing power.
.    .    . to devour,
In summer's loveliest hour;
But this assurance travelled fraught with glee,
1837.
And heart-sick Europe blessed its healing power.
.    .    . to devour,
But this assurance travelled fraught with glee,
1841.
And heart-sick Europe blessed its healing power.

[114] 1837.

1816.
Such glad assurance suddenly went forth—

[115] 1837.

1816.
How virtue triumphs, from her bondage freed!

[116] 1845.

1816.
.    .    . conquered .    .    .

[117] 1845.

—Yet might it well become that City now,
1816.
Into whose breast the tides of grandeur flow,

[118] 1820.

1816.
.    .    . its .    .    .

[119] 1837.

1819.
Upon .    .    .

[120] 1850.

1816.
Bright be the distant fabric, .    .    .
1845.
Bright be the peaceful Fabric, .    .    .

[121] 1827.

1816.
.    .    . and time can trust.

The next line was omitted in 1816.

[122] 1845.

1816.
.    .    . and for our errors,

[123] 1845.

But thy most dreaded instrument,
In working out a pure intent,
Is Man—arrayed for mutual slaughter,—
1816.
Yea, Carnage is thy daughter!
1837.
But thy most awful instrument

[124] 1837.

1816.
And by thy just permission .    .    .

[125] 1845.

.    .    .   to Thee—
1837.
With fervent thoughts, but in a gentler strain

[126] The above six lines were added in 1837.

[127] 1845.

.    .    .   to Thee
1816.
On this appointed Day shall thanks ascend,
.    .    .   Humanity,
1837.
On this appointed day shall thanks ascend,

[128] 1845.

1816.
.    .    .   further .    .    .  

[129] The last four lines were added in 1845, but another version of the last two lines was written by Wordsworth in MS. on his edition of 1837—

And all the nations labouring to fulfil
Thy law shall live henceforth in peace and brotherly goodwill.

FOOTNOTES:

[BC] Compare this description of the news of Waterloo spreading over the nations with the effect of the lady's laugh in To Joanna. See "Poems on the Naming of Places" (vol. ii. p. 159).—Ed.

[BD] See note A on preceding page.—Ed.

[BE] London.—Ed.

[BF] In Westminster Abbey.—Ed.

[BG] Compare the Psalter, civ. 32.—Ed.

[BH] Compare the Psalter, passim, e.g. xlvi., lxvi., cvi., and Shakespeare, Henry V. act IV. scene i.: "If these men have defeated the law and outrun native punishment, though they can outstrip men, they have no wings to fly from God: war is his beadle, war is his vengeance."—Ed.

[Pg 95]


INVOCATION TO THE EARTH[BI]

FEBRUARY, 1816

Composed 1816.—Published 1816

[Composed immediately after the Thanksgiving Ode, to which it may be considered as a second part.—I. F.]

One of the "Epitaphs and Elegiac Pieces."—Ed.

I

"Rest, rest, perturbèd Earth![BJ]
O rest, thou doleful Mother of Mankind!"
A Spirit sang in tones more plaintive than the wind:
"From regions where no evil thing has birth
5
I come—thy stains to wash away,
Thy cherished fetters to unbind,
And open[130] thy sad eyes upon a milder day.
The Heavens are thronged with martyrs that have risen
From out thy noisome prison;
10
The penal caverns groan
With tens of thousands rent from off the tree
Of hopeful life,[BK]—by battle's whirlwind blown
Into the deserts of Eternity.
Unpitied havoc! Victims unlamented!
15
But not on high, where madness is resented,
And murder causes some sad tears to flow,
Though, from the widely-sweeping blow,
The choirs of Angels spread, triumphantly augmented.

[Pg 96]

II

"False Parent of Mankind!
20
Obdurate, proud, and blind,
I sprinkle thee with soft celestial dews,
Thy lost, maternal heart to re-infuse!
Scattering this far-fetched moisture from my wings,
Upon the act a blessing I implore,
25
Of which the rivers in their secret springs,
The rivers stained so oft with human gore,
Are conscious;—may the like return no more!
May Discord—for a Seraph's care
Shall be attended with a bolder prayer—
30
May she, who once disturbed the seats of bliss
These mortal spheres above,
Be chained for ever to the black abyss!
And thou, O rescued Earth, by peace and love,
And merciful desires, thy sanctity approve!"
35
The Spirit ended his mysterious rite,
And the pure vision closed in darkness infinite."

VARIANTS:

[130] 1837.

1816.
To open .    .    .

FOOTNOTES:

[BI] The title which this Invocation to the Earth bore when first published in the Thanksgiving Ode, with other short pieces chiefly referring to recent public events, in 1816, was "Elegiac Verses, February 1816."—Ed.

[BJ] Compare Hamlet, act I. scene V., l. 183—

Rest, rest, perturbed spirit! Ed.

[BK] "The loss of human life, on the French side alone, in the wars consequent on the Revolution, was estimated (in 1815) to have been 4,556,000." (Blair's Chronological Tables, p. 724.)—Ed.


ODE[BL]

Composed January 1816.—Published 1816

Carmina possumus
Donare, et pretium dicere muneri.
Non incisa notis marmora publicis,
Per quæ spiritus et vita redit bonis
Post mortem ducibus
clarius indicant
Laudes, quam——Pierides; neque,
Si chartæ sileant quod bene feceris,
Mercedem tuleris. Hor. Car. 8, lib. 4.[BM]

[Pg 97]

This was one of the "Poems of the Imagination," in 1820. In 1827 it was placed among the "Sonnets dedicated to Liberty."—Ed.

I

When the soft hand of sleep had closed the latch
On the tired household of corporeal sense,
And Fancy, keeping unreluctant watch,
Was free her choicest favours to dispense;[131]
5
I saw, in wondrous pérspective displayed,
A landscape more august than happiest skill[132]
Of pencil ever clothed with light and shade;
An intermingled pomp of vale and hill,
City, and naval stream, suburban grove,[133]
10
And stately forest where the wild deer rove;
Nor wanted lurking hamlet, dusky towns,
And scattered rural farms of aspect bright;
And, here and there, between the pastoral downs,
The azure sea upswelled upon the sight.
15
Fair prospect, such as Britain only shows!
But not a living creature could be seen
Through its wide circuit, that, in deep repose,
And, even to sadness, lonely and serene,
Lay hushed; till—through a portal in the sky
20
Brighter than brightest loop-hole, in a storm,
Opening before the sun's triumphant eye—
[Pg 98]
Issued, to sudden view, a glorious Form![134]
Earthward it glided with a swift descent:
Saint George himself this Visitant must be;[135]
25
And, ere a thought could ask on what intent
He sought the regions of humanity,
A thrilling voice was heard, that vivified
City and field and flood;—aloud it cried—
"Though from my celestial home,
30
Like a Champion, armed I come;
On my helm the dragon crest,
And the red cross on my breast;
I, the Guardian of this Land,[136]
Speak not now of toilsome duty;
35
Well obeyed was that command—
[Pg 99]
Whence bright days of festive beauty;[137]
Haste, Virgins, haste!—the flowers which summer gave
Have perished in the field;
But the green thickets plenteously shall yield[138]
40
Fit garlands for the brave,
That will be welcome, if by you entwined;
Haste, Virgins, haste; and you, ye Matrons grave,
Go forth with rival youthfulness of mind,
And gather what ye find
45
Of hardy laurel and wild holly boughs—
To deck your stern Defenders' modest brows!
Such simple gifts prepare,
Though they have gained a worthier meed;
And in due time shall share
50
Those palms and amaranthine wreaths
Unto their martyred Countrymen decreed,
In realms where everlasting freshness breathes!"

II

And lo! with crimson banners proudly streaming,
And upright weapons innocently gleaming,
55
Along the surface of a spacious plain
Advance in order the redoubted Bands,
And there receive green chaplets from the hands
Of a fair female train—
Maids and Matrons, dight
60
In robes of dazzling white;[139]
While from the crowd bursts[140] forth a rapturous noise
[Pg 100]
By the cloud-capt hills retorted;
And a throng of rosy boys
In loose fashion tell their joys;[141]
65
And grey-haired sires, on staffs supported,
Look[142] round, and by their smiling seem[143] to say,
Thus strives a grateful Country to display
The mighty debt which nothing can repay!

III

Anon before my sight a palace rose
70
Built of all precious substances,—so pure
And exquisite, that sleep alone bestows
Ability like splendour to endure:
Entered, with streaming thousands, through the gate,
I saw the banquet spread beneath a Dome of state,
75
A lofty Dome, that dared to emulate
The heaven of sable night
With starry lustre; yet had power to throw
Solemn effulgence, clear as solar light,
Upon a princely company below,
80
While the vault rang with choral harmony,
Like some Nymph-haunted grot beneath the roaring sea,
—No sooner ceased that peal, than on the verge
Of exultation hung a dirge[144]
[Pg 101]
Breathed from a soft and lonely instrument,
85
That kindled recollections
Of agonised affections;[BN]
And, though some tears the strain attended,
The mournful passion ended
In peace of spirit, and sublime content!

IV

90
But garlands wither; festal shows depart,
Like dreams themselves; and sweetest sound—
(Albeit of effect profound)
It was—and it is gone!
Victorious England! bid the silent Art
95
Reflect, in glowing hues that shall not fade,
Those[145] high achievements;[BO] even as she arrayed
With second life the deed of Marathon
Upon Athenian walls;[BP]
So may she labour for thy civic halls:
100
And be the guardian spaces
Of consecrated places,
As nobly graced by Sculpture's patient toil;
[Pg 102]
And let imperishable Columns rise[146]
Fixed in the depths of this courageous soil;[BQ]
105
Expressive signals[147] of a glorious strife,
And competent to shed a spark divine
Into the torpid breast of daily life;—
Records on which, for pleasure of all eyes,
The morning sun may shine[148]
110
With gratulation thoroughly benign![BR]

V

And ye, Pierian Sisters,[BS] sprung from Jove
And sage Mnemosyne,—full long debarred[149]
From your first mansions, exiled all too long[150]
From many a hallowed stream and grove,[151]
115
Dear native regions[BT] where ye wont to rove,
[Pg 103]
Chanting for patriot heroes the reward
Of never-dying song!
Now (for, though Truth descending from above
The Olympian summit hath destroyed for aye
120
Your kindred Deities, Ye live and move,[BU]
Spared for obeisance from perpetual love
For privilege redeemed of god-like sway)
Now,[152] on the margin of some spotless fountain,
Or top serene of unmolested mountain,
125
Strike audibly the noblest of your lyres,
And for a moment meet the soul's desires![153]
That I, or some more favoured Bard, may hear
What ye, celestial Maids! have often sung
Of Britain's acts,—may catch it with rapt ear,
130
And give the treasure to our British tongue!
So shall the characters of that proud page
Support their mighty theme from age to age;
And, in the desert places of the earth,
When they to future empires have given birth,
[Pg 104] 135
So shall the people gather and believe
The bold report, transferred to every clime;
And the whole world, not envious but admiring,
And to the like aspiring,
Own—that the progeny of this fair Isle
140
Had power as lofty actions to achieve
As were performed in man's heroic prime;
Nor wanted, when their fortitude had held
Its even tenor, and the foe was quelled,
A corresponding virtue to beguile
145
The hostile purpose of wide-wasting Time—
That not in vain they laboured to secure,
For their great deeds, perpetual memory,
And fame as largely spread as land and sea,
By Works of spirit high and passion pure!

VARIANTS:

[131] 1827.

And Fancy in her airy bower kept watch,
Free to exert some kindly influence;
I saw—but little boots it that my verse
A shadowy visitation should rehearse,
For to our Shores such glory hath been brought,
1816.
That dreams no brighter are than waking thought—
1820.
Free to exert her kindliest influence;

[132] 1827.

1816.
A landscape richer than the happiest skill

[133] 1827.

1816.
Tower, town, and city—and suburban grove,

[134] 1832.

    .    .    . wild deer rove;
And, in a clouded quarter of the sky,
Through such a portal as with chearful eye
The traveller greets in time of threatened storm,
1816.
Issued, to sudden view, a radiant Form!
Nor wanted lurking hamlet, dusky towns,
And scattered rural farms of aspect bright,
And, here and there, between the pastoral downs,
The azure sea upswelled upon the sight.
Fair prospect, such as Britain only shows!
But not a living creature could be seen
Through its wide circuit, hushed in deep repose,
Yea, even to sadness, quiet and serene!
Amid this solitude of earth and sky,
Through portal clear as loop-hole in a storm
Opening before the sun's triumphant eye,
1827.
Issued, to sudden view, a radiant form!

[135] 1845

1816.
  .    .    .           may be;

[136] 1827

A thrilling voice was heard, that vivified
My patriotic heart;—aloud it cried,
1816.
"I, the Guardian of this Land,

[137] 1837.

1816.
"Days are come of festive beauty;
1827.
Hence bright days of festive beauty;

[138] 1820.

1816.
  .    .    .   .    .    .     will yield

[139] 1827.

1816.
  .    .    .       of purest white,—

[140] 1827.

1816.
  .    .    . burst   .    .    .

[141] 1827.

1816.
  .    .    .     told their joys,—

[142] 1827.

1816.
Looked   .    .    .  

[143] 1827.

1816.
  .    .    .   seemed   .    .    .  

[144] 1837.

Anon, I saw, beneath a dome of state,
The feast dealt forth with bounty unconfined;
And while the vaulted roof did emulate
The starry heavens through splendour of the show,
It rang with music,—and methought the wind
Scattered the tuneful largess far and near,
That they who asked not might partake the cheer,
Who listened not could hear,
Where'er the wild winds were allowed to blow!
—That work reposing, on the verge
1816.
Of busiest exultation hung a dirge,
1827.
  .    .    .   and had power to throw

The edition of 1827 is otherwise identical with that of 1837.

[145] 1837.

1816.
These   .    .    .  

[146] 1845.

Graced with such gifts as Sculpture can bestow,
When inspiration guides her patient toil;
1816.
And let imperishable trophies grow
As nobly graced by Sculpture's patient toil;
1827.
And let imperishable structures grow

[147] 1827.

1816.
  .    .    .   records   .    .    .  

[148] 1845.

Trophies on which the morning sun may shine,
1816.
As changeful ages flow,
Records on which the morning sun may shine,
1827.
As changeful ages flow,

[149] 1816.

c.
  .    .    .  Ye muses long debarred

[150] 1816.

  .    .    .   As mythic lore
c.
For not unwise belief proclaimed of yore

[151] 1827.

1816.
  .    .    .   consecrated stream and grove,

[152] 1845.

  .    .    .     .    .    . and move,
And exercise unblamed a generous sway,)
1816.
Now,   .    .    .   .    .    .
1837.
And exercise unblamed a god-like sway)

[153] 1837.

1816.
  .    .    .   my soul's desires!

FOOTNOTES:

[BL] The title of this Ode, when first published along with the Thanksgiving Ode, was Ode, composed in January 1816. In 1845 the date 1814 was given; but there seems no reason to distrust the earlier one.—Ed.

[BM] These lines were first inserted in the edition of 1827.—Ed.

[BN] Compare Ode, Intimations of Immortality, etc., stanza ix.—

But for those first affections,
Ed.
Those shadowy recollections.

[BO] Haydon painted Wellington on the field of Waterloo. Compare the sonnet which Wordsworth wrote on that picture, in 1840, beginning—

Ed.
By Art's hold privilege Warrior and War-horse stand.

[BP] The allusion is to the picture of the battle of Marathon, on the walls of the Stoa Poecile, in Athens. Compare the Effusion, in presence of Tell's Tower, in the "Memorials of a Tour on the Continent" (1820), st. i. and note.—Ed.

[BQ] In many places throughout Britain this was carried out. Statues to the memory of Wellington were erected in many towns, and buildings were named after him.—Ed.

[BR] In many places throughout Britain this was carried out. Statues to the memory of Wellington were erected in many towns, and buildings were named after him.—Ed.

[BS] The nine Muses, called the Pierides, from Pieria, near Olympus, where they were said to have been born, or first worshipped by the Thracians.—Ed.

[BT] Compare the first line of the Extract from the conclusion of a poem, composed in anticipation of leaving school (vol. i. p. 2)—

. Ed.
Dear native regions, I foretell>

[BU] Compare Schiller's Piccolomini, in S. T. Coleridge's version (act II. scene 4)—

The intelligible forms of ancient poets,
The fair humanities of old religion,
The power, the beauty, and the majesty,
That had their haunts in dale, or piny mountain,
Or forest by slow stream, or pebbly spring,
Or chasms and wat'ry depths; all these have vanished.
They live no longer in the faith of reason!
But still the heart doth need a language, still
Doth the old instinct bring back the old names,
And to yon starry world they now are gone,
Spirits or gods, that used to share this earth
With man as with their friend; and to the lover
Yonder they move, from yonder visible sky
Shoot influence down: and even at this day
'Tis Jupiter who brings whate'er is great,
Ed.
And Venus who brings everything that's fair!

ODE

Composed 1816.—Published 1816

Included in 1820 among the "Poems of the Imagination," afterwards placed among the "Sonnets dedicated to Liberty."—Ed.

I

Who rises on the banks of Seine,
And binds her temples with the civic wreath?
What joy to read the promise of her mien!
How sweet to rest her wide-spread wings beneath!
5
But they are ever playing,
And twinkling in the light,
And, if a breeze be straying,
That breeze she will invite;
And stands on tiptoe, conscious she is fair,
10
And calls a look of love into her face,
And spreads her arms, as if the general air
Alone could satisfy her wide embrace.
—Melt, Principalities, before her melt!
Her love ye hailed—her wrath have felt!
[Pg 105] 15
But She through many a change of form hath gone,
And stands amidst you now an armèd creature,
Whose panoply is not a thing put on,
But the live scales of a portentous nature;
19
That, having forced[154] its way from birth to birth,
Stalks round-abhorred by Heaven, a terror to the Earth!

II

I marked the breathings of her dragon crest;
My Soul, a sorrowful interpreter,
In many a midnight vision bowed
Before the ominous aspect of her spear;[155]
25
Whether the mighty beam, in scorn upheld,
Threatened her foes,—or, pompously at rest,
Seemed to bisect her orbèd shield,
As stretches a blue bar of solid cloud[156]
Across the setting sun and all the fiery west.[157]

III

30
So did she daunt the Earth, and God defy!
And, wheresoe'er she spread her sovereignty,
Pollution tainted all that was most pure.
—Have we not known—and live we not to tell—
That Justice seemed to hear her final knell?
35
Faith buried deeper in her own deep breast
Her stores, and sighed to find them insecure!
And Hope was maddened by the drops that fell
[Pg 106]
From shades, her chosen place of short-lived rest.[158]
Shame followed shame, and woe supplanted woe—
40
Is this the only change that time can show?
How long shall vengeance sleep? Ye patient Heavens, how long?
—Infirm ejaculation! from the tongue
Of Nations wanting virtue to be strong
Up to the measure of accorded might,
45
And daring not to feel the majesty of right!

IV

Weak Spirits are there—who would ask,
Upon the pressure of a painful thing,
The lion's sinews, or the eagle's wing;
Or let their wishes loose, in forest-glade,
50
Among the lurking powers
Of herbs and lowly flowers,
Or seek, from saints above, miraculous aid—
That Man may be accomplished for a task
Which his own nature hath enjoined;—and why?
55
If, when that interference hath relieved him,
He must sink down to languish
In worse than former helplessness—and lie
Till the caves roar,—and, imbecility
Again engendering anguish,
60
The same weak wish returns, that had before deceived him.

V

But Thou, supreme Disposer! may'st[159] not speed
The course of things, and change the creed
Which hath been held aloft before men's sight
Since the first framing of societies,
65
Whether, as bards have told in ancient song,
[Pg 107]
Built up by soft seducing harmonies;
Or prest together by the appetite,
And by the power, of wrong.

The date of the composition of this Ode is uncertain. Wordsworth himself gives no clue: but it seems to refer to the rise of the French Republic, with its illusive promises of Liberty: the freedom of the many being sacrificed to the despotism of one. The Republic passed "through many a change of form." It became both tyrannous and aggressive. The "Principalities" of Europe "melted" before it. It stood forth "an armèd creature," and "a terror to the Earth." It in turn put down "Justice," "Faith," and "Hope" throughout Europe; and the writer of the Ode says,

How long shall vengeance sleep? Ye patient Heavens, how long?

The allusions in stanza iv. suggest that this Ode was written before Waterloo, and the final overthrow of the power of Napoleon, but it is difficult, if not impossible, to determine the point with exactness from internal evidence.

The reference in the last stanza may be to the legend of Amphion moving stones, and building up the walls of Thebes, by the sound of his lyre; the stones advancing to their places, and being fitted together, as he played his instrument. Compare Tennyson's Amphion.—Ed.


VARIANTS:

[154] 1845.

1816.
That, having wrought    .    .    .

[155] 1827.

My soul in many a midnight vision bowed
1816.
Before the meanings which her spear expressed;

[156] 1827.

Seemed to bisect the orbit of her shield,
1816.
Like to a long blue bar of solid cloud

[157] 1845.

1816.
At evening stretched across the fiery West.
1827.
Across the setting sun, and through the fiery west.
1837.
Across the setting sun—and through all the fiery west.

[158] 1827.

   .    .    . short-lived rest,
1816.
Which, when they first received her, she had blest:

[159] 1827.

1816.
   .    .    .    .    . might'st    .    .    .

THE FRENCH ARMY IN RUSSIA, 1812-13[160]

Composed 1816.—Published 1816

This was first published in 1816 in the "Miscellaneous Pieces, referring chiefly to recent public Events," in the volume entitled Thanksgiving Ode, January 18, 1816, with other short pieces, etc. In 1820 it was placed among the "Sonnets dedicated to Liberty, Part II."—Ed.

Humanity, delighting to behold
A fond reflection of her own decay,
[Pg 108]
Hath painted Winter like a traveller old,
Propped on a staff, and, through the sullen day,
5
In hooded mantle, limping o'er the plain,[161]
As though his weakness were disturbed by pain:
Or, if a juster fancy should allow
An undisputed symbol of command,
The chosen sceptre is a withered bough,
10
Infirmly grasped within a palsied hand.
These emblems suit the helpless and forlorn;
But mighty Winter the device shall scorn.
For he it was—dread Winter! who beset,
Flinging round van and rear his ghastly net,
15
That host, when from the regions of the Pole
They shrunk, insane ambition's barren goal—
That host, as huge and strong as e'er defied
Their God, and placed their trust in human pride!
As fathers persecute rebellious sons,
20
He smote the blossoms of their warrior youth;
He called on Frost's inexorable tooth
Life to consume in Manhood's firmest hold;
Nor spared the reverend blood that feebly runs;
For why—unless for liberty enrolled
25
And sacred home—ah! why should hoary Age be bold?
Fleet the Tartar's reinless steed,
But fleeter far the pinions of the Wind,
Which from Siberian caves the Monarch freed,
And sent him forth, with squadrons of his kind,
30
And bade the Snow their ample backs bestride,
And to the battle ride.
No pitying voice commands a halt,
No courage can repel the dire assault;
Distracted, spiritless, benumbed, and blind,
[Pg 109] 35
Whole legions sink—and, in one instant, find
Burial and death: look for them—and descry,
When morn returns, beneath the clear blue sky,
A soundless waste, a trackless vacancy!

The French "retreat from Moscow was perhaps the most disastrous on record since the days of Xerxes.... On the night of 6th November, the temperature suddenly fell to that of the most rigorous winter. In that dreadful night thousands of men perished, and nearly all the horses, which compelled the abandonment of the greater part of the convoys. From this point the road began to be strewn with corpses, presenting the aspect of one continuous battlefield.... At Smolensk the cold was at 20 degrees of Réaumur." (Dyer's History of Modern Europe, vol. iv. pp. 518, 519.)—Ed.


VARIANTS:

[160] 1827.

The original title was Composed in Recollection of the Expedition of the French into Russia.
1816. February 1816.

[161] 1820.

Hath painted Winter like a shrunken, old,
And close-wrapt Traveller—through the weary day—
1816.
Propped on a staff, and limping o'er the Plain,

ON THE SAME OCCASION[162]

Composed 1816.—Published 1816

One of the "Sonnets dedicated to Liberty."—Ed.

Ye Storms, resound the praises of your King!
And ye mild Seasons—in a sunny clime,
Midway on some high hill, while father Time
Looks on delighted—meet in festal ring,
5
And loud and long of Winter's triumph sing!
Sing ye, with blossoms crowned, and fruits, and flowers,
Of Winter's breath surcharged with sleety showers,
And the dire flapping of his hoary wing!
Knit the blithe dance upon the soft green grass;
10
With feet, hands, eyes, looks, lips, report your gain;
Whisper it to the billows of the main,
And to the aërial zephyrs as they pass,
That old decrepit Winter—He hath slain
That Host, which rendered all your bounties vain!

VARIANTS:

[162] 1820.

The title in 1816 was
Sonnet on the same occasion. February 1816.

[Pg 110]


SIEGE OF VIENNA RAISED BY JOHN
SOBIESKI[BV]

February, 1816

Composed February 4, 1816.—Published 1816

One of the "Sonnets dedicated to Liberty."—Ed.

O, for a kindling touch from that pure flame
Which ministered, erewhile, to a sacrifice
Of gratitude, beneath Italian skies,
In words like these: "Up, Voice of Song! proclaim
5
Thy saintly rapture with celestial aim:
For lo! the Imperial City stands released[163]
From bondage threatened by the embattled East,
And Christendom respires;[164] from guilt and shame
Redeemed, from miserable fear set free
10
By one day's feat, one mighty victory.
—Chant the Deliverer's praise in every tongue!
The cross shall spread, the crescent hath waxed dim;
He conquering, as in joyful Heaven is sung,[165]
He conquering through God, and God by him." [BW]

VARIANTS:

[BV] 1816.

The title at first was February 1816.—Ed.

[163] 1837.

.    .    . touch of that pure flame
Which taught the offering of song to rise
From thy lone bower, beneath Italian skies,
Great Filicaia!—With celestial aim
It rose,—thy saintly rapture to proclaim,
1816.
Then, when the imperial city stood released

[164] 1837.

1816.
.    .    . respired; .    .    .

[165] 1837.

1816.
.    .    . —as in Earth and Heaven was sung—

FOOTNOTES:

[BW]

Ond' è ch' Io grido e griderò: giugnesti,
Guerregiasti, e vincesti;
Si, si, vincesti, o Campion forte e pio,
Per Dio vincesti, e per te vinse Iddio.

See Filicaia's Canzone, addressed to (Sir) John Sobieski, king of Poland, upon his raising the siege of Vienna. This, and his other poems on the same occasion, are superior perhaps to any lyrical pieces that contemporary events have ever given birth to, those of the Hebrew Scriptures only excepted.—W. W. (1816 and 1820.)

Vienna, besieged in 1683 by Mahomet IV., was relieved by John Sobieski. The following is Dyer's account of it in his Modern Europe (vol. iii. p. 109):—"At one time Vienna seemed beyond the reach of human aid. The Turks sat down before it on 14th July, and such were their numbers that their encampment is said to have contained more than 100,000 tents. It was the middle of August before John Sobieski could leave Cracow with 25,000 men, and by the end of that month the situation of Vienna had become extremely critical. Provisions and ammunition began to fail; the garrison had lost 6000 men, and numbers died every day by pestilence, or at the hands of the enemy. It was not till 9th September that Sobieski and his Poles formed a junction on the plain of Tuln with the Austrian forces under the Duke of Lorraine, and the other German contingents. On 11th September, the allies reached the heights of Kahlenberg, within sight of Vienna, and announced their arrival to the beleaguered citizens by means of rockets. On the following day the Turks were attacked, and, after a few hours' resistance, completely routed.... The Turkish camp, with vast treasures in money, jewels, horses, arms, and ammunition, became the spoil of the victors."

The Italian poet Filicaia referred to by Wordsworth (Filicaja, Vincenzo), wrote six odes on the deliverance of Vienna by Sobieski. They were published in Florence in the following year, 1684, and established the writer's fame. Queen Christina of Sweden was much struck by them; and, being a generous patroness and admirer of letters, she enabled Filicaja to devote himself to poetry exclusively as his life-work. He wrote numerous patriotic sonnets and heroic odes, in Italian and in Latin.—Ed.

[Pg 111]


OCCASIONED BY THE BATTLE
OF WATERLOO[166]

(The last six lines intended for an Inscription.)

February, 1816

Composed February 4, 1816.—Published 1816

One of the "Sonnets dedicated to Liberty."—Ed.

Intrepid sons of Albion! not by you
Is life despised; ah no, the spacious earth
Ne'er saw a race who held, by right of birth,
So many objects to which love is due:
5
Ye slight not life—to God and Nature true;
[Pg 112]
But death, becoming death, is dearer far,
When duty bids you bleed in open war:
Hence hath your prowess quelled that impious crew.
Heroes!—for instant sacrifice prepared;
10
Yet filled with ardour and on triumph bent
'Mid direst shocks of mortal accident—
To you who fell, and you whom slaughter spared
To guard the fallen, and consummate the event,
Your Country rears this sacred Monument!

It need hardly be said that the intention of using the six last lines as an "Inscription" was never carried into effect. The infelicity of the second last line is fatal to its use on any "monument." The punctuation of the Sonnet as it appeared in The Champion, January 2, 1814, differs slightly from the above.—Ed.


VARIANTS:

[166] 1820.

1816.

The full title in 1816 was Inscription for a national monument in commemoration of the Battle of Waterloo.


OCCASIONED BY THE BATTLE OF WATERLOO[167]

February, 1816

Composed February 4, 1816.—Published 1816

One of the "Sonnets dedicated to Liberty."—Ed.

The Bard—whose soul is meek as dawning day,
Yet trained to judgments righteously severe,
Fervid, yet conversànt with holy fear,
As recognising one Almighty sway:
5
He—whose experienced eye can pierce the array
Of past events; to whom, in vision clear,
The aspiring heads of future things appear,
Like mountain-tops whose[168] mists have rolled away—
[Pg 113]
Assoiled from all encumbrance of our time,[BX]
10
He only, if such breathe, in strains devout
Shall comprehend this victory sublime;
Shall[169] worthily rehearse the hideous rout,
The triumph hail, which from their peaceful clime
Angels might welcome with a choral shout![170]

VARIANTS:

[167] 1837.

1816.

The title in 1816 was Occasioned by the same battle, February 1816

[168] 1820.

1816.
Like mountain-tops whence .    .    .

[169] 1837.

1816.
And .    .    .

[170] 1837.

Which the blest Angels, from their peaceful clime
1816.
Beholding, welcomed with a choral shout.

FOOTNOTES:

[BX] "From all this world's encumbrance did himself assoil."—Spenser. W. W. 1816.

In a MS. copy of the sonnet, Wordsworth wrote it thus: "In the above is a line taken from Spenser—

And hanging up his arms and warlike spoil,
Ed.
From all this world's encumbrance did himself assoil."

"EMPERORS AND KINGS, HOW OFT HAVE TEMPLES RUNG"

Composed 1816.—Published 1827

One of the "Sonnets dedicated to Liberty."—Ed.

Emperors and Kings, how oft have temples rung
With impious thanksgiving, the Almighty's scorn!
How oft above their altars have been hung
Trophies that led the good and wise to mourn
5
Triumphant wrong, battle of battle born,
And sorrow that to fruitless sorrow clung!
Now, from Heaven-sanctioned victory, Peace is sprung;[BY]
In this firm hour Salvation lifts her horn.
Glory to arms! But, conscious that the nerve
10
Of popular reason, long mistrusted, freed
[Pg 114]
Your thrones, ye Powers, from duty fear to swerve![171]
Be just, be grateful; nor, the oppressor's creed
Reviving, heavier chastisement deserve
Than ever forced unpitied hearts to bleed.

VARIANTS:

[171] 1832.

1827.
Your Thrones, from duty, Princes! fear to swerve;

FOOTNOTES:

[BY] From the position of this sonnet in the edition of 1827, as well as from manifest internal evidence, it refers, like the two previous ones, to the battle of Waterloo. Illustrations of the first six lines of the sonnet are too numerous in mediæval history to require detailed allusion.—Ed.


FEELINGS OF A FRENCH ROYALIST,[172]

On the Disinterment of the Remains of The Duke D'Enghien

Composed 1816.—Published 1816.

One of the "Sonnets dedicated to Liberty."—Ed.

Dear Reliques! from a pit of vilest mould
Uprisen—to lodge among ancestral kings;
And to inflict shame's salutary stings
On the remorseless hearts of men grown old
5
In a blind worship; men perversely bold
Even to this hour,—yet, some shall now forsake
Their monstrous Idol if the dead e'er spake,
To warn the living; if truth were ever told
By aught redeemed out of the hollow grave:[173]
10
O murdered Prince! meek, loyal, pious, brave!
The power of retribution once was given:
But 'tis a rueful thought that willow bands
So often tie the thunder-wielding hands
Of Justice sent to earth from highest Heaven!

[Pg 115]

The Duc d'Enghien, grandson of the Prince de Condé, and only son of the Duc de Bourbon, born at Chantilly in 1772, commanded the corps of Emigrés gathered on the Rhine by his grandfather. After the peace of Luneville, he retired to Ettenheim, near Strasburg, in German territory. There he married the Princess Charlotte of Rohan-Rochefort, and lived peacefully as a private citizen. He was, though wholly innocent, suspected by Napoleon of complicity in the plot of Pichegru, Cadoudal (one of the Chouans), Moreau, and others, to overthrow him as first Consul, and to restore the Bourbon dynasty. "The Duke was residing at Ettenheim, in the neutral territory of Baden, when Bonaparte, in violation of international law and the rights of the German Empire, caused him to be seized on the night of 15th March by a party of French gens d'armes, and to be carried to the castle of Vincennes, where, after a sort of mock trial, he was shot in the fosse of the fortress, March 21st" (1804).—Dyer's Modern Europe (vol. iv. p. 378). The whole of the proceedings against the Duc d'Enghien were illegal (as was confessed by the presiding judge), and his execution was one of the blackest stains on the character of Napoleon. After the Restoration, in 1814, his remains were disinterred by order of Louis XVIII., and buried in the chapel of the castle at Vincennes, where the restored king erected a monument to his memory. The "pit of vilest mould" mentioned in the sonnet, is, of course, the moat of the castle, and the phrase "to lodge among ancestral kings," refers to Vincennes having been a royal residence, where many princes died and were buried, e.g. Queen Jeanne (wife of Philippe le Bel), Louis le Hutin, and Charles le Bel. Vincennes is close to Paris, the fortress being only about five miles south-east of the Louvre. The chapel, which has a fine Gothic front, was begun in 1248, and was finished in 1552. The monument to the Duc d'Enghien is in the old Sacristy. It consists of four figures in marble, representing the Duke, supported by Religion and bewailed by France, while Vengeance waits behind. It was executed by Deseine.—Ed.


VARIANTS:

[172] The first line of the title was added in the edition of 1836, and continued afterwards.

[173] 1840.

Even to this hour; yet at this hour they quake;
And some their monstrous Idol shall forsake,
If to the living truth was ever told
1816.
By aught surrendered from the hollow grave:
1837.
To warn the living, truth were ever told

[Pg 116]


DION

(See Plutarch)

Composed 1816.—Published 1820

[This poem was first introduced by a stanza that I have since transferred to the Notes, for reasons there given,[BZ] and I cannot comply with the request expressed by some of my friends that the rejected stanza should be restored. I hope[Pg 117] they will be content if it be, hereafter, immediately attached to the poem, instead of its being degraded to a place in the Notes.—I. F.]


FOOTNOTE:

[BZ] To the edition of 1837, and subsequent ones, Wordsworth appended the following note:—

This poem began with the following stanza, which has been displaced on account of its detaining the reader too long from the subject, and as rather precluding, than preparing for, the due effect of the allusion to the genius of Plato:—

Fair is the Swan, whose majesty, prevailing
O'er breezeless water, on Locarno's lake,
Bears him on while proudly sailing
He leaves behind a moon-illumined wake:
Behold! the mantling spirit of reserve
Fashions his neck into a goodly curve;
An arch thrown back between luxuriant wings
Of whitest garniture, like fir-tree boughs
To which, on some unruffled morning, clings
A flaky weight of winter's purest snows!
—Behold!—as with a gushing impulse heaves
That downy prow, and softly cleaves
The mirror of the crystal flood,
Vanish inverted hill,[174] and shadowy wood,
And pendent rocks, where'er, in gliding state,
Winds the mute Creature without visible Mate
Or Rival, save the Queen of night
Showering down a silver light,
From heaven, upon her chosen favourite!

In the Fenwick note to An Evening Walk, vol. i. p. 5, after describing the two pairs of swans that frequented the lake of Esthwaite, Wordsworth says: "It was from the remembrance of those noble creatures, I took, thirty years after, the picture of the swan which I have discarded from the poem of Dion." After quoting the note, which explains the discarding of the above stanza, Professor Henry Reed remarks, "It is a remarkable instance of the comparative sacrifice of a passage of great beauty to the poet's dutiful regard for the principles of his Art" (American edition of 1851, p. 415). Wordsworth's reasons for withdrawing the stanza are obvious; but it is perhaps not unworthy of mention that when I was editing a volume of Selections from Wordsworth, to which many members of "The Wordsworth Society" contributed, Robert Browning besought me, in the strongest terms, to restore that discarded stanza.—Ed.

From 1820 to 1843 Dion was classed among the "Poems of Sentiment and Reflection." In the edition of 1845 it was placed next to Laodamia among the "Poems of the Imagination."—Ed.


VARIANT:

[174] 1820.

ms.
Vanish the dusky hill, .    .    .

I

Serene, and fitted to embrace,
Where'er he turned, a swan-like grace[175]
Of haughtiness without pretence,
And to unfold a still magnificence,
5
Was princely Dion, in the power
And beauty of his happier hour.
And what pure homage then did wait
On Dion's virtues, while the lunar beam[176]
Of Plato's genius, from its lofty sphere,
10
Fell round him in the grove of Academe,
Softening their inbred dignity austere—
That he, not too elate
With self-sufficing solitude,
But with majestic lowliness endued,
15
Might in the universal bosom reign,
And from affectionate observance gain
Help, under every change of adverse fate.[177]

[Pg 118]

II

Five thousand warriors—O the rapturous day![178]
Each crowned with flowers, and armed with spear and shield,
20
Or ruder weapon which their course might yield,[179]
To Syracuse advance[180] in bright array.
Who leads them on?—The anxious people see
Long-exiled Dion marching at their head,
He also crowned with flowers of Sicily,
25
And in a white, far-beaming, corselet clad!
Pure transport undisturbed by doubt or fear
The gazers feel; and, rushing to the plain,
Salute those strangers as a holy train
Or blest procession (to the Immortals dear)
30
That brought their precious liberty again.
Lo! when the gates are entered, on each hand,
Down the long street, rich goblets filled with wine
In seemly order stand,
On tables set, as if for rites divine;—
35
And, as the great Deliverer marches by,
He looks on festal ground with fruits bestrown;
And flowers are on his person thrown[181]
In boundless prodigality;
Nor doth[182] the general voice abstain from prayer,
40
Invoking Dion's tutelary care,
As if a very Deity he were!

