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The Poetical Works of William Wordsworth, Vol. II. by William Wordsworth

Part 12 out of 14

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1815.

... alive ... 1802.]

* * * * *

FOOTNOTE ON THE TEXT

[Footnote A: For the original title of this poem,--as published in 'The
Morning Post and Gazetteer',--see the note to the previous poem. When
first published it was unsigned.--Ed.]

See the editorial note to the preceding poem.--Ed.

* * * * *

1803

The poems associated with the year 1803 consist mainly of the "Memorials
of a Tour in Scotland," which Wordsworth and his sister took--along with
Coleridge--in the autumn of that year, although many of these were not
written till some time after the Tour was finished. 'The Green Linnet'
and 'Yew-trees' were written in 1803, and some sonnets were composed in
the month of October; but, on the whole, 1803 was not a fruitful year in
Wordsworth's life, as regards his lyrics and smaller poems. Doubtless
both 'The Prelude' and 'The Excursion' were revised in 1803.--Ed.

* * * * *

THE GREEN LINNET

Composed 1803.--Published 1807

[Composed in the orchard, Town-end, Grasmere, where the bird was often
seen as here described.--I.F.]

One of the "Poems of the Fancy."--Ed.

Beneath these fruit-tree boughs that shed
Their snow white blossoms on my head,
With brightest sunshine round me spread
Of spring's unclouded weather,
In this sequestered nook how sweet 5
To sit upon my orchard-seat!
And birds and flowers once more to greet,
My last year's friends together. [1]

One have I marked, the happiest guest
In all this covert of the blest: 10
Hail to Thee, far above the rest
In joy of voice and pinion!
Thou, Linnet! in thy green array,
Presiding Spirit here to-day,
Dost lead the revels of the May; 15
And this is thy dominion.

While birds, and butterflies, and flowers,
Make all one band of paramours,
Thou, ranging up and down the bowers,
Art sole in thy employment: 20
A Life, a Presence like the Air,
Scattering thy gladness without care,
Too blest with any one to pair;
Thyself thy own enjoyment.

Amid [2] yon tuft of hazel trees, 25
That twinkle to the gusty breeze,
Behold him perched in ecstacies,
Yet seeming still to hover;
There! where the flutter of his wings
Upon his back and body flings 30
Shadows and sunny glimmerings,
That cover him all over.

My dazzled sight he oft deceives,
A Brother of the dancing leaves;
Then flits, and from the cottage-eaves 35
Pours forth his song in gushes; [3]
As if by that exulting strain
He mocked and treated with disdain
The voiceless Form he chose to feign,
While fluttering in the bushes. [4] 40

* * * * *

VARIANTS ON THE TEXT

[Variant 1:

1827.

The May is come again:--how sweet
To sit upon my Orchard-seat!
And Birds and Flowers once more to greet,
My last year's Friends together:
My thoughts they all by turns employ;
A whispering Leaf is now my joy,
And then a Bird will be the toy
That doth my fancy tether. 1807.

And Flowers and Birds once more to greet, 1815.

The text of 1815 is otherwise identical with that of 1827.]

[Variant 2:

1845.

Upon ... 1807.]

[Variant 3:

1845.

While thus before my eyes he gleams,
A Brother of the Leaves he seems;
When in a moment forth he teems
His little song in gushes: 1807.

My sight he dazzles, half deceives,
A Bird so like the dancing Leaves;
Then flits, and from the Cottage eaves
Pours forth his song in gushes; 1827.

My dazzled sight the Bird deceives,
A Brother of the dancing Leaves; 1832.

The Bird my dazzled sight deceives, 1840.

The Bird my dazzling sight deceives C.]

[Variant 4:

1827.

As if it pleas'd him to disdain
And mock the Form which he did feign,
While he was dancing with the train
Of Leaves among the bushes. 1807.

The voiceless Form he chose to feign, 1820.]

Of all Wordsworth's poems this is the one most distinctively associated
with the Orchard, at Town-end, Grasmere. Dorothy Wordsworth writes in
her Journal under date May 28th, 1802:

"We sat in the orchard. The young bull-finches in their pretty
coloured raiment, bustle about among the blossoms, and poise
themselves like wire-dancers or tumblers, shaking the twigs and
dashing off the blossoms."

Ed.

* * * * *

YEW-TREES

Composed 1803.--Published 1815

[Written at Grasmere. These Yew-trees are still standing, but the spread
of that at Lorton is much diminished by mutilation. I will here mention
that a little way up the hill, on the road leading from Rosthwaite to
Stonethwaite (in Borrowdale) lay the trunk of a Yew-tree, which appeared
as you approached, so vast was its diameter, like the entrance of a
cave, and not a small one. Calculating upon what I have observed of the
slow growth of this tree in rocky situations, and of its durability, I
have often thought that the one I am describing must have been as old as
the Christian era. The Tree lay in the line of a fence. Great masses of
its ruins were strewn about, and some had been rolled down the hillside
and lay near the road at the bottom. As you approached the tree, you
were struck with the number of shrubs and young plants, ashes, etc.,
which had found a bed upon the decayed trunk and grew to no
inconsiderable height, forming, as it were, a part of the hedgerow. In
no part of England, or of Europe, have I ever seen a yew-tree at all
approaching this in magnitude, as it must have stood. By the bye,
Hutton, the old guide, of Keswick, had been so impressed with the
remains of this tree, that he used gravely to tell strangers that there
could be no doubt of its having been in existence before the
flood.--I.F.]

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

There is a Yew-tree, pride of Lorton Vale,
Which to this day stands single, in the midst
Of its own darkness, as it stood of yore:
Not loth to furnish weapons for the bands
Of Umfraville or Percy ere they marched 5
To Scotland's heaths; or those that crossed the sea
And drew their sounding bows at Azincour,
Perhaps at earlier Crecy, or Poictiers.
Of vast circumference and gloom profound
This solitary Tree! a living thing 10
Produced too slowly ever to decay;
Of form and aspect too magnificent
To be destroyed. But worthier still of note
Are those fraternal Four of Borrowdale,
Joined in one solemn and capacious grove; 15
Huge trunks! and each particular trunk a growth
Of intertwisted fibres serpentine
Up-coiling, and inveterately convolved;
Nor uninformed with Phantasy, and looks
That threaten the profane;--a pillared shade, 20
Upon whose grassless floor of red-brown hue,
By sheddings from the pining umbrage tinged
Perennially--beneath whose sable roof
Of boughs, as if for festal purpose, decked
With unrejoicing berries--ghostly Shapes 25
May meet at noontide; Fear and trembling Hope,
Silence and Foresight; Death the Skeleton
And Time the Shadow;--there to celebrate,
As in a natural temple scattered o'er
With altars undisturbed of mossy stone, 30
United worship; or in mute repose
To lie, and listen to the mountain flood
Murmuring from Glaramara's inmost caves.

The text of this poem was never altered. The Lorton Yew-tree--which, in
1803, was "of vast circumference," the "pride of Lorton Vale," and
described as:

'a living thing
Produced too slowly ever to decay;
Of form and aspect too magnificent
To be destroyed--'

does not now verify its poet's prediction of the future. Mr. Wilson
Robinson of Whinfell Hall, Cockermouth, wrote to me of it in May 1880:

"The tree in outline expanded towards the root considerably: then, at
about two feet from the ground, the trunk began to separate into huge
limbs, spreading in all directions. I once measured this trunk at its
least circumference, and found it 23 feet 10 inches. For the last 50
or 60 years the branches have been gradually dying on the S. E. side,
and about 25 years ago a strong S. E. gale, coming with accumulated
force down Hope Gill, and--owing to the tree being so open on that
side--taking it laterally at a disadvantage, wrenched off one of the
great side branches down to the ground, carrying away nearly a third
of the tree. This event led to farther peril; for, the second portion
having been sold to a cabinetmaker at Whitehaven for L15, this gave
the impression that the wood was very valuable (owing to the celebrity
of the tree); and a local woodmonger bought the remainder. Two men
worked half a day to grub it up; but a Cockermouth medical gentleman,
hearing what was going on, made representations to the owner, and it
ended in the woodmen sparing the remainder of the tree, which was not
much the worse for what had been done. Many large dead branches have
also been cut off, and now we have to regret that the 'pride of Lorton
Vale,' shorn of its ancient dignity, is but a ruin, much more
venerable than picturesque."

The "fraternal Four of Borrowdale" are certainly "worthier still of
note." The "trunk" described in the Fenwick note, as on the road between
Rosthwaite and Stonethwaite, has disappeared long ago; but the "solemn
and capacious grove" existed till 1883 in its integrity. The description
in the poem is realistic throughout, while the visible scene suggests

"an ideal grove, in which the ghostly masters of mankind meet, and
sleep, and offer worship to the Destiny that abides above them, while
the mountain flood, as if from another world, makes music to which
they dimly listen."

(Stopford A. Brooke, in 'Theology in the English Poets', p. 259.) With
the first part of the poem Wordsworth's 'Sonnet composed at----Castle'
during the Scotch Tour of 1803 may be compared (p. 410). For a critical
estimate of the poem see 'Modern Painters', part III. sec. II, chap. iv.
Ruskin alludes to "the real and high action of the imagination in
Wordsworth's 'Yew-trees' (perhaps the most vigorous and solemn bit of
forest landscape ever painted). It is too long to quote, but the reader
should refer to it: let him note especially, if painter, that pure touch
of colour, 'by sheddings from the pining umbrage tinged.'" See also
Coleridge's criticism in 'Biographia Literaria', vol. ii. p. 177,
edition 1847, and his daughter Sara's comment on her father's note.
There can be little doubt that, as Professor Dowden has suggested, the
lines 23 to 28 were suggested to Wordsworth by Virgil's lines in the
Sixth Book of the 'AEneid', 273-284--

'Vestibulum ante ipsum primisque in faucibus Orci
Luctus et ultrices posuere cubilia Curae;
Pallentesque habitant Morbi, tristisque Senectus,
Et Metus, et malesuada Fames, ac turpis Egestas,
Terribiles visu formae, Letumque, Labosque;
Tum consanguineus Leti Sopor, et mala mentis
Gaudia, mortiferumque adverso in limine Bellum,
Ferreique Eumenidum thalami, et Discordia demens,
Vipereum crinem vittis innexa cruentis.
In medio ramos annosaque bracchia pandit
Ulmus opaca, ingens, quam sedem Somnia volgo
Vana tenere ferunt, foliisque sub omnibus haerent.'

"The 'Four Yew Trees,' and the mysterious company which you have
assembled there, 'Death the Skeleton and Time the Shadow.' It is a
sight not for every youthful poet to dream of; it is one of the last
results he must have gone thinking for years for."

(Charles Lamb to Wordsworth, 1815.)

In Crabb Robinson's 'Diary', a reference to the Yew-trees of Lorton and
Borrowdale will be found under date Sept. 16 and 20, 1816.

"The pride of Lorton Vale" is now a ruin, and has lost all its ancient
majesty: but, until the close of 1883, the "fraternal four" of
Borrowdale were still to be seen "in grand assemblage." Every one who
has felt the power of Wordsworth's poetry,--and especially those who
had visited the Seathwaite valley, and read the 'Yew-Trees' under the
shade of that once "solemn and capacious grove" before 1884,--must
have felt as if they had lost a personal friend, when they heard that
the "grove" was gone. The great gale of December 11, 1883, smote it
fiercely, uprooting one of the trees, and blowing the others to
ribbands. The following is Mr. Rawnsley's account of the disaster:

'Last week the gale that ravaged England did the Lake country much
harm. We could spare many of the larch plantations, and could hear
(with a sigh) of the fall of the giant Scotch firs opposite the
little Scafell Inn at Rosthwaite, and that Watendlath had lost its
pines; but who could spare those ancient Yews, the great

"... fraternal Four of Borrowdale,
Joined in one solemn and capacious grove;
Huge trunks! and each particular trunk a growth
Of intertwisted fibres serpentine
Up-coiling, and inveterately convolved."

'For beneath their pillared shade since Wordsworth wrote his poem,
that Yew-tree grove has suggested to many a wanderer up Borrowdale,
and visitant to the Natural Temple,

"an ideal grove in which the ghostly masters of mankind meet, and
sleep, and offer worship to the Destiny that abides above them,
while the mountain flood, as if from another world, makes music to
which they dimly listen."

'These Yew-trees, seemingly

"Produced too slowly ever to decay;
Of form and aspect too magnificent
To be destroyed,"

'have been ruthlessly overthrown. One has been uprooted bodily; all
the leaders and branches of the others have been wrenched from the
main trunk; and the three still standing are bare poles and broken
wreckage. Until one visits the spot one can have no conception of
the wholesale destruction that the hurricane has wrought; until he
looks on the huge rosy-hearted branches he cannot guess the
tremendous force with which the tornado had fallen upon that "sable
roof of boughs."