[Pg 119]

III[CA]

Mourn, hills and groves of Attica! and mourn
Ilissus, bending o'er thy classic urn!
44
Mourn, and lament for him whose spirit dreads
Your once sweet memory, studious walks and shades!
For him who to divinity aspired,
Not on the breath[183] of popular applause,
But through dependence on the sacred laws
Framed in the schools where Wisdom dwelt retired,
50
Intent to trace the ideal path of right
(More fair than heaven's broad causeway paved with stars)
Which Dion learned to measure with sublime delight;—[184]
But He hath overleaped[185] the eternal bars;
And, following guides whose craft holds no consent
55
With aught that breathes the ethereal element,
Hath stained the robes of civil power with blood,
Unjustly shed, though for the public good.
Whence doubts that came too late, and wishes vain,
Hollow excuses, and triumphant pain;
60
And oft his cogitations sink as low
As, through the abysses of a joyless heart,
The heaviest plummet of despair can go—
But whence that sudden check? that fearful start!
He hears an uncouth sound—
65
Anon his lifted eyes
Saw, at a long-drawn gallery's dusky bound,
[Pg 120]
A Shape[186] of more than mortal size
And hideous aspect, stalking round and round!
A woman's garb the Phantom wore,
70
And fiercely swept the marble floor,—
Like Auster whirling to and fro,[187]
His force on Caspian foam to try;
Or Boreas when he scours the snow
That skins the plains of Thessaly,
75
Or when aloft on Mænalus he stops
His flight, 'mid eddying pine-tree tops!

IV

So, but from toil less sign of profit reaping,
The sullen Spectre to her purpose bowed,
Sweeping—vehemently sweeping—
80
No pause admitted, no design avowed!
"Avaunt, inexplicable Guest!—avaunt,"
Exclaimed the Chieftain[188]—"let me rather see
The coronal that coiling vipers make;
The torch that flames with many a lurid flake,
85
And the long train of doleful pageantry
Which they behold,[189] whom vengeful Furies haunt;
[Pg 121]
Who, while they struggle from the scourge to flee,
Move where the blasted[190] soil is not unworn,
And, in their anguish, bear what other minds have borne!"

V

90
But Shapes that come not at an earthly call,
Will not depart when mortal voices bid;
Lords of the visionary eye whose lid,
Once raised, remains aghast, and will not fall!
Ye Gods, thought He, that servile Implement
95
Obeys a mystical intent!
Your Minister would brush away
The spots that to my soul adhere;
But should she labour night and day,
They will not, cannot disappear;
100
Whence angry perturbations,—and that look
Which no philosophy can brook!

VI

Ill-fated Chief! there are[191] whose hopes are built
Upon the ruins of thy glorious name;[192]
Who, through the portal of one moment's guilt,
[Pg 122] 105
Pursue thee with their deadly aim![193]
O matchless perfidy![194] portentous lust
Of monstrous crime!—that horror-striking blade,
Drawn in defiance of the Gods, hath laid
The noble Syracusan low in dust!
110
Shudder'd[195] the walls—the marble city wept—
And sylvan places heaved a pensive sigh;
But[196] in calm peace the appointed Victim slept,
As he had fallen in magnanimity;
Of spirit too capacious to require
115
That Destiny her course should change; too just
To his own native greatness[197] to desire
That wretched boon, days lengthened by mistrust.
So[198] were the hopeless troubles, that involved
The soul of Dion, instantly dissolved.
120
Released from life and cares of princely state,
He left this moral grafted on his Fate;
"Him only pleasure leads, and peace attends,
Him, only him, the shield of Jove defends,
Whose means are fair and spotless as his ends."

VARIANTS:

[175] 1837.

So pure, so bright, so fitted to embrace,
ms. and 1820.
Where'er he turn'd, a natural grace

[176] 1837.

Nor less the homage that was seen to wait
ms. and 1820.
On Dion's virtues, when the lunar beam

[177] 1820.

Softening his inbred dignity austere.
If on thy path the world delight to gaze,
Pride of the world—beware! for thou may'st live,
Like Dion, to behold the torch of Praise
Inverted in thy presence, and to give
Proof, for the historian's page and poet's lays,
ms.
That Peace, even Peace herself, is fugitive.

[178] 1820.

ms.
.    .    . joyful day!

[179] 1820.

ms.
.    .    . such as chance might yield,

[180] 1820.

ms.
.    .    . advanc'd .    .    .

[181] 1827.

And, wheresoe'er the great Deliverer passed,
Fruits were strewn before his eye,
ms. and 1820.
And flowers upon his person cast

[182] 1827.

1820.
.    .    . did .    .    .

[183] 1820.

ms.
.    .    . wings .    .    .

[184] 1837.

1820.
.    .    . to measure with delight;
ms.
.    .    . to gaze on with delight;

[185] 1820.

1837.
Now hath he overleaped .    .    .
The edition of 1840 returns to the text of 1820.

[186] 1820.

.    .    . gallery's farthest bound,
ms.
A formidable shape .    .    .

[187] 1820.

ms.
Like winged Auster stooping low,

[188] 1827.

1820.
Intrusive Presence!— .    .    .

[189] 1820.

Sweeping—vehemently sweeping—
Long gazed the chieftain—ere he spake—aloud—
With even voice and stern composure wrought
Into his brow by self-supporting thought:
"Avaunt, inexplicable Guest—avaunt,
Intrusive Phantom! let me rather see
ms.
What they behold .    .    .
Sweeping—vehemently sweeping—
No pause admitted—no design avowed!
Breathless the chieftain gazed—at length,
Endeavouring to collect his strength,
With pallid cheek and rueful brow,
And a half-pleading, a half-threatening eye,
Such as the Fates exclusively allow
For the behoof of suffering majesty,
He rose and spake aloud—
"Intrusive Presence! let me rather see
ms.
What they behold, .    .    .

[190] 1820.

ms.
.    .    . wretched .    .    .

[191] 1820.

ms.
Ill-fated Lord! O, there are .    .    .
ms.
Afflicted chief! .    .    .

[192] 1820.

ms.
Upon the basis of thy ruined name;

[193] 1820.

.    .    . name;
Away—for hark a rushing sound,
ms.
A conflict—and a groan profound!

[194] 1820.

ms.
O monstrous perfidy! .    .    .

[195] 1832.

1820.
Shudder .    .    .

[196] 1820.

ms.
While .    .    .

[197] 1820.

ms.
To his inborn greatness .    .    .

[198] 1820.

ms.
Thus .    .    .

The following suggested variations of text also exist in MS.—Ed.

Mourn, olive bowers of Attica! and Thou,
Partake the sadness of the groves,
Famed hill Hymettus, round whose fragrant brow,
Industrious bees, each seeking what she loves,
[Pg 123]
Or fraught with treasure which she best approves,
Their murmurs blend {   in choral elevation   }
{   with choral animation   }
Not wholly lost upon the abstracted ear
Of unambitious men who wander near
Immersed in lonely contemplation.
Mourn, sunny Hill, and shady Grove! and mourn
Ilyssus, bending o'er thy classic urn!
Lament the fall of him whose spirit dreads
Your once sweet memory, studious walks and shades!
For He, who to divinity aspired,
Not on the wings of popular applause,
But through dependence on the sacred laws
Framed in the schools where Wisdom dwelt retired,
Meek Wisdom tracing with a steady hand
The path which she alone hath scann'd—
The ideal path of right—
More fair than heaven's broad causeway paved with stars,
Which Dion learned to gaze on with delight;—
But he hath overleap'd the eternal bars,
And following guides whose craft holds no consent
With aught that breathes the ethereal element,
Hath stained the robes of civil power with blood,
Unjustly shed, though for the public good.
Blind choice—for since that day, the chief, the sage,
Prime boast and envy of a glorious age,
Droops, the slave of fear and sorrow;
For since that hour the studious walks and shades,
Whose once sweet memory her Spirit dreads,
Depress'd to-day, and unrelieved to-morrow,
Hath Dion pined with sharp regret and sorrow.
Lament, ye studious walks and shades,
The fall of Him whose spirit dreads
Your once sweet memory—and mourn
Ilyssus, bending o'er thy classic urn,
For him who .    .    .    .    .    .
Mourn, {   sunny hills and groves } of Attica! and mourn
{    olive bowers }
Ilyssus, bending o'er thy classic urn!
Mourn, and lament for him whose spirit dreads
Your once sweet memory, studious walks and shades,
For him who .    .    .    .    .    .
.    .    . where Wisdom dwelt retired
{   Tracing with steady hand the path of right   }
{   Intent to trace the ideal path of right   }

[Pg 124]

.    .    . where Wisdom dwelt retired
Tracing assiduously the path of right.
That path which Dion travelled { in } delight.
{with}
Which Dion learned to travel with delight.
Ever since that hour, ye studious walks and shades,
Whose once sweet Memory now his spirit dreads,
Hath Dion pined with sharp regret and sorrow.
Blind choice—for since that word was given, the Sage,
Prime boast and envy of a glorious age,
{Hath droop'd and pined with sharp regret and sorrow,   }
{Droops with a burthen of repentant sorrow,   }
Depress'd to-day, and unrelieved to-morrow.
Hath stained the robes of civil power with blood,
Unjustly shed—albeit to prevent
Manifold tumults and incessant strife,
That seemed to hang upon a single life
To whom the calm of general content,
The stedfastness of public good,
Was tiresome as the weight
That presses down the minds of mariners,
When not a billow stirs
On the wide surface of the ocean flood.
{  Untractable disturber of the State, }
{  Strong is he—and concessions have proved vain,   }
{  And pardon {  only makes     } him more elate,      }
{  doth but make }}
{  And bolder to transgress again. }
{  Untractable disturber of the State,}
{  Of popularity the giddy thrall,}
{  Ever aspiring to the topmost height,    }
{  His ears he shuts against the call         }
{  Of reason—therefore let him fall.       }
Infirm decision, slowly won
From Dion's mind—to authorize a deed
Which when the word was uttered—with the speed
Of lightning hurrying through the heav'ns—is done.
{But} since that fatal hour—the chief, the sage,
{For}
That hung upon a single life
{Presumptuous,  }
{Bold, } fickle, envious, turbulent,
{Ambitious,        }
Ever aspiring to the topmost height;
[Pg 125]
To whom the calm of general content,
Diffused when order reigned for public good,
Was tiresome ...
Repeated pardons make him more elate,
And bolder to offend again.
He hath provoked his fate;
Deliberative sadness ratifies
The offender's doom, and solemn be his obsequies!
Yes, let him fall, decision slowly won
From Dion's mind, to authorize a deed
Which when the word was uttered—with the speed
Of lightning hurrying through the heav'ns—is done.
But since that fated word the {princely   } sage,
{chief—the}
Prime boast and envy of a glorious age,
Droops, under burthen of repentant sorrow,
Depress'd to-day, and unrelieved to-morrow.
He hath provoked his fate:
Ever aspiring to the topmost height,
He shuts his ear against the call
Of Reason, therefore let him fall.       ms.

Some years ago I was inclined to assign this poem to the year 1814, because Wordsworth himself gave it that date in one of the notes which he dictated to Miss Fenwick in 1843. I now assign it to the year 1816. Wordsworth gave it that date in the year 1837, and if written in 1814, I think it would have been included in the edition of 1815.

Dion, the Ode to Lycoris, and the translation of part of Virgil's Æneid, belong to a time when Wordsworth had reverted to the subjects of ancient classical literature while preparing his eldest son for the University.

Charles Lamb wrote thus to Dorothy Wordsworth in 1820:—"The story of Dion is divine—the genius of Plato falling on him like moonlight—the finest thing ever expressed." (The Letters of Charles Lamb, edited by Alfred Ainger, vol. ii. p. 56.)

I am indebted to the Headmaster of Fettes College, the Rev. W. A. Heard, for the following notes on the poem, with special reference to Plutarch. They reveal, as Mr. Heard remarks, "Wordsworth's method of work upon the authors he had read and studied, and show upon what a solid structure of fact he always wrote." It will be observed that he invariably appended to the title of this poem "(See Plutarch)."

[Pg 126]

"When Dion, the pupil of Plato, became the autocrat of Syracuse, it seemed as if the moment had come for the rule of a philosopher. But the gardens of the Academy knew nothing of the methods by which alone intrigue could be met and unscrupulousness baffled. The murder of Heracleides became a political necessity; but when this was conceded, the charm was once and for ever broken—the career was done. Plutarch's biography deals mainly with the external conditions, and is overlaid with so much historical detail that the personality of Dion stands out in insufficient relief. Wordsworth gives us a study of the internal struggle, showing us the failure of an ideal, not in its external aspect, but as closing the aspirations, and desolating the conscience, of a truly noble mind. He accepts Plutarch's general conception of the life, incorporating much of the details and adopting some of the language, but over and above the fresh emphasis he gives to critical moments, the imaginative insight with which all the detail is treated makes the poem an original presentation.

.    .    .     .   a swan-like grace
Of haughtiness without pretence.

ὑψηλὀς τῷ ἠθει καὶ μεγαλόφρων.—'He was lofty in his disposition and large-minded.' Again, Plutarch speaks of the "σεμνότης"—the 'still magnificence' of his nature, coupled with "τὸ γενναίον καἰ ἁπλότης," nobility and simplicity.

Softening their inbred dignity austere.

βουλομένου τοῡ Πλάτωνος ὁμιλἰα χάριν ἐχούση καὶ παιδιᾱς εμμελοῡς κατὰ καιρὸν ἁπτομένη κεραννύυμενον ἀφηδύνεσθαι τοῡ Δίωνος τὸ ἦθος. Plato tried to soften the harshness of his disposition by the delights of intercourse, and the grace of seasonable wit.

That he, not too elate
With self-sufficing solitude.

This refers to a warning of Plato, ἡ αὐθάδεια ὲρημία σύνοικος—Arrogance is the house-mate of solitude.

Each crowned with flowers ...

και θεασἁμενοι τὸν Δίωνα διὰ τἡν θυσίαν ἐστεφανωμένον οι παρόντες ἀπὸ μιᾶς ὁρμῆς ἐστεφανοῦντο πάντες.—And seeing Dion wearing a garland on account of the sacrifice, those that were present with one impulse put on garlands one and all.

[Pg 127]

Or ruder weapon which their course might yield.

ὡπλισμένοι δὲ φαυλως ἐκ τοῦ προστυχόντος.—Poorly armed, as chance enabled them.

Who leads them on? ...

Δίων προσερχόμενος ῆδη καταφανἡς ἡν πρῶτος αὐτὸς ὡπλισμένος λαμπρῶς ... ἐστεφανωμένος.—Dion himself was already in sight, advancing at their head, clad in gleaming armour and wearing a garland.

Salute those strangers as a holy train
Or blest procession (to the Immortals dear)
That brought their precious liberty again.

τῶν Συρακουσίων δεχομένων ὥσπερ ἱεράν τινα καὶ θεοπρεπῆ πομπὴν ἐλευθερίας καὶ δημοκρατίας δι' ἐτῶν ὀκτὼ καὶ τεσσαράκοντα κατιούσης εἰς τὴν πόλιν.—The Syracusans receiving them as a holy procession beseeming the Gods ('to the Immortals dear'), escorting freedom and democracy back to the city after an exile of forty-seven years.

Down the long street, rich goblets filled with wine
In seemly order stand.

ἑκατέρωθεν παρὰ τὴν ὁδὸν τῶν Συρακουσίων ἱερεῖά τινα καὶ τραπέζας καὶ κρατῆρας ἱστάντων καὶ καθ' ὁῧς γένοιτο προχύταις τε βαλλόντων καὶ προστρεπομένων ὡσπερ θεὸν κατευχαῖις.—The people setting, on either side the way, victims and tables and bowls of wine, and as he came opposite, casting flowers upon him, and supplicating him with prayers as though he were a God.

Mourn, hills and groves of Attica! and mourn
Ilissus, bending o'er thy classic urn!

Cf. Milton, Paradise Regained, iv. 244:—

See there the olive-grove of Academe,
Plato's retirement, where the Attic bird
Trills her thick-warbled notes the summer long.

Perhaps the idea of Ilissus bending over the urn is taken from the western pediment of the Parthenon. At one angle there is a recumbent figure of the Kephissus, at the other of the llissus; originally there seems to have been a ὑδρια attached to one of them. See Guide to Sculptures of the Parthenon, published at the British Museum.[CB]

[Pg 128]

And, following guides whose craft holds no consent
With aught that breathes the ethereal element,
Hath stained the robes of civil power with blood,
Unjustly shed, though for the public good.

Dion was anxious to give Syracuse a constitution, but he found Heracleides an incessant opponent in spite of the long forbearance he had shown him. Feeling that the one obstacle to a settlement must at all costs be removed, he yielded to advisers whom he had long withstood, and allowed them to put Heracleides to death. He gave him, however, a public funeral, and persuaded the people that it was impossible for the State to have peace on any other conditions.

But whence that sudden check?...

ἐτύγχανε μὲν γὰρ ὀψὲ τῆς ἡμέρας καθεζόμενος ἐν παστάδι τῆς οἰκίας μόνος ὥν πρὸς ἑαυτῷ τὴν διάνοιαν' ἐξαίφνης δὲ ψόφου γενομένου πρὸς θατέρῳ πέρατι τῆς στοᾶς, ἀποβλέψας ἕτι φωτὸς ὅντὸς εἶδε γυναῖκα μεγάλην στολῇ μὲν καὶ προσώπῳ μηδὲν Ἑριννύος τραγικῆς παραλλάττουσαν, σαίρουσαν δὲ καλλύντρω τινὶ τὴν οἰκίαν.—He happened to be sitting late in the evening in a corridor of the house in solitary meditation: suddenly a sound was heard in the further end of the portico, and looking up, he saw in the lingering light the form of a majestic woman, in dress and face like the Fury as she appears in tragedy—sweeping the house with a brush.

In Plutarch, the apparition is simply ominous of coming evil, his son, a few days afterwards, throwing himself in a fit of petulance from the roof of the palace, and his own death shortly following: the moral significance assigned to it in the poem is Wordsworth's own interpretation.

And, in their anguish, bear what other minds have borne!

In Plutarch, Dion calls his attendants, dreading to be left alone for fear the spectre should return (παντἀπασιν ἐκστατικῶς ἕχων καὶ δεδοικὼς μὴ πάλιν εἰς ὅψιν αὐτῷ μονωθέν τὸ τέρας ἀφίκηται). Wordsworth seems to have taken a hint from this passage, and to have added a tragic intensity by representing the horror as one which he could share with no one, a supernatural doom in which he must be absolutely solitary.

[Pg 129]

Ill-fated Chief! there are whose hopes are built
Upon the ruins of thy glorious name.

Callippus, an early friend of Dion's in Athens, and bound to him by a sacred association as he had initiated him into the mysteries, was now in Syracuse, and for selfish ends was plotting his friend's ruin, ἐλπίσας Σικελίαν ἆθλον ἕξειν τῆς ξενοκτονίας, 'hoping to get Sicily as the prize of his treachery.'

O matchless perfidy! portentous lust
Of monstrous crime!...

Not only was this Callippus his friend, not only had he initiated him into the mysteries at Athens, a bond of peculiar sanctity, but there was even a worse perfidy: to allay the suspicions of Dion's household he had taken 'the awful oath'. Descending into the sacred enclosure of Demeter, he had put on the purple robe of the goddess, and taking a burning torch in his hand, had disowned upon oath any thought of treachery. Yet in spite of this awful oath, he chose the very festival of the goddess as the moment for perpetrating the crime.

... The marble city wept.

cities of the ancient world, and contained a large number of splendid buildings built from the quarries adjacent to the city. Perhaps the most famous was the great theatre, the seats of which were formed with slabs of white marble.

... too just
To his own native greatness to desire
That wretched boon, days lengthened by mistrust.

ὁ μὲν Δίων, ὡς ἔοικεν, ἐπὶ τοῖς κατὰ τὸν Ἡρακλείδην ἀχθόμενος καὶ τὸν φόνον ἐκεῖνον ὥς τινα τοῦ βίου καὶ τῶν πράξεων αὐτῷ κηλῖδα περικειμένην, δυσχεραίνων ἀεὶ καὶ βαρυνόμενος εἶπεν ὅτι πολλάκις ἤδη θνήσκειν ἕτοιμός ἐστι καὶ παρέχειν τῷ βουλομένῳ σφάττειν αὑτόν, εἰ ζῆν δεήσει μὴ μόνον τοὺς ἐχθρούς, ἀλλὰ καὶ τοὺς φίλους φυλαττόμενον. His relations had been cautioning him against Callippus; but 'Dion, grieved at heart, it would seem, at the fate of Heracleides, and ever chafing at and brooding over the murder as a stain upon his life and conduct, was willing, he said, to die a thousand deaths and yield his neck to any who would strike the blow, if life was only to be had by guarding against friends as well as foes.'"—Ed.

FOOTNOTES:

[CA] See, at the close of the poem (p. 122), several experimental renderings of this stanza, printed from MS.—Ed.

[CB] That Wordsworth knew the Elgin marbles—where the half-recumbent Ilissus, a torso, is one of the finest pieces of the pediment—is certain. There is a reproduction of it in his nephew's (the late Bishop of Lincoln's) book on Greece. In Henry Crabb Robinson's Diary (vol. ii. p. 195) there is an interesting account of the poet's visit to the British Museum, to see the Elgin marbles, etc. See also the Autobiography of B. R. Haydon, where, in a letter to the artist, Wordsworth says, "I am not surprised to hear that Canova expressed himself highly pleased with the Elgin marbles: a man must be senseless as a clod, or as perverse as a fiend, not to be enraptured with them" (vol. i. p. 325).—Ed.

[Pg 130]


A FACT, AND AN IMAGINATION;

Or, Canute and Alfred, on the Sea-shore[199]

Composed 1816.—Published 1820

[The first and last fourteen lines of this poem each make a sonnet, and were composed as such; but I thought that by intermediate lines they might be connected so as to make a whole. One or two expressions are taken from Milton's History of England.—I. F.]

One of the "Poems of Sentiment and Reflection."—Ed.

The Danish Conqueror, on his royal chair,
Mustering a face of haughty[200] sovereignty,
To aid a covert purpose, cried—"O ye
Approaching Waters of the deep, that share
5
With this green isle my fortunes, come not where
Your Master's throne is set."—Deaf was the Sea;
Her waves rolled on, respecting his decree
Less than they heed a breath of wanton air.[201]
—Then Canute, rising from the invaded throne,
10
Said to his servile Courtiers,—"Poor the reach,[202]
The undisguised extent, of mortal sway!
He only is a King, and he alone
Deserves the name (this truth the billows preach)
Whose everlasting laws, sea, earth, and heaven, obey."
[Pg 131] 15
This just reproof the prosperous Dane
Drew from the influx of the main,
For some whose rugged northern mouths would strain
At oriental flattery;
And Canute (fact more worthy to be known)[203]
20
From that time forth did for his brows disown
The ostentatious symbol of a crown;
Esteeming earthly royalty
Contemptible as vain.[204]
Now hear what one of elder days,
25
Rich theme of England's fondest praise,
Her darling Alfred, might have spoken;[205]
To cheer the remnant of his host
When he was driven from coast to coast,
Distressed and harassed, but with mind unbroken:[206]
30
"My faithful followers, lo! the tide is spent
That rose, and steadily advanced to fill
The shores and channels, working Nature's will
Among the mazy streams that backward went,
34
And in the sluggish pools where ships are pent:
And now, his[207] task performed, the flood stands still,
[Pg 132]
At the green base of many an inland hill,[CC]
In placid beauty and sublime content![208]
Such the repose that sage and hero find;
Such measured rest the sedulous and good
40
Of humbler name; whose souls do, like the flood
Of Ocean, press right on; or gently wind,
Neither to be diverted nor withstood,
Until they reach the bounds by Heaven assigned."

The passage from Milton's History of England (book vi.), referred to in the Fenwick note, relates an incident, "which" (as Milton justly says), "unless to Court-Parasites, needed no such laborious demonstration." There is only one expression borrowed by Wordsworth: "The Sea, as before, came rolling on, ... whereat the King, quickly rising, wished all about him to behold and consider the weak and frivolous form of a King, and that none indeed deserved the name of a King, but he whose Eternal Laws both Heaven, Earth, and Sea obey."—Ed.


VARIANTS:

[199] 1820.

ms.
.    .    . by the sea-side.

[200] 1820.

ms.
.    .    . haughtiest .    .    .

[201] 1840.

Your Master's throne is set!"—Absurd decree!
A mandate uttered to the foaming sea,
ms. and 1820.
Is to its motions less than wanton air.

[202] 1820.

ms.
Said to his Courtiers, Scanty is the reach,

[203] 1845.

ms. and 1820.
And Canute (truth .    .    .
ms.
And Canute, which is worthiest to be known,
ms.
.    .    . what .    .    .
ms.
And in the self same Page is told that he

[204] 1857.

ms. and 1820.
Contemptible and vain.

[205] 1820.

.    .    . have taught
The Sea, the prompter of his thought,
ms.
Such words as these methinks he might have spoken

[206] 1820.

ms.
Distressed but not down broken:

[207] 1837.

ms. and 1820.
.    .    . its .    .    .

[208] 1820.

ms.
.    .    . entire content.

FOOTNOTE:

[CC] Compare Tennyson, In Memoriam, stanza xix.—

There twice a day the Severn fills;
The salt sea-water passes by,
And hushes half the babbling Wye,
Ed.
And makes a silence in the hills.

"A LITTLE ONWARD LEND THY GUIDING HAND"

Composed 1816.—Published 1820

[The complaint in my eyes, which gave occasion to this address to my daughter, first showed itself as a consequence of inflammation, caught at the top of Kirkstone, when I was over-heated by having carried up the ascent my eldest son, a lusty infant. Frequently has the disease recurred since, leaving my eyes in a state which has often prevented my reading for months,[Pg 133] and makes me at this day incapable of bearing without injury any strong light by day or night. My acquaintance with books has therefore been far short of my wishes; and on this account, to acknowledge the services daily and hourly done me by my family and friends, this note is written.—I. F.]

One of the "Poems of Sentiment and Reflection."—Ed.

"A little onward lend thy guiding hand
To these dark steps, a little further on!"[CD]
—What trick of memory to my voice hath brought
4
This mournful iteration? For though Time,
The Conqueror, crowns the Conquered, on this brow
Planting his favourite silver diadem,
Nor he, nor minister of his—intent
To run before him, hath enrolled me yet,
Though not unmenaced, among those who lean
10
Upon a living staff, with borrowed sight.
—O my own Dora, my belovèd child![209][CE]
Should that day come—but hark! the birds salute
The cheerful dawn, brightening for me the east;
For me, thy natural leader, once again
15
Impatient to conduct thee, not as erst
A tottering infant, with compliant stoop
From flower to flower supported; but to curb
Thy nymph-like step swift bounding o'er the lawn,[CF]
[Pg 134]
Along the loose rocks, or the slippery verge
20
Of foaming torrents.[210]—From thy orisons
Come forth; and, while the morning air is yet
Transparent as the soul of innocent youth,
Let me, thy happy guide, now point thy way,
And now precede thee, winding to and fro,
25
Till we by perseverance gain the top
Of some smooth ridge, whose brink precipitous
Kindles intense desire for powers withheld
From this corporeal frame; whereon who stands,
Is seized with strong incitement to push forth
His arms, as swimmers use, and plunge—dread thought,
31
For pastime plunge—into the "abrupt abyss,"[CG]
Where ravens spread their plumy vans, at ease!
And yet more gladly thee would I conduct
Through woods and spacious forests,—to behold
35
There, how the Original of human art,
Heaven-prompted Nature, measures and erects
Her temples, fearless for the stately work,
Though waves, to every breeze,[211] its high-arched roof,
And storms the pillars rock. But we such schools
40
Of reverential awe will chiefly seek
In the still summer noon, while beams of light,
Reposing here, and in the aisles beyond
Traceably gliding through the dusk, recal
To mind the living presences of nuns;
45
A gentle, pensive, white-robed sisterhood,
Whose saintly radiance mitigates the gloom
Of those terrestrial fabrics, where they serve,
To Christ, the Sun of righteousness, espoused.
[Pg 135]
Now also shall the page of classic lore,
50
To these glad eyes from bondage freed, again
Lie open; and the book of Holy Writ,
Again unfolded, passage clear shall yield
To heights more glorious still, and into shades
More awful, where, advancing hand in hand,
55
We may be taught, O Darling of my care!
To calm the affections, elevate the soul,
And consecrate our lives to truth and love.[212]

VARIANTS:

[209] 1850.

1820.
—O my Antigone, beloved child!

[210] 1837.

1827.
.    .    . torrent .    .    .

[211] 1837.

1820.
Though waves in every breeze .    .    .

[212] 1827.

Re-open now thy everlasting gates,
Thou Fane of Holy Writ! ye classic Domes,
To these glad orbs from darksome bondage freed,
Unfold again your portals! Passage lies
Through you to heights more glorious still, and shades
More awful, where this Darling of my care,
Advancing with me hand in hand, may learn,
Without forsaking a too earnest world,
To calm the affections, elevate the soul,
1820.
And consecrate her life to truth and love.

FOOTNOTES:

[CD] The opening lines of Milton's Samson Agonistes. Compare also The Wanderings of Cain (canto ii. l. 1), by S. T. Coleridge: "A little farther, O my father, yet a little farther, and we shall come into the open moonlight." ... "Lead on, my child!" said Cain; "guide me, little child!"—Ed.

[CE] Dora Wordsworth died in 1847, a loss which cast a gloom over her father's remaining years; and it is not without interest that in the last revision of the text of his poems, in the year of his own death, he substituted

O my own Dora, my belovèd child!

for the earlier reading,

Ed.
O my Antigone, beloved child!

[CF] Compare in the lines on Lucy, beginning, "Three years she grew in sun and shower" (vol. ii. p. 81)—

She shall be sportive as the fawn
That wild with glee across the lawn
Ed.
Or up the mountain springs.

[CG] Compare Paradise Lost, book ii. l. 409.—Ed.


TO ——,

On her first Ascent to the Summit of Helvellyn

Composed 1816.—Published 1820.

[Written at Rydal Mount. The lady was Miss Blackett, then residing with Mr. Montagu Burgoyne at Fox-Ghyll. We were tempted to remain too long upon the mountain; and I, imprudently, with the hope of shortening the way led her among the crags and down a steep slope which entangled us in difficulties that were met by her with much spirit and courage.—I. F.]

One of the "Poems of the Imagination."—Ed.

Inmate of a mountain-dwelling,
Thou hast clomb aloft, and gazed
From the watch-towers of Helvellyn;
Awed, delighted, and amazed!
[Pg 136] 5
Potent was the spell that bound thee
Not unwilling to obey:[213]
For[214] blue Ether's arms, flung round thee,
Stilled the pantings of dismay.
Lo! the dwindled woods and meadows;
10
What a vast abyss is there!
Lo! the clouds, the solemn shadows,
And the glistenings—heavenly fair!
And a record of commotion
Which a thousand ridges yield;
15
Ridge, and gulf, and distant ocean
Gleaming like a silver shield!
Maiden! now take flight;—inherit[215]
Alps or Andes—they are thine!
With the morning's roseate Spirit,
20
Sweep their length of snowy line;
Or survey their[216] bright dominions
In the gorgeous colours drest
Flung from off the purple pinions,
Evening spreads throughout the west![217]
[Pg 137] 25
Thine are all the coral[218] fountains
Warbling in each sparry vault[219]
Of the untrodden lunar mountains;
Listen to their songs!—or halt,
To Niphates' top invited,[CH]
30
Whither spiteful Satan steered;
Or descend where the ark alighted,
When the green earth re-appeared;
For the power of hills is on thee,
As was witnessed through thine eye
35
Then, when old Helvellyn won thee
To confess their majesty!

With these stanzas to Miss Blackett, compare those addressed by Wordsworth to his sister, published in 1807, under the title To a Young Lady, who had been reproached for taking Long Walks in the Country; and the poem entitled Louisa, after accompanying her on a Mountain Excursion, also referring to his sister (vol. ii. pp. 362, 365).—Ed.


VARIANTS:

[213] 1827.

ms. and 1820.
In the moment of dismay,

[214] 1832.

1820.
While   .    .    .

[215] 1845.

ms. and 1820.
—Take thy flight;—possess, inherit
1836.
Now—take flight;—possess, inherit

[216] 1836.

1820.
.    .    . the .    .    .
ms.
.    .    . thy .    .    .

[217] 1820.

Or adopt the purple pinions
Evening spreads throughout the west,
And survey thy new dominions
ms.
In that bright reflection drest.

[218] 1832.

1820.
.    .    . choral .    .    .

[219] 1820.

ms.
.    .    . sparkling vault

FOOTNOTE:

[CH] A mountain in Asia, dividing Armenia from Assyria, whence the river Tigris has its source.

Satan, bowing low,
.      .      .      .      .      .
Throws his steep flight in many an aery wheel,
Nor staid till on Niphates' top he lights.
Ed.
Paradise Lost, book iii. ll. 736-742.

[Pg 138]

1817

The year 1817 was not specially productive of new poems. They may be arranged thus, The Vernal Ode, The Ode to Lycoris, its Sequel, The Longest Day, The Pass of Kirkstone, Hints from the Mountains, and the Lament of Mary Queen of Scots.


VERNAL ODE[220]

Composed 1817.—Published 1820

[Composed at Rydal Mount, to place in view the immortality of succession where immortality is denied, as far as we know, to the individual creature.—I. F.][CI]

Rerum Natura tota est nusquam magis quam in minimis.
Plin. Nat. Hist.[CJ]

This Vernal Ode was first published in the volume entitled "The River Duddon, a series of Sonnets: Vaudracour and Julia: and other poems. To which is annexed, a Topographical Description of the Country of the Lakes, in the north of England." In that volume its title was Ode.—1817. In 1820 it was placed among the "Poems of the Imagination." Its title was merely Ode, and in the table of contents it was called "Beneath the Concave"; the page heading "Vernal Ode" being given to it on the last three of its six pages. In 1827, and 1832, it was transferred to the "Poems of Sentiment and Reflection." In 1836 it was returned to the class of "Poems of the Imagination."—Ed.

I

Beneath the concave of an April sky,
When all the fields with freshest green were dight,
[Pg 139]
Appeared, in presence of the[221] spiritual eye
That aids or supersedes our grosser sight,
5
The form and rich habiliments of One
Whose countenance bore resemblance to the sun,
When it reveals, in evening majesty,
Features half lost amid their own pure light.
Poised like a weary cloud, in middle air[222]
10
He hung,—then floated with angelic ease
(Softening that bright effulgence by degrees)
Till he had reached a summit sharp and bare,[223]
Where oft the venturous heifer drinks the noontide[224] breeze.
Upon the apex of that lofty cone
15
Alighted, there the Stranger stood alone;
Fair as a gorgeous Fabric of the east
Suddenly raised by some enchanter's power,
Where nothing was; and firm as some old Tower
Of Britain's realm, whose leafy crest
20
Waves high, embellished by a gleaming shower!

II

Beneath the shadow of his purple wings
Rested a golden harp;—he touched the strings;
And, after prelude of unearthly sound
Poured through the echoing hills around,
He sang—
25
"No wintry desolations,
Scorching blight or noxious dew,
Affect my native habitations;
[Pg 140]
Buried in glory, far beyond the scope
Of man's inquiring gaze, but to his hope
30
Imaged, though faintly, in the hue[225]
Profound of night's ethereal blue;
And in the aspect of each radiant orb:—
Some fixed, some wandering with no timid curb:
But wandering star[226] and fixed, to mortal eye,
35
Blended in absolute serenity,
And free from semblance of decline;—
Fresh as if Evening brought their natal hour,
Her darkness splendour gave, her silence power,
To testify of Love and Grace divine.[227]

III[CK]

40
What if those bright fires
Shine subject to decay,
Sons haply of extinguished sires,
Themselves to lose their light, or pass away
44
Like clouds before the wind,
Be thanks poured out to Him whose hand bestows,
Nightly, on human kind
That vision[228] of endurance and repose.
—And though to every draught of vital breath
Renewed throughout the bounds of earth or ocean,
[Pg 141] 50
The melancholy gates of Death
Respond with sympathetic motion;[229]
Though all that feeds on nether air,
Howe'er magnificent or fair,
Grows but to perish, and entrust
55
Its ruins to their kindred dust:
Yet, by the Almighty's[230] ever-during care,
Her procreant vigils[231] Nature keeps
Amid the unfathomable deeps;
And saves the peopled[232] fields of earth
60
From dread[233] of emptiness or dearth.
Thus, in their stations, lifting tow'rd[234] the sky
The foliaged head in cloud-like majesty,
The shadow-casting race of trees survive:
Thus, in the train of Spring, arrive
65
Sweet flowers;—what living eye hath viewed
Their myriads?[235]—endlessly renewed,
Wherever strikes the sun's glad ray;
Where'er the subtle[236] waters stray;
[Pg 142]
Wherever sportive breezes[237] bend
70
Their course, or genial showers descend![238]
Mortals, rejoice![239] the very Angels quit
Their mansions unsusceptible of change,
Amid your pleasant bowers to sit,
And through your sweet vicissitudes to range!"

IV

75
O, nursed at happy distance from the cares
Of a too-anxious world, mild pastoral Muse!
That, to the sparkling crown Urania wears,
And to her sister Clio's laurel wreath,[CL]
Prefer'st a garland culled from purple heath,
80
Or blooming thicket moist with morning dews;
Was such bright Spectacle vouchsafed to me?
And was it granted to the simple ear
Of thy contented Votary
Such melody to hear!
85
Him rather suits it, side by side with thee,
Wrapped in a fit of[240] pleasing indolence,
While thy tired lute hangs on the hawthorn-tree,
To lie and listen—till o'er-drowsèd sense
Sinks,[241] hardly conscious of the influence—
[Pg 143] 90
To the soft murmur of the vagrant Bee.
—A slender sound! yet hoary Time
Doth to the Soul exalt it with the chime
Of all his years;—a company
Of ages coming, ages gone;
95
(Nations from before them sweeping,
Regions in destruction steeping,)
But every awful note in unison[242]
With that faint utterance, which tells
Of treasure sucked from buds and bells,
100
For the pure keeping of those waxen cells;[243]
Where She—a statist prudent to confer
Upon the common[244] weal; a warrior bold,
Radiant all over with unburnished gold,
And armed with living spear for mortal fight;[245]
105
A cunning forager
That spreads no waste; a social builder; one
In whom all busy offices unite
With all fine functions that afford delight—
Safe through the winter[246] storm in quiet dwells!

[Pg 144]

V

110
And is She brought within the power
Of vision?—o'er this tempting flower
Hovering until the petals stay
Her flight, and take its voice away!—
Observe[247] each wing!—a tiny van!
115
The structure of her laden thigh,
How fragile! yet of ancestry
Mysteriously remote and high;
High as the imperial front of man;
The roseate bloom on woman's cheek;
120
The soaring eagle's curvèd beak;
The white plumes of the floating swan;
Old as the tiger's paw, the lion's mane
Ere shaken by that mood of stern disdain
124
At which the desert trembles.—Humming Bee!
Thy sting was needless then, perchance unknown,
The seeds of malice were not sown;
All creatures met in peace, from fierceness free,
And no pride blended with their dignity.[248]
—Tears had not broken from their source;
130
Nor Anguish strayed from her Tartarean den;
The golden years maintained a course
Not undiversified though smooth and even;
We were not mocked with glimpse and shadow then,
134
Bright Seraphs mixed familiarly with men;
And earth and stars composed a universal heaven!

A MS. copy of this Ode commences with the following stanza, and goes on to "And what if his presiding breath," stanza iii. text of 1820.—Ed.