'For tornado or whirlwind it must needs have been. The Yews grew
under the eastern flank of the hill called Base Brown. The gale
raged from the westward. One could hardly believe it possible that
the trees could have been touched by it; for the barrier hill on
which they grew,--and under whose shelter they have seen centuries
of storm,--goes straight upwards, betwixt them and the west. It was
only realizable when, standing amid the wreckage, and looking across
the valley, it was seen that a larch plantation had been entirely
levelled, and evidently by a wind that was coming from the east, and
directly toward the Yew-trees. On enquiring at Seathwaite Farm, one
found that all the slates blown from the roof of that building on
the west side, had been whirled up clean over the roof: and we can
only surmise that the winds rushing from the west and north-west,
and meeting the bastions of Glaramara and the Sty-head slopes, were
whirled round in the 'cul-de-sac' of the valley, and moved with
churning motion back from east to west over the Seathwaite Farm, and
so in straight line across the beck, and up the slope to the
Yew-tree cluster. With what a wrenching, and with what violence,
these trees were in a moment shattered, only those can guess who now
witness the ruins of the pillared shade, upon the "grassless floor
of red-brown hue."'"

Ed.

* * * * *

"WHO FANCIED WHAT A PRETTY SIGHT"

Composed 1803.--Published 1807

In the edition of 1807 this poem was No. VIII. of the series entitled
"Moods of my own Mind." It was afterwards included among the "Poems of
the Fancy," and in a MS. copy it was named "The Coronet of
Snowdrops."--Ed.

Who fancied what a pretty sight
This Rock would be if edged around
With living snow-drops? circlet bright!
How glorious to this orchard-ground!
Who loved the little Rock, and set 5
Upon its head this coronet?

Was it the humour of a child?
Or rather of some gentle [1] maid,
Whose brows, the day that she was styled
The shepherd-queen, were thus arrayed? 10
Of man mature, or matron sage?
Or old man toying with his age?

I asked--'twas whispered; The device
To each and [2] all might well belong:
It is the Spirit of Paradise 15
That prompts such work, a Spirit strong,
That gives to all the self-same bent
Where life is wise and innocent.

* * * * *

VARIANTS ON THE TEXT

[Variant 1:

1836.

... love-sick ... 1807.]

[Variant 2:

1827.

... or ... 1807.]

* * * * *

"IT IS NO SPIRIT WHO FROM HEAVEN HATH FLOWN"

Composed 1803.--Published 1807

[Written at Town-end, Grasmere. I remember the instant my sister S. H.,
called me to the window of our Cottage, saying, "Look how beautiful is
yon star! It has the sky all to itself." I composed the verses
immediately.--I.F.]

This was No. XIII. of "Moods of my own Mind," in the edition of 1807. It
was afterwards included among the "Poems of the Imagination."--Ed.

It is no Spirit who from heaven hath flown,
And is descending on his embassy;
Nor Traveller gone from earth the heavens to espy!
'Tis Hesperus--there he stands with glittering crown,
First admonition that the sun is down! 5
For yet it is broad day-light: clouds pass by;
A few are near him still--and now the sky,
He hath it to himself--'tis all his own.
O most ambitious Star! an inquest wrought
Within me when I recognised thy light; 10
A moment I was startled at the sight:
And, while I gazed, there came to me a thought
That I might step beyond my natural race
As thou seem'st now to do; might one day trace [1]
Some ground not mine; and, strong her strength above, 15
My Soul, an Apparition in the place,
Tread there with steps that no one shall reprove! [A]

* * * * *

VARIANT ON THE TEXT

[Variant 1: 1807.

O most ambitious Star! an inquest wrought
Within me when I recognised thy light;
A moment I was startled at the sight:
And, while I gazed, there came to me a thought
That even I beyond my natural race
Might step as thou dost now: might one day trace 1815.

O most ambitious Star! thy Presence brought
A startling recollection to my mind
Of the distinguished few among mankind,
Who dare to step beyond their natural race,
As thou seem'st now to do:--nor was a thought
Denied--that even I might one day trace 1820.

The text of 1836 returns to that of 1807.]

* * * * *

FOOTNOTE ON THE TEXT

[Footnote A: Professor Dowden directs attention to the relation between
these lines and the poem beginning "If thou indeed derive thy light from
Heaven."--Ed.]

* * * * *

MEMORIALS OF A TOUR IN SCOTLAND

1803

These poems were first collected, under the above title, in the edition
of 1827. In 1807, nine of them--viz. 'Rob Roy's Grave', 'The Solitary
Reaper', 'Stepping Westward', 'Glen Almain, or, The Narrow Glen', 'The
Matron of Jedborough and her Husband', 'To a Highland Girl', 'Sonnet',
'To the Sons of Burns after visiting the Grave of their Father', 'Yarrow
Unvisited',--were printed under the title, "Poems written during a Tour
in Scotland." This group begins the second volume of the edition of that
year. But in 1815 and 1820--when Wordsworth began to arrange his poems
in groups--they were distributed with the rest of the series in the
several artificial sections. Although some were composed after the Tour
was finished--and the order in which Wordsworth placed them is not the
order of the Scotch Tour itself--it is advisable to keep to his own
method of arrangement in dealing with this particular group, for the
same reason that we retain it in such a series as the Duddon
Sonnets.--Ed.

* * * * *

DEPARTURE FROM THE VALE OF GRASMERE. AUGUST, 1803 [A]

Composed 1811.--Published 1827

[Mr. Coleridge, my sister, and myself started together from Town-end to
make a tour in Scotland. Poor Coleridge was at that time in bad spirits,
and somewhat too much in love with his own dejection; and he departed
from us, as is recorded in my Sister's Journal, soon after we left Loch
Lomond. The verses that stand foremost among these Memorials were not
actually written for the occasion, but transplanted from my 'Epistle to
Sir George Beaumont'.--I. F.]

The gentlest Shade that walked Elysian plains
Might sometimes covet dissoluble chains;
Even for the tenants of the zone that lies
Beyond the stars, celestial Paradise,
Methinks 'twould heighten joy, to overleap 5
At will the crystal battlements, and peep
Into some other region, though less fair,
To see how things are made and managed there.
Change for the worse might please, incursion bold
Into the tracts of darkness and of cold; 10
O'er Limbo lake with aery flight to steer,
And on the verge of Chaos hang in fear.
Such animation often do I find,
Power in my breast, wings growing in my mind,
Then, when some rock or hill is overpast, 15
Perchance without one look behind me cast,
Some barrier with which Nature, from the birth
Of things, has fenced this fairest spot on earth.
O pleasant transit, Grasmere! to resign
Such happy fields, abodes so calm as thine; 20
Not like an outcast with himself at strife;
The slave of business, time, or care for life,
But moved by choice; or, if constrained in part,
Yet still with Nature's freedom at the heart;--
To cull contentment upon wildest shores, 25
And luxuries extract from bleakest moors;
With prompt embrace all beauty to enfold,
And having rights in all that we behold.
--Then why these lingering steps?--A bright adieu,
For a brief absence, proves that love is true; 30
Ne'er can the way be irksome or forlorn
That winds into itself for sweet return.

* * * * *

FOOTNOTE ON THE TEXT

[Footnote A: This first poem referring to the Scottish Tour of 1803, was
not actually written till 1811. It originally formed the opening
paragraph of the 'Epistle to Sir George Beaumont'. Wordsworth himself
dated it 1804. It is every way desirable that it should introduce the
series of poems referring to the Tour of 1803.--Ed.]

The following is from Dorothy Wordsworth's 'Recollections of a Tour made
in Scotland':

"William and I parted from Mary on Sunday afternoon, August 14th,
1803; and William, Coleridge, and I left Keswick on Monday morning,
the 15th."

Ed.

* * * * *

AT THE GRAVE OF BURNS, 1803. SEVEN YEARS AFTER HIS DEATH

Composed 1803. [A]--Published 1842

[For illustration, see my Sister's Journal. It may be proper to add that
the second of these pieces, though _felt_ at the time, was not composed
till many years after.--I. F.]

I shiver, Spirit fierce and bold,
At thought of what I now behold:
As vapours breathed from dungeons cold
Strike pleasure dead,
So sadness comes from out [1] the mould 5
Where Burns is laid.

And have I then thy bones so near,
And thou forbidden to appear?
As if it were thyself that's here
I shrink with pain; 10
And both my wishes and my fear
Alike are vain.
[2]
Off weight--nor press on weight!--away
Dark thoughts!--they came, but not to stay;
With chastened feelings would I pay 15
The tribute due
To him, and aught that hides his clay
From mortal view.

Fresh as the flower, whose modest worth
He sang, his genius "glinted" forth, [B] 20
Rose like a star that touching earth,
For so it seems,
Doth glorify its humble birth
With matchless beams.

The piercing eye, the thoughtful brow, 25
The struggling heart, where be they now?--
Full soon the Aspirant of the plough,
The prompt, the brave,
Slept, with the obscurest, in the low
And silent grave. 30

I mourned with thousands, but as one
More deeply grieved, for He was gone
Whose light I hailed when first it shone,
And showed my youth [3]
How Verse may build a princely throne 35
On humble truth.

Alas! where'er the current tends,
Regret pursues and with it blends,--
Huge Criffel's hoary top ascends
By Skiddaw seen,--40
Neighbours we were, and loving friends
We might have been;

True friends though diversely inclined;
But heart with heart and mind with mind,
Where the main fibres are entwined, 45
Through Nature's skill,
May even by contraries be joined
More closely still.

The tear will start, and let it flow;
Thou "poor Inhabitant below," [C] 50
At this dread moment--even so--
Might we together
Have sate and talked where gowans blow,
Or on wild heather.

What treasures would have then been placed 55
Within my reach; of knowledge graced
By fancy what a rich repast!
But why go on?--
Oh! spare to sweep, thou mournful blast,
His grave grass-grown. 60

There, too, a Son, his joy and pride,
(Not three weeks past the Stripling died,)
Lies gathered to his Father's side,
Soul-moving sight!
Yet one to which is not denied 65
Some sad delight.

For _he_ is safe, a quiet bed
Hath early found among the dead,
Harboured where none can be misled,
Wronged, or distrest; 70
And surely here it may be said
That such are blest.

And oh for Thee, by pitying grace
Checked oft-times in a devious race,
May He who halloweth the place 75
Where Man is laid
Receive thy Spirit in the embrace
For which it prayed!

Sighing I turned away; but ere
Night fell I heard, or seemed to hear, 80
Music that sorrow comes not near,
A ritual hymn,
Chanted in love that casts out fear
By Seraphim. [D]

* * * * *

VARIANTS ON THE TEXT

[Variant 1:

1842.

... out of ... MS.]

[Variant 2:

But wherefore tremble? 'tis no place
Of pain and sorrow, but of grace,
Of shelter, and of silent peace,
And "friendly aid";
Grasped is he now in that embrace
For which he prayed. [a] MS.]

[Variant 3:

1845.

Well might I mourn that He was gone
Whose light I hailed when first it shone,
When, breaking forth as nature's own,
It showed my youth 1842.]

* * * * *

FOOTNOTES ON THE TEXT

[Footnote A: It is dated thus by Wordsworth himself on three occasions,
and the year of its composition is also indicated in the title of the
poem.--Ed.]

[Footnote B: Compare Burns's poem 'To a Mountain Daisy', l. 15.--Ed.]

[Footnote C: See Burns's 'A Bard's Epitaph', l. 19.--Ed.]

[Footnote D: Compare 'The Tomb of Burns', by William Watson, 1895.--Ed.]

* * * * *

SUB-FOOTNOTE ON THE TEXT

[Sub-Footnote a: See in his poem the 'Ode to Ruin'.--Ed.]

The following is an extract from Dorothy Wordsworth's Journal of the
Tour in Scotland:

"Thursday, August 18th.--Went to the churchyard where Burns is
buried. A bookseller accompanied us. He showed us the outside of
Burns's house, where he had lived the last three years of his life,
and where he died. It has a mean appearance, and is in a bye
situation, whitewashed.... Went on to visit his grave. He lies at a
corner of the churchyard, and his second son, Francis Wallace, beside
him. There is no stone to mark the spot; but a hundred guineas have
been collected, to be expended on some sort of monument.

'There,' said the bookseller, pointing to a pompous monument, 'there
lies Mr. Such-a-one. I have forgotten his name. A remarkably clever
man; he was an attorney, and hardly ever lost a cause he undertook.
Burns made many a lampoon upon him, and there they rest, as you
see.'

We looked at the grave with melancholy and painful reflections,
repeating to each other his own verses.

'Is there a man whose judgment clear,
Can others teach the way to steer,
Yet runs himself life's mad career,
Wild as the wave?
Here let him pause, and through a tear
Survey this grave.

The poor Inhabitant below
Was quick to learn, and wise to know,
And keenly felt the friendly glow,
And softer flame;
But thoughtless follies laid him low
And stained his name.'

"I cannot take leave of the country which we passed through to-day
without mentioning that we saw the Cumberland Mountains, within
half-a-mile of Ellisland, Burns's house, the last view we had of them.
Drayton has prettily described the connection which this neighbourhood
has with ours when he makes Skiddaw say:

'Seurfell [E] from the sky,
That Anadale [F] doth crown, with a most amorous eye,
Salutes me every day, or at my pride looks grim,
Oft threatening me with clouds, as I oft threatening him!'

"These lines recurred to William's memory, and we talked of Burns, and
of the prospect he must have had, perhaps from his own door, of
Skiddaw and his companions, including ourselves in the fancy, that we
_might_ have been personally known to each other, and he have looked
upon those objects with more pleasure for our sakes."