Forsake me not, Urania, but when Ev'n
Fades into night, resume the enraptur'd song
[Pg 145]
That shadowed forth the immensity of Heav'n
In music—uttered surely without wrong
(For 'twas thy work) though here the Listener lay
Couch'd on green herbage 'mid the warmth of May
—A parting promise makes a bright farewell:
Empow'r'd to wait for thy return
Voice of the Heav'ns I will not mourn;
Content that holy peace and mute remembrance dwell
Within the bosom of the chorded shell
Tuned 'mid those seats of love and joy, concealed
By day, by night imperfectly revealed;
Thy native mansions that endure
Beyond their present seeming—pure
From taint of dissolution or decay.
—No blights, no wintry desolations,
Affect those blissful habitations,
Built such as hope might gather from the hue
Profound of the celestial blue,
And from the aspect of each radiant orb,
Some fix'd, some wandering, with no timid curb,
Yet both permitted to proclaim
Their Maker's glory with unaltered frame. Ed.

VARIANTS:

[220] 1827.

ODE.—1817. 1820.
1st Edition.

1820. ODE.
2nd Edition.

[221] 1836.

1820.
.    .    . that .    .    .

[222] 1827.

1820.
Poised in the middle region of the air

[223] 1827.

1820.
Until he reached a rock, of summit bare,

[224] 1827.

1820.
.    .    . summer .    .    .

[225] 1836.

Of man's enquiring gaze, and imaged to his hope
1820.
(Alas, how faintly!) in the hue
1827.
.    .    . but .    .    .

[226] 1827.

1820.
.    .    . orb .    .    .

[227] 1827.

.    .    . of decline;—
1820.
So wills eternal Love, with Power divine.

[228] 1840.

1836.
—That image .    .    .

[229] 1827.

.    .    . divine.
And what if his presiding breath
Impart a sympathetic motion
Unto the gates of life and death,
ms. and 1820.
Throughout the bounds of earth and ocean;

[230] 1820.

ms.
Yet by this .    .    .

[231] 1820.

ms.
.    .    . cradle .    .    .

[232] 1820.

ms.
.    .    . changeful .    .    .

[233] 1820.

ms.
.    .    . fear .    .    .

[234] 1820.

ms.
.    .    . tow'rds .    .    .

[235] 1820.

ms.
.    .    . numbers? .    .    .

[236] 1827.

ms. and 1820.
.    .    . joyous .    .    .

[237] 1836.

ms. and 1820.
.    .    . zephyrs .    .    .

[238] The stanza ends here. ms.

[239] 1827.

1820.
Rejoice, O men! .    .    .

[240] 1820.

.    .    . morning dews;
Oft side by side with some lov'd Votary
ms.
Wrapp'd like thyself in .    .    .

[241] 1820.

.    .    . hung on the hawthorn tree
Hast thou sate listening till o'er-drowsèd sense
ms.
Sank .    .    .

[242] 1820.

.    .    . ages gone,
{Yet}
ms.
{But} each and all in unison

[243] 1820.

.    .    . buds and bells
And stored with frugal care in waxen cells.
ms.
(end of stanza)

[244] 1832.

1820.
.    .    . public .    .    .

[245] 1820.

.    .    . buds and bells,
To travel through the pathless air,
Or who consigned with frugal care
To the pure keeping of those waxen cells,
ms.
Where, She—a valiant soldier if need were—

[246] 1820.

ms.
.    .    . wintry .    .    .

[247] 1820.

.    .    . by this tempting flower
ms.
Observe .    .    .

[248] 1820.

ms.
.    .    . majesty.

FOOTNOTES:

[CI] Compare George Eliot's "O may I join the choir invisible" (Poems, p. 240).—Ed.

[CJ] See Pliny's Historia Naturalis, book xi. chap. 1.—Ed.

[CK] The first eight lines of stanza iii. were added in the edition of 1836; and in that of 1832 stanzas ii. and iii. were included in a single one. They were again separated in 1836.—Ed.

[CL] Urania (the heavenly muse) was usually represented as crowned with stars, and holding a globe in her hand; while Clio was crowned with laurel.—Ed.


ODE TO LYCORIS

May, 1817

Composed 1817.—Published 1820

[The discerning reader—who is aware that in the poem of Ellen Irwin I was desirous of throwing the reader at once out of the old ballad, so as if possible, to preclude a comparison between that mode of dealing with the subject and the mode I meant to adopt—may here perhaps perceive that this poem originated in the four last lines of the first stanza. Those specks of snow, reflected in the lake and so transferred, as it were, to the subaqueous sky, reminded me of the swans which the fancy of the ancient classic poets yoked to the car of Venus. Hence the tenor of the whole first stanza, and the name of Lycoris, which—with some readers who think my theology and classical allusion too far fetched and therefore more or less unnatural and affected—will tend to unrealise the sentiment that pervades these verses. But surely one who has written so much in verse as I have done may be allowed to retrace his steps in the regions of fancy which delighted him in his boyhood,[Pg 146] when he first became acquainted with the Greek and Roman poets. Before I read Virgil I was so strongly attached to Ovid, whose Metamorphoses I read at school, that I was quite in a passion whenever I found him, in books of criticism, placed below Virgil. As to Homer, I was never weary of travelling over the scenes through which he led me. Classical literature affected me by its own beauty. But the truths of Scripture having been entrusted to the dead languages, and these fountains having recently been laid open at the Reformation, an importance and a sanctity were at that period attached to classical literature that extended, as is obvious in Milton's Lycidas for example, both to its spirit and form in a degree that can never be revived. No doubt the hacknied and lifeless use into which mythology fell towards the close of the 17th century, and which continued through the 18th, disgusted the general reader with all allusion to it in modern verse; and though, in deference to this disgust, and also in a measure participating in it, I abstained in my earlier writings from all introduction of pagan fable, surely, even in its humble form, it may ally itself with real sentiment, as I can truly affirm it did in the present case.—I. F.]

One of the "Poems of Sentiment and Reflection." In 1847 Wordsworth wrote to Mr. Fletcher that this poem was "suggested to him one day at Ullswater, in the year 1817, by seeing two white, snowy clouds reflected in the lake. 'They looked' (he said), 'like two swans.'"—Ed.


I

An age hath been when Earth was proud
Of lustre too intense
To be sustained; and Mortals bowed
The front in self-defence.
5
Who then, if Dian's crescent gleamed,
Or Cupid's sparkling arrow streamed
While on the wing the Urchin played,
Could fearlessly approach the shade?
—Enough for one soft vernal day,
10
If I, a bard of ebbing time,
And nurtured in a fickle clime,
May haunt this hornèd bay;[CM]
[Pg 147]
Whose amorous water multiplies
The flitting halcyon's vivid dyes;[CN]
15
And smooths her[249] liquid breast—to show
These swan-like specks of mountain snow,[CO]
White as the pair that slid along the plains
Of heaven, when Venus held the reins!

II

In youth we love the darksome lawn
20
Brushed by the owlet's wing;
Then, Twilight is preferred to Dawn,
And Autumn to the Spring.[CP]
Sad fancies do we then affect,
In luxury of disrespect
25
To our own prodigal excess
Of too familiar happiness.
Lycoris (if such name befit
Thee, thee my life's celestial sign!)[CQ]
When Nature marks the year's decline,
30
Be ours to welcome it;
[Pg 148]
Pleased with the harvest hope that runs
Before the path of milder suns;[250]
Pleased while the sylvan world displays
Its ripeness to the feeding gaze;
Pleased when the sullen winds resound the knell
36
Of the resplendent miracle.

III

But something whispers to my heart
That, as we downward tend,
Lycoris! life requires an art
40
To which our souls must bend;
A skill—to balance and supply;
And, ere the flowing fount be dry,
As soon it must, a sense to sip,
Or drink, with no fastidious lip.
45
Then welcome, above all, the Guest
Whose smiles, diffused o'er land and sea,
Seem to recal the Deity
Of youth into the breast:[251]
May pensive Autumn ne'er present
50
A claim to her disparagement!
While blossoms and the budding spray
Inspire us in our own decay;
Still, as we nearer draw to life's dark goal,
Be hopeful Spring the favourite of the Soul!

[Pg 149]


VARIANTS:

[249] 1827.

1820.
And smoothes its .    .    .

[250] 1827.

Pleased with the soil's requited cares;
1820.
Pleased with the blue that ether wears;

[251] 1837.

Frank greeting, then, to that blithe Guest
Diffusing smiles o'er land and sea
To aid the vernal Deity
1820.
Whose home is in the breast!

FOOTNOTES:

[CM] Probably one of the bays in Rydal Mere.—Ed.

[CN] The kingfisher.—Ed.

[CO] Probably on Nab Scar reflected in Rydal water.—Ed.

[CP] Compare The Prelude, book vi. l. 173—

Moods melancholy, .    .    . that loved
Ed.
The twilight more than dawn, autumn than spring.

[CQ] Lycoris was the name under which the poet Gallus wrote of his Cytheris, a freed woman of the senator Volumnius, celebrated for her beauty and intrigues. See Virgil's reference to her in Eclogue x. 42, in which he condoles with his friend Gallus for the loss of Lycoris—

Hic gelidi fontes, hic mollia prata, Lycori,
Hic nemus; hic ipso tecum consumerer aevo.

Ovid also refers to her, A. A. iii. 537—"The western and the eastern lands know of Lycoris." From the tone of the Fenwick note, it would seem that Wordsworth was doubtful of the fitness of associating the name of Lycoris with the dominant thought of these stanzas; but there is no unfitness in the use he makes of it. This poem, with its reference to the "one soft vernal day," and its prevailing thought of spring, and

the Guest
Whose smiles, diffused o'er land and sea,
Seem to recal the Deity
Of youth into the breast,

appropriately follow the Vernal Ode.—Ed.


TO THE SAME

Composed 1817.—Published 1820

[This, as well as the preceding and the two that follow,[CR] were composed in front of Rydal Mount, and during my walks in the neighbourhood. Nine-tenths of my verses have been murmured out in the open air: and here let me repeat what I believe has already appeared in print. One day a stranger having walked round the garden and grounds of Rydal Mount asked one of the female servants, who happened to be at the door, permission to see her master's study. "This," said she, leading him forward, "is my master's library where he keeps his books, but his study is out of doors." After a long absence from home it has more than once happened that some one of my cottage neighbours has said—"Well, there he is; we are glad to hear him booing about again." Once more in excuse for so much egotism let me say, these notes are written for my familiar friends, and at their earnest request. Another time a gentleman whom James had conducted through the grounds asked him what kind of plants throve best there: after a little consideration he answered—"Laurels." "That is," said the stranger, "as it should be; don't you know that the laurel is the emblem of poetry, and that poets used on public occasions to be crowned with it?" James stared when the question was first put, but was doubtless much pleased with the information.—I.F.]

One of the "Poems of Sentiment and Reflection."—Ed.

Enough of climbing toil!—Ambition treads
Here, as 'mid[252] busier scenes, ground steep and rough,
Or slippery even to peril![253] and each step,
As we for most uncertain recompence
[Pg 150] 5
Mount toward the empire of the fickle clouds,
Each weary step, dwarfing the world below,[254]
Induces, for its old familiar sights,
Unacceptable feelings of contempt,
With wonder mixed—that Man could e'er be tied,
10
In anxious bondage, to such nice array
And formal fellowship of pretty things!
—Oh! 'tis the heart that magnifies this life,
Making a truth and beauty of her own;
And moss-grown alleys, circumscribing shades,
15
And gurgling rills, assist her in the work
More efficaciously than realms outspread,
As in a map, before the adventurer's gaze—
Ocean and Earth contending for regard.
The umbrageous woods are left—how far beneath!
20
But lo! where darkness seems to guard the mouth
Of yon wild cave, whose jaggèd brows are fringed
With flaccid threads of ivy, in the still
And sultry air, depending motionless.
Yet cool the space within, and not uncheered
25
(As whoso enters shall ere long perceive)
By stealthy influx of the timid day
Mingling with night, such twilight to compose
As Numa loved; when, in the Egerian grot,
From the sage Nymph appearing at his wish,
30
He gained whate'er a regal mind might ask,
Or need, of counsel breathed through lips divine.[CS]
Long as the heat shall rage, let that dim cave
Protect us, there deciphering as we may
[Pg 151]
Diluvian records; or the sighs of Earth
35
Interpreting; or counting for old Time
His minutes, by reiterated drops,
Audible tears,[CT] from some invisible source
That deepens upon fancy—more and more
Drawn toward the centre whence those sighs creep forth
40
To awe the lightness of humanity.
Or, shutting up thyself within thyself,
There[255] let me see thee sink into a mood
Of gentler thought,[256] protracted till thine eye
Be calm as water when the winds are gone,
45
And no one can tell whither. Dearest Friend![CU]
We too have known such happy hours together
That, were power granted to replace them (fetched
From out the pensive shadows where they lie)
In the first warmth of their original sunshine,
50
Loth should I be to use it: passing sweet
Are the domains of tender memory!

The spot described in this sequel to Lycoris is, I think, the bower in the rock on Nab Scar, alluded to in Dorothy Wordsworth's Grasmere Journal (see note to The Waterfall and the Eglantine, vol. ii. p. 172). The description in that Journal, taken in connection with the text of this poem, warrants the suggestion that the "Friend" with whom he had "known such happy hours together" was his own sister Dorothy. The[Pg 152] extreme probability that it was on Nab Scar that the snow patches lay, which were reflected in Rydal mere, and which his imagination transformed into the swans that carried Venus' car through heaven, adds to the likelihood of this conjecture. The following extracts from the Sister's journal may be compared with passages in the poem:—"We pushed on to the foot of the Scar. It was very grand when we looked up, very stony.... Coleridge went to search for something new. We saw him climbing up towards a rock. He called us, and we found him in a bower,—the sweetest that was ever seen. The rock on one side is very high, and all covered with ivy, which hung loosely about, and bore bunches of brown berries." With this compare—

Yon wild cave, whose jaggèd brows are fringed
With flaccid threads of ivy, in the still
And sultry air, depending motionless.

And with the following, "We looked down on the Ambleside vale, that seemed to wind away from us, the village lying under the hill," compare—

Mount toward the empire of the fickle clouds,
Each weary step, dwarfing the world below.

With the following, "It is scarce a bower, a little parlour only, not enclosed by walls, but shaped out for a resting-place by the rocks, and the ground rising about it. It had a sweet moss carpet," compare l. 14—

Moss-grown alleys, circumscribing shades.

Doubtless Wordsworth drew on his imagination, "making a truth and beauty of his own," in this, as in every other description of place, which has a local colouring in it; but to connect "the dim cave" of the Ode to Lycoris with these conversations between Coleridge and the Wordsworths—mentioned in the Grasmere Journal of the latter, and hinted at in the closing passage of the Ode—is certainly permissible.—Ed.


VARIANTS:

[252] 1827.

1820.
Here, as in .    .    .

[253] 1827.

1820.
Oft perilous, always tiresome; .    .    .

[254] 1827.

As we for most uncertain gain ascend
1820.
Toward the clouds, dwarfing the world below,

[255] 1827.

.    .    . contending for regard!
Lo! there a dim Egerian grotto fringed
With ivy-twine, profusely from its brows
Dependant,—enter without further aim;
1820.
And .    .    .

[256] 1827.

1820.
Of quiet thought— .    .    .

FOOTNOTES:

[CR] As the Fenwick notes have no regard to chronological order, but refer to the poems as arranged by Wordsworth himself, it may be noted that the "preceding" is the Ode to Lycoris; "the two that follow" are September 1819, and its sequel entitled Upon the same Occasion.—Ed.

[CS] Numa Pompilius, the second king of Rome. "He was renowned," says Niebuhr (History of Rome, I. 237), "as the author of the Roman ceremonial law. Instructed by the Camena Egeria, who led him into the assemblies of her sisters in the sacred grove, he regulated the whole hierarchy, the pontiffs, the augurs, the flamens," etc.—Ed.

[CT] Compare Walter Savage Landor's Count Julian, v. 3—

Ed.
The very tear .    .    . drops audible.

[CU] Possibly this refers to his sister Dorothy. Among the poems on the Tour of 1833 is one To a Friend. This friend was the poet's son, pastor at Brigham, Cockermouth. See the note appended to the present poem.—Ed.

[Pg 153]


THE LONGEST DAY

Addressed to my Daughter, Dora[257]

Composed 1817.—Published 1820

[Suggested by the sight of my daughter (Dora) playing in front of Rydal Mount; and composed in a great measure the same afternoon. I have often wished to pair this poem upon the longest, with one upon the shortest, day, and regret even now that it has not been done.—I. F.]

One of the "Poems referring to the Period of Childhood."—Ed.

Let us quit the leafy arbour,
And the torrent murmuring by;
For the sun is in his harbour,[258]
Weary of the open sky.
5
Evening now unbinds the fetters
Fashioned by the glowing light;
All that breathe are thankful debtors
To the harbinger of night.
Yet by some grave thoughts attended
10
Eve renews her calm career;
For the day that now is ended,
Is the longest of the year.
Dora![259] sport, as now thou sportest,
On this platform, light and free;
15
Take thy bliss, while longest, shortest,
Are indifferent to thee!
[Pg 154]
Who would check the happy feeling
That inspires the linnet's song?
Who would stop the swallow, wheeling
20
On her pinions swift and strong?
Yet at this impressive season,
Words which tenderness can speak
From the truths of homely reason,
Might exalt the loveliest cheek;
25
And, while shades to shades succeeding
Steal the landscape from the sight,
I would urge this moral pleading,
Last forerunner of "Good-night!"
Summer ebbs;—each day that follows
30
Is a reflux from on high,
Tending to the darksome hollows
Where the frosts of winter lie.
He who governs the creation,
In his providence, assigned
35
Such a gradual declination
To the life of human kind.
Yet we mark it not;—fruits redden,
Fresh flowers blow, as flowers have blown,
And the heart is loth to deaden
40
Hopes that she so long hath known.
Be thou wiser, youthful Maiden!
And when thy decline shall come,
Let not flowers, or boughs fruit-laden,
Hide the knowledge of thy doom.
45
Now, even now, ere wrapped in slumber,
Fix thine eyes[260] upon the sea
[Pg 155]
That absorbs time, space, and number;
Look thou to Eternity![261]
Follow thou the flowing river
50
On whose breast are thither borne
All deceived, and each deceiver,
Through the gates of night and morn;
Through the year's successive portals;
Through the bounds which many a star
55
Marks, not mindless of frail mortals,
When his[262] light returns from far.
Thus when thou with Time hast travelled
Toward[263] the mighty gulf of things,
And the mazy stream unravelled[264]
60
With thy best imaginings;[265]
Think, if thou on beauty leanest,
Think how pitiful that stay,
Did not virtue give the meanest
Charms superior to decay.
65
Duty, like a strict[266] preceptor,
Sometimes frowns, or seems to frown;
[Pg 156]
Choose her thistle for thy sceptre,
While youth's roses are thy crown.[267]
Grasp it,—if thou shrink and tremble,
70
Fairest damsel of the green,
Thou wilt lack the only symbol
That proclaims a genuine queen;
And ensure those palms of honour
Which selected spirits wear,
75
Bending low before the Donor,
Lord of heaven's unchanging year!

VARIANTS:

[257] 1849.

1820.
Addressed to ——, On the longest day.

[258] 1845.

ms. and 1820.
Sol has dropped into his harbour,

[259] 1845.

ms. and 1820.
Laura! .    .    .

[260] 1820.

ms.
Fix thy thoughts .    .    .

[261] 1836.

ms. and 1820.
Look towards Eternity! .    .    .

[262] 1820.

ms.
.    .    . her .    .    .

[263] 1832.

1820.
Tow'rds .    .    .

[264] 1820.

From mysterious springs .    .    .
ms.
And his mazes has unravelled

[265] This stanza is an interpolation by the poet in the ms.

[266] 1820.

ms.
.    .    . true .    .    .

[267] 1845.

ms. and 1820.
While thy brow youth's roses crown.

HINT FROM THE MOUNTAINS,

For certain Political Pretenders[268]

Composed 1817.—Published 1820

[Bunches of fern may often be seen wheeling about in the wind as here described. The particular bunch that suggested these verses was noticed in the Pass of Dunmail Raise. The verses were composed in 1817, but the application is for all times and places.—I. F.]

Included among the "Poems of the Fancy."—Ed.

"Who but hails the sight with pleasure[269]
When the wings of genius rise,
Their ability to measure
With great enterprise;
5
But in man was ne'er such daring
As yon Hawk exhibits, pairing
[Pg 157]
His brave spirit with the war in
The stormy skies!
"Mark him, how his power he uses,
10
Lays it by, at will resumes!
Mark, ere for his haunt he chooses
Clouds and utter glooms!
There, he wheels in downward mazes;
Sunward now his flight he raises,
15
Catches fire, as seems, and blazes
With uninjured plumes!"—

ANSWER

"Stranger,[270] 'tis no act of courage
Which aloft thou dost discern;
No bold bird gone forth to forage
20
'Mid the tempest stern;
But such mockery as the nations
See, when public perturbations[271]
Lift men from their native stations,
Like yon Tuft of fern;
25
"Such it is; the aspiring creature[272]
Soaring on undaunted wing,
(So you fancied) is by nature
A dull helpless thing,[273]
Dry and withered, light and yellow;—
30
That to be the tempest's fellow!
Wait—and you shall see how hollow
Its endeavouring!"

VARIANTS:

[268] 1827.

1820.
.    .    . political aspirants.

[269] 1827.

1820.
Stranger, 'tis a sight of pleasure

[270] 1827.

1820.
Traveller, .    .    .

[271] 1827.

1820.
See, when Commonwealth-vexations

[272] 1827.

1820.
Such it is, and not a Haggard

[273] 1827.

'Tis by nature dull and laggard,
1820.
A poor helpless Thing,

[Pg 158]


THE PASS OF KIRKSTONE[CV]

Composed June 27, 1817.—Published 1820

[Written at Rydal Mount. Thoughts and feelings of many walks in all weathers, by day and night, over this Pass, alone and with beloved friends.—I. F.]

Included among the "Poems of the Imagination."—Ed.

I

Within the mind strong fancies work,
A deep delight the bosom thrills,
Oft as I pass along the fork
Of these fraternal hills:
5
Where, save the rugged road, we find
No appanage of human kind,
Nor hint of man; if stone or rock
Seem not his handy-work to mock
By something cognizably shaped;
10
Mockery[274]—or model roughly hewn,
And left as if by earthquake strewn,
Or from the Flood escaped:
Altars for Druid service fit;
(But where no fire was ever lit,
15
Unless the glow-worm to the skies
Thence offer nightly sacrifice)
Wrinkled Egyptian monument;
Green moss-grown tower; or hoary tent;
Tents of a camp that never shall be razed—[275]
20
On which four thousand years have gazed!

[Pg 159]

II

Ye plough-shares sparkling on the slopes!
Ye snow-white lambs that trip
Imprisoned 'mid the formal props
Of restless ownership!
25
Ye trees, that may[276] to-morrow fall
To feed the insatiate Prodigal![277]
Lawns, houses, chattels, groves, and fields,
All that the fertile valley shields;[278]
Wages of folly—baits of crime,
30
Of life's uneasy game the stake,
Playthings that keep the eyes awake
Of drowsy, dotard Time;—
O care! O guilt!—O vales and plains,
Here, 'mid[279] his own unvexed domains,
35
A Genius dwells, that can subdue
At once all memory of You,—
Most potent when mists veil the sky,
Mists that distort and magnify;
While the coarse rushes, to the sweeping breeze,
40
Sigh forth their ancient melodies!

III

List to those shriller notes!—that march
Perchance was on the blast,
When, through this Height's inverted arch,
[Pg 160]
Rome's earliest legion passed![CW]
45
—They saw, adventurously impelled,
And older[280] eyes than theirs beheld,
This[281] block—and yon, whose church-like frame
Gives to this[282] savage Pass its name.[CX]
Aspiring Road! that lov'st to hide
50
Thy daring in a vapoury bourn,
Not seldom may the hour return
When thou shalt be my guide:
And I (as all men may find cause,[283]
When life is at a weary pause,
55
And they[284] have panted up the hill
Of duty with reluctant will)
Be thankful, even though tired and faint,
For the rich bounties of constraint;
Whence oft invigorating transports flow
60
That choice lacked courage to bestow!

IV

My[285] Soul was grateful for delight
That wore a threatening brow;
[Pg 161]
A veil is lifted—can she slight
The scene that opens now?
65
Though habitation none appear,[CY]
The greenness tells, man must be there;[286]
The shelter—that the pérspective
Is of the clime[287] in which we live;
Where Toil pursues his daily round;
70
Where Pity sheds sweet tears[288]—and Love,
In woodbine bower or birchen grove,
Inflicts his tender wound.
—Who comes not hither ne'er shall know
How beautiful the world below;
75
Nor can he guess how lightly leaps
The brook adown the rocky steeps,[CZ]
Farewell, thou desolate Domain!
Hope, pointing to the cultured plain,
Carols like a shepherd-boy;
80
And who is she?—Can that be Joy![DA]
Who, with a sunbeam for her guide,
Smoothly skims the meadows wide;
While Faith, from yonder opening cloud,
To hill and vale proclaims aloud,
[Pg 162] 85
"Whate'er the weak may dread, the wicked dare,
Thy lot, O Man, is good, thy portion fair!"[289]

A copy of this poem, sent in MS. to the Beaumonts at Coleorton, contains the following preface—"Composed chiefly in a walk from the top of Kirkstone to Patterdale, by W. Wordsworth, 1817"; and on the back of this MS. (in which those variations from the earliest published version occur, which are printed as "MS." readings in the previous footnotes, and which ends with stanza iii.), the date is given, "Mr. Wordsworth's verses, June 27, 1817."—Ed.


VARIANTS:

[274] 1820.

ms. copy, sent to Coleorton.
Rockery .    .    .

[275] 1857.

1820.
.    .    . raised;

[276] 1820.

ms.
.    .    . shall .    .    .

[277] 1820.

ms.
To feed the careless Prodigal,
ms.
So bids the careless Prodigal,

[278] 1820.

ms.
All that the beauteous valley shields.

[279] 1820.

ms.
Here in .    .    .

[280] 1820.

ms.
.    .    . other .    .    .

[281] 1820.

ms.
That .    .    .

[282] 1836.

ms. and 1820.
.    .    . the .    .    .

[283] 1836.

ms. and 1820.
And I (as often we find cause,

[284] 1836.

ms. and 1820.
.    .    . we .    .    .

[285] 1820.

ms.
The .    .    .

[286] 1820.

ms.
   .    . tells us Man is near

[287] 1820.

ms.
.    .    . world .    .    .

[288] 1820.

ms.
Where Pity's tears are shed    .    .

[289] 1820.

Who comes not hither can he know
How beautiful the Vale below?
Companion of the Brook that leaps
And twines adown the rocky steeps,
As if impatient for the plain.
I utter a repentant strain,
And this the burden—cares enthral
And troubles crush—but spite of all
The weak are tempted to, the wicked dare,
ms.
Our lot is good, our portion fair.

FOOTNOTES:

[CV] The title in the edition of 1820 was Ode, The Pass of Kirkstone.—Ed.

[CW] The top of Kirkstone Pass is aptly described as an "inverted arch." There are numerous signs of the Roman occupation of Britain still surviving in the district; the old Roman road to Penrith running along the top of High Street, a little to the east of Kirkstone.—Ed.

[CX] The block, which from its shape was called the Kirkstone, lies to the west of the road, and a little way from the summit of the Pass, on the right as one ascends from Patterdale.—Ed.

[CY] Towards Brothers Water.—Ed.

[CZ] "The walk up Kirkstone was very interesting. The becks among the rocks were all alive. William showed me the little mossy streamlet which he had before loved when he saw its bright green track in the snow. The view above Ambleside very beautiful. There we sat and looked down on the green vale. We watched the crows at a little distance from us become white as silver as they flew in the sunshine, and when they went still further, they looked like shapes of water passing over the green fields." (Dorothy Wordsworth's Grasmere Journal, 16th April 1802.)—Ed.

[DA] Compare Ode, Intimations of Immortality, stanza iii.—

Thou Child of Joy,
Shout round me, let me hear thy shouts, thou happy
Ed.
Shepherd-boy!

LAMENT OF MARY QUEEN OF SCOTS

On the Eve of a New Year

Composed 1817.—Published 1820

[This arose out of a flash of moonlight that struck the ground when I was approaching the steps that lead from the garden at Rydal Mount to the front of the house. "From her sunk eyes a stagnant tear stole forth" is taken, with some loss, from a discarded poem, The Convict, in which occurred, when he was discovered lying in the cell, these lines:—

But now he upraises the deep-sunken eye,
The motion unsettles a tear;
The silence of sorrow it seems to supply,
And asks of me—why I am here.—I. F.]

[Pg 163]

This was first published in "The River Duddon," etc., in 1820, but was omitted from the four-volume edition of the "Poems" of 1820. In 1827 it was placed among the "Poems founded on the Affections."—Ed.

I

Smile of the Moon!—for so I name
That silent greeting from above;
A gentle flash of light that came
From her whom drooping captives love;
5
Or art thou of still higher birth?
Thou that didst part the clouds of earth,
My torpor to reprove!

II

Bright boon of pitying Heaven!—alas,
I may not trust thy placid cheer!
10
Pondering that Time to-night will pass
The threshold of another year;
For years to me are sad and dull;
My very moments are too full
Of hopelessness and fear.

III

15
And yet, the soul-awakening gleam,
That struck perchance the farthest cone
Of Scotland's rocky wilds, did seem
To visit me, and me alone;
Me, unapproached by any friend,
20
Save[290] those who to my sorrows lend
Tears due unto their own.

[Pg 164]

IV

To-night the church-tower bells will ring
Through these wide[292] realms a festive peal;
To the new year a welcoming;
25
A tuneful offering[293] for the weal
Of happy millions lulled in sleep;
While I am forced to watch and weep,[294]
By wounds that may not heal.

V

Born all too high, by wedlock raised
30
Still higher—to be cast thus low!
Would that mine eyes had never gazed
On aught of more ambitious show
Than the sweet flowerets of the fields!
—It is my royal state that yields
35
This bitterness of woe.

VI

Yet how?—for I, if there be truth
In the world's voice, was passing fair;
And beauty, for confiding youth,
[Pg 165]
Those shocks of passion can prepare
40
That kill the bloom before its time;
And blanch, without the owner's crime,
The most resplendent hair.[295]

VII

Unblest distinction! showered on me
To bind a lingering life in chains:
45
All that could quit my grasp, or flee,[296]
Is gone;—but not the subtle stains
Fixed in the spirit; for even here
Can I be proud that jealous fear
Of what I was remains.[297]

[Pg 166]

VIII

50
A woman rules my prison's key;
A sister Queen,[298] against the bent
Of law and holiest sympathy,
Detains me, doubtful of the event;
Great God, who feel'st for my distress,[299]
55
My thoughts are all that I possess,
O keep them innocent!

IX

Farewell desire of[300] human aid,
Which abject mortals vainly[301] court!
By friends deceived, by foes betrayed,
60
Of fears the prey, of hopes the sport;
Nought but the world-redeeming Cross
Is able to supply my loss,
My burthen to support.

X

Hark! the death-note of the year
65
Sounded by the castle-clock!
From her sunk eyes a stagnant tear
Stole forth, unsettled by the shock;
But oft the woods renewed their green,
Ere the tired head of Scotland's Queen
70
Reposed upon the block!

Compare the sonnet entitled Captivity, Mary Queen of Scots, composed and published in 1819 (p. 191); also the sonnet, composed in 1833, entitled Mary Queen of Scots (Landing at the mouth of the Derwent, Workington).—Ed.


VARIANTS:

[290] 1820.

ms.
But .    .    .

[291] 1820.

Meek effluence—that, while I trod
With downcast eye in narrow space,
Did'st vivify the wintry sod,
As if an Angel filled the place
With softened light—thou wert a touch
Even to my heart of hearts—and such
Is every gift of grace.
{Oh }
{Yet } wherefore did it leave the sky,
And wherefore did it seem to speak
Of something bordering all too nigh
{On what I seldom dare }
{Of what full oft I deign } to seek,
A happier order for my doom,
A favoured era when the gloom
ms.
At length will cleave and break.

[292] 1820.

ms.
.    .    . wild .    .    .

[293] 1820.

ms.
.    .    . opening .    .    .

[294] 1820.

ms.
.    .    . forced lone watch to keep,

[295] 1820.

Yet how—for I—if there be truth
In the world's voice was passing fair,
And beauty might have led my youth
To sorrow, such as can impair
The loveliest cheek before its time,
And blanch in any state or clime
The most resplendent hair.
Man's foolish envy is a stream
Where wisdom's eye reflected sees
The fuel of a painful dream,
The incitements of a dire disease.
{A pageantry}
{Ah what     } is life but Powers let loose
ms.
And revelling in their own abuse.

[296] 1820.

ms.
All that could crumble into dust or flee

[297] 1820.

Unblest distinctions—that were mine
Early to lock in hapless chains
A lingering life that may consign
My memory to opprobrious stains
{Yet doth it make me proud—even here }
{Chained as I am that jealous fear }
{Yet faded, fallen, and crushed—even here }
{I can be proud that jealous fear }
With lurking pride that jealous fear
ms.
Of what I was, remains—

[298] 1820.

ms.
A sister Sovereign .    .    .

[299] 1820.

ms.
.    .    . pities my distress,

[300] 1827.

ms. and 1820.
Farewell for ever .    .    .

[301] 1820.

ms.
.    .    . blindly .    .    .

[Pg 167]


1818

Still fewer than those of 1817 are the poems composed in 1818. They comprise The Pilgrim's Dream, The five Inscriptions, supposed to be found in and near a Hermit's Cell, and the stanzas Composed upon an Evening of extraordinary Splendour and Beauty, etc. They were all written at or near Rydal Mount; and their local allusions are all Rydalian.

THE PILGRIM'S DREAM;

Or, the Star and the Glow-worm

Composed 1818.—Published 1820

[I distinctly recollect the evening when these verses were suggested in 1818. It was on the road between Rydal and Grasmere, where Glow-worms abound.[DB] A Star was shining above the ridge of Loughrigg Fell, just opposite. I remember a critic, in some review or other, crying out against this piece. "What so monstrous," said he, "as to make a star talk to a glow-worm!" Poor fellow! we know from this sage observation what the "primrose on the river's brim" was to him.—I. F.]

One of the "Poems of the Fancy."—Ed.

A pilgrim, when the summer day
Had closed upon his weary way,
A lodging begged beneath a castle's roof;
But him the haughty Warder spurned;
[Pg 168] 5
And from the gate the Pilgrim turned,[302]
To seek such covert as the field
Or heath-besprinkled copse might yield,
Or lofty[303] wood, shower-proof.
He paced along; and, pensively,
10
Halting beneath a shady tree,
Whose moss-grown root might serve for couch or seat,
Fixed on a Star his upward eye;
Then, from the tenant of the sky
He turned, and watched with kindred look,
15
A Glow-worm, in a dusky nook,
Apparent at his feet.
The murmur of a neighbouring stream
Induced a soft and slumbrous dream,
A pregnant dream, within whose shadowy bounds
20
He recognised the earth-born Star,
And That which glittered from afar;[304]
And (strange to witness!) from the frame
Of the ethereal Orb, there came
Intelligible sounds.
25
Much did it taunt the humble Light[305]
That now, when day was fled, and night
Hushed the dark earth, fast closing weary eyes,[306]
[Pg 169]
A very reptile could presume
To show her taper in the gloom,
30
As if in rivalship with One
Who sate a ruler on his throne
Erected in the skies.
"Exalted Star!" the Worm replied,
"Abate this unbecoming pride,
35
Or with a less uneasy lustre shine;
Thou shrink'st as momently thy rays
Are mastered by the breathing haze;
While neither mist, nor thickest cloud
That shapes in heaven its murky shroud,
40
Hath power to injure mine.
But[307] not for this do I aspire
To match the spark of local fire,
That at my will burns on the dewy lawn,
With thy acknowledged glories;—No!
45
Yet, thus upbraided, I may show[308]
What favours do attend me here,
Till, like thyself, I disappear
Before the purple dawn."
When this in modest guise was said,
50
Across the welkin seemed to spread
A boding sound—for aught but sleep unfit!
Hills quaked, the rivers backward ran;
That Star, so proud of late, looked wan;
And reeled with visionary stir
55
In the blue depth, like Lucifer
Cast headlong to the pit!
Cast headlong to the pit!
[Pg 170]
Fire raged: and, when the spangled floor
Of ancient ether was no more,
New heavens succeeded, by the dream brought forth:
60
And all the happy Souls that rode
Transfigured through that fresh[309] abode
Had heretofore, in humble trust,
Shone meekly 'mid their native dust,
The Glow-worms of the earth!
65
This knowledge, from an Angel's voice
Proceeding, made the heart rejoice
Of Him who slept upon the open lea:
Waking at morn he murmured not;
And, till life's journey closed, the spot
70
Was to the Pilgrim's soul endeared,
Where by that[310] dream he had been cheered
Beneath the shady tree.

VARIANTS:

[302] 1820.

.    .    . Convent's roof;
But him the haughty Abbot spurned,
ms.
And from the sumptuous gate he turned

[303] 1820.

The heath or rocky holt might yield,
ms.
Or leafy .    .    .

[304] 1827.

1820.
And That whose radiance gleamed from far;
ms.
.    .    . streamed .    .    .

[305] 1845.

1820.
.    .    . the humbler Light

[306] 1820.

That now, while sleep to solemn Night
ms.
Was offering gifts of duteous sacrifice,

[307] 1827.

ms. and 1820.
Yet .    .    .

[308] 1827.

ms. and 1820.
But it behoves that thou shouldst know

[309] 1820.

ms.
.    .    . fair abode

[310] 1820.

ms.
.    .    . this .    .    .

FOOTNOTE:

[DB] Compare The Primrose of the Rock composed in 1831. The rock which the Wordsworth family were in the habit of calling "Glow-worm Rock" is on the right hand side of the road, as you ascend from Rydal, by the middle path, over White Moss Common to Grasmere.—Ed.


INSCRIPTIONS SUPPOSED TO BE FOUND IN AND NEAR A HERMIT'S CELL

1818

Composed 1818.—Published 1820

The five poems which follow were placed among the "Inscriptions," from 1820 onwards.—Ed.

I

"Hopes, what are they?—Beads of Morning"

Hopes, what are they?—Beads of morning
Strung on slender[311] blades of grass;
[Pg 171]
Or a spider's web adorning
In a strait and treacherous pass.[312]
5
What are fears but voices airy?
Whispering harm[313] where harm is not;
And deluding the unwary[314]
Till the fatal bolt is shot!
What is glory?—in the socket
10
See how dying tapers fare!
What is pride?—a whizzing rocket
That would emulate a star.
What is friendship?—do not trust her,
Nor the vows which she has made;
15
Diamonds dart their brightest lustre
From a palsy-shaken head.
What is truth?—a staff rejected;[315]
Duty?—an unwelcome clog;
Joy?—a moon by fits reflected[316]
20
In a swamp or watery bog;[317]
Bright, as if through ether steering,[318]
To the Traveller's eye it shone:
He hath hailed it re-appearing—
And as quickly it is gone;
[Pg 172]
25
Such is Joy—as quickly hidden,[319]
Or mis-shapen to the sight,
And by sullen weeds forbidden
To resume its native light.[320]
What is youth?—a dancing billow,
30
(Winds behind, and rocks before!)[321]
Age?—a drooping, tottering willow
On a flat and lazy shore.[322]
What is peace?—when pain is over,
And love ceases to rebel,
35
Let the last faint sigh discover
That precedes the passing knell!

Compare Carlyle's Cui Bono

What is Hope? A smiling rainbow
Children follow through the wet;
'Tis not here, still yonder, yonder:
Never urchin found it yet.
What is Life? A thawing iceboard
On a sea with sunny shore;—
Gay we sail; it melts beneath us;
We are sunk, and seen no more.
What is Man? A foolish baby,
Vainly strives, and fights, and frets;
[Pg 173]
Demanding all, deserving nothing;—
One small grave is what he gets.

See his Miscellaneous Essays, vol. i. p. 352 (edition 1857).—Ed.

II

Inscribed upon a Rock

[The monument of ice here spoken of I observed while ascending the middle road of the three ways that lead from Rydal to Grasmere.[DC] It was on my right hand, and my eyes were upon it when it fell, as told in these lines.—I. F.]

Pause, Traveller! whosoe'er thou be
Whom chance may lead to this retreat,
Where silence yields reluctantly
Even to the fleecy straggler's bleat;
5
Give voice to what my hand shall trace,
And fear not lest an idle sound
Of words unsuited to the place
Disturb its solitude profound.
I saw this Rock, while vernal air
10
Blew softly o'er the russet heath,
Uphold a Monument as fair
As church or abbey furnisheth.
Unsullied did it meet the day,
Like marble, white, like ether, pure;
15
As if, beneath, some hero lay,
Honoured with costliest sepulture.
My fancy kindled as I gazed;
And, ever as the sun shone forth,
The flattered structure glistened, blazed,
20
And seemed the proudest thing on earth.
[Pg 174]
But frost had reared the gorgeous Pile
Unsound as those which Fortune builds—
To undermine with secret guile,
Sapped by the very beam that gilds.
25
And, while I gazed, with sudden shock
Fell the whole Fabric to the ground;
And naked left this dripping Rock,
With shapeless ruin spread around!

III

"Hast thou seen, with Flash incessant"

[Where the second quarry now is, as you pass from Rydal to Grasmere, there was formerly a length of smooth rock that sloped towards the road on the right hand. I used to call it Tadpole Slope, from having frequently observed there the water-bubbles gliding under the ice, exactly in the shape of that creature.—I. F.]

Hast thou seen, with flash incessant,[323]
Bubbles gliding under ice,
Bodied forth and evanescent,
No one knows by what device?
5
Such are thoughts!—a wind-swept meadow[324]
Mimicking a troubled sea,
Such is life; and death a shadow
From the rock eternity![325]

[Pg 175]

IV

Near the Spring of the Hermitage

Troubled long with warring notions
Long impatient of thy rod,
I resign my soul's emotions
Unto Thee, mysterious God!
5
What avails the kindly shelter
Yielded by this craggy rent,
If my spirit toss and welter
On the waves of discontent?
Parching Summer hath no warrant
10
To consume this crystal Well;
Rains, that make each rill a torrent,
Neither sully it nor swell.
Thus, dishonouring not her station,
Would my Life present to Thee,
15
Gracious God, the pure oblation
Of divine tranquillity!

It is impossible to say where the "spring of the Hermitage" was, or was supposed by Wordsworth to be. It may refer to some Rydalian retreat. There is no spring or "crystal well" on St. Herbert's Island, Derwentwater; but Inscription XIII. in the edition of 1820 is entitled "For the Spot where the Hermitage stood on St. Herbert's Island, Derwentwater."—Ed.

V

"Not seldom, clad in Radiant Vest"

Not seldom, clad in radiant vest,
Deceitfully goes forth the Morn;
Not seldom Evening in the west
Sinks smilingly forsworn.
[Pg 176]
5
The smoothest seas will sometimes prove,
To the confiding Bark, untrue;
And, if she trust the stars above,
They can be treacherous too.
The umbrageous Oak, in pomp outspread,
10
Full oft, when storms the welkin rend,
Draws lightning down upon the head
It promised to defend.
But Thou art true, incarnate Lord,
Who didst vouchsafe for man to die;
15
Thy smile is sure, thy plighted word
No change can falsify!
I bent before thy gracious throne,
And asked for peace on suppliant knee;[326]
And peace was given,—nor peace alone,
20
But faith sublimed to ecstasy![327]

VARIANTS:

[311] 1820.

ms.
.    .    . tender .    .    .

[312] 1820.

ms.
In some strait and dangerous pass.

[313] 1820.

ms.
Haunting Man .    .    .

[314] 1820.

ms.
But when danger meets the unwary

[315] 1820.

ms.
.    .    . a pearl rejected;

[316] 1827.

1820.
Joy?—a dazzling moon reflected

[317] 1820.

ms.
.    .    . plashing bog;

[318] 1820.

c.
Bright, and in a moment hidden,

[319] 1837.

1820.
Gone, as if for ever hidden,

[320] 1820.

Bright, as if through ether steering,
Not a moment past it shone;
Can we trust its re-appearing?
ms.
No, 'tis dim, mis-shapen, gone.
c.
.    .    . its dazzling light.

[321] 1820.

.    .    . a sparkling billow
ms.
Shaped and instantly no more;

[322] 1820.

ms.
On a melancholy shore.

[323] 1820.
4 vol. edition.

1820.
.    .    . with train incessant,
1 vol. edition.

[324] 1820.

ms.
See yon undulating meadow

[325] In a MS. this stanza follows the second last one in the Inscription beginning, "Hopes, what are they?"

[326] 1827.

1820.
.    .    . with suppliant knee;

[327] 1827.

1820.
But faith, and hope, and extacy!

FOOTNOTE:

[DC] And therefore not far from the Glow-worm Rock, if not upon it. See the note to The Pilgrim's Dream, p. 167.—Ed.


COMPOSED UPON AN EVENING OF EXTRAORDINARY
SPLENDOUR AND BEAUTY[DD]

Composed 1818.—Published 1820

[Felt, and in a great measure composed, upon the little mount in front of our abode at Rydal. In concluding my notices of this class of poems, it may be as well to observe that among the "Miscellaneous Sonnets" are a few alluding to morning impressions, which might be read with mutual benefit, in connection with these "Evening Voluntaries." See, for example, that one on Westminster Bridge, that composed on a May Morning, the one on the Song of the Thrush, and that beginning—"While beams of orient light shoot wide and high."—I. F.]

[Pg 177]

In 1820 this was one of the "Poems of the Imagination." In 1837 it was transferred to the "Evening Voluntaries."—Ed.

I

Had this effulgence disappeared
With flying haste, I might have sent,
Among the speechless clouds, a look
Of blank astonishment;
5
But 'tis endued with power to stay,
And sanctify[328] one closing day,
That frail Mortality may see—
What is?—ah no, but what can be!
Time was when field and watery cove
10
With modulated echoes rang,
While choirs of fervent Angels sang
Their vespers in the grove;[329]
Or, crowning, star-like, each some sovereign height,[330]
Warbled, for heaven above and earth below,
15
Strains, suitable to both.—Such holy rite,
Methinks, if audibly repeated now
From hill or valley, could not move[331]
[Pg 178]
Sublimer transport, purer[332] love,
Than doth this silent spectacle—the gleam—
20
The shadow—and the peace supreme!

II

No sound is uttered,—but a deep[333]
And solemn harmony pervades
The hollow vale from steep to steep,
And penetrates the glades.
25
Far-distant images draw nigh,
Called forth by wondrous potency
Of beamy radiance, that imbues
Whate'er it strikes, with gem-like hues!
In vision exquisitely clear,
30
Herds range[334] along the mountain side;
And glistening antlers are descried;[DE]
And gilded flocks appear.
Thine is the tranquil hour, purpureal Eve!
But long as god-like wish, or hope divine,
35
Informs my spirit, ne'er can I believe
That this magnificence is wholly thine!
—From worlds not quickened[335] by the sun[DF]
A portion of the gift is won;
An intermingling of Heaven's pomp is spread
40
On ground which British shepherds tread!

[Pg 179]

III

And, if there be whom broken ties[336]
Afflict, or injuries assail,
Yon hazy ridges to their eyes
Present a glorious scale,[DG]
45
Climbing suffused with sunny air,
To stop—no record hath told where!
And tempting Fancy to ascend,
And with immortal Spirits blend![337]
[Pg 180]
—Wings at my shoulders[338] seem to play;[DH]
50
But, rooted here, I stand and gaze
On those bright steps that heaven-ward raise[339]
Their practicable way.
Come forth, ye drooping[340] old men, look abroad,
And see to what fair countries ye are bound!
55
And if some traveller, weary of his road,
Hath slept since noontide on the grassy ground,
Ye Genii! to his covert speed;[341]
[Pg 181]
And wake him with such gentle heed[342]
As may attune his soul to meet the dower
60
Bestowed on this transcendent hour!

IV

Such hues from their celestial Urn
Were wont to stream before mine eye,[343]
Where'er it[344] wandered in the morn
Of blissful infancy.[DI]
65
This glimpse of glory, why renewed?
Nay, rather speak with[345] gratitude;
For, if a vestige of those gleams
Survived, 'twas only in my dreams.
Dread Power! whom peace and calmness serve
70
No less than Nature's threatening voice,[346]
If aught unworthy be my choice,
From Thee if I would swerve;
Oh, let thy grace remind me of the light
Full early lost, and fruitlessly deplored;
[Pg 182] 75
Which, at this moment, on my waking sight
Appears to shine, by miracle restored;
My soul, though yet confined to earth,
Rejoices in a second birth!
—'Tis past, the visionary splendour fades;
80
And night approaches with her shades.

VARIANTS:

[328] 1820.

ms.
And solemnize .    .    .

[329] 1820.

.    .    . rang
Of harp and voice while angels sang
ms.
Amid the umbrageous grove,

[330] 1832.

ms. and 1820.
Or, ranged like stars along some sovereign height,

[331] 1820.

.    .    . both.—Ye sons of Light
If such communion were repeated now
ms.
Nor harp nor seraph's voice could move

[332] 1820.

ms.
.    .    . holier .    .    .

[333] 1820.

ms.
What though no sound be heard—a deep

[334] 1820.

ms.
Herds graze .    .    .

[335] 1820.

ms.
From worlds unquicken'd .    .    .

[336] 1820.

ms.
And if they wish for smooth escape, etc.

[337] 1820.

Yon hazy ridges take the shape
Of stars, a glorious scale
{Climbing }
{That climb} suffused with sunny air
To stop, no record hath told where,
Tempting my fancy to ascend
ms.
And with immortal spirits blend.
And if they wish for smooth escape
From grief and this terrestrial vale,
Yon rocks and clouds present the shape
Of stairs, a gradual scale
By which the fancy might ascend,
And with those happy spirits blend,
Whose motions .    .    .
ms.
By night the dreaming Patriarch saw.
And if those whom broken ties
Afflict, or injuries assail,
Yon hazy ridges to their eyes
Present a {climbing} scale,
{glorious}
Suffused in misty sunny air.
It climbs no records have told where.
It {sailed} on ether's glowing waves,
{stole }
And occupied heaven's shining caves,
Tempting the fancy to ascend
ms.
And with immortal spirits blend.>

[338] 1837.

1820.
—Wings at my shoulder .    .    .

[339] 1820.

ms.
.    .    . upward raise

[340] 1820.

ms.
Come from your Doors, ye .    .    .

[341] 1820.

ms.
.    .    . couch repair

[342] 1820.

ms.
.    .    . care

[343] 1837.

1820.
.    .    . my eye,

[344] 1820.

Whence but from some celestial urn
  {spread before}
ms.
These colours—{wont to meet } my eye
Where'er I .    .    .

[345] 1820.

ms.
.    .    . in .    .    .

[346] 1820.

Dread Power! whom clouds and darkness serve,
ms.
The thunder, or the still small voice,

FOOTNOTES:

[DD] The title, in the first edition of 1820, was "Ode, composed upon an evening of extraordinary splendor and beauty." In the four-volume edition of that year it was "Evening Ode, composed upon an evening of extraordinary Splendor and Beauty." In a MS. copy I have found the following, "Composed during a sunset of transcendent Beauty, in the summer of 1817."—Ed.

[DE] There used to be fallow deer in the park at Rydal Hall. Compare The Triad (where the local allusions all refer to the Rydal district)—

Pass onward (even the glancing deer
Till we depart intrude not here;)

and The Excursion, book ix. l. 563 (vol. v. p. 373).—Ed.

[DF] Compare Gray's Progress of Poesy, ll. 119, 120—

Such forms, as glitter in the Muse's ray,
Ed.
With orient hues, unborrow'd of the Sun.

[DG] The multiplication of mountain-ridges, described at the commencement of the third Stanza of this Ode, as a kind of Jacob's Ladder, leading to Heaven, is produced either by watery vapours, or sunny haze;—in the present instance by the latter cause. Allusions to the Ode, entitled Intimations of Immortality, pervade the last Stanza of the foregoing Poem.—W. W. 1820.

The "hazy ridges" referred to in the text are probably those to the west, behind Silver How.—Ed.

[DH] In the lines "Wings at my shoulders seem to play," etc., I am under obligation to the exquisite picture by Mr. Alstone, now in America. It is pleasant to make this public acknowledgment to men of genius, whom I have the honour to rank among my friends.—W. W. 1820.

The phrase "men of genius" includes Haydon. The first part of this note of 1820, being one on Peter Bell, referring to Haydon's Bible picture of Christ's Entry into Jerusalem. (See note to Peter Bell, l. 979.)

The American painter was Mr. Washington Allston. Wordsworth sent him a MS. copy of the poem, transcribed "in gratitude for the pleasure he had received from the sight of Mr. Allston's pictures, in particular 'Jacob's Dream,'" and at the end of the MS. of his poem, Wordsworth wrote, "The Author does not know how far he was indebted to Mr. Allston for part of the 3rd stanza. The multiplication of ridges in a mountainous country, as Mr. A. has probably observed, arises from two causes, sunny or watery vapour—the former is here meant. When does Mr. A. return to England?" In a letter on "Wordsworth and Allston," in The Athenæum, Mr. J. Dykes Campbell refers to "something in the picture having given definite form to observations of natural phenomena the significance of which the poet had not immediately noted." "Wordsworth," he adds, "was a close and untiring rather than a quick or keen observer, and his mind was at all times stored with a wealth of notes which sometimes had to wait long before they could either be worked out or worked in. Sometimes—as in this instance, perhaps—they were revivified by the suggestions of some kindred observer who happened to anticipate the poet in giving them form."—See The Athenæum, August 7, 1894.—Ed.

[DI] Compare the reference in the Ode, Intimations of Immortality, ll. 178, 179, to—

Though nothing can bring back the hour
Ed.
Of splendour in the grass, of glory in the flower.

[Pg 183]


1819

With the exception of The Haunted Tree, and the lines entitled September 1819, all the poems composed during the year 1819 were sonnets. Four of the latter were published along with Peter Bell, in the first edition of that poem; and other twelve, along with The Waggoner, which was first published in the same year. One of the twelve refers to the Old Hall of Donnerdale, and belongs to the series of Sonnets on the River Duddon, where it will be found (No. XXVII.) It was first published, along with those referring to Rydal, in the volume of 1819, and probably detached from the rest of the series, because originally it had no particular reference to the Old Hall in the Duddon Valley; but was (as Wordsworth indicates in the third of the Fenwick notes to the Duddon) "taken from a tradition belonging to Rydal Hall, which once stood, as is believed, upon a rocky and woody hill on the right hand as you go from Rydal to Ambleside, and was deserted from the superstitious fear here described, and the present site fortunately chosen instead."—Ed.


THIS, AND THE TWO FOLLOWING, WERE SUGGESTED[347] BY MR. W. WESTALL'S VIEWS OF THE CAVES,[DJ] ETC., IN YORKSHIRE

This, and the two following sonnets, were first published in Blackwood's Magazine, vol. iv., January 1819, p. 471. They were reprinted in The Poetical Album, edited by Alaric Watts, in 1829 (Second Series, vol. i. pp. 332, 333) under the title,[Pg 184] "The Caves of Yorkshire." The same volume of the Album contains (p. 43) the sonnet beginning—

Not Love, not War, nor the tumultuous swell.

In the 1819 edition of Peter Bell, p. 84, a note, prefatory to the four following sonnets, occurs to this effect: "The following Sonnets having lately appeared in Periodical Publications are here reprinted."—Ed.

Composed 1819.—Published 1819

One of the "Miscellaneous Sonnets."—Ed.

Pure element of waters! wheresoe'er
Thou dost forsake thy subterranean haunts,
Green herbs, bright flowers, and berry-bearing plants,
Rise[348] into life and in thy train appear:
5
And, through the sunny portion of the year,
Swift insects shine, thy hovering pursuivants:
And, if thy bounty fail, the forest pants;
And hart and hind and hunter with his spear,
Languish and droop together. Nor unfelt
10
In man's perturbèd soul thy sway benign;
And, haply, far within the marble belt
Of central earth, where tortured Spirits pine
For grace and goodness lost, thy murmurs melt
Their anguish,—and they blend sweet songs with thine.[DK]

VARIANTS:

[347] 1820.

1819.
Sonnets, suggested .    .    .

[348] 1820.

Blackwood's Magazine, January 1819.
Start .    .    .

FOOTNOTES:

[DJ] Wordsworth visited these caves with Edward Quillinan in 1821.—Ed.

[DK] Waters (as Mr. Westall informs us in the letterpress prefixed to his admirable views) are invariably found to flow through these caverns.—W. W. 1819.


MALHAM COVE

Composed 1819.—Published 1819

One of the "Miscellaneous Sonnets."—Ed.

Was the aim frustrated by force or guile,
When giants scooped from out the rocky ground,
[Pg 185]
Tier under tier, this semicirque profound?
(Giants—the same who built in Erin's isle
5
That Causeway with incomparable toil!)—
O, had this vast theatric structure wound[349][DL]
With finished sweep into a perfect round,
No mightier work had gained the plausive smile
Of all-beholding Phœbus! But, alas,
10
Vain earth! false world! Foundations must be laid
In Heaven; for, 'mid the wreck of IS and WAS,
Things incomplete and purposes betrayed
Make sadder transits o'er thought's optic glass[350]
Than noblest objects utterly decayed.[DM]

Malham Cove is a noble amphitheatre of perpendicular limestone rock, lying in regular strata, the height being 300 feet in the centre. The Aire issues from the rock at the base of the cliff, a considerable stream. Possibly Westall's picture of Malham Cove suggested to Wordsworth the Giant's Causeway in Ireland, and its legend. They have the same columnar appearance; although the former is limestone, and the latter basalt.—Ed.


VARIANTS:

[349] 1820.

Oh! had the Crescent stretched its horns, and wound
Blackwood's Magazine, January 1819.

[350] 1837.

1819.
.    .    . o'er truth's mystic glass,

FOOTNOTES:

[DL] Compare the Fenwick note to The Excursion.—Ed.

[DM] Compare the Fenwick note to The Excursion.—Ed.


GORDALE

Composed 1819.—Published 1819

One of the "Miscellaneous Sonnets."—Ed.

At early dawn, or rather when the air[351]
Glimmers with fading light, and shadowy Eve
[Pg 186]
Is busiest to confer and to bereave;
Then, pensive Votary! let thy feet repair[352]
5
To Gordale-chasm, terrific as the lair
Where the young lions couch; for so,[353] by leave
Of the propitious hour, thou may'st perceive
The local Deity, with oozy hair
9
And mineral crown, beside his jagged urn,
Recumbent: Him thou may'st behold, who hides
His lineaments by day,[354] yet[355] there presides,
Teaching the docile waters how to turn,
Or (if need be) impediment to spurn,
And force their passage to[356] the salt-sea tides!

There are many legendary stories connected with the Yorkshire caves, particularly in the Giggleswick district; but I have been unable to trace any legend about the "local Deity" of Gordale. There is nothing in the letterpress of Westall's views, or in the "addenda" to West's Guide to the Lakes in Cumberland, about these legends. The chasm is a very remarkable cleft in the limestone rock, near Malham. Gray's description of Gordale, in his Journal (1796), may be referred to.—Ed.


VARIANTS:

[351] 1819.

.    .    . or when the warmer air,
Blackwood's Magazine, January 1819.

[352] 1819.

At either moment let thy feet repair
Blackwood's Magazine, January 1819.

[353] 1819.

.    .    . for then .    .    .
Blackwood's Magazine, January 1819.

[354] 1819.

.    .    . from day, .    .    .
Blackwood's Magazine, January 1819.

[355] 1827.

1819.
.    .    . and .    .    .

[356] 1819.

.    .    . toward .    .    .
Blackwood's Magazine, January 1819.

[Pg 187]


COMPOSED DURING A STORM[357]

Composed 1819.—Published 1819

[Written in Rydal Woods, by the side of a torrent.—I. F.]

One of the "Miscellaneous Sonnets."—Ed.

One who was suffering tumult in his soul
Yet failed to seek the sure relief of prayer,
Went forth—his course surrendering to the care
Of the fierce wind, while mid-day lightnings prowl
5
Insidiously, untimely thunders growl;
While trees, dim-seen, in frenzied numbers, tear
The lingering remnant of their yellow hair,
And shivering wolves, surprised with darkness, howl
As if the sun were not. He raised his eye
10
Soul-smitten; for, that instant, did appear[358]
Large space ('mid dreadful clouds) of purest sky,
An azure disc[359]—shield of Tranquillity;
Invisible, unlooked-for, minister
Of providential goodness ever nigh!

VARIANTS:

[357] 1827.

Composed during one of the most awful of
. 1819.
the late storms, February 1819
1820.
Composed during a severe storm.

[358] 1827.

As if the sun were not;—he lifted high
1819.
His head—and in a moment did appear

[359] 1840.

1819.
.    .    . orb .    .    .

"AERIAL ROCK—WHOSE SOLITARY BROW"

Composed 1819.—Published 1819

[A projecting point of Loughrigg, nearly in front of Rydal Mount. Thence looking at it, you are struck with the boldness[Pg 188] of its aspect; but walking under it, you admire the beauty of its details. It is vulgarly called Holme-scar, probably from the insulated pasture by the waterside below it.—I. F.]

One of the "Miscellaneous Sonnets."—Ed.

Aerial Rock—whose solitary brow
From this low threshold daily meets my sight;
When I step[360] forth to hail the morning light;
Or quit the stars with a lingering farewell—how[361]
5
Shall Fancy pay to thee a grateful vow?
How, with the Muse's aid, her love attest?
—By planting on thy naked head the crest[362]
Of an imperial Castle, which the plough
Of ruin shall not touch. Innocent scheme!
10
That doth presume no more than to supply
A grace the sinuous vale and roaring stream
Want, through neglect of hoar Antiquity.
Rise, then, ye votive Towers! and catch a gleam
Of golden sunset, ere it fade and die.

Compare the sonnet No. XXVII. of the Duddon Series, beginning "Fallen, and diffused into a shapeless heap," as it was evidently written with reference to the old (traditional) Hall of Rydal. If an

.    .    . embattled House, whose massy Keep
Flung from yon cliff a shadow large and cold,

stood in "the sinuous vale" of Rydal, there was no "neglect of hoar Antiquity."—Ed.

[Pg 189]


VARIANTS:

[360] 1827.

1819.
.    .    . look .    .    .

[361] 1837.

1819.
.    .    . with lingering farewell—how

[362] 1827.

Shall I discharge to thee a grateful vow?—
By planting on thy head (in verse, at least,
1819.
As I have often done in thought) the crest

THE WILD DUCK'S NEST

Composed 1819.—Published 1819

[I observed this beautiful nest on the largest island of Rydal Water.—I. F.]

One of the "Miscellaneous Sonnets."—Ed.

The imperial[363] Consort of the Fairy-king
Owns not a sylvan bower; or gorgeous cell[364]
With emerald floored, and with purpureal shell
Ceilinged and roofed; that is so fair a thing[365]
5
As this low structure, for the tasks of Spring,
Prepared by one who loves the buoyant swell
Of the brisk waves, yet here consents to dwell;
And spreads[366] in steadfast peace her brooding wing.
Words cannot paint the o'ershadowing yew-tree bough,
10
And dimly-gleaming Nest,—a hollow crown
Of golden leaves inlaid with silver down,
Fine as the mother's softest plumes allow:[367]
I gazed—and, self-accused while gazing, sighed
For human-kind, weak slaves of cumbrous pride![368]

VARIANTS:

[363] 1819.

ms.
Imperial .    .    .

[364] 1819.

ms.
Thy favourite home (albeit a bright cell

[365] 1819.

ms.
.    .    . is not so fair a thing

[366] 1819.

ms.
And spread .    .    .

[367] 1819.

The Nest a hollow diadem composed
Of russet leaves and down where lie enclosed
ms.
The tenderest cares that earthly laws allow:

[368] 1837.

I gaze—and almost wish to lay aside
ms. and 1819.
Humanity, weak slave of cumbrous pride!

[Pg 190]


WRITTEN UPON A BLANK LEAF IN "THE COMPLETE ANGLER"

Composed 1819.—Published 1819

One of the "Miscellaneous Sonnets."—Ed.

While flowing rivers yield a blameless sport,
Shall live the name of Walton: Sage benign!
Whose pen, the mysteries of the rod and line
Unfolding, did not fruitlessly exhort
5
To reverend watching of each still report
That Nature utters from her rural shrine.
Meek, nobly versed in simple discipline—
He found the longest summer day too short,
To his[369] loved pastime given by sedgy Lee,
10
Or down the tempting maze of Shawford brook—
Fairer than life itself, in this[370] sweet Book,
The cowslip-bank[371] and shady willow-tree;
And the fresh meads—where flowed, from every nook
Of his[372] full bosom, gladsome Piety!

VARIANTS:

[369] 1827.

O nobly versed in simple discipline,
Meek, thankful soul, the vernal day how short
1819.
To thy .    .    .
O, nobly versed in simple discipline—
Who found'st the longest summer day too short,
1837.
To thy .    .    .
1845 returns to 1827.

[370] 1827.

1819.
.    .    . thy .    .    .

[371] 1819.

1837.
Are cowslip-bank .    .    .
1845 returns to 1819.

[372] 1827.

1819.
Of thy .    .    .
1837 returns to 1819.
1845 returns to 1827.

[Pg 191]


CAPTIVITY—MARY QUEEN OF SCOTS[373]

Composed 1819.—Published 1819

One of the "Miscellaneous Sonnets."—Ed.

"As the cold aspect of a sunless way
Strikes through the Traveller's frame with deadlier chill,
Oft as appears a grove, or obvious hill,
Glistening with unparticipated ray,
5
Or shining slope where he must never stray;
So joys, remembered without wish or will,
Sharpen the keenest edge of present ill,—
On the crushed heart a heavier burthen lay.
Just Heaven, contract the compass of my mind
10
To fit proportion with my altered state!
Quench those felicities whose light I find
Reflected in[374] my bosom all too late!—
O be my spirit, like my thraldom, strait;
And, like mine eyes that stream with sorrow, blind!"

Compare the Lament of Mary Queen of Scots, p. 162.

Why this sonnet was printed, from 1819 (in which year it appeared in The Waggoner, a Poem, to which are added Sonnets,) to the last edition of 1849, within inverted commas, I have never been able to discover.—Ed.


VARIANTS:

[373] 1837.

1819.
Captivity.

[374] 1827.

1819.
Burning within .    .    .

TO A SNOW-DROP[375]

Composed 1819.—Published 1819

One of the "Miscellaneous Sonnets."—Ed.

Lone Flower, hemmed in with snows and white as they
But hardier far, once more I see thee bend
[Pg 192]
Thy forehead, as if fearful to offend,
Like an unbidden guest. Though day by day,[376]
5
Storms, sallying from the mountain-tops, way-lay
The rising sun, and on the plains descend;
Yet art thou welcome, welcome as a friend[377]
Whose zeal outruns his promise! Blue-eyed May
Shall soon behold this border thickly set
10
With bright jonquils, their odours lavishing
On the soft west-wind and his frolic peers;
Nor will I then thy modest grace forget,[378]
Chaste Snow-drop, venturous harbinger of Spring,
And pensive monitor of fleeting years!

VARIANTS:

[375] 1827.

1819.
To a snow-drop, appearing very early in the season.

[376] 1827.

But hardier far, though modestly thou bend
Thy front—as if such presence could offend!
1819.
Who guards thy slender stalk while, day by day,

[377] 1827.

1819.
Accept the greeting that befits a friend

[378] 1827.

1819.
Yet will I not thy gentle grace forget,

"WHEN HAUGHTY EXPECTATIONS PROSTRATE LIE"

Composed 1819.—Published 1820

One of the "Miscellaneous Sonnets."—Ed.

When haughty expectations prostrate lie,[DN]
And grandeur crouches like a guilty thing,
Oft shall the lowly weak, till nature bring
Mature release, in fair society
5
Survive, and Fortune's utmost anger try;
[Pg 193]
Like these frail snow-drops that together cling,
And nod their helmets, smitten by the wing
Of many a furious whirl-blast sweeping by.
Observe the faithful flowers![DO] if small to great
May lead the thoughts, thus struggling used to stand
11
The Emathian phalanx,[DP] nobly obstinate;
And so the bright immortal Theban band,[DQ]
Whom onset, fiercely urged at Jove's command,
Might overwhelm, but could not separate!

FOOTNOTES:

[DN] In the edition of 1820 this sonnet was entitled,
On seeing a tuft of Snow-drops in a Storm;
and, in the edition of 1827, the title was,
Composed a few days after the foregoing;
the "foregoing" sonnet being that addressed To a Snow-drop.—Ed.

[DO] Compare in The Primrose of the Rock

The flowers, still faithful to the stems,
Their fellowship renew;
The stems are faithful to the root,
That worketh out of view;
And to the rock the root adheres
Ed.
In every fibre true.

[DP] Macedonian; the district of Emathia being the original seat of the Macedonian monarchy.—Ed.

[DQ] An allusion to the so-called Sacred Band, whose successes under Pelopidas had so large a share in sustaining the Theban ascendency after the Battle of Leuctra (B.C. 371-366).—Ed.


TO THE RIVER DERWENT

Composed 1819.—Published 1819

This sonnet was first published along with The Waggoner. In the editions from 1820 to 1832 it was placed among the "Miscellaneous Sonnets." In 1835 it was included in the series of "Poems, composed or suggested during a tour, in the summer of 1833."—Ed.

Among the mountains were we nursed, loved Stream!
Thou near the eagle's nest—within brief sail,
I, of his bold wing floating on the gale,
Where thy deep voice could lull me! Faint the beam
5
Of human life when first allowed to gleam
On mortal notice.—Glory of the vale,
Such thy meek outset, with a crown, though frail,
Kept in perpetual verdure by the steam
Of thy soft breath!—Less vivid wreath[379] entwined
[Pg 194] 10
Nemæan victor's brow; less bright was worn,
Meed of some Roman chief—in triumph borne
With captives chained; and shedding from his car
The sunset splendours of a finished war
Upon the proud enslavers of mankind!

The Derwent has its source on the slopes of Glaramara; and an Eagle Crag rises above one of its affluents (the Langstrath beck, separating the Langstrath from the Greenup Valley). Doubtless there were eagles there in the last century when Wordsworth was born, and they would soar over Skiddaw and the Grasmere group of mountains towards Cockermouth, his birth-place.—Ed.


VARIANT:

[379] 1827.

1819.
.    .    . wreaths .    .    .

COMPOSED IN ONE OF THE VALLEYS OF WESTMORELAND, ON EASTER SUNDAY[380]

Composed 1819.—Published 1819

One of the "Miscellaneous Sonnets."—Ed.

With each recurrence of this glorious morn
That saw the Saviour in his human frame
Rise from the dead, erewhile the Cottage-dame
Put on fresh raiment—till that hour unworn:
5
Domestic[381] hands the home-bred wool had shorn,
And she who span it culled[382] the daintiest fleece,
In thoughtful reverence to the Prince of Peace,
Whose temples bled beneath the platted thorn.
A blest estate when piety sublime
These humble props disdained not! O green dales!
11
Sad may I be who heard your sabbath chime
When Art's abused inventions were unknown;
[Pg 195]
Kind Nature's various wealth was all your own;
And benefits were weighed in Reason's scales!

VARIANTS:

[380] 1819.

ms.
Written on Easter Sunday.

[381] 1819.

ms.
Her Husband's .    .    .

[382] 1819.

ms.
Which she had spun—culling .    .    .

The following (incomplete) version of this Easter Sunday sonnet exists in MS.:—


COMPOSED ON EASTER SUNDAY

Erewhile to celebrate this glorious morn
That saw the unvanquished Saviour of mankind
Rise from the grave, the Ruler and the Hind
Put on fresh raiment, till that hour unworn,
Fair cloth of home-bred wool which he had shorn,
Her hands had spun, culling her daintiest fleece,
Such reverence paid they to the Prince of Peace.
O blest estate, when Piety sublime
These humble props disdained not! Are thy flowers
Banished for aye, from Britain's hills and vales
Extinct, or lingering in a happier clime,
Where our abused inventions are unknown
Ed.
And benefits are weighed in Reason's scales?

"GRIEF, THOU HAST LOST AN EVER READY FRIEND"

Composed 1819.—Published 1819

[I could write a treatise of lamentation upon the changes brought about among the cottages of Westmoreland by the silence of the spinning-wheel.[DR] During long winter nights and wet days, the wheel upon which wool was spun gave employment to a great part of a family. The old man, however infirm, was able to card the wool, as he sate in a corner by the fire-side; and often, when a boy, have I admired the cylinders of carded wool which were softly laid upon each other by his side. Two wheels were often at work on the same floor; and others of the family, chiefly little children, were occupied in teasing and cleaning the wool to fit it for the hand of the carder. So that all, except the smallest infants, were contributing to[Pg 196] mutual support. Such was the employment that prevailed in the pastoral vales. Where wool was not at hand, in the small rural towns, the wheel for spinning flax was almost in as constant use, if knitting was not preferred; which latter occupation has the advantage (in some cases disadvantage) that, not being of necessity stationary, it allowed of gossiping about from house to house, which good housewives reckoned an idle thing.—I. F.]

One of the "Miscellaneous Sonnets."—Ed.

Grief, thou hast lost an ever ready friend
Now that the cottage Spinning-wheel is mute;
And Care—a comforter that best could suit
Her froward mood, and softliest reprehend;
5
And Love—a charmer's voice, that used to lend,
More efficaciously than aught that flows
From harp or lute, kind influence to compose
The throbbing pulse—else troubled without end:
Even Joy could tell,[383] Joy craving truce and rest
10
From her own overflow, what power sedate
On those revolving motions did await
Assiduously—to soothe her aching breast;
And, to a point of just relief, abate
The mantling triumphs of a day too blest.

The following version of the last seven lines of this sonnet is from a MS. copy of it:—

The panting breast else troubled without end:
And fancy prized the murmuring spinning-wheel
In sympathies inexplicably fine,
Instilled a confidence how sweet to feel!
That ever, in the night calm, when the sheep
Upon their grassy beds lay couched in sleep,
The quickening spindle drew a trustier line.       Ed.

VARIANT:

[383] 1819.

ms.
And Joy can tell, .    .    .

FOOTNOTE:

[DR] Compare similar regrets in The Excursion.—Ed.

[Pg 197]


"I WATCH, AND LONG HAVE WATCHED, WITH CALM REGRET"

Composed 1819.—Published 1819[DS]

[Suggested in front of Rydal Mount, the rocky parapet being the summit of Loughrigg Fell opposite. Not once only, but a hundred times, have the feelings of this sonnet been awakened by the same objects seen from the same place.—I. F.]

One of the "Miscellaneous Sonnets."—Ed.

I watch, and long have watched, with calm regret
Yon slowly-sinking star—immortal Sire
(So might he seem) of all the glittering quire!
Blue ether still surrounds him—yet—and yet;
5
But now the horizon's rocky parapet
Is reached, where, forfeiting his bright attire,
He burns—transmuted to a dusky fire—
Then pays submissively the appointed debt
To the flying moments, and is seen no more.[384]
10
Angels and gods! We struggle with our fate,
While health, power, glory, from their height decline,[385]
Depressed; and then extinguished: and our state,
In this, how different, lost Star, from thine,
That no to-morrow shall our beams restore![DT]

VARIANTS:

[384] 1837.

.    .    . to a sullen fire,
That droops and dwindles; and, the appointed debt
1819.
To the flying moments paid, is seen no more.

[385] 1837.

1819.
.    .    . glory, pitiably decline,

FOOTNOTES:

[DS] This sonnet was omitted in the edition of 1827.—Ed.

[DT] Compare Beattie's Hermit (stanza iii. l. 5)—

Roll on then, fair orb, and with gladness pursue
The path that conducts thee to splendour again;
But man's faded glory no change shall renew;
Ed.
Ah, fool! to exult in a glory so vain.

[Pg 198]


I HEARD (ALAS! 'TWAS ONLY IN A DREAM)

Composed 1819.—Published 1819

One of the "Miscellaneous Sonnets."—Ed.

I heard (alas! 'twas only in a dream)
Strains—which, as sage Antiquity believed,
By waking[386] ears have sometimes been received
Wafted adown the wind from lake or stream;
5
A most melodious requiem, a supreme
And perfect harmony of notes, achieved
By a fair Swan on drowsy billows heaved,
O'er which her pinions shed a silver gleam.
For is she not the votary of Apollo?
10
And knows she not, singing as he inspires,[387]
That bliss awaits her which the ungenial Hollow[DU]
Of the dull earth partakes not, nor desires?
Mount, tuneful Bird, and join the immortal quires!
She soared—and I awoke, struggling in vain to follow.

Socrates to Simmias.—"Will you not allow that I have as much of the spirit of prophecy in me as the swans? For they, when they perceive that they must die, having sung all their life long, do then sing more than ever, rejoicing in the thought that they are about to go away to the God, whose ministers they are. But men, because they are themselves afraid of death, slanderously affirm of the swans, that they sing a lament at the last, not considering that no bird sings when cold, or hungry, or in pain, not even the nightingale, nor the swallow, nor yet the hoopoe, which are said indeed to tune a lay of sorrow, although I do not believe this to be true of them any more than of the swans. But because they are sacred to Apollo, they have[Pg 199] the gift of prophecy, and anticipate the good things of another world; wherefore they sing and rejoice in that day more than ever they did before. And I too, believing myself to be the consecrated servant of the same God, and the fellow-servant of the swans, and thinking that I have received from my master gifts of prophecy which are not inferior to theirs, would not go out of life less merrily than the swans." Phædo, 85 (Jowett's translation, vol. i. p. 462).—Ed.


VARIANTS:

[386] 1819.

ms.
By living .    .    .

[387] 1819.

ms.
.    .    . inspired,

FOOTNOTE:

[DU] See the Phædon of Plato, by which this Sonnet was suggested.—W. W. 1819.


THE HAUNTED TREE[DV]

To ——

Composed 1819.—Published 1820

[This tree grew in the park of Rydal, and I have often listened to its creaking as described.—I. F.]

One of the "Poems of the Imagination."—Ed.

Those silver clouds collected round the sun
His mid-day warmth abate not, seeming less
To overshade than multiply his beams
4
By soft reflection—grateful to the sky,
To rocks, fields, woods. Nor doth our human sense
Ask, for its pleasure, screen or canopy
More ample than the[388] time-dismantled Oak
Spreads o'er this tuft of heath, which now, attired
In the whole fulness of its bloom, affords
10
Couch beautiful as e'er for earthly use[389]
Was fashioned; whether by the hand of Art,
That eastern Sultan, amid flowers enwrought
[Pg 200]
On silken tissue, might diffuse his limbs
In languor; or, by Nature, for repose
15
Of panting Wood-nymph, wearied with the chase.[390]
O Lady! fairer in thy Poet's sight
Than fairest spiritual creature of the groves,
Approach;—and, thus invited, crown with rest
The noontide hour: though truly some there are
20
Whose footsteps superstitiously avoid
This venerable Tree; for, when the wind
Blows keenly, it sends forth a creaking sound
(Above the general roar of woods and crags)
Distinctly heard from far—a doleful note!
25
As if (so Grecian shepherds would have deemed)
The Hamadryad, pent within, bewailed
Some bitter wrong.[DW] Nor is it unbelieved,
By ruder fancy, that a troubled ghost
Haunts the old trunk;[391] lamenting deeds of which
30
The flowery ground is conscious. But no wind
Sweeps now along this elevated ridge;
Not even a zephyr stirs;—the obnoxious Tree
Is mute: and, in his silence, would look down,
O lovely Wanderer of the trackless hills,
35
On thy[392] reclining form with more delight
Than his coevals in the sheltered vale
Seem to participate, the while they view[393]
Their own far-stretching arms and leafy heads
[Pg 201]
Vividly pictured in some glassy pool,
40
That, for a brief space, checks the hurrying stream!