Ed.

[Footnote E: Criffel.--Ed.]

[Footnote F: Annandale.--Ed.]

* * * * *

THOUGHTS SUGGESTED THE DAY FOLLOWING, ON THE BANKS OF NITH, NEAR THE
POET'S RESIDENCE

Composed 1803. [A]--Published 1842

Too frail to keep the lofty vow
That must have followed when his brow
Was wreathed--"The Vision" [B] tells us how--
With holly spray,
He faultered, drifted to and fro, 5
And passed away.

Well might such thoughts, dear Sister, throng
Our minds when, lingering all too long,
Over the grave of Burns we hung
In social grief--10
Indulged as if it were a wrong
To seek relief.

But, leaving each unquiet theme
Where gentlest judgments may misdeem,
And prompt to welcome every gleam 15
Of good and fair,
Let us beside this limpid Stream
Breathe hopeful air.

Enough of sorrow, wreck, and blight;
Think rather of those moments bright 20
When to the consciousness of right
His course was true,
When Wisdom prospered in his sight
And virtue grew.

Yes, freely let our hearts expand, 25
Freely as in youth's season bland,
When side by side, his Book in hand,
We wont to stray,
Our pleasure varying at command
Of each sweet Lay. 30

How oft inspired must he have trod
These pathways, yon far-stretching road!
There lurks his home; in that Abode,
With mirth elate,
Or in his nobly-pensive mood, 35
The Rustic sate.

Proud thoughts that Image overawes,
Before it humbly let us pause,
And ask of Nature, from what cause
And by what rules 40
She trained her Burns to win applause
That shames the Schools.

Through busiest street and loneliest glen
Are felt the flashes of his pen;
He rules mid winter snows, and when 45
Bees fill their hives;
Deep in the general heart of men
His power survives.

What need of fields in some far clime
Where Heroes, Sages, Bards sublime, 50
And all that fetched the flowing rhyme
From genuine springs,
Shall dwell together till old Time
Folds up his wings?

Sweet Mercy! to the gates of Heaven 55
This Minstrel lead, his sins forgiven;
The rueful conflict, the heart riven
With vain endeavour,
And memory of Earth's bitter leaven,
Effaced for ever. 60

But why to Him confine the prayer,
When kindred thoughts and yearnings bear
On the frail heart the purest share
With all that live?--
The best of what we do and are, 65
Just God, forgive!

* * * * *

FOOTNOTES ON THE TEXT

[Footnote A: Though "suggested" on "the day following," these stanzas
were not written then; but "many years after." They must, however, find
a place in the "Memorials" of this 1803 Tour in Scotland.--Ed.]

[Footnote B: Burns's poem, thus named.--Ed.]

See the note to the previous poem. The line

'These pathways, yon far-stretching road!'

refers probably to the road to Brownhill, past Ellisland farmhouse
where Burns lived. "The day following" would be Aug. 19th,
1803. The extract which follows from the Journal is a further
illustration of the poem. August 8th.

"... Travelled through the vale of Nith, here little like a vale, it
is so broad, with irregular hills rising up on each side, in outline
resembling the old-fashioned valances of a bed. There is a great deal
of arable land; the corn ripe; trees here and there--plantations,
clumps, coppices, a newness in everything. So much of the gorse and
broom rooted out that you wonder why it is not all gone, and yet there
seems to be almost as much gorse and broom as corn; and they grow one
among another you know not how. Crossed the Nith; the vale becomes
narrow, and very pleasant; cornfields, green hills, clay cottages; the
river's bed rocky, with woody banks. Left the Nith about a mile and a
half, and reached Brownhill, a lonely inn, where we slept. The view
from the windows was pleasing, though some travellers might have been
disposed to quarrel with it for its general nakedness; yet there was
abundance of corn. It is an open country--open, yet all over hills. At
a little distance were many cottages among trees, that looked very
pretty. Brownhill is about seven or eight miles from Ellisland. I
fancied to myself, while I was sitting in the parlour, that Burns
might have caroused there, for most likely his rounds extended so far,
and this thought gave a melancholy interest to the smoky walls...."

On Dec. 23, 1839, Wordsworth wrote to Professor Henry Reed,
Philadelphia:

"The other day I chanced to be looking over a MS. poem belonging to
the year 1803, though not actually composed till many years
afterwards. It was suggested by visiting the neighbourhood of
Dumfries, in which Burns had resided, and where he died: it concluded
thus:

'Sweet Mercy! to the gates of Heaven, etc.'

I instantly added, the other day,

'But why to Him confine the prayer, etc.'

The more I reflect upon this, the more I feel justified in attaching
comparatively small importance to any literary monument that I may be
enabled to leave behind. It is well however, I am convinced, that men
think otherwise in the earlier part of their lives...."

It may be mentioned that in his note to the "Poems, chiefly
of Early and Late Years," (1842), Wordsworth does not quote
from the text of his sister's Journal,--which was first published
in 1875,--but from some other copy of it.--Ed.

* * * * *

TO THE SONS OF BURNS, AFTER VISITING THE GRAVE OF THEIR FATHER [A]

Composed before 1807 [B]--Published 1807

The Poet's grave is in a corner of the church-yard. We looked at it with
melancholy and painful reflections, repeating to each other his own
verses:

'Is there a man whose judgment clear, etc.'

'Extract from the Journal of my Fellow-Traveller.'--W. W. 1827. [C]

One of the "Poems of Sentiment and Reflection" in the 1815 and 1820
editions.--Ed.

'Mid crowded obelisks and urns
I sought the untimely grave of Burns;
Sons of the Bard, my heart still mourns
With sorrow true;
And more would grieve, but that it turns 5
Trembling to you!

Through twilight shades of good and ill
Ye now are panting up life's hill, [1]
And more than common strength and skill
Must ye display; 10
If ye would give the better will
Its lawful sway.

Hath Nature strung your nerves to bear
Intemperance with less harm, beware!
But if the Poet's wit ye share, 15
Like him can speed
The social hour--of tenfold care [2]
There will be need;

For honest men delight will take
To spare your failings for his sake, 20
Will flatter you,--and fool and rake [3]
Your steps pursue;
And of your Father's name will make
A snare for you.

Far from their noisy haunts retire, 25
And add your voices to the quire
That sanctify the cottage fire
With service meet;
There seek the genius of your Sire,
His spirit greet; 30

Or where,'mid "lonely heights and hows," [D]
He paid to Nature tuneful vows;
Or wiped his honourable brows
Bedewed with toil,
While reapers strove, or busy ploughs 35
Upturned the soil;

His judgment with benignant ray
Shall guide, his fancy cheer, your way;
But ne'er to a seductive lay
Let faith be given; 40
Nor deem that "light which leads astray,
Is light from Heaven." [E]

Let no mean hope your souls enslave;
Be independent, generous, brave;
Your Father such example gave, 45
And such revere;
But be admonished by his grave,
And think, and fear! [F]

* * * * *

VARIANTS ON THE TEXT

[Variant 1:

1827.