Where this Haunted Tree stood in Rydal Park, or whether it is still standing, cannot be determined. There are several "time-dismantled oaks" in the Park, but none with a heather couch beneath them, so far as I know. I have, however, heard stories of this tree from old residenters. The "Lady," the "lovely wanderer of the trackless hills," may have been the poet's daughter, Dora, to whom (probably) this poem was inscribed.—Ed.


VARIANTS:

[388] 1827.

1820.
.    .    . that .    .    .

[389] 1827.

1820.
As beautiful a couch as e'er on earth

[390] 1836.

1820.
.    .    . weary of the chace.
1827.
.    .    . wearied by the chase.

[391] 1836.

1820.
Haunts this old Trunk; .    .    .

[392] 1827.

.    .    . would look down
1820.
On thy .    .    .

[393] 1849.

1820.
.    .    . whilst they view

FOOTNOTES:

[DV] The title in the first edition of 1820 was "To ——."—Ed.

[DW] The Hamadryads were supposed not only to haunt the trees, but to live in them, and to die with them.—Ed.


SEPTEMBER, 1819

Composed 1819.—Published 1820

One of the "Poems of Sentiment and Reflection."—Ed.

The sylvan slopes with corn-clad fields
Are hung, as if with golden shields,
Bright trophies of the sun!
Like a fair sister of the sky,
5
Unruffled doth the blue lake lie,
The mountains looking on.[DX]
And, sooth to say, yon vocal grove,
Albeit uninspired by love,
By love untaught to ring,
10
May well afford to mortal ear
An impulse more profoundly dear
Than music of the Spring.
For that from turbulence and heat
Proceeds, from some uneasy seat
15
In nature's struggling frame,
Some region of impatient life:
And jealousy, and quivering strife,
Therein a portion claim.
[Pg 202]
This, this is holy;—while I hear
20
These vespers of another year,
This hymn of thanks and praise,
My spirit seems to mount above
The anxieties of human love,
And earth's precarious days.
25
But list!—though winter storms be nigh,
Unchecked is that soft harmony;
There lives Who can provide
For all His creatures; and in Him,
Even like the radiant Seraphim,
30
These choristers confide.

See the Fenwick note to the second of the two Odes to Lycoris. This poem and the next in order are "the two that follow," referred to in that note as "composed in front of Rydal Mount, and during my walks in the neighbourhood." Note the eulogy of Spring, and (comparative) disparagement of Autumn, in Lycoris; and the complimentary truth, in reference to Autumn, brought out in this fragment.—Ed.


FOOTNOTE:

[DX] Rydal Mere. Compare the Ode to Lycoris (pp. 145-148).—Ed.


UPON THE SAME OCCASION

Composed 1819.—Published 1820

One of the "Poems of Sentiment and Reflection."—Ed.

Departing summer hath assumed
An aspect tenderly illumed,
The gentlest look of spring;
That calls from yonder leafy shade
5
Unfaded, yet prepared to fade,
A timely carolling.
No faint and hesitating trill,
Such tribute as to winter chill
The lonely redbreast pays!
10
Clear, loud, and lively is the din,
[Pg 203]
From social warblers gathering in
Their harvest of sweet lays.
Nor doth the example fail to cheer
Me, conscious that my leaf is sere,[DY]
15
And yellow on the bough:—
Fall, rosy garlands, from my head!
Ye myrtle wreaths, your fragrance shed
Around a younger brow!
Yet will I temperately rejoice;
20
Wide is the range, and free the choice
Of undiscordant themes;
Which, haply, kindred souls may prize
Not less than vernal ecstasies,
And passion's feverish dreams.
25
For deathless powers to verse belong,
And they like Demi-gods are strong
On whom the Muses smile;
But some their function have disclaimed,
Best pleased with what is aptliest framed
30
To enervate and defile.[DZ]
Not such the initiatory strains
Committed to the silent plains
In Britain's earliest dawn:
Trembled the groves, the stars grew pale,
35
While all-too-daringly the veil
Of nature was withdrawn![EA]
Nor such the spirit-stirring note
When the live chords Alcæus smote,[EB]
[Pg 204]
Inflamed by sense of wrong;
40
Woe! woe to Tyrants! from the lyre
Broke threateningly, in sparkles dire
Of fierce vindictive song.[EC]
And not unhallowed was the page
By wingèd Love inscribed, to assuage
45
The pangs of vain pursuit;
Love listening while the Lesbian Maid[ED]
With finest touch of passion swayed[394]
Her own Æolian lute.
O ye, who patiently explore
50
The wreck of Herculanean lore,[EE]
[Pg 205]
What rapture! could ye seize
Some Theban fragment, or unroll
One precious, tender-hearted, scroll
Of pure Simonides.[EF]
55
That were, indeed, a genuine birth
Of poesy; a bursting forth
Of genius from the dust:
What Horace gloried to behold,[395][EG]
[Pg 206]
What Maro loved[EH] shall we enfold?
60
Can haughty Time be just!

VARIANTS:

[394] 1827.

1820.
With passion's finest finger swayed

[395] 1820.
(4 vol. edition.)

1820.
.    .    . boasted to behold,
(1 vol. edition.)

FOOTNOTES:

[DY] Compare Macbeth, act V. scene iii. l. 23—

my way of life
Ed.
Is fall'n into the sear, the yellow leaf.

[DZ] The reference may be to some of the poets of the Restoration.—Ed.

[EA] Here the reference may be to Cædmon's Paraphrase.—Ed.

[EB] Alcæus of Mytilene, in Lesbos, the first of the Æolian lyric poets, flourished in the 42nd Olympiad, about 600 B.C. He wrote odes, songs, and epigrams, and was the inventor of the Alcaic metre, called after his name. "During the civil war Alcæus engaged actively on the side of the nobles, whose spirits he endeavoured to cheer by a number of most animated odes, full of invectives against the tyrant; and after the defeat of his party, he, with his brother Antimenidas, led them again in an attempt to regain their country." (Mr. Philip Smith in the Dictionary of Greek and Roman Biography.)—Ed.

[EC] I am indebted to Mr. H. T. Rhoades, Rugby, for the following note on Alcæus:—"There is nothing exactly corresponding to 'Woe, woe, to Tyrants' in the fragments of Alcæus which have come down to us—which are chiefly drinking songs—the nearest is an exultation over a dead tyrant, νυν χρη μεθυσθην ... επειδη κατθανε Μυρσιλος—but he wrote verses which Pittacus thought dangerous, and for which he was banished. Horace, Od. IV. ix. 7, has 'Alcæi minaces camenæ,' and Wordsworth has perhaps had this in his mind."—Ed.

[ED] Sappho. Her ode to Aphrodite—of which Longinus said it was "not one passion, but a congress of passions"—is the most perfect in Greek literature. It is to it that Wordsworth refers; and as there has been much controversy as to the character of this magnificent erotic ode—compare the discussion by Welcher (Rheinisches Museum, 1857); by Mure (Critical History of the Language and Literature of Ancient Greece, vol. iii. chap. V. 11); by Müller (Literature of Ancient Greece, pp. 175, 178); and by J. A. Symonds (Studies of the Greek Poets, 1st Series, p. 129), Wordsworth's verdict—

Not unhallowed was the page
With finest touch of passion swayed,

is noteworthy.—Ed.

[EE] In 1752, during the excavations at Herculaneum, the villa of an Epicurean philosopher was discovered, in which were 1800 rolls of papyri, containing fragments of Epicurus' work On Nature. Only about 350 of these charred MSS. have as yet been unwound. When the discovery was first made that a library of ancient literature had been unearthed, European scholars everywhere anticipated

a bursting forth
Of genius from the dust.

Hence Wordsworth's allusion to the possible discovery of the long buried fragments of classical antiquity, such as the poems of Simonides, or the lost books of Livy and Tacitus, for which others longed.—Ed.

[EF] Simonides, of Ceos, perfected Greek elegy and epigram, a "brilliant representative not only of Greek choral poetry in its prime, but of the whole literary life of Hellas during the period which immediately preceded and followed the Persian war." We find in him "a Dorian solemnity of thought and feeling, which qualified him for commemorating in elegy and epigram and funereal ode the achievements of Hellas against Persia.... The genius of Simonides is unique in this branch of monumental poetry (epigram). His couplets—calm, simple, terse, strong as the deeds they celebrate, enduring as the brass or stone which they adorned—animated succeeding generations of Greek patriots." (Symonds, Studies of the Greek Poets, 1st Series, pp. 146-149.) The phrase "pure Simonides" probably refers to his reputation—which was proverbial—for σωφροσύνη, that temperance and restraint, that moderation and self-control which are seen both in his poems and in his reputed sayings as a philosopher.—Ed.

[EG] Horace refers to Simonides, Carmina IV. ix. 5-8—

Non, si priores Mæonius tenet
Sedes Homerus, Pindaricæ latent
Ceæque et Alcæi minaces
Stesichorique graves camenæ;

and again, Carmina II. i. 37-40—

Sed ne relictis, Musa, procax iocis
Ceæ retractes munera neniæ:
Mecum Dionæo sub antro
Quære modos leviore plectro.
Ed.

[EH] I have been unable to find any allusion to Simonides in Virgil. But probably Wordsworth merely refers to the numerous lost books of Greek and Latin literature; and wonders if these treasures (of all kinds), which Horace and Virgil knew and prized, would ever be recovered by us. Some of Horace's most significant references to the literature of Greece, and of the past, occur in Odes III. 3; iv. 2 and 3.

Since the above was written, the late Professor William Sellar wrote to me:—"I do not find any special reference to Simonides in Virgil. Besides the passages you refer to in Horace, there are two or three lines in the Odes, which he has translated from Simonides, e.g.

Est et fideli tuta silentio
Merces: (Carmina III. ii. 25)

but I think Wordsworth's reference is quite vague. It is quite appropriate so far, that it was only in the Augustan age that the Romans got back to the great sources of Greek poetry, and one cause of the superiority of Virgil and Horace to all their contemporaries was that they did this much more thoroughly than the others, and appreciated the purest and oldest of these sources. Horace's special study was of course the whole range of Greek lyric poetry. He no doubt acknowledges his relation to Sappho and Alcæus more than to Simonides, but he recognises him as well as Pindar among the Masters of lyrical poetry. So far as one can judge by the fragments of Simonides' lyrical poetry, I should say that his characteristics were tenderness, piety, and purity; and, in these respects, he has a strong affinity with Virgil, which may explain their association together by Wordsworth. The passage quoted by you is very interesting, as showing how Wordsworth—the most essentially modern and least conventional of poets—regarded Virgil and Horace, who have often been disparaged as types of conventionalism.... It would be very interesting to bring together the various passages in which Wordsworth draws from the sources of classical poetry. His reminiscences of Latin poetry seem to me to have a peculiar freshness, different from the more direct reproduction of Milton, Gray, etc."—Ed.

[Pg 207]


1820

The following poems may be assigned to the year 1820. The River Duddon, a series of Sonnets, the Ode To Enterprise, some of the Memorials of a Tour on the Continent, and a number of Miscellaneous Sonnets. Several of the Duddon Sonnets were composed in previous years, and one of them was published as early as 1807; but, as the volume containing the entire series was published in 1820—and the dedication was written on Christmas Eve of that year—the whole has been assigned to 1820. In localising the allusions in these sonnets, I have been greatly indebted to Mr. Herbert Rix, whose paper contributed to the "Transactions of the Wordsworth Society" was only the first of a Series of admirable studies of the Duddon. I have also been greatly indebted to Canon Rawnsley. Most of the "Memorials" of the Continental Tour were written during the journey; and, although they were not finished till 1822—the year of publication—I think their chronological place should be in the year 1820. In connection with these poems, I have had the advantage of perusing the two singularly interesting Journals of the Tour, written by Mrs. Wordsworth, and by the poet's sister Dorothy. Both of these were written, in the form of notes or "memoranda," during the journey. Miss Wordsworth's was expanded from these earlier jottings, two months after her return to Rydal Mount; and added to, as late as December 1821. In the case of each poem, illustrative extracts are given from these two Journals; and it will be seen that they cast much light on the incidents which gave rise to the Memorial Verses, and the circumstances under which they were composed. The poet's wish that these journals should be published, at least in part, is expressed in the Fenwick note, which precedes the sonnet beginning, "What lovelier home could gentle Fancy choose?"[Pg 208] p. 294; and Mrs. Wordsworth, in a letter to Mr. John Kenyon—dated 28th December 1821—after referring to her husband's being "busily engaged upon subjects connected with our Continental Journey," says, "Miss W. is going on with her Journal, which will be ready to go to press interspersed with her brother's Poems I hope before your return." She adds, however, "I do not say this seriously, but we sometimes jestingly talk of raising a fund by such means, for a second and a farther trip into Italy." The diary and correspondence of Henry Crabb Robinson is also of use in determining some points connected with this Continental Journey, in which he accompanied the Wordsworths.—Ed.


COMPOSED ON THE BANKS OF A ROCKY STREAM

Composed 1820.—Published 1820

One of the "Miscellaneous Sonnets."—Ed.

Dogmatic Teachers, of the snow-white fur!
Ye wrangling Schoolmen, of the scarlet hood!
Who, with a keenness not to be withstood,
Press the point home, or falter and demur,
5
Checked in your course by many a teasing burr;
These natural council-seats your acrid blood
Might cool;—and, as the Genius of the flood
Stoops willingly to animate and spur
Each lighter function slumbering in the brain,
10
Yon eddying balls of foam, these arrowy gleams
That o'er the pavement of the surging streams
Welter and flash, a synod might detain
With subtle speculations, haply vain,
But surely less so than your far-fetched themes!

[Pg 209]


ON THE DEATH OF HIS MAJESTY (GEORGE THE THIRD)[396]

Composed 1820.—Published 1820

One of the "Miscellaneous Sonnets."—Ed.

Ward of the Law!—dread Shadow of a King!
Whose realm had dwindled to one stately room;
Whose universe was gloom immersed in gloom,
Darkness as thick as life o'er life could fling,
5
Save haply for some feeble glimmering[397]
Of Faith and Hope—if thou, by nature's doom,
Gently hast sunk into the quiet tomb,
Why should we bend in grief, to sorrow cling,
When thankfulness were best?—Fresh-flowing tears,
10
Or, where tears flow not, sigh succeeding sigh,
Yield to such after-thought the sole reply
Which justly it can claim. The Nation hears
In this deep knell, silent for threescore years,[EI]
An unexampled voice of awful memory!

His Majesty, George III., died on the 29th January 1820, in the 82nd year of his age, and the 60th of his reign. His mental powers had given way completely since 1810. See the sonnet, November, 1813 (vol. iv. p. 282) beginning,

Now that all hearts are glad, all faces bright.

On the 2nd of February 1820 Wordsworth wrote to the Earl of Lonsdale: "I sincerely condole with you on the lamented death of our most gracious and venerable Sovereign.... The best consolation for us all lies in the reflection that George the Third will be ranked by posterity among the best and wisest kings that ever sat upon the throne of England."—Ed.


VARIANTS:

[396] 1832.

1820.
On the death of his late Majesty.

[397] 1827.

1820.
Yet haply cheered with some faint glimmering

FOOTNOTE:

[EI] His predecessor, George II., died in 1760.—Ed.

[Pg 210]


"THE STARS ARE MANSIONS BUILT BY NATURE'S HAND"

Composed 1820.—Published 1820

One of the "Miscellaneous Sonnets."—Ed.

The stars are mansions built by Nature's hand,
And, haply, there the spirits of the blest
Dwell, clothed in radiance, their immortal vest;[398]
Huge Ocean shows, within his yellow strand,[399]
5
A habitation marvellously planned,
For life to occupy in love and rest;
All that we see—is dome, or vault, or nest,
Or fortress, reared at Nature's sage command.[400]
Glad thought for every season! but the Spring[401]
10
Gave it while cares were weighing on my heart,
'Mid song of birds, and insects murmuring;
And while the youthful year's prolific art—
Of bud, leaf, blade, and flower—was fashioning
Abodes where self-disturbance hath no part.

VARIANTS:

[398] 1845 and c.

And, haply, there the spirits of the blest
1820.
Live, clothed in radiance, their immortal vest;
The Sun is peopled; and with Spirits blest,
1827.
Say, can the gentle Moon be unpossest?
The Sun, perchance, a Palace where the blest
ms. 1817.
Live clothed in radiance, their immortal vest;
The text of 1840 returns to that of 1820.

[399] 1827.

1820.
Huge Ocean frames, .    .    .

[400] 1837.

1820 and ms. 1817.
Or fort, erected at her sage command.

[401] 1832.

Is this a vernal thought? Even so, the Spring
1820 and ms. 1817.

[Pg 211]


TO THE LADY MARY LOWTHER[EJ]

With a selection from the Poems of Anne, Countess of Winchelsea; and extracts of similar character from other Writers; transcribed[402] by a female friend.

Composed 1820.—Published 1820

One of the "Miscellaneous Sonnets."—Ed.

Lady! I rifled a Parnassian cave
(But seldom trod) of mildly-gleaming ore;
And culled, from sundry beds, a lucid store
Of genuine crystals, pure as those that pave
5
The azure brooks, where Dian joys to lave
Her spotless limbs; and ventured to explore
Dim shades—for reliques, upon Lethe's shore,
Cast up at random by the sullen wave.
To female hands the treasures were resigned;
10
And lo this Work!—a grotto bright and clear
From stain or taint; in which thy blameless mind
May feed on thoughts though pensive not austere;
Or, if thy deeper spirit be inclined
To holy musing, it may enter here.

In the "Essay Supplementary to the Preface" of the Second Edition of Lyrical Ballads (see "Prose Works," vol. ii. p. 240), Wordsworth wrote, "it is remarkable that, excepting The Nocturnal Reverie of Lady Winchelsea, and a passage or two in the Windsor Forest of Pope, the Poetry of the period intervening between the publication of Paradise Lost and The Seasons does not contain a single new image of external nature." The Nocturnal Reverie was written by Anne, Countess of Winchelsea, daughter of Sir William Kingsmill, Southampton.—Ed.


VARIANT:

[402] 1827.

1820.
the whole transcribed .    .    .

FOOTNOTE:

[EJ] In 1820 (first edition) the title was "To ——."—Ed.

[Pg 212]


ON THE DETRACTION WHICH FOLLOWED
THE PUBLICATION OF A CERTAIN POEM

Composed 1820.—Published 1820

See Milton's Sonnet, beginning, "A book was writ of late called Tetrachordon."

One of the "Miscellaneous Sonnets."—Ed.

A book came forth of late, called Peter Bell;
Not negligent the style;—the matter?—good
As aught that song records of Robin Hood;
Or Roy, renowned through many a Scottish dell;
But some (who brook those hackneyed themes full well,
6
Nor heat,[403] at Tam o' Shanter's name, their blood)
Waxed wroth, and with foul claws, a harpy brood,
On Bard and Hero clamorously fell.
Heed not, wild Rover once through heath and glen,
10
Who mad'st at length the better life thy choice,
Heed not such onset! nay, if praise of men
To thee appear not an unmeaning voice,
Lift up that grey-haired forehead, and rejoice
In the just tribute of thy Poet's pen!

It may be useful, for comparison, to quote Milton's sonnet in full.

On the Detraction which followed upon my writing certain Treatises

A book was writ of late called Tetrachordon,
And woven close, both matter, form, and style;
The subject new: it walked the town a while,
Numbering good intellects; now seldom pored on.
Cries the stall-reader, "Bless us! what a word on
[Pg 213]
A title-page is this!"; and some in file
Stand spelling false, while one might walk to Mile-
End Green. Why, is it harder, sirs, than Gordon,
Colkitto, or Macdonnel, or Galasp?
Those rugged names to our like mouths grow sleek,
That would have made Quintilian stare and gasp.
Thy age, like ours, O soul of Sir John Cheek,
Hated not learning worse than toad or asp,
When thou taught'st Cambridge and King Edward Greek.
Ed.

VARIANT:

[403] 1820.
1 vol. edition.

.    .    . (who brook these hacknied themes full well,
1820.
Nor chafe, .    .    .
4 vol. edition.
Edition 1827 returns to text of 1820, 1 vol. edition.

OXFORD, MAY 30, 1820

Composed 1820.—Published 1820

One of the "Miscellaneous Sonnets."—Ed.

Ye sacred Nurseries of blooming Youth!
In whose collegiate shelter England's Flowers
Expand, enjoying through their vernal hours
The air of liberty, the light of truth;
5
Much have ye suffered from Time's gnawing tooth:
Yet, O ye spires of Oxford! domes and towers!
Gardens and groves! your presence overpowers
The soberness of reason; till, in sooth,
Transformed, and rushing on a bold exchange,
10
I slight my own beloved Cam, to range
Where silver Isis leads my stripling feet;
Pace the long avenue, or glide adown
The stream-like windings of that glorious street—
An eager Novice robed in fluttering gown!

[Pg 214]

Wordsworth's love for his own university of Cambridge was strong; and he has commemorated St. John's College, as well as King's, and Trinity, in The Prelude (book iii. ll. 4, 46, 53, etc.): but the enthusiasm, expressed in this Sonnet, for "the spires of Oxford," and

The stream-like windings of that glorious street,

(High Street), and "the long avenue" (Broad Walk) was both natural and generous.—Ed.


OXFORD, MAY 30, 1820

Composed 1820.—Published 1820

One of the "Miscellaneous Sonnets."—Ed.

Shame on this faithless heart! that could allow
Such transport, though but for a moment's space;
Not while—to aid the spirit of the place—
The crescent moon clove[404] with its glittering prow
5
The clouds, or night-bird sang[405] from shady bough;
But in plain daylight:—She, too, at my side,
Who, with her heart's experience satisfied,
Maintains inviolate its slightest vow!
Sweet Fancy! other gifts must I receive;
10
Proofs of a higher sovereignty I claim;
Take from her brow the withering flowers of eve,
And to that brow life's morning wreath restore;
Let her be comprehended in the frame
Of these illusions, or they please no more.

The reference (in lines 6-8) is probably to his sister Dorothy. Wordsworth, his wife, and sister were at Oxford on the 30th of May 1820; and they went on immediately afterwards to London: for H. C. Robinson tells us that, on the 2nd of June, he met the Wordsworths at Charles Lamb's.—Ed.


VARIANTS:

[404] 1827.

1820.
.    .    . cleaves .    .    .

[405] 1827.

1820.
.    .    . sings .    .    .

JUNE, 1820

Composed 1820.—Published 1820

One of the "Miscellaneous Sonnets."—Ed.

Fame tells of groves—from England far away—
[EK]Groves that inspire the Nightingale to trill
[Pg 215]
And modulate, with subtle reach of skill
Elsewhere unmatched, her ever-varying lay;
5
Such bold report I venture to gainsay:
For I have heard the quire of Richmond hill
Chanting, with indefatigable bill,
Strains that recalled to mind a distant day;[406]
When, haply under shade of that same wood,
10
And scarcely conscious of the dashing oars
Plied steadily between those willowy shores,
The sweet-souled Poet of the Seasons stood—
Listening, and listening long, in rapturous mood,
Ye heavenly Birds! to your Progenitors.[EL]

VARIANT:

[406] 1827.

1820.
While I bethought me of a distant day;

FOOTNOTES:

[EK] Wallachia is the country alluded to.—W. W. 1820.

[EL] The Wordsworths remained some time in London in 1820, before they started for the Continent, on the 1st of August. They came up to be present at the marriage of Mr. Monkhouse. It is probable that they visited Richmond during this visit, and that the above Sonnet was suggested, both by the nightingale's song at Richmond, and by the prospect of their own Continental Tour. In connection with the six last lines of the Sonnet, it may be remembered that, when sailing between Kew and Richmond, Thomson,

The sweet-souled Poet of the Seasons,

caught the cold which ended his days. He lies buried in Richmond Church. In the first Book of The Seasons, on "Spring," he thus alludes to the nightingales—

Lend me your song, ye nightingales! Oh pour
The mazy running soul of melody
Into my varied verse.

Again,

She sings
Her sorrows through the night; and, on the bough
Sole sitting, still at every dying fall
Takes up again her lamentable strain
Of winding woe.

Also in his Hymn,

Sweetest of birds! sweet Philomela, charm
The listening shades.

To Richmond he alludes frequently, e.g.

Ascend
While radiant Summer opens all its pride
Thy hill, delightful Shene.

Shene was the old name for Richmond.—Ed.

[Pg 216]


THE GERMANS ON THE HEIGHTS OF HOCK HEIM[407]

Published 1822

This sonnet was first published in the "Memorials of a Tour on the Continent, 1820"; the title being Local Recollections on the Heights near Hockheim. In 1827 it became one of the "Sonnets dedicated to Liberty."—Ed.

Abruptly paused the strife;—the field throughout
Resting upon his arms each warrior stood,
Checked in the very act and deed of blood,
With breath suspended, like a listening scout.
5
O Silence! thou wert mother of a shout
That through the texture of yon azure dome
Cleaves its glad way, a cry of harvest home
Uttered to Heaven in ecstasy devout!
The barrier Rhine hath flashed, through battle-smoke,
10
On men who gaze[408] heart-smitten by the view,
As if all Germany had felt the shock!
—Fly, wretched Gauls! ere they the charge renew
Who have seen—themselves now casting off the yoke—[409]
The unconquerable Stream his course pursue.[EM]

VARIANTS:

[407] 1827.

The title in 1822 was Sonnet. Local Recollections on the Heights near Hockheim.

[408] 1827.

1822.
.    .    . gazed .    .    .

[409] 1837.

1822.
.    .    . (themselves delivered from the yoke)

FOOTNOTES:

[EM] The event is thus recorded in the journals of the day:—"When the Austrians took Hockheim, in one part of the engagement they got to the brow of the hill, whence they had their first view of the Rhine. They instantly halted—not a gun was fired—not a voice heard: but they stood gazing on the river with those feelings which the events of the last 15 years at once called up. Prince Schwartzenberg rode up to know the cause of this sudden stop, they then gave three cheers, rushed after the enemy, and drove them into the water."—W. W. 1822.

The only reference which Dorothy Wordsworth makes to Hockheim in her Journal of the Tour on the Continent (1820) is as follows:—July 25th.—"We had a magnificent prospect down the Rhine into the Reingaw, stretching towards Bingen. Hockheim is on the right bank, nearly opposite to Mayence. The broad hills are enlivened by hamlets, villas, villages, and churches."

Prince Schwartzenberg, referred to in Wordsworth's own note, was Generalissimo of the allied armies of Austria, Prussia, Bavaria, and Russia, who were victors in the battle of Leipsic in 1813. The retreat of the French towards the Rhine after that battle was almost as disastrous to them as the retreat from Moscow in the previous winter. The incident described in the sonnet doubtless occurred during this retreat, when the French were driven across the Rhine in November 1813.—Ed.

[Pg 217]


A PARSONAGE IN OXFORDSHIRE

Composed 1820.—Published 1822

[This Parsonage was the residence of my friend Jones, and is particularly described in another note.[EN]—I. F.]

One of the "Miscellaneous Sonnets."—Ed.

Where holy ground begins, unhallowed ends,
Is marked by no distinguishable line;
The turf unites, the pathways intertwine;
And, wheresoe'er the stealing footstep tends,
5
Garden, and that Domain where kindred, friends,
And, neighbours rest together, here confound
Their several features, mingled like the sound
Of many waters, or as evening blends
With shady night. Soft airs, from shrub and flower,
10
Waft fragrant greetings to each silent grave;
And while those lofty poplars gently wave
Their tops, between them[410] comes and goes a sky
Bright as the glimpses of eternity,
To saints accorded in their mortal hour.

This sonnet was written at Brugès, during the Continental Tour of 1820 (see note p. 291). It was originally published in a note to one of the "Ecclesiastical Sonnets," beginning

A genial hearth, a hospitable board.—Ed.


VARIANT:

[410] 1827.

Meanwhile between those Poplars, as they wave
1822.
Their lofty summits, .    .    .

FOOTNOTE:

[EN] See the note to Pastoral Character, in the "Ecclesiastical Sonnets," Part III. xviii.—Ed.

[Pg 218]


TO ENTERPRISE

Composed 1820.—Published 1822.

The Italian Itinerant, etc. [see p. 338], led to the train of thought which produced the annexed piece.—W. W. 1822.

This poem having risen out of the Italian Itinerant, etc. [page 338], it is here annexed.—W. W. 1827.

From 1822 this poem was included in the "Memorials of a Tour on the Continent." In 1845 it was placed among the "Poems of the Imagination."—Ed.

Keep for the Young the impassioned smile
Shed from thy countenance, as I see thee stand
High on that[411] chalky cliff of Britain's[412] Isle,
A slender volume grasping in thy hand—
5
(Perchance the pages that relate
The various turns of Crusoe's fate)—
Ah, spare the exulting smile,
And drop thy pointing finger bright
As the first flash of beacon light,
10
But neither veil thy head in shadows dim,
Nor turn thy face away
From One who, in the evening of his day,
To thee would offer no presumptuous hymn!

I

Bold Spirit! who art free to rove
15
Among the starry courts of Jove,
And oft in splendour dost appear
Embodied to poetic eyes,
While traversing this nether sphere,
Where Mortals call thee Enterprise.
20
Daughter of Hope! her favourite Child,
Whom she to young Ambition[413] bore,
[Pg 219]
When hunter's arrow first defiled
The grove, and stained the turf with gore;
Thee wingèd Fancy took, and nursed
25
On broad Euphrates' palmy shore,
And[414] where the mightier Waters burst
From caves of Indian mountains hoar!
She wrapped thee in a panther's skin;
And Thou, thy favourite food to win,
30
The flame-eyed eagle oft would scare
From her rock-fortress in mid air,
With infant shout; and often sweep,[415]
Paired with the ostrich, o'er the plain;
Or,[416] tired with sport, wouldst sink asleep
35
Upon the couchant lion's mane!
With rolling years thy strength increased;
And, far beyond thy native East,
To thee, by varying titles known
[Pg 220]
As variously thy power was shown,
40
Did incense-bearing altars rise,
Which caught the blaze of sacrifice,
From suppliants panting for the skies!

II

What though this ancient Earth be trod
No more by step of Demi-god
45
Mounting from glorious deed to deed
As thou from clime to clime didst lead;
Yet still, the bosom beating high,
And the hushed farewell of an eye
Where no procrastinating gaze
50
A last infirmity betrays,
Prove that thy heaven-descended sway
Shall ne'er submit to cold decay.
By thy divinity impelled,
The Stripling seeks the tented field;
55
The aspiring Virgin kneels; and, pale
With awe, receives the hallowed veil,
A soft and tender Heroine
Vowed to severer discipline;
Inflamed by thee, the blooming Boy
60
Makes of the whistling shrouds a toy,
And of the ocean's dismal breast
A play-ground,—or a couch of rest;
'Mid the blank world of snow and ice,
Thou to his dangers dost enchain
65
The[417] Chamois-chaser awed in vain
[Pg 221]
By chasm or dizzy precipice;
And hast Thou not with triumph seen
How soaring Mortals glide between
Or through the clouds,[418] and brave the light
70
With bolder than Icarian flight?
How they, in bells[419] of crystal, dive—
Where winds and waters cease to strive—
For no unholy visitings,
Among the monsters of the Deep;
75
And all the sad and precious things
Which there in ghastly silence sleep?
Or, adverse tides and currents headed,
And breathless calms no longer dreaded,
In never-slackening voyage go
80
Straight as an arrow from the bow;
And, slighting sails and scorning oars,
Keep faith with Time on distant shores?
—Within[420] our fearless reach are placed
The secrets of the burning Waste;
85
Egyptian tombs unlock their dead,
Nile trembles at his fountain head;
Thou speak'st—and lo! the polar Seas
Unbosom their last mysteries.
—But oh! what transports, what sublime reward,
90
Won from the world of mind, dost thou prepare
For philosophic Sage; or high-souled Bard
Who, for thy service trained in lonely woods,
Hath fed on pageants floating through the air,
94
Or calentured in depth of limpid floods;
Nor grieves—tho' doomed thro' silent night to bear
[Pg 222]
The domination of his glorious themes,
Or struggle in the net-work of thy dreams!

III

If there be movements in the Patriot's soul,
From source still deeper, and of higher worth,
100
'Tis thine the quickening impulse to control,
And in due season send the mandate forth;
Thy call a prostrate[421] Nation can restore,
When but a single Mind resolves to crouch no more.[422]

IV

Dread Minister of wrath!
105
Who to their destined punishment dost urge
The Pharaohs of the earth, the men of hardened heart!
Not unassisted by the flattering stars,
Thou strew'st temptation o'er the path
When they in pomp depart
110
With trampling horses and refulgent cars—
Soon to be swallowed by the briny surge;
Or cast, for lingering death, on unknown strands;
Or caught amid a whirl[423] of desert sands—
114
An Army now, and now a living hill
That a brief while heaves with convulsive throes—
Then all is still;[424][EO]
[Pg 223]
Or, to forget their madness and their woes,
Wrapt in a winding-sheet of spotless snows!

V

Back flows the willing current of my Song:
120
If to provoke such doom the Impious dare,
Why should it daunt a blameless prayer?
—Bold Goddess! range our Youth among;
Nor let thy genuine impulse fail to beat
In hearts no longer young;
125
Still may a veteran Few have pride
In thoughts whose sternness makes them sweet;
In fixed resolves by Reason justified;
That to their object cleave like sleet
Whitening a pine tree's northern side,
130
When fields are naked far and wide,
And withered leaves, from earth's cold breast
Up-caught in whirlwinds, nowhere can find rest.[425]

VI

But, if such homage thou disdain
As doth with mellowing years agree,
135
One rarely absent from thy train
More humble favours may obtain
For thy contented Votary.
She, who incites the frolic lambs
In presence of their heedless dams,
[Pg 224] 140
And to the solitary fawn
Vouchsafes her lessons, bounteous Nymph
That wakes the breeze, the sparkling lymph
Doth hurry to the lawn;
144
She, who inspires that strain of joyance holy
Which the sweet Bird, misnamed the melancholy,[EP]
Pours forth in shady groves, shall plead for me;
And vernal mornings opening bright
With views of undefined delight,
And cheerful songs, and suns that shine
150
On busy days, with thankful nights, be mine.

VII

But thou, O Goddess! in thy favourite Isle
(Freedom's impregnable redoubt,
The wide earth's store-house fenced about
With breakers roaring to the gales
155
That stretch a thousand thousand sails)
Quicken the slothful, and exalt the vile!—
Thy impulse is the life of Fame;
Glad Hope would almost cease to be
If torn from thy society;
160
And Love, when worthiest of his name,[426]
Is proud to walk the earth with Thee!

VARIANTS:

[411] 1837.

1822.
.    .    . a .    .    .

[412] The edition of 1849 has "Briton's," evidently a misprint.

[413] 1822.

c.
.    .    . to youthful Courage .    .    .

[414] 1845.

1822.
Or .    .    .

[415] 1837.

And thou (if rightly I rehearse
What wondering Shepherds told in verse)
From rocky fortress in mid air
(The food which pleased thee best to win)
Did'st oft the flame-eyed Eagle scare
1822.
With infant shout,—as often sweep,
And thou, whose earliest thoughts held dear
Allurements that were edged with fear,
(The food that pleased thee best, to win)
From rocky fortress in mid air
The flame-eyed Eagle oft would scare
1827.
With infant shout,—as often sweep,
And thou, whose earliest thoughts held dear
Allurements that were edged with fear,
(The food that pleased thee best, to win)
With infant shout wouldst often scare
From her rock-fortress in mid air
1832.
The flame-eyed Eagle—often sweep,

[416] 1837.

1822.
And, .    .    .

[417] 1837.

.    .    . and a couch of rest;
Thou to his dangers dost enchain,
'Mid the blank world of snow and ice,
1822.
The .    .    .
.    .    . and a couch of rest;
'Mid the blank world of snow and ice,
Thou to his dangers dost enchain
1832.
The .    .    .

[418] 1837.

.    .    . glide serene
1822.
From cloud to cloud, .    .    .

[419] 1832.

1822.
Or, in their bells .    .    .

[420] 1832.

.    .    . in ghastly silence sleep?
1822.
—Within .    .    .

[421] 1832.

1827.
.    .    . an abject .    .    .

[422] This stanza was first added in the edition of 1827.

[423] 1837.

1822.
Or stifled under weight .    .    .

[424] 1845.

Heaving with convulsive throes,—
1822.
It quivers—and is still;
Raised in a moment; with convulsive throes
1837.
It heaved—and all is still;

[425] 1840.

1822.
While .    .    .
And withered leaves, from Earth's cold breast
1832.
Up-caught in whirlwinds, nowhere can find rest.
.    .    . like sleet
Clothing a tall pine's northern side,
In rough November days when winds have tried
1837.
Their force on all things else—left naked far and wide.

[426] 1837.

1822.
.    .    . of the name,

FOOTNOTES:

[EO]

Awhile the living hill
Heaved with convulsive throes, and all was still.

—Dr. Darwin describing the destruction of the army of Cambyses.—W. W.
1822.

Compare Memoirs of Wordsworth, vol. ii. p. 225.—Ed.

[EP] The nightingale. Compare Il Penseroso, l. 62.—Ed.

[Pg 225]


THE RIVER DUDDON

A SERIES OF SONNETS

Composed 1820.—Published 1820

[It is with the little river Duddon as it is with most other rivers, Ganges and Nile not excepted,—many springs might claim the honour of being its head. In my own fancy I have fixed its rise near the noted Shire-stones placed at the meeting-point of the counties, Westmoreland, Cumberland, and Lancashire. They stand by the way side on the top of the Wrynose Pass, and it used to be reckoned a proud thing to say that, by touching them at the same time with feet and hands, one had been in the three counties at once. At what point of its course the stream takes the name of Duddon I do not know. I first became acquainted with the Duddon, as I have good reason to remember, in early boyhood. Upon the banks of the Derwent I had learnt to be very fond of angling. Fish abound in that large river; not so in the small streams in the neighbourhood of Hawkshead; and I fell into the common delusion that the farther from home the better sport would be had. Accordingly, one day I attached myself to a person living in the neighbourhood of Hawkshead, who was going to try his fortune as an angler near the source of the Duddon. We fished a great part of the day with very sorry success, the rain pouring torrents, and long before we got home I was worn out with fatigue; and, if the good man had not carried me on his back, I must have lain down under the best shelter I could find. Little did I think then it would be my lot to celebrate, in a strain of love and admiration, the stream which for many years I never thought of without recollections of disappointment and distress.

During my college vacation, and two or three years afterwards, before taking my Bachelor's degree, I was several times resident in the house of a near relative who lived in the small town of Broughton. I passed many delightful hours upon the banks of this river, which becomes an estuary about a mile from that place. The remembrances of that period are the[Pg 226] subject of the 21st sonnet. The subject of the 27th is in fact taken from a tradition belonging to Rydal Hall, which once stood, as is believed, upon a rocky and woody hill on the right hand as you go from Rydal to Ambleside, and was deserted from the superstitious fear here described, and the present site fortunately chosen instead. The present hall was erected by Sir Michael le Fleming, and it may be hoped that at some future time there will be an edifice more worthy of so beautiful a position. With regard to the 30th sonnet it is odd enough that this imagination was realised in the year 1840 when I made a tour through that district with my wife and daughter, Miss Fenwick and her niece, and Mr. and Mrs. Quillinan. Before our return from Seathwaite Chapel the party separated. Mrs. Wordsworth, while most of us went further up the stream, chose an opposite direction, having told us that we should overtake her on our way to Ulpha. But she was tempted out of the main road to ascend a rocky eminence near it, thinking it impossible we should pass without seeing her. This, however, unfortunately happened, and then ensued vexation and distress, especially to me, which I should be ashamed to have recorded, for I lost my temper entirely. Neither I nor those that were with me saw her again till we reached the Inn at Broughton, seven miles. This may perhaps in some degree excuse my irritability on the occasion, for I could not but think she had been much to blame. It appeared, however, on explanation that she had remained on the rock, calling out and waving her handkerchief as we were passing, in order that we also might ascend and enjoy a prospect which had much charmed her. "But on we went, her signals proving vain." How then could she reach Broughton before us? When we found she had not gone on before to Ulpha Kirk, Mr. Quillinan went back in one of the carriages in search of her. He met her on the road, took her up, and by a shorter way conveyed her to Broughton, where we were all re-united and spent a happy evening.

I have many affecting remembrances connected with this stream. Those I forbear to mention; especially things that occurred on its banks during the later part of that visit to the sea-side, of which the former part is detailed in my Epistle to Sir George Beaumont.—I. F.]

The River Duddon rises upon Wrynose Fell, on the confines of Westmoreland, Cumberland, and Lancashire; and,[Pg 227] having served[427] as a boundary to the two last[428] counties for the space of about twenty-five miles, enters the Irish Sea, between the Isle of Walney and the Lordship of Millum.—W. W. 1820.[EQ]


VARIANTS:

[427] 1837.

1820.
.    .    . and, serving

[428] 1827.

1820.
.    .    . latter

FOOTNOTE:

[EQ] Wordsworth delighted in tracing the course of rivers all the way from their source to the sea. On November 12, 1808, Southey wrote to his son, "If I go" (it was to Workington) "it will be with Wordsworth, for the sake of tracing the Derwent the whole way." (See Selections from the Letters of Robert Southey, vol. ii. p. 108.)—Ed.


TO THE REV. DR. WORDSWORTH[429][ER]

(WITH THE SONNETS TO THE RIVER DUDDON, AND OTHER POEMS IN THIS COLLECTION, 1820[430])

The Minstrels played their Christmas tune
To-night beneath my cottage-eaves;
While, smitten by a lofty moon,
The encircling laurels, thick with leaves,
5
Gave back a rich and dazzling sheen,
That overpowered their natural green.
Through hill and valley every breeze
Had sunk to rest with folded wings:
Keen was the air, but could not freeze,
10
Nor check, the music of the strings;
So stout and hardy were the band
That scraped the chords with strenuous hand!
[Pg 228]
And who but listened?—till was paid
Respect to every Inmate's claim:
15
The greeting given, the music played,
In honour of each household name,
Duly pronounced with lusty call,
And "merry Christmas" wished to all!
O Brother! I revere the choice
20
That took thee from thy native hills;
And it is given thee to rejoice:
Though public care full often tills
(Heaven only witness of the toil)
A barren and ungrateful soil.
25
Yet, would that Thou, with me and mine,
Hadst heard this never-failing rite;
And seen on other faces shine
A true revival of the light
Which Nature and these rustic Powers,
30
In simple childhood, spread through ours!
For pleasure hath not ceased to wait
On these expected annual rounds;
Whether the rich man's sumptuous gate
Call forth the unelaborate sounds,
35
Or they are offered at the door
That guards the lowliest of the poor.
How touching, when, at midnight, sweep
Snow-muffled winds, and all is dark,
To hear—and sink again to sleep!
40
Or, at an earlier call, to mark,
By blazing fire, the still suspense
Of self-complacent innocence;
The mutual nod,—the grave disguise
Of hearts with gladness brimming o'er;
45
And some unbidden tears that rise
[Pg 229]
For names once heard, and heard no more;
Tears brightened by the serenade
For infant in the cradle laid.
Ah! not for emerald fields alone,
50
With ambient streams more pure and bright
Than fabled Cytherea's zone[ES]
Glittering before the Thunderer's sight,
Is to my heart of hearts endeared
The ground where we were born and reared!
55
Hail, ancient Manners! sure defence,
Where they survive, of wholesome laws;
Remnants of love whose modest sense
Thus into narrow room withdraws;
Hail, Usages of pristine mould,
60
And ye that guard them, Mountains old!
Bear with me, Brother! quench the thought
That slights this passion, or condemns;
If thee fond Fancy ever brought
From the proud margin of the Thames,
65
And Lambeth's venerable towers,[ET]
To humbler streams, and greener bowers.
Yes, they can make, who fail to find,
Short leisure even in busiest days;
Moments, to cast a look behind,
70
And profit by those kindly rays
That through the clouds do sometimes steal,
And all the far-off past reveal.
Hence, while the imperial City's din
Beats frequent on thy satiate ear,
75
A pleased attention I may win
[Pg 230]
To agitations less severe,
That neither overwhelm nor cloy,
But fill the hollow vale with joy![EU]

VARIANTS:

[429] 1827.

1820.
To the Rev. Dr. W——.

[430] The date, 1820, was first inserted in the edition of 1837.


FOOTNOTES:

[ER] In the first edition of 1820, this dedicatory poem is not placed at the beginning of the series, but between the lines Composed at Cora Linn, and Repentance. The whole volume, however,—including many other poems besides those on the Duddon, and the Topographical Description of the Country of the Lakes in the North of England—is dedicated thus, "To the Rev. Christopher Wordsworth, D.D., etc. etc., these sonnets called forth by one of the most beautiful streams of his native county, are respectfully inscribed, by his affectionate brother, William Wordsworth."—Ed.

[ES] The fields and streams were those around Cockermouth and Hawkshead. It was near the island Cythera that Aphrodite was said, according to some legends, to have risen from the sea-foam. Hence the term "Cytherea's zone." The "Thunderer" is, of course, Jupiter Tonans.—Ed.

[ET] Dr. Christopher Wordsworth, afterwards Master of Trinity College, Cambridge, was then Rector of Lambeth parish.—Ed.

[EU] With this last stanza compare what Charles Lamb wrote to Dorothy Wordsworth on May 25, 1820, after reading the poem: "I have traced the Duddon in thought and with repetition along the banks (alas!) of the Lea—(unpoetical name): it is always flowing and murmuring in my ears." (Letters of Charles Lamb, edited by Alfred Ainger, vol. ii. p. 56.)—Ed.


I

"NOT ENVYING LATIAN SHADES—IF YET THEY THROW"

Not envying Latian shades—if yet they throw
A grateful coolness round that crystal Spring,
Blandusia, prattling—as when long ago
The Sabine Bard was moved her praise to sing;[431][EV]
5
Careless of flowers that in perennial blow
Round the moist marge of Persian fountains cling;
Heedless of Alpine torrents thundering
Through ice-built arches[432] radiant as heaven's bow;
I seek the birth-place of a native Stream.—[EW]
[Pg 231] 10
All hail, ye mountains! hail, thou morning light!
Better to breathe at large on this clear height
Than toil[433] in needless sleep from dream to dream:
Pure flow the verse, pure, vigorous, free, and bright,
For Duddon, long-loved Duddon, is my theme!

VARIANTS:

[431] 1837.

Not envying shades which haply yet may throw
A grateful coolness round that rocky spring,
Blandusia, once responsive to the string
1820.
Of the Horatian lyre with babbling flow;

[432] 1837.

1820.
Through icy portals .    .    .

[433] 1837.

Better to breathe upon this aëry height
1820.
Than pass .    .    .

FOOTNOTES:

[EV] See Horace, Carmina III. 13, Ad fontem Blandusiæ:

.    .    . unde loquaces
Lymphæ desiliunt tuæ,

and compare Epistolae I. 16, 9.—Ed.

[EW] Mr. Herbert Rix—late Assistant Secretary to the Royal Society—has made a very minute and careful study of the Duddon Valley—repeated during many seasons—with the object of localising the allusions in the sonnets. I am indebted to him for the following notes, which bear his name.

The Rev. Canon Rawnsley has also studied the Duddon Valley with great care, and I place his comments beside those of Mr. Rix, both when they are supplementary, and when they differ from the conclusions come to by Mr. Rix.—Ed.

"The Duddon rises on Wrynose Fell, near to the 'Three-Shire Stone,' where Westmoreland, Cumberland, and Lancashire meet, though which of the rills descending from the heights above Wrynose Gap and uniting to form the streamlet which flows along the pass, is to be regarded as the ultimate source, or which of them the poet may have followed, it would perhaps be difficult to say. More than one takes its rise in just such a spot as we find described in the second and third sonnets, where the 'lofty waste' is haunted by the Spirit of 'Desolation,' where the 'whistling blast' sweeps bleakly by, and where 'naked stones,' such as the poet chose for his seat, are scattered all around. James Thorne, in his Rambles by Rivers (London, 1844, p. 10), has given a rough woodcut of the source of the Duddon." (Herbert Rix.)

"I was fortunate in seeking the 'birth-place of a native stream' after a very heavy fall of rain, and I followed the left hand branch to a basin, from which in winter time a full stream must pass with force, to judge by the deep channel-bed of white and bleached stones which the water has carved out of the peat-moss for itself. There was the clear height, and from it was seen quite distinctly Brathay Vale, and a glimpse of Duddon Vale at Cockley Beck, and of Windermere Lake below Lowwood, and the bare Yorkshire hills far away to the east-south-east." (H. D. Rawnsley.)


II

"CHILD OF THE CLOUDS! REMOTE FROM EVERY TAINT"

Child of the clouds! remote from every taint
Of sordid industry thy lot is cast;
Thine are the honours of the lofty waste;[EX]
Not seldom, when with heat the valleys faint,
5
Thy handmaid Frost with spangled tissue quaint
Thy cradle decks;—to chant thy birth, thou hast
No meaner Poet than the whistling Blast,
And Desolation is thy Patron-saint![EXa]
She guards thee, ruthless Power! who would not spare
[Pg 232] 10
Those mighty forests, once the bison's screen,
Where stalked the huge deer to his shaggy lair[EY]
Through paths and alleys roofed with darkest[434] green
Thousands of years before the silent air
Was pierced by whizzing shaft of hunter keen!

VARIANTS:

[434] 1845.

1820.
.    .    . sombre .    .    .

FOOTNOTES:

[EX]
[EXa]
See note [EV] to the previous sonnet.—Ed.

[EY] The deer alluded to is the Leigh, a gigantic species long since extinct.—W. W. 1820.

"As one looks upon the peat-moss, with its fragments of birch trees laid bare by the stream, one could easily imagine that the poet had been led, as he gazed, to think of

Those mighty forests, once the bison's screen,
Where stalked the huge deer to his shaggy lair."
(H. D. Rawnsley.)

III

"HOW SHALL I PAINT THEE?—BE THIS NAKED STONE"

How shall I paint thee?—Be this naked stone
My seat, while I give way to such intent;
Pleased could my verse, a speaking monument,
Make to the eyes of men thy features known.
5
But as of all those tripping lambs not one
Outruns his fellows, so hath Nature lent
To thy beginning nought that doth present
Peculiar ground[435] for hope to build upon.
To dignify the spot that gives thee birth,
10
No sign of hoar Antiquity's esteem
Appears, and none of modern Fortune's care;
Yet thou thyself hast round thee shed a gleam
Of brilliant moss, instinct with freshness rare;[EZ]
Prompt offering to thy Foster-mother, Earth!

VARIANT:

[435] 1837.

1820.
.    .    . grounds .    .    .

FOOTNOTE:

[EZ] "'A gleam of brilliant moss' refers, no doubt, to the Sphagnum, or Bog-moss, which grows here in large patches, very noticeable among the sombre heather, and which shines like gold when the sunlight is upon it." (Herbert Rix.)

"On the edge of the saucer-like hollow, into which the rillets that make the stream descend, are glacier-banded rock outcrops, and on one of these is a rock perché, to which instinctively I turned for a seat. The lines in Sonnet III.

How shall I paint thee?—Be this naked stone
My seat,

at once suggested themselves to me; and below me, as I sat, gleamed the 'brilliant moss, instinct with freshness rare,' which the poet's eyes had rejoiced in, so many years ago." (H. D. Rawnsley.)

[Pg 233]


IV

"TAKE, CRADLED NURSLING OF THE MOUNTAIN, TAKE"

Take, cradled Nursling of the mountain, take
This parting glance, no negligent adieu![FA]
A Protean change seems wrought while I pursue
The curves, a loosely-scattered chain doth make;
5
Or rather thou appear'st[436] a glittering snake,
Silent, and to the gazer's eye untrue,
Thridding with sinuous lapse the rushes, through
Dwarf willows gliding, and by ferny brake.
Starts from a dizzy steep the undaunted Rill
10
Robed instantly in garb of[437] snow-white foam;
[Pg 234]
And laughing dares the Adventurer, who hath clomb
So high, a rival purpose to fulfil;
Else let the dastard backward wend, and roam,
Seeking less bold achievement, where he will![FB]

VARIANTS:

[436] 1820.

c.
.    .    . I behold .    .    .

[437] 1820.

c.
Leaps instantly enrobed in .    .    .

FOOTNOTES:

[FA] "The 'parting glance' of this sonnet would naturally be taken just before rounding the brow of the hill. The path drops somewhat suddenly, so that two or three steps bring the traveller from a level whence looking backward the 'sinuous lapse' of the stream may be seen for some distance, to a stage where it is entirely hidden from view. Or, more likely, the 'sinuous lapse' is that which lies below the spectator, as he stands at this point of vantage, and looks down into Wrynose Bottom. The 'Protean change' is then the contrast between the 'cradled Nursling' as the poet looks back into Wrynose Gap, and the 'loosely-scattered chain' or 'glittering snake' which he sees below him, as he turns and looks down into Wrynose Bottom. These similes are accurately descriptive of the river so seen, especially towards evening when the western light is on the water. From this point the Duddon descends to the valley by a quick series of falls. The first of these falls—a very pretty cascade just at the edge of the hill—is probably the 'dizzy steep' mentioned in the sonnet." (Herbert Rix.)

[FB] "As I went towards the road which leads down from the Three Shire Stones to Cockley Beck, I constantly found myself repeating Sonnet number IV.

The stream seemed now 'a loosely-scattered chain to make,' now to 'appear a glittering snake,' silently 'thridding with sinuous lapse the rushes, through' (if we might call the bog-myrtle bushes dwarf willows) 'dwarf willows gliding, and by ferny brake.'

I regained the main road, and took a parting, 'no negligent adieu' at the 'cradled nursling'; and saw the cascade at the grotto—wherefrom I first began to track the 'nursling' to its upland cradle—as white as snow in May. There, thought I, is the sight that suggested the line—

Starts from a dizzy steep the undaunted Rill.

But, if the poet had needed suggestion of such a picture, and he had been at my side, he would have seen in three other directions, from the place where I was standing, three 'cataracts blowing their trumpets from the steep.' And I could have been induced to follow three other streams up into the Fells towards the north for the birth-place of the 'cradled nursling.'

As I descended towards Cockley Beck I constantly looked for the 'rushes,' the 'dwarf willows,' and the 'ferny brake,' spoken of in Sonnet IV., constantly looked for some other spot where I might take a 'parting glance' of the stream, which would satisfy the requirements of the description in Sonnet IV.; but I found none.

One thing is worth mentioning. Wordsworth is describing the Duddon as a Cumberland stream, his native stream, and he is accurate as ever. For one is struck, in descending from the Three Shire Stones to Cockley Beck, at the way in which all the feeders of the Duddon rise to the north on the Cumbrian Fells, and how comparatively waterless are the slopes of Grey Friars, on the southern or Lancashire side of the pass." (H. D. Rawnsley.)


V

"SOLE LISTENER, DUDDON! TO THE BREEZE THAT PLAYED"

Sole listener, Duddon! to the breeze that played
With thy clear voice, I caught the fitful sound
Wafted o'er sullen moss and craggy mound—
Unfruitful solitudes, that seemed to upbraid
5
The sun in heaven!—but now, to form a shade
For Thee, green alders have together wound
Their foliage; ashes flung their arms around;
[Pg 235]
And birch-trees risen in silver colonnade.
And thou hast also tempted here to rise,
10
'Mid sheltering pines, this Cottage rude and grey;
Whose ruddy children, by the mother's eyes
Carelessly watched, sport through the summer day,
Thy pleased associates:—light as endless May
On infant bosoms lonely Nature lies.[FC]

FOOTNOTE:

[FC] "Sonnet V. is generally taken to be descriptive of Cockley Beck. Here, as we emerge from Wrynose Bottom, the first trees meet the eye after a full two miles of monotony and stones, and here, too, is the first cottage where the 'ruddy children' of another generation 'sport through the summer day.' The cottage itself is not indeed surrounded at the present time by 'sheltering pines'—that is a feature which applies better to another cottage half a mile lower down the stream—but they may, of course, have disappeared since Wordsworth's day; indeed, I was informed in 1885, by a woman then living in the cottage, that many which formerly stood behind the cottage had been felled within her own memory. A very accurate picture of the cottage and neighbouring bridge is given in Harry Goodwin's Through the Wordsworth Country. There is also a sketch at page 15 of Thorne's Rambles by Rivers." (Herbert Rix.)

"Wordsworth would probably have in his mind most of the few cots and farms in the upper reaches of the Duddon Vale as he wrote his Sonnet v. Half-a-mile south, the 'craggy mound' of the castle-like rock would rear out of mid-valley impressively enough. The larches that now sway and whisper about Cockley Beck, or on the little mound to the east of it, would then only be tiny trees. The birches may have risen in 'silver colonnade,' but now a few ashes, a few poplars, a few alders are the only trees near. Still, for the most part, the term 'unfruitful solitudes' characterises the spot; and as the traveller at Cockley Beck looks north and east, these solitudes become impressively solemn from the dark desolation of craggy fell-side and utter treelessness." (H. D. Rawnsley.)


VI

FLOWERS

Ere yet our course was graced with social trees
It lacked not old remains of hawthorn bowers,
Where small birds warbled to their paramours;
And, earlier still, was heard the hum of bees;
5
I saw them ply their harmless robberies,
And caught the fragrance which the sundry flowers,
Fed by the stream with soft perpetual showers,
Plenteously yielded to the vagrant breeze.
There bloomed the strawberry of the wilderness;
[Pg 236]
The trembling eyebright showed her sapphire blue,[FD]
11
The thyme her purple, like the blush of Even;
And if the breath of some to no caress
Invited, forth they peeped so fair to view,
All kinds alike seemed favourites of Heaven.[FE]

FOOTNOTES:

[FD]

There bloomed the strawberry of the wilderness;
The trembling eyebright showed her sapphire blue.

These two lines are in a great measure taken from The Beauties of Spring, a Juvenile Poem, by the Rev. Joseph Sympson, author of The Vision of Alfred, etc. He was a native of Cumberland, and was educated in the vale of Grasmere, and at Hawkshead school: his poems are little known, but they contain passages of splendid description; and the versification of his Vision of Alfred is harmonious and animated. The present severe season,[438] with its amusements, reminds me of some lines which I will transcribe as a favourable specimen. In describing the motions of the Sylphs, that constitute the strange machinery of his Vision of Alfred, he uses the following illustrative simile:—

Glancing from their plumes
A changeful light the azure vault illumes.
Less varying hues beneath the Pole adorn
The streamy glories of the Boreal morn,
That wavering to and fro their radiance shed
On Bothnia's gulf with glassy ice o'erspread,
Where the lone native, as he homeward glides,
On polish'd sandals o'er the imprisoned tides,
And still the balance of his frame preserves,
Wheel'd on alternate foot in lengthening curves,
Sees at a glance, above him and below,
Two rival heav'ns with equal splendour glow.
Sphered in the centre of the world he seems,
For all around with soft effulgence gleams;
Stars, moons, and meteors, ray opposed to ray,
And solemn midnight pours the blaze of day.

He was a man of ardent feeling, and his faculties of mind, particularly his memory, were extraordinary. Brief notices of his life ought to find a place in the History of Westmoreland.—W. W. 1820.

[FE] "Even in the 'unfruitful solitudes' of Wrynose, one may find—sheltered in the little gullies which the rills have worn down the fell-side—not only the strawberry, speedwell, and thyme, mentioned in the sonnet, but sundry other flowers, such as the Spearwort, Milkwort, Small Bedstraw, Euphrasia officinalis, and Potentilla tormentilla, but this and the following Sonnet were perhaps inspired by the beauty of the flowery meadows just below Cockley Beck." (Herbert Rix.)

"Wordsworth, from his Sonnet VI., would seem to have been describing the Duddon in April; and though by some misnomer 'the little speedwell's darling blue' has by him been called the 'trembling eyebright,' to-day in July 1884—though the time of the singing of birds who 'warble to their paramours' is over and gone—one can see by Duddon-side these 'old remains of hawthorn bowers.'

But I shall never forget the beauty or the size of the golden feathery spikes of sweet-scented Gallium (lady's bed straw), or the wonderful odour of the self-heal, and the glory of the harebells, as I saw them carpeting the meadows near Cockley Beck, this July day, 1884; and, as I plucked the very faintly scented euphrasia (or eyebright), I wondered much which were the spring-flowers Wordsworth had in his mind that by their breath invited no caress. Would it be the buttercup, the daisy, or which? He must have had some definite flower—scentless, but not less beautiful—in his eye as he wrote Sonnet VI." (H. D. Rawnsley.)

[438] This refers to the year 1820, and the sentence only occurs in the edition of 1820.—Ed.

[Pg 237]


VII

"CHANGE ME, SOME GOD, INTO THAT BREATHING ROSE!"

"Change me, some God, into that breathing rose!"
The love-sick Stripling fancifully sighs,
The envied flower beholding, as it lies
On Laura's breast, in exquisite repose;
5
Or he would pass into her bird, that throws
The darts of song from out its wiry cage;
Enraptured,—could he for himself engage
The thousandth part of what the Nymph bestows;
And what the little careless innocent
10
Ungraciously receives. Too daring choice!
There are whose calmer mind it would content
To be an unculled floweret of the glen,
Fearless of plough and scythe; or darkling wren[FF]
That tunes on Duddon's banks her slender voice.

FOOTNOTE:

[FF] "The 'darkling wren' was flitting from bush to bush, tuneless but happy, as I walked towards the stepping-stones spoken of in Sonnets IX., X.; and the timid little sandpiper, with its plaintive note, shot back and forward from shallow to shallow." (H. D. Rawnsley.)


VIII

"WHAT ASPECT BORE THE MAN WHO ROVED OR FLED"

What aspect bore the Man who roved or fled,
First of his tribe, to this dark dell[FG]—who first
[Pg 238]
In this pellucid Current slaked his thirst?
What hopes came with him? what designs were spread
5
Along his path? His unprotected bed
What dreams encompassed? Was the intruder nursed
In hideous usages, and rites accursed,
That thinned the living and disturbed the dead?
No voice replies;—both air and earth are mute;[439]
10
And Thou, blue Streamlet, murmuring yield'st no more
Than a soft record, that, whatever fruit
Of ignorance thou might'st witness heretofore,
Thy function was to heal and to restore,
To soothe and cleanse, not madden and pollute!

VARIANT:

[439] 1837.

1820.
.    .    . the earth, the air is mute;

FOOTNOTES:

[FG] "The 'dark dell' is perhaps Hardknot Ghyll. It is the only spot in this part of the valley which could be so described. A footpath which passes through the farmyard of Black Hall runs alongside this ghyll and joins the Duddon Valley with the Whitehaven Road. The 'blue streamlet' would then perhaps be the little tributary which flows down the length of the ghyll over a slaty bed to join the Duddon below; or perhaps Wordsworth was mentally addressing the Duddon itself, though from the interior of the ghyll he would not be able to see it.

The alternative view is that by the 'dark dell' no particular spot is indicated but the whole of the upper valley of the Duddon, which is of a savage and forbidding aspect, and quite of a character to have inspired the sonnet. It is almost treeless, and the ground on either side of the stream is covered with bracken and loose blocks of slate, while the fells rise steeply on either hand, and are capped by naked crags.

As to the epithet 'blue' (line 10), the cerulean colour of the Duddon is one of its most exquisite characteristics, and is due, as Wordsworth has himself[FH] explained, to the hue of the rocks and gravel seen through the 'perfectly pellucid' water." (Herbert Rix.)

"This sonnet puzzles me from the use of the words dark dell. I could find nothing at all hereabout that could possibly be described so, until I looked back at the rain-black solitudes north of Cockley Beck, and imagined the poet using the word dark in the sense of mysterious, when I can imagine he would have been helped to this thought of hideous usages, and rites accursed, by the large Druid-like-looking boulders, and the mounds of burial, suggested by the moraine-heaps in the neighbourhood. But I think the 'blue Streamlet' must have been suggested by the light blue grey colour of the slate pebbles over which Duddon slides so easily here." (H. D. Rawnsley.)

[FH] See his Guide to the Lakes. Fifth edition. Kendal, 1835, p. 27.—Ed.

[Pg 239]


IX

THE STEPPING-STONES

The struggling Rill insensibly is grown
Into a Brook of loud and stately march,
Crossed ever and anon by plank or[440] arch;
And, for like use, lo! what might seem a zone
5
Chosen for ornament—stone matched with stone
In studied symmetry, with interspace
For the clear waters to pursue their race
Without restraint. How swiftly have they flown,
Succeeding—still succeeding! Here the Child
Puts, when the high-swoln Flood runs fierce and wild,
11
His budding courage to the proof; and here
Declining Manhood learns to note the sly
And sure encroachments of infirmity,
Thinking how fast time runs, life's end how near![FI]

[Pg 240]


FOOTNOTES:

[FI] "There are four sets of stepping-stones across the Duddon. The first set is between Cockley Beck and Birks Brig, opposite to a farmhouse called Dale Head; the second set, called by the natives of the district the 'Fiddle Steps,' is in a deep hollow between Birks Brig and Seathwaite, at a point where the footpath to Eskdale crosses the Duddon; the third is opposite Seathwaite, and the fourth just above Ulpha.

Of these, the second and fourth may, I think, be disregarded. The question lies between the first and third, which we will call respectively the upper and the lower stones.

James Thorne has fixed upon the upper stones as those of Wordsworth's two sonnets, and has given a picture of them. His woodcut is very rude, but is sufficiently defined by the number of the stones, the gate on the right, and the distant cottage on the left. Mrs. Lynn Linton, too, in her Lake Country (London, 1864, p. 251), claims the honour for the same set, and has given (p. 252), a very pretty picture of them. Miss Martineau, on the contrary, in her Survey of the Lake District,[441] appears to regard the stones opposite Seathwaite as the stones; and the Rev. F. A. Malleson, in his article on 'Wordsworth and the Duddon,'[442] takes the same view. This is the view which local tradition favours, for any inhabitant of Seathwaite or Ulpha, if asked for 'Wordsworth's Stones,' would at once direct the stranger to the lower stones.

There is something to be said for each of these opinions. The upper stones fit in with the order of the sonnets, coming after the sonnet about Cockley Beck, and before the sonnets about the Faëry Chasm, Seathwaite Chapel, and Ulpha Kirk. Moreover, the emphasis of the earlier sonnets in general, and of the opening lines of Sonnet IX. in particular, is on the growth of the 'struggling rill'—a thought which would be rather out of place if it came later in the series.

On the other hand the 'zone chosen for ornament,' and the 'studied symmetry' are more applicable to the lower than to the upper stones; they are of a bluish tint, are set at equal distances, and form a slight curve down stream, looking to a fanciful eye as though they were bending with the current. They are now (1894) disused, having been abandoned, on account of the frequent floods, in favour of a foot-bridge recently erected a little higher up the stream; and already the path to the stepping-stones is overgrown and nearly obliterated. If the sonnets are taken to refer to the lower stones 'yon high rock' would probably mean Wallabarrow; if to the upper stones, they would doubtless mean Castle How, a solitary and noticeable rock." (Herbert Rix.)

"One cannot but believe that Wordsworth, as he wrote Sonnets IX., X., had in his mind the third series of stepping-stones opposite Seathwaite, and under Wallabarrow Crag.

None of the others are fitly described as

a zone chosen for ornament.

Is it not possible that the word 'struggling,' as applied to rill,—when viewed in connection with the words 'without restraint,' in line 8 of Sonnet IX.—points with great definiteness to the localising of the Sonnet at these Seathwaite stones?

Certainly the stream as it has descended through the 'deep chasm' of Sonnet XV. between the Pen and Wallabarrow, is well described as having grown after a struggle into a brook of loud and stately march at this point. There are no likelier spots for the children to have put

Their budding courage to the proof

than here, for there are several houses and farms on the wayside, whose younger inmates would have come down to these stepping-stones, in order to get to the village school, that 'Wonderful Walker' kept with so much honour at Seathwaite in olden time." (H. D. Rawnsley.)

[441] Whellan's History and Topography of Westmoreland and Cumberland, 4to, Pontefract, 1860, p. 56.

[442] Good Words, vol. xxiv. p. 579.


VARIANTS:

[440] 1837.

1820.
.    .    . and .    .    .

X

THE SAME SUBJECT

Not so that Pair whose youthful spirits dance
With prompt emotion, urging them to pass;
A sweet confusion checks the Shepherd-lass;
Blushing she eyes the dizzy flood askance;
5
To stop ashamed—too timid to advance;
She ventures once again—another pause!
His outstretched hand He tauntingly withdraws—
She sues for help with piteous utterance!
Chidden she chides again; the thrilling touch
10
Both feel, when he renews the wished-for aid:
[Pg 241]
Ah! if their fluttering hearts should stir too much,
Should beat too strongly, both may be betrayed.
The frolic Loves, who, from yon high rock, see
The struggle, clap their wings for victory!

XI

THE FAËRY CHASM[FJ]

No fiction was it of the antique age:
A sky-blue stone, within this sunless cleft,
[Pg 242]
Is of the very foot-marks unbereft
Which tiny Elves impressed;—on that smooth stage
5
Dancing with all their brilliant equipage
In secret revels—haply after theft
Of some sweet Babe—Flower stolen, and coarse Weed left
For the distracted Mother to assuage
Her grief with, as she might!—But, where, oh! where
10
Is traceable a vestige of the notes
That ruled those dances wild in character?—
Deep underground? Or in the upper air,
On the shrill wind of midnight? or where floats
O'er twilight fields the autumnal gossamer?

FOOTNOTE:

[FJ] "Adopting the view that Sonnets IX. and X. refer to the stepping-stones at Dale Head, the position of the 'Faëry Chasm,' which has often caused perplexity, becomes clear. It must be looked for not below but considerably above Seathwaite, and is, in fact, the very next striking feature that occurs after the stepping-stones at Dale Head are passed. It is, I believe, the rocky gorge which is crossed by Birks Brig.

The stream is here precipitated down a series of falls, and at the same time is forced into a much narrower channel than it has hitherto occupied. In its downward course it is thrust from side to side in a series of rebounds, the effect being that the flood is churned into a mass of foam, while the rocks between which it is driven are scooped and chiselled into the most fantastic shapes—basins and niches, caverns and arches, and pillars with an odd spiral twist. Anything of a more elfin character could hardly be conceived.

The turbulence of the water as it descends towards the bridge is very well expressed in the charming little sketch given at page 245 of Mrs. Lynn Linton's Lake Country, but the cleft itself is not there represented. Of that, or a part of it, an illustration has been given by Mr. Chattock in his etchings of the River Duddon published in 1884 by the Fine Art Society.

Neither Mr. Chattock nor Mrs. Lynn Linton has, however, identified the spot with the 'Faëry Chasm.' Mr. Chattock associates it with Sonnet XX., though the imagery of that sonnet must, as he himself confesses, have been 'inspired by some scene farther down the river,' while Mrs. Lynn Linton (p. 251) finds the 'Faëry Chasm' at Gowdrel Crag. This latter view, which is, apparently, that adopted also by Canon Rawnsley, is a very possible alternative, and is favoured by the fact that the bed of the stream is at that point strewn with blocks of sky-blue stone. In that case Sonnets XI. and XII. refer to the same chasm. Mr. Goodwin in Through the Wordsworth Country, illustrates a note on the Faëry Chasm by a picture of the chasm at Wallabarrow, and of all the 'clefts' this best fits with the epithet 'sunless'; but is it not too vast for fairy scenes?

I could not learn that any faëry tradition was associated with either place." (Herbert Rix.)

"I cannot rest satisfied that the Faëry Chasm of Sonnet XI. is to be looked for at Birks Brig. No sky-blue stone, above water or below, can be pointed out—

As a smooth stage on which the tiny elves
Could leave their foot-prints as they danced in secret revels.

But if the wanderer by Duddon Vale rejoins the road till it passes these same farm buildings further down the valley, will strike into the field, and, attracted by the roar of the stream, search for the locality set forth in Sonnet XII., he will find in mid-stream a huge blue-grey boulder that may have suggested Sonnet XI. to the poet." (H. D. Rawnsley.)


XII

HINTS FOR THE FANCY[FK]

On, loitering Muse—the swift Stream chides us—on!
Albeit his deep-worn channel doth immure
Objects immense portrayed in miniature,
Wild shapes for many a strange comparison!
5
Niagaras, Alpine passes, and anon
Abodes of Naiads, calm abysses pure,
Bright liquid mansions, fashioned to endure
When the broad oak drops, a leafless skeleton,
[Pg 243]
And the solidities of mortal pride,
10
Palace and tower, are crumbled into dust!—
The Bard who walks with Duddon for his guide,
Shall find such toys of fancy thickly set:
Turn from the sight, enamoured Muse—we must;
And, if thou canst, leave them without regret![443]

VARIANT:

[443] 1827.

1820.
Leave them—and, if thou canst, without regret!

FOOTNOTE:

[FK] "Almost immediately after leaving Birks Brig the stream plunges into a gorge—the 'deep-worn channel' of this sonnet. By dint of a little clambering, all the picturesque features described in the sonnet may be seen, but the traveller is forced at last to resume the road. The channel is so deep and confined that the stream cannot be seen from the road, and this is the first time since leaving the source that the Duddon is lost to sight. It is this fact which gives rise to the concluding lines of the sonnet:—

Turn from the sight, enamoured Muse—we must;
And, if thou canst, leave them without regret!"
(Herbert Rix.)

XIII

OPEN PROSPECT[FL]

Hail to the fields—with Dwellings sprinkled o'er,
And one small hamlet, under a green hill
Clustering,[444] with barn and byre, and spouting mill!
A glance suffices;—should we wish for more,
5
Gay June would scorn us. But when bleak winds roar
[Pg 244]
Through the stiff lance-like shoots of pollard ash,[FM]
Dread swell of sound! loud as the gusts that lash
The matted forests of Ontario's shore
By wasteful steel unsmitten—then would I
10
Turn into port; and, reckless of the gale,
Reckless of angry Duddon sweeping by,
While the warm hearth exalts the mantling ale,
Laugh with the generous household heartily
At all the merry pranks of Donnerdale!

VARIANT:

[444] 1837.

1820.
Cluster'd, .    .    .

FOOTNOTES:

[FL] "In determining the spot to which this sonnet belongs two conditions have to be satisfied. In the first place, Seathwaite must be seen from it; and, in the second, there must be an open prospect of fields. Now, from Cockley Beck to Ulpha there is no single spot upon the road satisfying these two conditions. Unless the line of the river is entirely abandoned, and some point of view high up on the fells is taken, there is, I believe, only one station in all the valley which supplies them, and that is the summit of a rock called in maps and guide-books 'Pen Crag,' but which the dalesmen always call simply 'The Pen' (not to be confounded with the mountain of that name lower down the valley on the west). There is an additional reason for regarding the Pen as the station whence Wordsworth viewed his 'open prospect,' namely, that the point from which the ascent of the crag is most conveniently made is identical with the point where the Duddon makes his second plunge into a rocky abyss, which plunge is signalised in the very next sonnet (XIV.). Thus, at the very spot where the poet is enabled to gain a view of 'the haunts of men,' 'some awful Spirit' impels the torrent 'utterly to desert' those haunts, and to make a second plunge into the wilderness. An increased significance is thus given to each of the sonnets (XIII. and XIV.) by the juxtaposition of the localities which they describe.

I should explain, in connection with this, that the Pen stands in the centre of the valley, a prominent and inviting look-out, and that the easy slope, by which it is on one side ascended, rises from the high-road, so that anybody who cares for views at all—and Wordsworth above all people—would not think of passing by without climbing to such an obvious point of vantage.

The 'one small hamlet' (line 2) is Seathwaite, which lies just below the Pen.

The 'barn and byre' (line 3) must have belonged to Newfield, the only farmhouse in the foreground.

The 'spouting mill' (line 3) is now a ruin. In Wordsworth's time it was in full work. Later (in the autumn of 1842), when it was visited by James Thorne, the wheel was broken, the machinery decaying, and the roof partly fallen in. At the present time, wheel, machinery, and roof have totally disappeared, and there is nothing to indicate that it ever was a mill. It was only by inquiring of the older inhabitants that I learnt these ruined walls standing by the Beck represent that 'mill for spinning yarn,' of which Wordsworth says that it calls to mind 'the momentous changes wrought by such inventions in the frame of society.' The ruin stands on the Tarn Beck, a few yards below Seathwaite Chapel, and on the other side of the stream.

The last three lines of the sonnet,

While the warm hearth exalts the mantling ale, etc.,

are probably an allusion to the Inn which, in Wordsworth's time, was to be found here. This is now a farmstead. It is called Newfield, and is just below Seathwaite Chapel. In Wordsworth's day it was inn and farm combined.

Mr. Malleson, in the article quoted above, appears (p. 576) to regard the green slope ascending towards Seathwaite Tarn, which opens on the left about a mile before the traveller reaches Seathwaite Chapel, as the 'Open Prospect'; but, though the fields here are certainly 'sprinkled o'er with dwellings,' the juxtaposition of the 'hamlet,' the 'barn and byre,' and the 'spouting mill' is wanting, and the allusion to the inn loses its point." (Herbert Rix.)

"It may be of interest to know that still the Newfield farm (in Wordsworth's time farm and inn combined) keeps up the well-deserved description of the poet. It is still 'a generous household.' When the yeoman, who was the last innkeeper and farmer combined, was on his death-bed, he enjoined those to whom Newfield passed to remember that 'though the license was to drop, and it was to become a private house, yet no stranger in the valley who requested a night's lodging was ever to be refused,' and the generous household are proud to keep up the tradition of hospitality." (H. D. Rawnsley.)

[FM] Compare Virgil, Æneid iii. 23—

Densis hastilibus horrida myrtus.
(W. G. Rushbrooke.)

[Pg 245]


XIV

"O MOUNTAIN STREAM! THE SHEPHERD AND HIS COT"

O mountain Stream! the Shepherd and his Cot
Are privileged Inmates of deep solitude;
Nor would the nicest Anchorite exclude
A field or two of brighter green, or plot
5
Of tillage-ground, that seemeth like a spot
Of stationary sunshine:—thou hast viewed
These only, Duddon! with their paths renewed
By fits and starts, yet this contents thee not.
Thee hath some awful Spirit impelled to leave,
10
Utterly to desert, the haunts of men,[FN]
Though simple thy companions were and few;
And through this wilderness a passage cleave
Attended but by thy own voice, save when
The clouds and fowls of the air thy way pursue!