Ye now are panting up life's hill!
'Tis twilight time of good and ill, 1807.]

[Variant 2:

1840.

Strong bodied if ye be to bear
Intemperance with less harm, beware!
But if your Father's wit ye share,
Then, then indeed,
Ye Sons of Burns! for watchful care 1807.

... for tenfold care 1827.

The text of 1827 is otherwise identical with that of 1840.]

[Variant 3:

1840.

For honest men delight will take
To shew you favor for his sake,
Will flatter you; and Fool and Rake 1807.

For their beloved Poet's sake,
Even honest men delight will take
To flatter you; ... 1820.

Even honest Men delight will take
To spare your failings for his sake,
Will flatter you,--... 1827.]

* * * * *

FOOTNOTES ON THE TEXT

[Footnote A: In the edition of 1807, this poem has the title 'Address to
the Sons of Burns after visiting their Father's Grave (August 14th,
1803)'. Slight changes were made in the title afterwards.--Ed.]

[Footnote B: Dorothy Wordsworth wrote, in her 'Recollections' of this
tour, under date August 18th, 1803,

"William wrote long afterwards the following Address to the sons of
the ill-fated poet."

Ed.]

[Footnote C: This explanatory note appears in every edition of the Poems
from 1827 to 1850. It is taken (but not literally) from the
'Recollections of a Tour made in Scotland' as published in 1875.--Ed.]

[Footnote D: From Burns's 'Epistle to James Smith', l. 53.--Ed.]

[Footnote E: From Burns's poem, 'The Vision', Duan Second.--Ed.]

[Footnote F: In the edition of 1807, the poem began with what is now the
second stanza, and consisted of four stanzas only, viz. Nos. ii., iii.,
iv., and viii. Stanzas i., v., vi., and vii. were added in 1827. Stanza
iii. was omitted in 1820, but restored in 1827.--Ed.]

In Dorothy Wordsworth's 'Recollections' of this Tour we find, under date
August 18, 1803:

"The grave of Burns's Son, which we had just seen by the side of his
Father, and some stories heard at Dumfries respecting the dangers his
surviving children were exposed to, filled us with melancholy
concern, which had a kind of connection with ourselves."

"The body of Burns was not allowed to remain long in this place. To
suit the plan of a rather showy mausoleum his remains were removed
into a more commodious spot of the same kirkyard on the 5th July
1815."--(Allan Cunningham.)

'Ellen Irwin; or, the Braes of Kirtle', comes next in this series of
"Memorials of a Tour in Scotland, 1803." It has already been printed,
however, (p. 124), in its proper chronological place, among the poems
belonging to the year 1800.--Ed.

* * * * *

TO A HIGHLAND GIRL

(AT INVERSNEYDE, UPON LOCH LOMOND)

Composed 1803.--Published 1807

Classed in 1815 and 1820 as one of the "Poems of the Imagination."--Ed.

[This delightful creature and her demeanour are particularly described
in my Sister's Journal. The sort of prophecy with which the verses
conclude has, through God's goodness, been realized; and now,
approaching the close of my 73rd year, I have a most vivid remembrance
of her and the beautiful objects with which she was surrounded. She is
alluded to in the poem of 'The Three Cottage Girls' among my Continental
Memorials. In illustration of this class of poems I have scarcely
anything to say beyond what is anticipated in my Sister's faithful and
admirable Journal.--I. F.]

Sweet Highland Girl, a very shower
Of beauty is thy earthly dower!
Twice seven consenting years have shed
Their utmost bounty on thy head:
And these grey rocks; that [1] household lawn; 5
Those trees, [A] a veil just half withdrawn;
This fall of water that doth make
A murmur near the silent lake;
This little bay; a quiet road
That holds in shelter thy Abode--10
In truth together do ye seem [2]
Like something fashioned in a dream;
Such Forms as from their covert peep
When earthly cares are laid asleep!
But, O fair Creature! in the light 15
Of common day, so heavenly bright, [3]
I bless Thee, Vision [4] as thou art,
I bless thee with a human heart;
God shield thee to thy latest years!
Thee, neither know I, [5] nor thy peers; 20
And yet my eyes are filled with tears.

With earnest feeling I shall pray
For thee when I am far away:
For never saw I mien, or face,
In which more plainly I could trace 25
Benignity and home-bred sense
Ripening in perfect innocence.
Here scattered, like a random seed,
Remote from men, Thou dost not need
The embarrassed look of shy distress, 30
And maidenly shamefacedness:
Thou wear'st upon thy forehead clear
The freedom of a Mountaineer:
A face with gladness overspread!
Soft smiles, [6] by human kindness bred! 35
And seemliness complete, that sways
Thy courtesies, about thee plays;
With no restraint, but such as springs
From quick and eager visitings
Of thoughts that lie beyond the reach 40
Of thy few words of English speech:
A bondage sweetly brooked, a strife
That gives thy gestures grace and life!
So have I, not unmoved in mind,
Seen birds of tempest-loving kind--45
Thus beating up against the wind.

What hand but would a garland cull
For thee who art so beautiful?
O happy pleasure! here to dwell
Beside thee in some heathy dell; 50
Adopt your homely ways and dress,
A Shepherd, thou a Shepherdess!
But I could frame a wish for thee
More like a grave reality:
Thou art to me but as a wave 55
Of the wild sea; and I would have
Some claim upon thee, if I could,
Though but of common neighbourhood.
What joy to hear thee, and to see!
Thy elder Brother I would be, 60
Thy Father--anything to thee! [B]

Now thanks to Heaven! that of its grace
Hath led me to this lonely place.
Joy have I had; and going hence
I bear away my recompence. 65
In spots like these it is we prize
Our Memory, feel that she hath eyes:
Then, why should I be loth to stir?
I feel this place was made for her;
To give new pleasure like the past, 70
Continued long as life shall last.
Nor am I loth, though pleased at heart,
Sweet Highland Girl! from thee to part;
For I, methinks, till I grow old,
As fair before me shall behold, 75
As I do now, the cabin small,
The lake, the bay, the waterfall;
And Thee, the Spirit of them all!

* * * * *

VARIANTS ON THE TEXT

[Variant 1:

1837.

... this ... 1807.]

[Variant 2:

1827.

In truth together ye do seem 1807.

In truth, unfolding thus, ye seem 1837.