This sonnet was first published in the small two-volume edition of the Poems in 1807, and was therefore written during or before 1807. In the present edition, however, it was not printed amongst the poems belonging to that year, since its appropriate place is manifestly in the series of sonnets relating to the River Duddon.—Ed.


FOOTNOTE:

[FN] See note [FL] p. 243.—Ed.


XV

"FROM THIS DEEP CHASM, WHERE QUIVERING SUNBEAMS PLAY"

From this deep chasm, where quivering sunbeams play
Upon its loftiest crags, mine eyes behold
[Pg 246]
A gloomy NICHE, capacious, blank, and cold;[FO]
A concave free from shrubs and mosses grey;
5
In semblance fresh, as if, with dire affray,
Some Statue, placed amid these regions old
For tutelary service, thence had rolled,
Startling the flight of timid Yesterday!
Was it by mortals sculptured?—weary slaves
10
Of slow endeavour! or abruptly cast
Into rude shape by fire, with roaring blast
Tempestuously let loose from central caves?
Or fashioned by the turbulence of waves,
Then, when o'er highest hills the Deluge pass'd?

FOOTNOTE:

[FO] "The 'deep chasm' of this sonnet is identical with the 'passage cleft through the wilderness' of Sonnet XIV. It lies between the Pen on the left hand, and Wallabarrow Crag on the right. As to the niche, which forms the subject of the sonnet, it cannot now be identified. There are, of course, plenty of such niches in the crags which tower above the Duddon just here, but none more striking than the rest. From the fact that it was 'free from shrubs and mosses grey,' one may perhaps infer that it was a place in the cliff from which a mass of rock had recently fallen. The bed of the stream just here is a chaos of such masses of rock, some of them being of enormous size.

Mr. Chattock identifies the 'chasm' with that at Gowdrel, higher up the river—a view which, besides breaking the order of the sonnets, would seem to be excluded by Wordsworth's note on Sonnets XVII. and XVIII., wherein he expressly states that the scenery 'which gave occasion to the sonnets from the 14th to the 20th inclusive,' lies about Seathwaite. Mr. Chattock's remark that 'the rocks are columnar in character,' so that the fall of a fragment readily gives rise to the appearance of an elongated 'niche,' is worthy of note. It would probably apply to either chasm." (Herbert Rix.)

"I searched most carefully for some
Gloomy niche, capacious, blank, and cold,

on Wallabarrow, but found none there sufficiently striking to suggest Sonnet XV. Standing at Newfield Farm and looking north to the Pen, where it rises beyond the ruined mill, there certainly is upon its southern face just such a niche, but the green ivy has displaced the 'gloom.'" (H. D. Rawnsley.)


XVI

AMERICAN TRADITION

Such fruitless questions may not long beguile
Or plague the fancy 'mid the sculptured shows
[Pg 247]
Conspicuous yet where Oroonoko flows;
There would the Indian answer with a smile
5
Aimed at the White Man's ignorance the while,
Of the Great Waters telling how they rose,
Covered the plains, and, wandering where they chose,
Mounted through every intricate defile,
Triumphant.—Inundation wide and deep,
10
O'er which his Fathers urged, to ridge and steep
Else unapproachable, their buoyant way;
And carved, on mural cliff's undreaded side,
Sun, moon, and stars, and beast of chase or prey;
Whate'er they sought, shunned, loved, or deified![FP]

FOOTNOTE:

[FP] See Humboldt's Personal Narrative.—W. W. 1820.

"I cannot quit this first link (the finding of a piece of gold) of the mountains of Encaramada without recalling to mind a fact that was not unknown to Father Gili, and which was often mentioned to me during our abode in the Missions of the Orinoco. The natives of those countries have retained the belief that, 'at the time of the great waters, when their fathers were forced to have recourse to boats to escape the general inundation, the waves of the sea beat against the rocks of Encaramada.' This belief is not confined to one nation singly, the Tamanacs; it makes part of a system of historical tradition, of which we find scattered notions among the Maypures of the great cataracts, among the Indians of the Rio Erevato, which runs into the Caura, and among almost all the tribes of the Upper Orinoco. When the Tamanacs are asked how the human race survived this great Deluge, the 'age of water' of the Mexicans, they say, 'a man and a woman saved themselves on a high mountain, called Tamanacu, situated on the banks of the Asiveru, and casting behind them, over their heads, the fruits of the Mauritia palm-tree, they saw the seeds contained in those fruits produce men and women, who re-peopled the earth.' Thus we find in all its simplicity, among nations now in a savage state, a tradition which the Greeks embellished with all the charms of imagination! A few leagues from Encaramada, a rock, called Tepu-mereme, or 'the painted rock,' rises in the midst of the Savannah. Upon it are traced representations of animals, and symbolic figures resembling those we saw in going down the Orinoco, at a small distance below Encaramada, near the town Caycara. Similar rocks in Africa are called by travellers fetish-stones. I shall not make use of this term, because fetishism does not prevail among the natives of the Orinoco; and the figures of stars, of the sun, of tigers, and of crocodiles, which we found traced upon the rocks in spots now uninhabited, appeared to me in no way to denote the objects of worship of those nations. Between the banks of the Cassiquiare and the Orinoco, between Encaramada, the Capuchino, and Caycara, these hieroglyphic figures are often seen at great heights, on rocky cliffs which could be accessible only by constructing very lofty scaffolds. When the natives are asked how those figures could have been sculptured, they answer with a smile, as if relating a fact of which only a white man could be ignorant, that 'at the period of the great waters, their fathers went to that height in boats.'" Extract from Humboldt's Travels, vol. ii. chap. iv. pp. 182-3 (Bohn's Edition.)—Ed.

"The weathering of the volcanic ash of the Pen and the cliff of Wallabarrow opposite would naturally have suggested this sonnet. Evidence of ice-marking and glacier-action are not wanting in the neighbourhood." (H. D. Rawnsley.)

[Pg 248]


XVII

RETURN

A dark plume fetch me from yon blasted yew,
Perched on whose top the Danish Raven croaks;
Aloft, the imperial Bird[445] of Rome invokes
Departed ages, shedding where he flew[446]
5
Loose fragments of wild wailing, that bestrew
The clouds and thrill the chambers of the rocks;
And into silence hush the timorous flocks,
That, calmly couching[447] while the nightly dew
Moistened each fleece, beneath the twinkling stars
10
Slept amid[448] that lone Camp on Hardknot's height,
Whose Guardians bent the knee to Jove and Mars:
Or, near[449] that mystic Round of Druid frame
Tardily sinking by its proper weight
Deep into patient Earth, from whose smooth breast it came!

VARIANTS:

[445] 1820.

1838.
Wheeling aloft the Bird .    .    .
The text of 1840 returns to that of 1820.

[446] 1820.

1838.
.    .    . and still sheds anew
The text of 1840 returns to that of 1820.

[447] 1827.

1820.
That slept so calmly .    .    .

[448] 1827.

1820.
These couch'd mid .    .    .

[449] 1827.

1820.
These near .    .    .

[Pg 249]


XVIII

SEATHWAITE CHAPEL[FQ]

Sacred Religion! "mother of form and fear,"[FR]
Dread arbitress of mutable respect,
New rites ordaining when the old are wrecked,
Or cease to please the fickle worshipper,
5
Mother of Love! (that name best suits thee here)[450]
Mother of Love! for this deep vale, protect
Truth's holy lamp, pure source of bright effect,
Gifted to purge the vapoury atmosphere
That seeks to stifle it;—as in those days
10
When this low Pile a Gospel Teacher knew,
Whose good works formed an endless retinue:
A Pastor such as Chaucer's verse portrays;[451][FS]
Such as the heaven-taught skill of Herbert drew;[FT]
And tender Goldsmith crowned with deathless praise![FU]

VARIANTS:

[450] 1837.

.    .    . the fickle worshipper;
1820.
If one strong wish may be embosomed here,

[451] 1845.

1820.
Such Priest as Chaucer sang in fervent lays;

FOOTNOTES:

[FQ] "Seathwaite Chapel has been rebuilt. It may be worth mentioning that there is a woodcut of the original structure at p. 23 of Thorne's Rambles by Rivers (12mo, London, 1844), and a good engraving in the Rev. Canon Parkinson's Old Church Clock (5th edition, 1880, p. 99). The Parsonage, too, has been enlarged. It was formerly a mere cottage, with a peat-house at one end and an out-house of some kind at the other. These have been removed, and additions made to the dwelling at both ends. The brass in the church to the memory of 'Wonderful Walker' was taken from the tombstone. The stone has been turned over, and a new inscription cut." (Herbert Rix.)

[FR] See Daniel's Musophilus, l. 47.—Ed.

[FS] The allusion is to the description of the "poure persoun of a toun" in the Prologue to the Canterbury Tales, ll. 477-528.—Ed.

[FT] See George Herbert's Priest to the Temple.—Ed.

[FU] The reference is to the lines in The Deserted Village

A man he was to all the country dear,
Ed.
And passing rich on forty pounds a year.

[Pg 250]


XIX

TRIBUTARY STREAM[FV]

My frame hath often trembled with delight
When hope presented some far-distant good,
That seemed from heaven descending, like the flood
Of yon pure waters, from their aëry height
5
Hurrying, with lordly Duddon to unite;
Who, 'mid a world of images imprest
On the calm depth of his transparent breast,
Appears to cherish most that Torrent white,
The fairest, softest, liveliest of them all!
10
And seldom hath ear listened to a tune
More lulling than the busy hum of Noon,
Sworn by that voice—whose murmur musical
Announces to the thirsty fields a boon
Dewy and fresh, till showers again shall fall.

FOOTNOTE:

[FV] "The 'tributary stream,' which forms the subject of this sonnet, is the Tarn Beck, which rises in Seathwaite Tarn, and joins the Duddon just opposite Newfield. Seathwaite Chapel itself is not on the Duddon, but on the Tarn Beck. The sonnet gives a perfect description of its leading characteristics.

Mr. Chattock has given an etching of the Tarn." (Herbert Rix.)

"If one stands upon the Pen and looks up the Duddon Vale, the

Field or two of brighter green, or plot
Of tillage-ground, that seemeth like a spot
Of stationary sunshine:

will be seen, exactly described, upon the shoulder of the Fell that drops down from Heath Fell to the north-west. Is it possible that Wordsworth, as he gazed, was moved by

the flood
Of yon pure waters, from their aëry height
.    .    . that Torrent white,

just beneath the little upland farm with its emerald plot of tillage, shining like jewels in the July sun,

Hurrying, with lordly Duddon to unite,

—is it possible, I suggest, that Wordsworth was moved by this scene to write Sonnet XIX.?" (H. D. Rawnsley.)

[Pg 251]


XX

THE PLAIN OF DONNERDALE[FW]

The old inventive Poets, had they seen,
Or rather felt, the entrancement that detains
Thy waters, Duddon! 'mid these flowery plains;
The still repose, the liquid lapse serene,
5
Transferred to bowers imperishably green,
Had beautified Elysium! But these chains
Will soon be broken;—a rough course remains,[452]
Rough as the past; where Thou, of placid mien,
Innocuous as a firstling of the flock,
10
And countenanced like a soft cerulean sky,
Shalt change thy temper; and, with many a shock
Given and received in mutual jeopardy,
Dance, like a Bacchanal, from rock to rock,
Tossing her frantic thyrsus wide and high!

VARIANTS:

[452] 1820.

ms.
.    .    . and a course remains
ms.
.    .    . For a course remains,

FOOTNOTE:

[FW] "The term Donnerdale (now usually spelt Dunnerdale) is strictly applied to the district on the east bank of the Duddon from Broughton up to Ulpha Bridge, and extending thence parallel to Seathwaite, from which it is divided by fells. Guide-books sometimes apply the term to the whole valley of the Duddon, but this is entirely wrong; the term is never applied by the inhabitants to the upper or confined part of the valley, and is correctly used by Wordsworth to indicate the open plain of the lower stream.

Hall Dunnerdale, sometimes shortened into Dunnerdale, is a hamlet on the high-road between Seathwaite and Ulpha. From a bridge just below this hamlet the characteristics of the stream at this part of its course as described in Sonnet XX. may best be noted. The banks are thickly wooded with oak, ash, beech, alder, sycamore, and larch; the hills are lower and greener than the fells farther up the valley, and for the moment we might almost think we had been transported to the banks of the Wey, and were looking upon a Surrey landscape. The water above and below the bridge is comparatively still. But this, as the sonnet says, is not to last long,—'a rough course remains, rough as the past.' Before we reach Ulpha Bridge 'suspended animation is again succeeded by the clamorous war of stones and waters, which assail the ear of the traveller all the way to Duddon Bridge.'"[453] (Herbert Rix.)

[453] Green's Comprehensive Guide to the Lakes, quoted in Whellan's History and Topography, p. 59.

[Concerning the limits of Dunnerdale, the Rev. S. R. M. Walker, Vicar of Seathwaite, in answer to a question on the subject, wrote to Mr. Rix as follows:—

"Seathwaite Vicarage, June 21, 1883.

Dear Sir—I am not surprised at our topographical divisions giving a stranger difficulty. They belong to the cross kind. Thus, Dunnerdale (as it is now here usually spelled) forms an integral part of the civil division, or township, of Dunnerdale and Seathwaite, whilst ecclesiastically it is attached, not to Seathwaite, but to the ecclesiastical parish or district of Broughton-in-Furness; Seathwaite, Broughton-in-Furness, and Woodland (now all separate benefices), being so many outlying parts of the ancient ecclesiastical and civil parish of Kirkby-Ireleth. Dunnerdale itself is the name given to the district which lies on the east or Lancashire bank of the Duddon, from a point a few yards south of Ulpha bridge till it meets the boundary of Broughton proper, or the right bank of the Lickle, a small tributary of the Duddon, the main portion of it being enclosed in a little valley parallel to that of the Duddon. The fells bounding it do, on the more northern part, form a line of division from Seathwaite....

S. R. M. Walker."]

[Pg 252]


XXI

"WHENCE THAT LOW VOICE?—A WHISPER FROM THE HEART"

Whence that low voice?—A whisper from the heart,
That told of days long past, when here I roved
With friends and kindred tenderly beloved;[FX]
Some who had early mandates to depart,
5
Yet are allowed to steal my path athwart
By Duddon's side; once more do we unite,
Once more beneath the kind Earth's tranquil light;
And smothered joys into new being start.
From her unworthy seat, the cloudy stall
10
Of Time, breaks forth triumphant Memory;
Her glistening tresses bound, yet light and free
As golden locks of birch, that rise and fall
On gales that breathe too gently to recal
Aught of the fading year's inclemency![FY]

FOOTNOTES:

[FX] See the Fenwick note prefixed to the Duddon Sonnets.—Ed.

[FY] "If, in Sonnet VI., Wordsworth was describing the Duddon in April, the lines

Golden locks of birch, that rise and fall
On gales that breathe too gently to recal
Aught of the fading year's inclemency,

tell us that he was a wanderer here in October also." (H. D. Rawnsley.)

[Pg 253]


XXII

TRADITION[FZ]

A love-lorn Maid, at some far-distant time,
Came to this hidden pool, whose depths surpass
In crystal clearness Dian's looking-glass;
And, gazing, saw that Rose, which from the prime
5
Derives its name, reflected as the chime
Of echo doth reverberate some sweet sound:
The starry treasure from the blue profound
She longed to ravish;—shall she plunge, or climb
The humid precipice, and seize the guest
10
Of April, smiling high in upper air?
Desperate alternative! what fiend could dare
To prompt the thought?—Upon the steep rock's breast
The lonely Primrose yet renews its bloom,
Untouched memento of her hapless doom!

FOOTNOTE:

[FZ] "This tradition appears to have completely died out. I asked many old inhabitants of the place if they had ever heard such a story, but it was quite new to them.

The scene of the tragedy is not, however, very difficult to identify. There are very few 'hidden pools' in this part of the stream; it is mostly a shallow, brawling brook. I have carefully tracked the stream from Donnerdale Bridge to Ulpha Bridge, and can only find two places which at all answer to the description given in the sonnet. One of these is opposite the 'Traveller's Rest' inn, the other, is a little higher up. This latter is a deep and placid pool, situated half way down a curious corridor, known as 'Long Dub,' where the stream flows for some distance in a straight line between walls of rough mountain slate, the strata having been tilted almost at right angles to their natural position. Here a little rill tumbles into the Duddon by a miniature cascade, and the pool is sheltered and darkened by oak and beech—a not unlikely spot to have inspired the sonnet." (Herbert Rix.)


XXIII

SHEEP-WASHING[GA]

Sad thoughts, avaunt!—partake we their blithe cheer
Who gathered in betimes the unshorn flock
To wash the fleece, where haply bands of rock,
Checking the stream, make a pool smooth and clear
5
As this we look on. Distant Mountains hear,[454]
Hear and repeat, the turmoil that unites
Clamour of boys with innocent despites
Of barking dogs, and bleatings from strange fear.
And what if Duddon's spotless flood receive[455]
10
Unwelcome mixtures as the uncouth noise
Thickens, the pastoral River will forgive
Such wrong; nor need we blame the licensed joys,
Though false to Nature's quiet equipoise:
Frank are the sports, the stains are fugitive.

VARIANTS:

[454] 1845.

Sad thoughts, avaunt!—the fervour of the year,
Poured on the fleece-encumbered flock, invites
To laving currents, for prelusive rites
Duly performed before the Dales-men shear
1820.
Their panting charge. The distant Mountains hear,

[455] 1845.

1820.
Meanwhile, if Duddon's spotless breast receive

FOOTNOTE:

[GA] "The pool under Ulpha Bridge has for many generations been used for sheep-washing. The sheep from Birks Farm are now (1894) washed there every year. If we suppose the poet, in one of his frequent journeys down the valley, to have paused upon the bridge to witness this pastoral sight, the local order of the Sonnets is maintained." (Herbert Rix.)

[Pg 254]


XXIV

THE RESTING-PLACE

Mid-noon is past;—upon the sultry mead
No zephyr breathes, no cloud its shadow throws:
If we advance unstrengthened by repose,
Farewell the solace of the vagrant reed!
5
This Nook[GB]—with woodbine hung and straggling weed,
Tempting recess as ever pilgrim chose,
Half grot, half arbour—proffers to enclose
Body and mind, from molestation freed,
In narrow compass—narrow as itself:
10
Or if the Fancy, too industrious Elf,
Be loth that we should breathe awhile exempt
[Pg 255]
From new incitements friendly to our task,
Here[456] wants not stealthy prospect, that may tempt
Loose Idless to forego her wily mask.

VARIANT:

[456] 1837.

1820.
There .    .    .

FOOTNOTE:

[GB] See note to Sonnet xxvii.—Ed.


XXV

"METHINKS 'TWERE NO UNPRECEDENTED FEAT"

Methinks 'twere no unprecedented feat
Should some benignant Minister of air
Lift, and encircle with a cloudy chair,
The One for whom my heart shall ever beat
5
With tenderest love;—or, if a safer seat
Atween his downy wings be furnished, there
Would lodge her, and the cherished burden bear
O'er hill and valley to this dim retreat!
Rough ways my steps have trod; too rough and long
10
For her companionship; here dwells soft ease:
With sweets that[457] she partakes not some distaste
Mingles, and lurking consciousness of wrong;
Languish the flowers; the waters seem to waste
Their vocal charm; their sparklings cease to please.

VARIANT:

[457] 1837.

1820.
.    .    . which .    .    .

XXVI

"RETURN, CONTENT! FOR FONDLY I PURSUED"

Return, Content! for fondly I pursued,
Even when a child, the Streams[GC]—unheard, unseen;
[Pg 256]
Through tangled woods, impending rocks between;
Or, free as air, with flying inquest viewed
5
The sullen reservoirs whence their bold brood—
Pure as the morning, fretful, boisterous, keen,
Green as the[458] salt-sea billows, white and green—
Poured down the hills, a choral multitude!
Nor have I tracked their course for scanty gains;
10
They taught me random cares and truant joys,
That shield from mischief and preserve from stains
Vague minds, while men are growing out of boys;
Maturer Fancy owes to their rough noise
Impetuous thoughts that brook not servile reins.

VARIANT:

[458] 1820.

c.
Sparkling like .    .    .

FOOTNOTE:

[GC] See note to Sonnet XXVII.—Ed.


XXVII

"FALLEN, AND DIFFUSED INTO A SHAPELESS HEAP"

Fallen, and diffused into a shapeless heap,
Or quietly self-buried in earth's mould,
Is that embattled House, whose massy Keep
Flung from yon cliff[459] a shadow large and cold.
5
There dwelt the gay, the bountiful, the bold;
Till nightly lamentations, like the sweep
Of winds—though[460] winds were silent—struck a deep
And lasting terror through that ancient Hold.
Its line of Warriors fled;—they shrunk when tried[461]
10
By ghostly power:—but Time's unsparing hand
[Pg 257]
Hath plucked such foes, like weeds, from out the land;
And now, if men with men in peace abide,
All other strength the weakest may withstand,
All worse assaults may safely be defied.[GD]

VARIANTS:

[459] 1819.

ms.
.    .    . height .    .    .

[460] 1827.

ms. and 1819.
.    .    . when .    .    .

[461] 1819.

There dwelt the rash, the bountiful, the bold,
The fair, the gay; undaunted, unabased;
Till supernatural visitation chased
That line of warriors from their ancient hold.
ms.
—Stranger they fled—their courage shrunk when tried

[462] Mr. J. Denton, quoted in Whellan's History and Topography, p. 410.


FOOTNOTE:

[GD] Sonnet No. XXVII. having been first published in The Waggoner and other poems (1819), was not reprinted in either of the editions of 1820. It was "taken from a tradition belonging to Rydal Hall," as is explained in the Fenwick note, p. 226.—Ed.

"Sonnets XXIV. to XXVII. appear to have been written in one spot,—some 'Nook—with woodbine hung and straggling weed.' If the poet has strictly retained in the sonnets the order in which the places lie upon the river-bank, this nook must be within a stone's throw of the pool mentioned in the preceding note, for the scenes of Sonnets XXIX. and XXXI. are close at hand. But, though there are plenty of such 'grottos' or 'arbours' here, some difficulty arises from the fact that the Old Hall and ruined keep cannot be seen from this part of the stream, nor, indeed, can they be seen from Ulpha itself, nor from any part of the high road. The height upon which the ruin stands is certainly a prominent feature in the landscape, but the ruin itself is completely hidden by a shoulder of the hill, neither can the hill by any stretch of the imagination be called a 'cliff.'

The only point of view from which the castle appears to stand upon a 'cliff' is reached by a footpath near some copper works, about half way up Holehouse Ghyll. Here you see the ruin at the end (or rather bend) of the Ghyll high above your head, the sides of the ravine rising steeply to its walls. Holehouse Ghyll is thickly wooded, so that this may very possibly be the poet's 'dim retreat,' the chief objection being that the Ghyll lies below Ulpha Kirk, and that the order of the sonnets would thus be broken.

But wherever the poet's 'nook' may have been, there can be little doubt that the fragment of masonry near the farmhouse called 'The Old Hall,' represents the 'embattled house' of Sonnet XXVII., for Broughton Tower, the only other fortified house in the valley, is still some miles away, and the rising ground upon which it stands is no cliff, but a mere undulation in the centre of the nether valley. Of the Castle at the head of Holehouse Ghyll there is little enough remaining—less, even, than in Wordsworth's day, for a woman living in a cottage close by it assured me that she could remember when there was much more of it standing than at the present time. The cause to which she assigned its rapid disappearance was not, however, the same as that assigned in the first two lines of the sonnet. According to her, natural decay had less to do with it than the destructive hands of the dalesmen, who pulled the stones down to mend the fell-walls with. A native of Ulpha added that a new barn was built for the adjoining farmhouse some little time since, and that a great part of the materials doubtless came from the old ruin.

A ragged piece of wall three to four feet in thickness, with three small square windows splayed inwards, and a fireplace about 6 feet long by 12 feet high, with a wide chimney, is all that now remains in situ, of this seat of the Lords of Ulpha.

As to the ghostly tradition embodied in Sonnet XXVII. Wordsworth himself has explained (see the Fenwick note) that it was borrowed from Rydal Hall. But the 'Old Hall' has a weird tradition of its own, for in the bottom of the Ghyll beneath the Castle walls, there is a pool, called 'The Lady's Dub,' where in old times a lady was killed by one of the numerous wolves which formerly infested the region. This is, in fact, the origin, according to some of the inhabitants, of the name 'Ulpha' ('Wolfa'). But a more likely derivation seems to be from Ulf, the father of Ketell, the father of Bennett, the father of Allan. Ketell lived in Henry III.'s reign, and Bennett in King John's, and to their ancestor Ulf the lordship of 'Ulphay' was granted.[462]

Mr. Chattock has given an excellent etching of the ruin.

If the 'Nook' of Sonnet XXIV. be in Holehouse Ghyll, and the 'embattled House' of Sonnet XXVII. be The Old Hall seen from that spot, then Sonnet XXVI. should specially refer to the stream which rushes down that Ghyll. 'Through tangled woods' well suits this stream; and even the 'sullen reservoirs' are not wanting if the two 'dubs' at the upper end of the Ghyll are taken into account." (Herbert Rix.)


XXVIII

JOURNEY RENEWED

I rose while yet the cattle, heat-opprest,
Crowded together under rustling trees
Brushed by the current of the water-breeze;
[Pg 258]
And for their sakes, and love of all that rest,
5
On Duddon's margin, in the sheltering nest;
For all the startled scaly tribes that slink
Into his coverts, and each fearless link
Of dancing insects forged upon his breast;
For these, and hopes and recollections worn
10
Close to the vital seat of human clay;
Glad meetings, tender partings, that upstay
The drooping mind of absence, by vows sworn
In his pure presence near the trysting thorn—
I thanked the Leader of my onward way.

XXIX

"NO RECORD TELLS OF LANCE OPPOSED TO LANCE"

No record tells of lance opposed to lance,
Horse charging horse, 'mid these retired domains;
[Pg 259]
Tells that[463] their turf drank purple from the veins
Of heroes, fallen, or struggling to advance,
5
Till doubtful combat issued in a trance
Of victory, that struck through heart and reins
Even to the inmost seat of mortal pains,
And lightened o'er the pallid countenance.
Yet, to the loyal and the brave, who lie
10
In the blank earth, neglected and forlorn,
The passing Winds memorial tribute pay;
The Torrents chant their praise, inspiring scorn
Of power usurped; with proclamation high,
And glad acknowledgment, of lawful sway.[GE]

VARIANTS:

[463] 1827.

1820.
Nor that .    .    .

FOOTNOTE:

[GE] "On the left or east bank of the Duddon, a little higher than Ulpha Bridge, near a farmhouse called New Close is a small enclosure, 44 feet square, with two old fir-trees and a quantity of laurels, which there can be little doubt is the scene of Sonnet XXIX.

The enclosure, known to the country people as the Sepulchre, is an old burial-place of the Society of Friends, none having been interred there since 1755, when a Friend from Birker, a small hamlet about four miles distant, was buried.[464]

The following two lines literally describe the condition of the little burial-ground:—

Yet, to the loyal and the brave, who lie
In the blank earth, neglected and forlorn;—

the earth is 'blank,' because there is not a single tombstone, and the graves are (at any rate at the present time) most literally 'neglected and forlorn,' for the place is a tangle of rank grass and untrimmed bushes.

About the year 1842 it was planted with fruit-trees, but when Wordsworth saw it, it probably presented much the same appearance as at present.

The opening lines—

No record tells of lance opposed to lance, etc.,

and indeed the whole sonnet obtains a new significance from the association of the spot which it describes with the men of peace." (Herbert Rix.)

"There are few more touching scenes in the Duddon Valley than the little lonely hillside burial-place of the early Friends, spoken of in Sonnet XXIX. All round the inside of the rude wall enclosure are still to be seen the stone seats used by the followers of Fox, who were forbidden to hold their meetings under any lower roof than the canopy of Heaven. The Scotch firs have grown into stately shade since the Quakers sat in silent meditation high up, lifted above the life of the valley and the noise of Duddon and the tributary stream just opposite. But though the Friends lie here in unvisited graves, the earth is neither blank nor forlorn. Laurels glisten above their rest, and the Spiræa salicifolia waves its light wands of flower above their sleep, all evidences of care for the heroes of a cause that is not dead yet." (H. D. Rawnsley.)

[464] See Furness and Furness Abbey, by Francis Evans (8vo, Ulverston, 1842), p. 180.

[Pg 260]


XXX

"WHO SWERVES FROM INNOCENCE, WHO MAKES DIVORCE"

Who swerves from innocence, who makes divorce
Of that serene companion—a good name,
Recovers not his loss; but walks with shame,
With doubt, with fear, and haply with remorse:
5
And oft-times he—who, yielding to the force
Of chance-temptation, ere his journey end,
From chosen comrade turns, or faithful friend—
In vain shall rue the broken intercourse.
Not so with such as loosely wear the chain
10
That binds them, pleasant River! to thy side:—
Through the rough copse[GF] wheel thou with hasty stride;
I choose to saunter o'er the grassy plain,
Sure, when the separation has been tried,
That we, who part in love, shall meet again.[GG]

FOOTNOTES:

[GF] "To get from the Sepulchre (Sonnet XXIX.) to Ulpha Kirk (Sonnet XXXI.) it is necessary to pass through Birks Wood, or else to skirt the wood by going up the Fell and round it." (Herbert Rix.)

[GG] Compare the Fenwick note prefixed to these sonnets.—Ed.


XXXI

"THE KIRK OF ULPHA TO THE PILGRIM'S EYE"

The Kirk of Ulpha to the pilgrim's eye
Is welcome as a star, that doth present
Its shining forehead through the peaceful rent
Of a black cloud diffused o'er half the sky:[GH]
[Pg 261] 5
Or as a fruitful palm-tree towering high
O'er the parched waste beside an Arab's tent;
Or the Indian tree whose branches, downward bent,
Take root again, a boundless canopy.
How sweet were leisure! could it yield no more
10
Than 'mid that wave-washed Church-yard to recline,
From pastoral graves extracting thoughts divine;
Or there to pace, and mark the summits hoar
Of distant moon-lit mountains faintly shine,
Soothed by the unseen River's gentle roar.

FOOTNOTE:

[GH] "Ulpha Kirk is situated on a rock, the base of which is washed by the Duddon. From time immemorial its walls have been whitewashed, so that on a sunny day it literally 'shines' from its exalted position. It is best seen from the hay-fields on the left bank just above Ulpha Bridge. These fields lie low, and the church perched on its rock seems lifted higher than from any other point of view.

When I visited Ulpha in the summer of 1882 I found the carpenters at work restoring it, and since then a new belfry has been erected, and the tiny white porch has been replaced by a larger one of wood. But I saw it in 1881, when the interior, as well as the exterior, still kept the appearance which it wore in Wordsworth's day. The pulpit (with sounding-board) was in the middle of one side, and to the right hand thereof were a magnificent lion-and-unicorn, and 'G. III. R.' The font was up against the wall, with a ladder hung above it. There was no vestry; the surplice was kept in a cupboard near the door, and the clergyman donned and doffed it behind a screen which only partially hid him. The pews were square and high, and the people sat all round them, with their backs to all four points of the compass; but when the hymn was sung they all turned with their backs to the altar and their faces to the choir." (Herbert Rix.)

"The last line of this sonnet is a good instance of Wordsworth's very close observation. The little churchyard has lately had an addition made to it. Any one going into the new part of the churchyard will be less able to understand the accuracy of the last line." (H. D. Rawnsley.)


XXXII

"NOT HURLED PRECIPITOUS FROM STEEP TO STEEP"

Not hurled precipitous from steep to steep;
Lingering no more 'mid flower-enamelled lands
And blooming thickets; nor by rocky bands
Held; but in radiant progress toward the Deep
5
Where mightiest rivers into powerless sleep
Sink, and forget their nature—now expands
[Pg 262]
Majestic Duddon, over smooth flat sands[GI]
Gliding in silence with unfettered sweep!
Beneath an ampler sky a region wide
Is opened round him:—hamlets, towers, and towns,
11
And blue-topped hills, behold him from afar;
In stately mien to sovereign Thames allied
Spreading his bosom under Kentish downs,
With commerce freighted, or triumphant war.[GJ]

FOOTNOTES:

[GI] Compare Michael Drayton—

But southward sallying hence, to those sea-bordering Lands,
Where Duddon driving down to the Lancastrian Sands,
This Cumberland cuts out, etc.
Poly-olbion. The thirtieth song.—Ed.

[GJ] "This sonnet was probably written from some rare vantage ground or view as is obtained of the last reaches of the Duddon

In radiant progress toward the Deep,

from the crest of a hill immediately above Broughton.

I am led to think thus from the fact that standing there the poet could speak as he does in Sonnet XXXIV.—

For, backward, Duddon! as I cast my eyes,
I see what was, and is, and will abide;

while the little Broughton Church with its dark yews close around it seen at his feet would naturally give birth to the thought that 'the elements must vanish,' and that as Duddon hurried to its pauseless sleep, so man to 'the silent tomb must go.'" (H. D. Rawnsley.)


XXXIII

CONCLUSION

But here no cannon thunders to the gale;
Upon the wave no haughty pendants cast
A crimson splendour: lowly is the mast
That rises here, and humbly spread, the sail;
5
While, less disturbed than in the narrow Vale
Through which with strange vicissitudes he passed,
The Wanderer seeks that receptacle vast
Where all his unambitious functions fail.
And may thy Poet, cloud-born Stream! be free—
10
The sweets of earth contentedly resigned,
And each tumultuous working left behind
[Pg 263]
At seemly distance—to advance like Thee;
Prepared, in peace of heart, in calm of mind
And soul, to mingle with Eternity![GK]

FOOTNOTE:

[GK] "This series of sonnets follows with some accuracy the order of the scenes. It is far from exact to speak of them, as Mr. Chattock in his preliminary note has so emphatically done, as 'massed together.' With the doubtful exceptions of the sonnets on the 'Stepping-Stones' and the 'Resting-Place,' each one falls naturally into its order. The Birth-place on Wrynose, the 'sinuous lapse' along the pass, the Descent into the Valley, the Cottage at Cockley Beck, Gowdrel Crag, Wallabarrow and the Pen, Seathwaite Chapel, the Tributary Stream, Long Dub, the Sepulchre at New Close, Ulpha Kirk, Duddon Sands—to all these places there are clear allusions; the sonnets which contain those allusions occur in the order indicated, and this order is the strict topographical succession proceeding from the source of the Duddon to the mouth." (Herbert Rix.)


XXXIV

AFTER-THOUGHT

I thought of Thee, my partner and my guide,
As being past away.—Vain sympathies!
For, backward, Duddon! as I cast my eyes,
I see what was, and is, and will abide;
5
Still glides the Stream, and shall for ever glide;[465][GL]
The Form remains, the Function never dies;
While we, the brave, the mighty, and the wise,
We Men, who in our morn of youth defied
The elements, must vanish;—be it so!
10
Enough, if something from our hands have power
[Pg 264]
To live, and act, and serve the future hour;
And if, as toward the silent tomb we go,
Through love, through hope, and faith's transcendent dower,
We feel that we are greater than we know.[GM]

VARIANT:

[465] 1820 (1st edition).

1820.
.    .    .    . and shall not cease to glide;
(2nd edition.)
 

The text of 1840 returns to that of the 2nd edition of 1820.


FOOTNOTES:

[GL] Compare The Fountain (vol. ii. p. 92)—

'Twill murmur on a thousand years,
And flow as now it flows.

And Tennyson's Brook,

Men may come and men may go,
Ed.
But I go on for ever.

[GM]

And feel that I am happier than I know.—Milton.[466]

The allusion to the Greek poet will be obvious to the classical reader.—W. W. 1820.

I was indebted to Professor Jebb, in 1883, for the following note:—

"While we, the brave, the mighty, and the wise,
.    .    .    .    .    .    .   .   .
.    .    . must vanish, .    .    .

has been suggested by the well-known lines in the Ἐπιτάφιον Βίωνος, by the pastoral poet Moschus of Syracuse (circ. 200 B.C.):—

αἴ, αἴ, ταὶ μαλάχαι μὲν ἐπὰν κατὰ κᾶπον ὄλωνται,
ἢ τὰ χλωρὰ σέλινα, τό τ' εὐθαλὲς οὖλον ἄνηθον,
ὕστερον αὖ ζώοντι καὶ εἰς ἔτος ἄλλο φύοντι·
ἄμμες δ', οἱ μεγάλοι καὶ καρτεροὶ ἢ σοφοὶ ἄνδρες,
ὁππότε πρᾶτα θάνωμες, ἀνάκοοι ἐν χθονὶ κοίλᾳ
εὕδομες εὖ μάλα μακρὸν ἀτέρμονα νήγρετον ὕπνον.
(Vv. 103-108.)

You will see that Wordsworth has translated the Greek verse which I underline ('brave' representing μεγάλοι). The 'mallows,' 'parsley,' 'anise' of the Greek poet's garden—which are to live again—are represented by Wordsworth's stream which 'shall for ever glide.'

One might contrast the lines in the Christian Year about the autumn leaves:—

How like decaying life they seem to glide!
And yet no second spring have they in store,
But where they fall, forgotten to abide
Is all their portion, and they ask no more."

With this Afterthought compare Virgil, Georgics II. 458, 459—

O fortunatos nimium sua si bona norint
Ed.
Agricolas, etc.

[466] Paradise Lost, book viii. l. 282.—Ed.


POSTSCRIPT

A poet, whose works are not yet known as they deserve to be,[GN] thus enters upon his description of the "Ruins of Rome":

The rising Sun
Flames on the ruins in the purer air
Towering aloft;

[Pg 265]

and ends thus—

The setting Sun displays
His visible great round, between yon towers,
As through two shady cliffs.

Mr. Crowe, in his excellent loco-descriptive Poem, Lewesdon Hill, is still more expeditious, finishing the whole on a May-morning before breakfast.

To-morrow for severer thought, but now
To breakfast, and keep festival to-day.

No one believes, or is desired to believe, that these Poems were actually composed within such limits of time; nor was there any reason why a prose statement should acquaint the Reader with the plain fact, to the disturbance of poetic credibility. But, in the present case, I am compelled to mention, that the above series of Sonnets was the growth of many years;—the one which stands the 14th was the first produced; and others were added upon occasional visits to the Stream, or as recollections of the scenes upon its banks awakened a wish to describe them. In this manner I had proceeded insensibly, without perceiving that I was trespassing upon ground preoccupied, at least as far as intention went, by Mr. Coleridge; who, more than twenty years ago, used to speak of writing a rural Poem, to be entitled "The Brook," of which he has given a sketch in a recent publication. But a particular subject, cannot, I think, much interfere with a general one; and I have been further kept from encroaching upon any right Mr. C. may still wish to exercise, by the restriction which the frame of the Sonnet imposed upon me, narrowing unavoidably the range of thought, and precluding, though not without its advantages, many graces to which a freer movement of verse would naturally have led.

May I not venture, then, to hope, that instead of being a hindrance, by anticipation of any part of the subject, these Sonnets may remind Mr. Coleridge of his own more comprehensive design, and induce him to fulfil it?[GO]——There is a sympathy in streams,—"one calleth to another"; and, I would gladly believe, that "The Brook" will, ere long, murmur in concert with "The Duddon." But, asking pardon for this fancy, I need not scruple to say, that those verses must indeed be ill-fated which can enter upon such pleasant walks of nature, without receiving and giving inspiration. The power of waters over the minds of Poets has been acknowledged from the earliest[Pg 266] ages;—through the "Flumina amem sylvasque inglorius" of Virgil,[GP] down to the sublime apostrophe to the great rivers of the earth, by Armstrong,[GQ] and the simple ejaculation of Burns,[GR] (chosen, if I recollect right, by Mr. Coleridge, as a motto for his embryo "Brook"),

The Muse, nae poet ever fand her,
Till by himsel' he learned to wander,
Adown some trotting burn's meander,
And no think lang.
W. W. 1820.

As an illustration of the extraordinary freaks of contemporary criticism—freaks which still tarnish much that issues from the press—an estimate of those Duddon Sonnets, which appeared in The Monthly Review in 1820, may be referred to. All that posterity now admires in this exquisite series of descriptive poems is decried; and those passages which posterity regards as blemishes, are held up to admiration; e.g. the lines with which the tenth sonnet, in "The Stepping-Stones," concludes, which are so frigid and affected, were hailed as "a complete return into the regions of antiquity," and as a sign that "Mr. Wordsworth is certainly improving"! They are the very feeble lines:—

The frolic Loves, who, from yon high rock, see
The struggle, clap their wings for victory!

while the

  .    .    .   unculled floweret of the glen,
Fearless of plough and scythe; or darkling wren
That tunes on Duddon's banks her slender voice,

is held up to ridicule!—Ed.

[Pg 267]


FOOTNOTES:

[GN] John Dyer. The Ruins of Rome, 4to, London, 1740. Compare Wordsworth's lines To the Poet, John Dyer, vol. iv. p. 273.—Ed.

[GO] Compare p. 302, "Why is the Harp of Quantock silent?"—Ed.

[GP] See Georgics II. 486.—Ed.

[GQ] Armstrong's "apostrophe to the great rivers of the earth" is in his Art of Preserving Health (book ii. ll. 355-364)—

  .    .    .    .    .    .   I hear the din
Of waters thund'ring o'er the ruined cliffs.
With holy reverence I approach the rocks
Whence glide the streams renowned in ancient song.
Here from the desert down the rumbling steep
First springs the Nile; here vents the sounding Po
In angry waves; Euphrates hence devolves
A mighty flood to water half the East;
And there, in Gothic solitude reclined,
The cheerless Tanais pours his hoary urn. Ed.

[GR] From his Epistle to William Simpson, Ochiltree; stanza 15.—Ed.


NOTE TO SONNETS XVII AND XVIII

The Eagle requires a large domain for its support; but several pairs, not many years ago, were constantly resident in this country, building their nests in the steeps of Borrowdale, Wastdale, Ennerdale, and on the eastern side of Helvellyn. Often have I heard anglers speak of the grandeur of their appearance, as they hovered over Red Tarn, in one of the coves of this mountain. The bird frequently returns, but is always destroyed. Not long since one visited Rydal Lake, and remained some hours near its banks; the consternation which it occasioned among the different species of fowl, particularly the herons, was expressed by loud screams. The horse also is naturally afraid of the eagle.—There were several Roman stations among these mountains; the most considerable seems to have been in a meadow at the head of Windermere, established, undoubtedly, as a check over the passes of Kirkstone, Dunmail-raise, and of Hardknot and Wrynose. On the margin of Rydal Lake, a coin of Trajan was discovered very lately.—The Roman Fort here alluded to, called by the country people "Hardknot Castle," is most impressively situated half-way down the hill on the right of the road that descends from Hardknot into Eskdale. It has escaped the notice of most antiquarians, and is but slightly mentioned by Lysons.—The Druidical Circle is about half a mile to the left of the road ascending Stone-side from the vale of Duddon: the country people call it "Sunken Church."

The reader who may have been interested in the foregoing Sonnets (which together may be considered as a Poem) will not be displeased to find in this place a prose account of the Duddon, extracted from Green's comprehensive Guide to the Lakes, lately published. "The road leading from Coniston to Broughton is over high ground, and commands a view of the river Duddon; which at high water is a grand sight, having the beautiful and fertile lands of Lancashire and Cumberland stretching each way from its margin. In this extensive view, the face of nature is displayed in a wonderful variety of hill and dale; wooded grounds and buildings; amongst the latter, Broughton Tower, seated on the crown of a hill, rising elegantly from the valley, is an object of extraordinary interest. Fertility on each side is gradually diminished, and lost in the superior heights of Blackcomb, in Cumberland, and the high lands between Kirkby and Ulverstone.

"The road from Broughton to Seathwaite is on the banks of[Pg 268] the Duddon, and on its Lancashire side it is of various elevations. The river is an amusing companion, one while brawling and tumbling over rocky precipices, until the agitated water becomes again calm by arriving at a smoother and less precipitous bed, but its course is soon again ruffled, and the current thrown into every variety of form which the rocky channel of a river can give to water." (Vide Green's Guide to the Lakes, vol. i. pp. 98-100.)

After all, the traveller would be most gratified who should approach this beautiful Stream, neither at its source, as is done in the Sonnets, nor from its termination; but from Coniston over Walna Scar; first descending into a little circular valley, a collateral compartment of the long winding vale through which flows the Duddon. This recess, towards the close of September, when the after-grass of the meadows is still of a fresh green, with the leaves of many of the trees faded, but perhaps none fallen, is truly enchanting. At a point elevated enough to show the various objects in the valley, and not so high as to diminish their importance, the stranger will instinctively halt. On the foreground, a little below the most favourable station, a rude foot-bridge is thrown over the bed of the noisy brook, foaming by the wayside. Russet and craggy hills, of bold and varied outline, surround the level valley which is besprinkled with grey rocks plumed with birch trees. A few homesteads are interspersed in some places, peeping out from among the rocks like hermitages, whose site has been chosen for the benefit of sunshine as well as shelter; in other instances, the dwelling-house, barn, and byre, compose together a cruciform structure, which, with its embowering trees and the ivy clothing part of the walls and roof, like a fleece, call to mind the remains of an ancient abbey. Time, in most cases, and nature every where, have given a sanctity to the humble works of man, that are scattered over this peaceful retirement. Hence a harmony of tone and colour, a consummation and perfection of beauty, which would have been marred had aim or purpose interfered with the course of convenience, utility, or necessity. This unvitiated region stands in no need of the veil of twilight to soften or disguise its features. As it glistens in the morning sunshine, it would fill the spectator's heart with gladsomeness. Looking from our chosen station, he would feel an impatience to rove among its pathways, to be greeted by the milkmaid, to wander from house to house, exchanging "good-morrows" as he passed the open doors; but, at evening, when the sun is set,[Pg 269] and a pearly light gleams from the western quarter of the sky, with an answering light from the smooth surface of the meadows; when the trees are dusky, but each kind still distinguishable; when the cool air has condensed the blue smoke rising from the cottage-chimneys; when the dark mossy stones seem to sleep in the bed of the foaming Brook; then, he would be unwilling to move forward, not less from a reluctance to relinquish what he beholds, than from an apprehension of disturbing, by his approach, the quietness beneath him. Issuing from the plain of this valley, the Brook descends in a rapid torrent, passing by the churchyard of Seathwaite. The traveller is thus conducted at once into the midst of the wild and beautiful scenery which gave occasion to the Sonnets from the 14th to the 20th inclusive. From the point where the Seathwaite Brook joins the Duddon, is a view upwards, into the pass through which the River makes its way into the Plain of Donnerdale. The perpendicular rock on the right bears the ancient British name of The Pen; the one opposite is called Walla-Barrow Crag, a name that occurs in several places to designate rocks of the same character. The chaotic aspect of the scene is well marked by the expression of a stranger, who strolled out while dinner was preparing, and, at his return, being asked by his host, "What way he had been wandering?" replied, "As far as it is finished!"

The bed of the Duddon is here strewn with large fragments of rock fallen from aloft; which, as Mr. Green truly says, "are happily adapted to the many-shaped waterfalls," (or rather water-breaks, for none of them are high,) "displayed in the short space of half a mile." That there is some hazard in frequenting these desolate places, I myself have had proof; for one night an immense mass of rock fell upon the very spot where, with a friend, I had lingered the day before. "The concussion," says Mr. Green, speaking of the event, (for he also, in the practice of his art, on that day sat exposed for a still longer time to the same peril,) "was heard, not without alarm, by the neighbouring shepherds." But to return to Seathwaite Churchyard: it contains the following inscription:—

"In memory of the Reverend Robert Walker, who died the 25th of June, 1802, in the 93d year of his age, and 67th of his curacy at Seathwaite.

"Also, of Anne his wife, who died the 28th of January, in the 93d year of her age."

In the parish-register of Seathwaite Chapel, is this notice:

"Buried, June 28th, the Rev. Robert Walker. He was[Pg 270] curate of Seathwaite sixty-six years. He was a man singular for his temperance, industry, and integrity."

This individual is the Pastor alluded to, in the eighteenth Sonnet, as a worthy compeer of the Country Parson of Chaucer, etc. In the seventh book of The Excursion, an abstract of his character is given, beginning—

A Priest abides before whose life such doubts
Fall to the ground;—

and some account of his life,[GS] for it is worthy of being recorded, will not be out of place here.


FOOTNOTE:

[GS] 1827. An abstract of his character is given in the author's poem of The Excursion; and some account of his life.—W. W. 1820.


MEMOIR OF THE REV. ROBERT WALKER

In the year 1709, Robert Walker was born at Under-crag, in Seathwaite; he was the youngest of twelve children. His eldest brother, who inherited the small family estate, died at Under-crag, aged ninety-four, being twenty-four years older than the subject of this Memoir, who was born of the same mother. Robert was a sickly infant; and, through his boyhood and youth continuing to be of delicate frame and tender health, it was deemed best, according to the country phrase, to breed him a scholar; for it was not likely that he would be able to earn a livelihood by bodily labour. At that period few of these dales were furnished with school-houses; the children being taught to read and write in the chapel; and in the same consecrated building, where he officiated for so many years both as preacher and schoolmaster, he himself received the rudiments of his education. In his youth he became schoolmaster at Loweswater; not being called upon, probably, in that situation, to teach more than reading, writing, and arithmetic. But, by the assistance of a "Gentleman" in the neighbourhood, he acquired, at leisure hours, a knowledge of the classics, and became qualified for taking holy orders. Upon his ordination, he had the offer of two curacies: the one, Torver, in the vale of Coniston,—the other, Seathwaite, in his native vale. The value of each was the same, viz. five pounds per annum: but the cure of Seathwaite having a cottage attached to it, as he wished to marry, he chose it in preference. The young person on whom his affections were fixed, though in the condition of a domestic servant, had given promise, by her serious and modest deportment, and by her virtuous dispositions,[Pg 271] that she was worthy to become the helpmate of a man entering upon a plan of life such as he had marked out for himself. By her frugality she had stored up a small sum of money, with which they began housekeeping. In 1735 or 1736, he entered upon his curacy; and nineteen years afterwards, his situation is thus described, in some letters to be found in the Annual Register for 1760, from which the following is extracted:

To Mr. ——.
"Coniston, July 26, 1754.

"Sir,

"I was the other day upon a party of pleasure, about five or six miles from this place, where I met with a very striking object, and of a nature not very common. Going into a clergyman's house (of whom I had frequently heard), I found him sitting at the head of a long square table, such as is commonly used in this country by the lower class of people, dressed in a coarse blue frock, trimmed with black horn buttons; a checked shirt, a leathern strap about his neck for a stock, a coarse apron, and a pair of great wooden-soled shoes plated with iron to preserve them (what we call clogs in these parts), with a child upon his knee, eating his breakfast; his wife, and the remainder of his children, were some of them employed in waiting upon each other, the rest in teazing and spinning wool, at which trade he is a great proficient; and moreover, when it is made ready for sale, will lay it, by sixteen or thirty-two pounds' weight, upon his back, and on foot, seven or eight miles, will carry it to the market, even in the depth of winter. I was not much surprised at all this, as you may possibly be, having heard a great deal of it related before. But I must confess myself astonished with the alacrity and the good humour that appeared both in the clergyman and his wife, and more so at the sense and ingenuity of the clergyman himself." ...

Then follows a letter from another person, dated 1755, from which an extract shall be given.

"By his frugality and good management, he keeps the wolf from the door, as we say; and if he advances a little in the world, it is owing more to his own care, than to anything else he has to rely upon. I don't find his inclination is running after further preferment. He is settled among the people, that are happy among themselves; and lives in the greatest unanimity and friendship with them; and, I believe, the[Pg 272] minister and people are exceedingly satisfied with each other; and indeed how should they be dissatisfied when they have a person of so much worth and probity for their pastor? A man who, for his candour and meekness, his sober, chaste, and virtuous conversation, his soundness in principle and practice, is an ornament to his profession, and an honour to the country he is in; and bear with me if I say, the plainness of his dress, the sanctity of his manners, the simplicity of his doctrine, and the vehemence of his expression, have a sort of resemblance to the pure practice of primitive Christianity."

We will now give his own account of himself, to be found in the same place.

From the Rev. Robert Walker.

"Sir,—Yours of the 26th instant was communicated to me by Mr. C——, and I should have returned an immediate answer, but the hand of Providence, then laying[GT] heavy upon an amiable pledge of conjugal endearment, hath since taken from me a promising girl, which the disconsolate mother too pensively laments the loss of; though we have yet eight living, all healthful, hopeful children, whose names and ages are as follows:—Zaccheus, aged almost eighteen years; Elizabeth, sixteen years and ten months; Mary, fifteen; Moses, thirteen years and three months; Sarah, ten years and three months; Mabel, eight years and three months; William Tyson, three years and eight months; and Anne Esther, one year and three months; besides Anne, who died two years and six months ago, and was then aged between nine and ten; and Eleanor, who died the 23d inst., January, aged six years and ten months. Zaccheus, the eldest child, is now learning the trade of a tanner, and has two years and a half of his apprenticeship to serve. The annual income of my chapel at present, as near as I can compute it, may amount to about £17, of which is paid in cash, viz., £5 from the bounty of Queen Anne, and £5 from W. P., Esq., of P——, out of the annual rents, he being lord of the manor, and £3 from the several inhabitants of L——, settled upon the tenements as a rent-charge; the house and gardens I value at £4 yearly, and not worth more; and I believe the surplice fees and voluntary contributions, one year with another, may be worth £3; but as the inhabitants are few in number, and the fees very low, this last-mentioned sum consists merely in freewill offerings.

[Pg 273]

"I am situated greatly to my satisfaction with regard to the conduct and behaviour of my auditory, who not only live in the happy ignorance of the follies and vices of the age, but in mutual peace and goodwill with one another, and are seemingly (I hope really too) sincere Christians, and sound members of the Established Church, not one dissenter of any denomination being amongst them all. I got to the value of £40 for my wife's fortune, but had no real estate of my own, being the youngest son of twelve children, born of obscure parents; and, though my income has been but small, and my family large, yet, by a providential blessing upon my own diligent endeavours, the kindness of friends, and a cheap country to live in, we have always had the necessaries of life. By what I have written (which is a true and exact account to the best of my knowledge,) I hope you will not think your favour to me, out of the late worthy Dr. Stratford's effects, quite misbestowed, for which I must ever gratefully own myself, Sir, your much obliged and most obedient humble Servant,

"R. W., Curate of S——,
"To Mr. C., of Lancaster."

About the time when this letter was written, the Bishop of Chester recommended the scheme of joining the curacy of Ulpha to the contiguous one of Seathwaite, and the nomination was offered to Mr. Walker; but an unexpected difficulty arising, Mr. W., in a letter to the Bishop, (a copy of which, in his own beautiful handwriting, now lies before me,) thus expresses himself. "If he," meaning the person in whom the difficulty originated, "had suggested any such objection before, I should utterly have declined any attempt to the curacy of Ulpha: indeed, I was always apprehensive it might be disagreeable to my auditory at Seathwaite, as they have been always accustomed to double duty, and the inhabitants of Ulpha despair of being able to support a schoolmaster who is not curate there also; which suppressed all thoughts in me of serving them both." And in a second letter to the Bishop he writes:—

"My Lord,—I have the favour of yours of the 1st instant, and am exceedingly obliged on account of the Ulpha affair: if that curacy should lapse into your Lordship's hands, I would beg leave rather to decline than embrace it; for the chapels of Seathwaite and Ulpha, annexed together, would be apt to cause a general discontent among the inhabitants of both[Pg 274] places; by either thinking themselves slighted, being only served alternately, or neglected in the duty, or attributing it to covetousness in me; all which occasions of murmuring I would willingly avoid." And in concluding his former letter, he expresses a similar sentiment upon the same occasion, "desiring, if it be possible, however, as much as in me lieth, to live peaceably with all men."

The year following, the curacy of Seathwaite was again augmented; and, to effect this augmentation, fifty pounds had been advanced by himself; and, in 1760, lands were purchased with eight hundred pounds. Scanty as was his income, the frequent offer of much better benefices could not tempt Mr. W. to quit a situation where he had been so long happy, with a consciousness of being useful. Among his papers I find the following copy of a letter, dated 1775, twenty years after his refusal of the curacy of Ulpha, which will show what exertions had been made for one of his sons.

"May it please your Grace,—Our remote situation here makes it difficult to get the necessary information for transacting business regularly; such is the reason of my giving your Grace the present trouble.

"The bearer (my son) is desirous of offering himself candidate for deacon's orders at your Grace's ensuing ordination; the first, on the 25th instant, so that his papers could not be transmitted in due time. As he is now fully at age, and I have afforded him education to the utmost of my ability, it would give me great satisfaction (if your Grace would take him, and find him qualified) to have him ordained. His constitution has been tender for some years; he entered the college of Dublin, but his health would not permit him to continue there, or I would have supported him much longer. He has been with me at home above a year, in which time he has gained great strength of body, sufficient, I hope, to enable him for performing the function. Divine Providence, assisted by liberal benefactors, has blest my endeavours, from a small income, to rear a numerous family; and as my time of life renders me now unfit for much future expectancy from this world, I should be glad to see my son settled in a promising way to acquire an honest livelihood for himself. His behaviour, so far in life, has been irreproachable; and I hope he will not degenerate, in principles or practice, from the precepts and pattern of an indulgent parent. Your Grace's favourable reception of this,[Pg 275] from a distant corner of the diocese, and an obscure hand, will excite filial gratitude, and a due use shall be made of the obligation vouchsafed thereby to Your Grace's very dutiful and most obedient Son and Servant,

Robert Walker."

The same man, who was thus liberal in the education of his numerous family, was even munificent in his hospitality as a parish priest. Every Sunday, were served, upon the long table, at which he has been described sitting with a child upon his knee, messes of broth, for the refreshment of those of his congregation who came from a distance, and usually took their seats as parts of his own household. It seems scarcely possible that this custom could have commenced before the augmentation of his cure; and what would to many have been a high price of self-denial, was paid, by the pastor and his family, for this gratification; as the treat could only be provided by dressing at one time the whole, perhaps, of their weekly allowance of fresh animal food; consequently, for a succession of days, the table was covered with cold victuals only. His generosity in old age may be still further illustrated by a little circumstance relating to an orphan grandson, then ten years of age, which I find in a copy of a letter to one of his sons; he requests that half-a-guinea may be left for "little Robert's pocket-money," who was then at school: intrusting it to the care of a lady, who, as he says, "may sometimes frustrate his squandering it away foolishly," and promising to send him an equal allowance annually for the same purpose. The conclusion of the same letter is so characteristic, that I cannot forbear to transcribe it. "We," meaning his wife and himself, "are in our wonted state of health, allowing for the hasty strides of old age knocking daily at our door, and threateningly telling us, we are not only mortal, but must expect ere long to take our leave of our ancient cottage, and lie down in our last dormitory. Pray pardon my neglect to answer yours; let us hear sooner from you, to augment the mirth of the Christmas holidays. Wishing you all the pleasures of the approaching season, I am, dear Son, with lasting sincerity, yours affectionately,

"Robert Walker."

He loved old customs and usages, and in some instances stuck to them to his own loss; for, having had a sum of money lodged in the hands of a neighbouring tradesman, when long course of time had raised the rate of interest, and more was offered, he refused to accept it; an act not difficult to one, who, while he was drawing seventeen pounds a year from his curacy,[Pg 276] declined, as we have seen, to add the profits of another small benefice to his own, lest he should be suspected of cupidity. From this vice he was utterly free; he made no charge for teaching school; such as could afford to pay, gave him what they pleased. When very young, having kept a diary of his expenses, however trifling, the large amount, at the end of the year, surprised him; and from that time the rule of his life was to be economical, not avaricious. At his decease he left behind him no less a sum than £2000; and such a sense of his various excellencies was prevalent in the country, that the epithet of wonderful is to this day attached to his name.

There is in the above sketch something so extraordinary as to require further explanatory details.—And to begin with his industry; eight hours in each day, during five days in the week, and half of Saturday, except when the labours of husbandry were urgent, he was occupied in teaching. His seat was within the rails of the altar; the communion-table was his desk; and, like Shenstone's schoolmistress, the master employed himself at the spinning-wheel, while the children were repeating their lessons by his side. Every evening, after school hours, if not more profitably engaged, he continued the same kind of labour, exchanging, for the benefit of exercise, the small wheel, at which he had sate, for the large one on which wool is spun, the spinner stepping to and fro. Thus, was the wheel constantly in readiness to prevent the waste of a moment's time. Nor was his industry with the pen, when occasion called for it, less eager. Intrusted with extensive management of public and private affairs, he acted, in his rustic neighbourhood, as scrivener, writing out petitions, deeds of conveyance, wills, covenants, etc., with pecuniary gain to himself, and to the great benefit of his employers. These labours (at all times considerable) at one period of the year, viz., between Christmas and Candlemas, when money transactions are settled in this country, were often so intense, that he passed great part of the night, and sometimes whole nights, at his desk. His garden also was tilled by his own hand; he had a right of pasturage upon the mountains for a few sheep and a couple of cows, which required his attendance; with this pastoral occupation, he joined the labours of husbandry upon a small scale, renting two or three acres in addition to his own less than one acre of glebe; and the humblest drudgery which the cultivation of these fields required was performed by himself.

He also assisted his neighbours in haymaking and shearing[Pg 277] their flocks, and in the performance of this latter service he was eminently dexterous. They, in their turn, complimented him with the present of a haycock, or a fleece; less as a recompense for this particular service than as a general acknowledgment. The Sabbath was in a strict sense kept holy; the Sunday evenings being devoted to reading the Scripture and family prayer. The principal festivals appointed by the Church were also duly observed; but through every other day in the week, through every week in the year he was incessantly occupied in work of hand or mind; not allowing a moment for recreation, except upon a Saturday afternoon, when he indulged himself with a Newspaper, or sometimes with a Magazine. The frugality and temperance established in his house, were as admirable as the industry. Nothing to which the name of luxury could be given was there known; in the latter part of his life, indeed, when tea had been brought into almost general use, it was provided for visitors, and for such of his own family as returned occasionally to his roof, and had been accustomed to this refreshment elsewhere; but neither he nor his wife ever partook of it. The raiment worn by his family was comely and decent, but as simple as their diet; the home-spun materials were made up into apparel by their own hands. At the time of the decease of this thrifty pair, their cottage contained a large store of webs of woollen and linen cloth, woven from thread of their own spinning. And it is remarkable that the pew in the chapel in which the family used to sit, remains neatly lined with woollen cloth spun by the pastor's own hands. It is the only pew in the chapel so distinguished; and I know of no other instance of his conformity to the delicate accommodations of modern times. The fuel of the house, like that of their neighbours, consisted of peat, procured from the mosses by their own labour. The lights by which, in the winter evenings, their work was performed, were of their own manufacture, such as still continue to be used in these cottages; they are made of the pith of rushes dipped in any unctuous substance that the house affords. White candles, as tallow candles are here called, were reserved to honour the Christmas festivals, and were perhaps produced upon no other occasions. Once a month, during the proper season, a sheep was drawn from their small mountain flock, and killed for the use of the family; and a cow, towards the close of the year, was salted and dried for winter provision: the hide was tanned to furnish them with shoes.—By these various resources, this venerable clergyman reared a[Pg 278] numerous family, not only preserving them, as he affectingly says, "from wanting the necessaries of life"; but affording them an unstinted education, and the means of raising themselves in society. In this they were eminently assisted by the effects of their father's example, his precepts, and injunctions: he was aware that truth-speaking, as a moral virtue, is best secured by inculcating attention to accuracy of report even on trivial occasions; and so rigid were the rules of honesty by which he endeavoured to bring up his family, that if one of them had chanced to find in the lanes or fields anything of the least use or value without being able to ascertain to whom it belonged, he always insisted upon the child's carrying it back to the place from which it had been brought.[GU]

No one it might be thought could, as has been described, convert his body into a machine, as it were, of industry for the humblest uses, and keep his thoughts so frequently bent upon secular concerns, without grievous injury to the more precious parts of his nature. How could the powers of intellect thrive, or its graces be displayed, in the midst of circumstances apparently so unfavourable, and where, to the direct cultivation of the mind, so small a portion of time was allotted? But, in this extraordinary man, things in their nature adverse were reconciled. His conversation was remarkable, not only for being chaste and pure, but for the degree in which it was fervent and eloquent; his written style was correct, simple, and animated. Nor did his affections suffer more than his intellect; he was tenderly alive to all the duties of his pastoral office: the poor and needy "he never sent empty away," the stranger was fed and refreshed in passing that unfrequented vale,—the sick were visited; and the feelings of humanity found further exercise among the distresses and embarrassments in the worldly estate of his neighbours, with which his talents for business made him acquainted; and the disinterestedness, impartiality, and uprightness which he maintained in the management of all affairs confided to him, were virtues seldom separated in his own conscience from religious obligation. Nor could such conduct fail to remind those who witnessed it of a spirit nobler than law or custom: they felt convictions which, but for such intercourse, could not have been afforded, that, as in the practice of their pastor, there was no guile, so in his faith there was nothing hollow; and we are warranted in believing, that upon these occasions, selfishness, obstinacy, and discord would often give[Pg 279] way before the breathings of his goodwill and saintly integrity. It may be presumed also—while his humble congregation were listening to the moral precepts which he delivered from the pulpit, and to the Christian exhortations that they should love their neighbours as themselves, and do as they would be done unto—that peculiar efficacy was given to the preacher's labours by recollections in the minds of his congregation, that they were called upon to do no more than his own actions were daily setting before their eyes.

The afternoon service in the chapel was less numerously attended than that of the morning, but by a more serious auditory; the lesson from the New Testament, on those occasions, was accompanied by Burkitt's Commentaries. These lessons he read with impassioned emphasis, frequently drawing tears from his hearers, and leaving a lasting impression upon their minds. His devotional feelings and the powers of his own mind were further exercised, along with those of his family, in perusing the Scriptures: not only on the Sunday evenings, but on every other evening, while the rest of the household were at work, some one of the children, and in her turn the servant, for the sake of practice in reading, or for instruction, read the Bible aloud; and in this manner the whole was repeatedly gone through. That no common importance was attached to the observance of religious ordinances by his family, appears from the following memorandum by one of his descendants, which I am tempted to insert at length, as it is characteristic, and somewhat curious. "There is a small chapel in the county palatine of Lancaster, where a certain clergyman has regularly officiated above sixty years, and a few months ago administered the sacrament of the Lord's Supper in the same, to a decent number of devout communicants. After the clergyman had received himself, the first company out of the assembly who approached the altar, and kneeled down to be partakers of the sacred elements, consisted of the parson's wife, to whom he had been married upwards of sixty years; one son and his wife; four daughters, each with her husband; whose ages, all added together, amount to above 714 years. The several and respective distances from the place of each of their abodes, to the chapel where they all communicated, will measure more than 1000 English miles. Though the narration will appear surprising, it is without doubt a fact that the same persons, exactly four years before, met at the same place, and all joined in performance of the same venerable duty."

[Pg 280]

He was indeed most zealously attached to the doctrine and frame of the Established Church. We have seen him congratulating himself that he had no dissenters in his cure of any denomination. Some allowance must be made for the state of opinion when his first religious impressions were received, before the reader will acquit him of bigotry, when I mention, that at the time of the augmentation of the cure, he refused to invest part of the money in the purchase of an estate offered to him upon advantageous terms, because the proprietor was a Quaker;—whether from scrupulous apprehension that a blessing would not attend a contract framed for the benefit of the church between persons not in religious sympathy with each other; or, as a seeker of peace, he was afraid of the uncomplying disposition which at one time was too frequently conspicuous in that sect. Of this an instance had fallen under his own notice; for, while he taught school at Loweswater, certain persons of that denomination had refused to pay annual interest due[GV] under the title of Church-stock;[GW] a great hardship upon the incumbent, for the curacy of Loweswater was then scarcely less poor than that of Seathwaite. To what degree this prejudice of his was blameable need not be determined;—certain it is, that he was not only desirous, as he himself says, to live in peace, but in love, with all men. He was placable, and charitable in his judgments; and, however correct in conduct and rigorous to himself, he was ever ready to forgive the trespasses of others, and to soften the censure that was cast upon their frailties.—It would be unpardonable to omit that, in the maintenance of his virtues, he received due support from the partner of his long life. She was equally strict, in attending to her share of their joint cares, nor less diligent in her appropriate occupations. A person who had been some time their servant in the latter part of their lives, concluded the panegyric of her mistress by saying to me, "She was no less excellent than her husband; she was good to the poor, she was good to every thing!" He survived for a short time this virtuous companion. When she died, he ordered that her body should be borne to the grave by three of her daughters and one grand-daughter; and, when the corpse was lifted from the threshold, he insisted upon lending his aid, and feeling about,[Pg 281] for he was then almost blind, took hold of a napkin fixed to the coffin; and, as a bearer of the body, entered the chapel, a few steps from the lowly parsonage.

What a contrast does the life of this obscurely-seated, and, in point of worldly wealth, poorly-repaid Churchman, present to that of a Cardinal Wolsey!

O, 'tis a burthen, Cromwell, 'tis a burthen
Too heavy for a man that hopes for heaven![GX]

We have been dwelling upon images of peace in the moral world, that have brought us again to the quiet enclosure of consecrated ground, in which this venerable pair lie interred. The sounding brook, that rolls close by the churchyard, without disturbing feeling or meditation, is now unfortunately laid bare; but not long ago it participated, with the chapel, the shade of some stately ash-trees, which will not spring again. While the spectator from this spot is looking round upon the girdle of stony mountains that encompasses the vale,—masses of rock, out of which monuments for all men that ever existed might have been hewn—it would surprise him to be told, as with truth he might be, that the plain blue slab dedicated to the memory of this aged pair is a production of a quarry in North Wales. It was sent as a mark of respect by one of their descendants from the vale of Festiniog, a region almost as beautiful as that in which it now lies!

Upon the Seathwaite Brook, at a small distance from the parsonage, has been erected a mill for spinning yarn; it is a mean and disagreeable object, though not unimportant to the spectator, as calling to mind the momentous changes wrought by such inventions in the frame of society—changes which have proved especially unfavourable to these mountain solitudes. So much had been effected by those new powers, before the subject of the preceding biographical sketch closed his life, that their operation could not escape his notice, and doubtless excited touching reflections upon the comparatively insignificant results of his own manual industry. But Robert Walker was not a man of times and circumstances: had he lived at a later period, the principle of duty would have produced application as unremitting; the same energy of character would have been displayed, though in many instances with widely different effects.

[Pg 282]

With pleasure I annex, as illustrative and confirmatory of the above account, extracts from a paper in the Christian Remembrancer, October 1819: it bears an assumed signature, but is known to be the work of the Rev. Robert Bamford, vicar of Bishopton, in the county of Durham; a great-grandson of Mr. Walker, whose worth it commemorates, by a record not the less valuable for being written in very early youth.

"His house was a nursery of virtue. All the inmates were industrious, and cleanly, and happy. Sobriety, neatness, quietness, characterised the whole family. No railings, no idleness, no indulgence of passion were permitted. Every child, however young, had its appointed engagements; every hand was busy. Knitting, spinning, reading, writing, mending clothes, making shoes, were by the different children constantly performing. The father himself sitting amongst them, and guiding their thoughts, was engaged in the same occupations....

"He sate up late, and rose early; when the family were at rest, he retired to a little room which he had built on the roof of his house. He had slated it, and fitted it up with shelves for his books, his stock of cloth, wearing apparel, and his utensils. There many a cold winter's night, without fire, while the roof was glazed with ice, did he remain reading or writing, till the day dawned. He taught the children in the chapel, for there was no schoolhouse. Yet in that cold, damp place he never had a fire. He used to send the children in parties either to his own fire at home, or make them run up the mountain side.

      *      *      *      *      *      *

"It may be further mentioned, that he was a passionate admirer of Nature; she was his mother, and he was a dutiful child. While engaged on the mountains, it was his greatest pleasure to view the rising sun; and in tranquil evenings, as it slided behind the hills, he blessed its departure. He was skilled in fossils and plants; a constant observer of the stars and winds: the atmosphere was his delight. He made many experiments on its nature and properties. In summer he used to gather a multitude of flies and insects, and, by his entertaining description, amuse and instruct his children. They shared all his daily employments, and derived many sentiments of love and benevolence from his observations on the works and productions of nature. Whether they were following him in the field, or surrounding him in school, he took every opportunity[Pg 283] of storing their minds with useful information.—Nor was the circle of his influence confined to Seathwaite. Many a distant mother has told her child of Mr. Walker, and begged him to be as good a man.

      *      *      *      *      *      *

"Once, when I was very young, I had the pleasure of seeing and hearing that venerable old man in his 90th year, and even then, the calmness, the force, the perspicuity of his sermon, sanctified and adorned by the wisdom of grey hairs, and the authority of virtue, had such an effect upon my mind, that I never see a hoary-headed clergyman, without thinking of Mr. Walker.... He allowed no dissenter or methodist to interfere in the instruction of the souls committed to his cure: and so successful were his exertions, that he had not one dissenter of any denomination whatever in the whole parish. Though he avoided all religious controversies, yet when age had silvered his head, and virtuous piety had secured to his appearance reverence and silent honour, no one, however determined in his hatred of apostolic descent, could have listened to his discourse on ecclesiastical history and ancient times, without thinking, that one of the beloved apostles had returned to mortality, and in that vale of peace had come to exemplify the beauty of holiness in the life and character of Mr. Walker.

      *      *      *      *      *      *

"Until the sickness of his wife, a few months previous to her death, his health and spirits and faculties were unimpaired. But this misfortune gave him such a shock, that his constitution gradually decayed. His senses, except sight, still preserved their powers. He never preached with steadiness after his wife's death. His voice faltered: he always looked at the seat she had used. He could not pass her tomb without tears. He became, when alone, sad and melancholy, though still among his friends kind and good-humoured. He went to bed about twelve o'clock the night before his death. As his custom was, he went, tottering and leaning upon his daughter's arm, to examine the heavens, and meditate a few moments in the open air. 'How clear the moon shines to-night!' He said these words, sighed, and laid down. At six next morning he was found a corpse. Many a tear, and many a heavy heart, and many a grateful blessing followed him to the grave."[GY]

[Pg 284]

Having mentioned in this narrative the vale of Loweswater as a place where Mr. Walker taught school, I will add a few memoranda from its parish register, respecting a person apparently of desires as moderate, with whom he must have been intimate during his residence there.

"Let him that would, ascend the tottering seat
Of courtly grandeur, and become as great
As are his mounting wishes; but for me,
Let sweet repose and rest my portion be.
Henry Forest, Curate."
"Honour, the idol which the most adore,
Receives no homage from my knee;
Content in privacy I value more
Than all uneasy dignity."

"Henry Forest came to Loweswater, 1708, being twenty-five years of age."

"This curacy was twice augmented by Queen Anne's Bounty. The first payment, with great difficulty, was paid to Mr. John Curwen of London, on the 9th of May, 1724, deposited by me, Henry Forest, curate of Loweswater. Ye said 9th of May, ye said Mr. Curwen went to the office, and saw my name registered there, etc. This, by the Providence of God, came by lot to this poor place.

"Hæc testor H. Forest."

In another place he records, that the sycamore trees were planted in the churchyard in 1710.

He died in 1741, having been curate thirty-four years. It is not improbable that H. Forest was the gentleman who assisted Robert Walker in his classical studies at Loweswater.

To this parish register is prefixed a motto, of which the following verses are a part:—

Invigilate viri, tacito nam tempora gressu
Diffugiunt, nulloque sono convertitur annus;
Utendum est ætate, cito pede præterit ætas.
W. W. 1820.

[Pg 285]


FOOTNOTES:

[GT] Many archaic spellings, in this and other papers, are retained.—Ed.

[GU] The last sentence first appeared in the edition of 1837.—Ed.

[GV] To pay, or be distrained upon, for the accustomed annual interest due from them, among others.—W. W. 1820.

[GW] Mr. Walker's charity being of that kind which "seeketh not her own," he would rather forego his rights than distrain for dues which the parties liable refused to pay as a point of conscience.—W. W. 1827.

[GX] See King Henry VIII., act III. scene 2, ll. 384, 385.—Ed.

[GY] The paragraphs from "With pleasure" (p. 282) to "to the grave" (p. 283) were first printed in the edition of 1832.—Ed.


MEMORIALS OF A TOUR ON THE CONTINENT

1820

Composed 1821-2.—Published 1822

[I set out in company with my wife and sister, and Mr. and Mrs. Monkhouse, then just married, and Miss Horrocks. These two ladies, sisters, we left at Berne, while Mr. Monkhouse took the opportunity of making an excursion with us among the Alps as far as Milan. Mr. H. C. Robinson joined us at Lucerne, and when this ramble was completed we rejoined at Geneva the two ladies we had left at Berne and proceeded to Paris, where Mr. Monkhouse and H. C. R. left us, and where we spent five weeks, of which there is not a record in these poems.—I. F.]

See Dorothy Wordsworth's itinerary (Note A) of this tour, and Henry Crabb Robinson's account of it in his Diary and Correspondence, vol. ii. pp. 166-192 (Note B to this volume).—Ed.

DEDICATION

(Sent with these Poems, in MS., to ——)[467]

Dear Fellow-travellers![GZ] think not that the Muse,
To You presenting these memorial Lays,
Can hope the general eye thereon would gaze,[468]
As on a mirror that gives back the hues
5
Of living Nature; no—though free to choose
The greenest bowers, the most inviting ways,
The fairest landscapes and the brightest days—
[Pg 286]
Her skill she tried with less ambitious views.[469]
For You she wrought: Ye only can supply
10
The life, the truth, the beauty: she confides
In that enjoyment which with You abides,
Trusts to your love and vivid memory;
Thus far contented, that for You her verse
Shall lack not power the "meeting soul to pierce!"[HA]
       W. Wordsworth.

Rydal Mount, Nov. 1821[470]


VARIANTS:

[467] Not in the editions of 1822-1832.

[468] 1837.

Presents to notice these memorial Lays,
1822.
Hoping the general eye thereon will gaze,

[469] 1827.

1822.
She felt too deeply what her skill must lose.

[470] 1837.

1822.
Rydal Mount, January 1822.

FOOTNOTES:

[GZ] The Fellow-travellers were Mrs. Wordsworth, Dorothy Wordsworth, Mr. and Mrs. Monkhouse, Miss Horrocks, and Henry Crabb Robinson.—Ed.

[HA] Compare L'Allegro, l. 138.—Ed.


I

FISH-WOMEN—ON LANDING AT CALAIS

'Tis said, fantastic ocean doth enfold
The likeness of whate'er on land is seen;
But, if the Nereid Sisters and their Queen,[HB]
Above whose heads the tide so long hath rolled,
5
The Dames resemble whom we here behold,
How fearful were it down through opening waves[471]
To sink, and meet them in their fretted caves,
Withered, grotesque, immeasurably old,
And shrill and fierce in accent!—Fear it not:
10
For they Earth's fairest daughters do excel;