The text of 1845 returns to that of 1827.]

[Variant 3: The two preceding lines were added in 1845.]

[Variant 4:

1845.

Yet, dream and vision ... 1807.

... or vision ... 1837.]

[Variant 5:

1845.

I neither know thee ... 1807.]

[Variant 6:

1827.

Sweet looks, ... 1807.]

* * * * *

FOOTNOTES ON THE TEXT

[Footnote A:

"The distribution of 'these,' 'that,' and 'those' in these two lines,
was attained in 1845, after various changes. "

(Edward Dowden.)]

[Footnote B: Compare Virgil's 'Eclogues', x. 35:

'Atque utinam ex vobis unus, etc.'

Ed.]

In her 'Recollections of a Tour made in Scotland', 1803, Dorothy
Wordsworth writes:

"Sunday, August 28th.--... After long waiting, the girls, who had been
on the look-out, informed us that the boat was coming. I went to the
waterside, and saw a cluster of people on the opposite shore; but,
being yet at a distance, they looked more like soldiers surrounding a
carriage than a group of men and women; red and green were the
distinguishable colours. We hastened to get ourselves ready as soon as
we saw the party approach, but had longer to wait than we expected,
the lake being wider than it appears to be. As they drew near we could
distinguish men in tartan plaids, women in scarlet cloaks, and green
umbrellas by the half-dozen. The landing was as pretty a sight as ever
I saw. The bay, which had been so quiet two days before, was all in
motion with small waves, while the swollen waterfall roared in our
ears. The boat came steadily up, being pressed almost to the water's
edge by the weight of its cargo; perhaps twenty people landed, one
after another. It did not rain much, but the women held up their
umbrellas; they were dressed in all the colours of the rainbow, and
with their scarlet cardinals, the tartan plaids of the men, and Scotch
bonnets, made a gay appearance. There was a joyous bustle surrounding
the boat, which even imparted something of the same character to the
waterfall in its tumult, and the restless grey waves; the young men
laughed and shouted, the lasses laughed, and the elder folks seemed to
be in a bustle to be away. I remember well with what haste the
mistress of the house where we were ran up to seek after her child,
and seeing us, how anxiously and kindly she inquired how we had fared,
if we had had a good fire, had been well waited upon, etc. All this in
three minutes--for the boatman had another party to bring from the
other side, and hurried us off.

"The hospitality we had met with at the two cottages and Mr.
Macfarlane's gave us very favourable impressions on this our first
entrance into the Highlands, and at this day the innocent merriment of
the girls, with their kindness to us, and the beautiful face and
figure of the elder, come to my mind whenever I think of the
ferry-house and waterfall of Loch Lomond, and I never think of the two
girls but the whole image of that romantic spot is before me, a living
image as it will be to my dying day. The following poem was written by
William not long after our return from Scotland."

Compare the poem called 'The Three Cottage Girls', in the "Memorials of
a Tour on the Continent, 1820," published in 1822.--Ed.

* * * * *

GLEN-ALMAIN; OR, THE NARROW GLEN

Composed (possibly) in 1803.--Published 1807

Classed in 1815 and 1820 with the "Poems of the Imagination."--Ed.

In this still place, remote from men,
Sleeps Ossian, in the NARROW GLEN;
In this still place, where murmurs on
But one meek streamlet, only one:
He sang of battles, and the breath 5
Of stormy war, and violent death;
And should, methinks, when all was past,
Have rightfully been laid at last
Where rocks were rudely heaped, and rent
As by a spirit turbulent; 10
Where sights were rough, and sounds were wild,
And everything unreconciled;
In some complaining, dim retreat,
For fear and melancholy meet;
But this is calm; there cannot be 15
A more entire tranquillity.

Does then the Bard sleep here indeed?
Or is it but a groundless creed?
What matters it?--I blame them not
Whose Fancy in this lonely Spot 20
Was moved; and in such [1] way expressed
Their notion of its perfect rest.
A convent, even a hermit's cell,
Would break the silence of this Dell: [A]
It is not quiet, is not ease; 25
But something deeper far than these:
The separation that is here
Is of the grave; and of austere
Yet [2] happy feelings of the dead:
And, therefore, was it rightly said 30
That Ossian, last of all his race!
Lies buried in this lonely place.

* * * * *

VARIANTS ON THE TEXT

[Variant 1:

1827.

... in this ... 1807.]

[Variant 2:

1827.

And ... 1807.]

* * * * *

FOOTNOTE ON THE TEXT

[Footnote A: Compare the poem 'To the Lady Fleming', stanza iii. ll.
28-9.--Ed.]

The glen is Glenalmond, in Perthshire, between Crieff and Amulree, known
locally as "the Sma' Glen." I am not aware that it was ever called "Glen
Almain," till Wordsworth gave it that singularly un-Scottish name. [B]
It must have been a warm August day, after a tract of dry weather, when
he went through it, or the Almond would scarcely have been called a
"small streamlet." In many seasons of the year the distinctive features
of the Glen would be more appropriately indicated by the words, which
the poet uses by way of contrast with his own experience of it, viz. a
place

'Where sights are rough, and sounds are wild,
And everything unreconciled.'

But his characterization of the place--a glen, the charm of which is
little known--in the stillness of an autumn afternoon, is as true to
nature as any of his interpretations of the spirit of the hills and
vales of Westmoreland. As yet there is no farm-house, scarcely even a
sheiling, to "break the silence of this Dell."

The following is Dorothy Wordsworth's account of their walk through it
on Friday, September 9th, 1803:

"Entered the glen at a small hamlet at some distance from the head,
and, turning aside a few steps, ascended a hillock which commanded a
view to the top of it--a very sweet scene, a green valley, not very
narrow, with a few scattered trees and huts, almost invisible in a
misty green of afternoon light. At this hamlet we crossed a bridge,
and the road led us down the glen, which had become exceedingly
narrow, and so continued to the end: the hills on both sides heathy
and rocky, very steep, but continuous; the rock not single or
overhanging, not scooped into caverns, or sounding with torrents;
there are no trees, no houses, no traces of cultivation, not one
outstanding object. It is truly a solitude, the road even making it
appear still more so; the bottom of the valley is mostly smooth and
level, the brook not noisy: everything is simple and undisturbed, and
while we passed through it the whole place was shady, cool, clear, and
solemn. At the end of the long valley we ascended a hill to a great
height, and reached the top, when the sun, on the point of setting,
shed a soft yellow light upon every eminence. The prospect was very
extensive; over hollows and plains, no towns, and few houses
visible--a prospect, extensive as it was, in harmony with the secluded
dell, and fixing its own peculiar character of removedness from the
world, and the secure possession of the quiet of nature more deeply in
our minds. The following poem was written by William on hearing of a
tradition relating to it, which we did not know when we were there."

Ed.

[Footnote B: In the Statistical Account of Scotland, however--drawn up
by the parish ministers of the county, and edited by Sir John
Sinclair--both the river and the glen are spelt Almon, by the Rev. Mr.
Erskine, who wrote the account of Monzie Parish in Perthshire. This was
in 1795. A recent authority states:

"'Glenamon,' in Ayrshire, and 'Glenalmond,' in Perthshire, are both
from the corrupted spelling of the word 'Avon,' which derives from its
being very nearly the pronunciation of the Gaelic word for 'a river.'
These names are from 'Gleann-abhuinn,' that is,'the valley of the
river.'"

(See the 'Gaelic Topography of Scotland', by James A. Robertson,
Edinburgh, 1859.)--Ed.]

* * * * *

STEPPING WESTWARD

Composed between 1803 and 1805.--Published 1807

While my Fellow-traveller and I were walking by the side of Loch
Ketterine, one fine evening after sun-set, in our road to a Hut where in
the course of our Tour we had been hospitably entertained some weeks
before, we met, in one of the loneliest parts of that solitary region,
two well dressed Women, one of whom said to us, by way of greeting,
"What, you are stepping westward?"--W. W. 1807.

Classed in 1815 and 1820 among the "Poems of the Imagination."--Ed.

"_What, you are stepping westward?"--" Yea_."
'Twould be a _wildish_ [A] destiny,
If we, who thus together roam
In a strange Land, and far from home,
Were in this place the guests of Chance: 5
Yet who would stop, or fear to advance,
Though home or shelter he had none,
With such a sky to lead him on?

The dewy ground was dark and cold;
Behind, all gloomy to behold; 10
And stepping westward seemed to be
A kind of _heavenly_ destiny:
I liked the greeting; 'twas a sound
Of something without place or bound;
And seemed to give me spiritual right 15
To travel through that region bright.

The voice was soft, and she who spake
Was walking by her native lake:
The salutation had to me [1]
The very sound of courtesy: 20
Its power was felt; and while my eye
Was fixed upon the glowing Sky,
The echo of the voice enwrought
A human sweetness with the thought
Of travelling through the world that lay 25
Before me in my endless way.

* * * * *

VARIANT ON THE TEXT

[Variant 1:

1807.

... seemed to me

In MS. letter to Sir G. Beaumont. N. D.]

* * * * *

FOOTNOTE ON THE TEXT

[Footnote A: Italics were first used in 1855.--Ed.]

The following is from the 'Recollections of a Tour made in Scotland':

"Sunday, Sept. 11th.--We have never had a more delightful walk than
this evening. Ben Lomond and the three pointed-topped mountains of
Loch Lomond, which we had seen from the garrison, were very majestic
under the clear sky, the lake perfectly calm, the air sweet and mild.
I felt that it was much more interesting to visit a place where we
have been before than it can possibly be the first time, except under
peculiar circumstances. The sun had been set for some time, when,
being within a quarter of a mile of the ferry man's hut, our path
having led us close to the shore of the calm lake, we met two
neatly-dressed women, without hats, who had probably been taking their
Sunday evening's walk. One of them said to us in a friendly, soft tone
of voice, 'What, you are stepping westward?' I cannot describe how
affecting this simple expression was in that remote place, with the
western sky in front, yet glowing with the departed sun. William wrote
the following poem long after, in remembrance of his feelings and
mine."

Ed.

* * * * *

THE SOLITARY REAPER

Composed between 1803 and 1805.--Published 1807

One of the "Poems of the Imagination" in 1815 and 1820.--Ed.

Behold her, single [1] in the field,
Yon solitary Highland Lass!
Reaping and singing by herself;
Stop here, or gently pass!
Alone she cuts and binds the grain, 5
And sings a melancholy strain;
O listen! for the Vale profound
Is overflowing with the sound.

No Nightingale did ever chaunt
More welcome notes to weary bands [2] 10
Of travellers in some shady haunt,
Among Arabian sands:
A voice so thrilling ne'er was heard [3]
In spring-time from the Cuckoo-bird,
Breaking the silence of the seas [A] 15
Among the farthest Hebrides.

Will no one tell me what she sings?--
Perhaps the plaintive numbers flow
For old, unhappy, far-off things,
And battles long ago: 20
Or is it some more humble lay,
Familiar matter of to-day?
Some natural sorrow, loss, or pain,
That has been, and may be again?

Whate'er the theme, the Maiden sang [4] 25
As if her song could have no ending;
I saw her singing at her work,
And o'er the sickle bending;--
I listened, motionless and still; [5]
And, as [6] I mounted up the hill, 30
The music in my heart I bore,
Long after it was heard no more.

* * * * *

VARIANTS ON THE TEXT

[Variant 1:

1807.

... singing ...

MS.]

[Variant 2:

1827.

So sweetly to reposing bands 1807.]

[Variant 3:

1837.

No sweeter voice was ever heard 1807.

... sound ... MS.

Such thrilling voice was never heard 1827.]

[Variant 4:

1815.

... sung 1807.]

[Variant 5:

1820.

I listen'd till I had my fill: 1807.]

[Variant 6:

1807.

And when ... 1827.

The text of 1837 returns to that of 1807.]

* * * * *

VARIANTS ON THE TEXT

[Footnote A: Compare 'The Ancient Mariner'(part ii. stanza 6):

'And we did speak only to break
The silence of the sea.'

Ed.]

The following is from Dorothy Wordsworth's 'Recollections' of the Tour:
13th Sept. 1803.

"As we descended, the scene became more fertile, our way being
pleasantly varied--through coppices or open fields, and passing
farm-houses, though always with an intermixture of cultivated ground.
It was harvest-time, and the fields were quietly--might I be allowed
to say pensively?--enlivened by small companies of reapers. It is not
uncommon in the more lonely parts of the Highlands to see a single
person so employed. The following poem was suggested to William by a
beautiful sentence in Thomas Wilkinson's 'Tour in Scotland.'"

In a note appended to the editions 1807 to 1820, Wordsworth wrote:

"This Poem was suggested by a beautiful sentence in a MS. 'Tour in
Scotland,' written by a Friend, the last line being taken from it
_verbatim_."

The first part of Wilkinson's 'Tours to the British Mountains', which
was published in 1824, narrates his journey in Scotland (it took place
in 1787); and the following sentence occurs in the record of his travels
near Loch Lomond (p. 12),

"Passed a female who was reaping alone: she sung in Erse, as she
bended over her sickle; the sweetest human voice I ever heard: her
strains were tenderly melancholy, and felt delicious, long after they
were heard no more."

There can be no doubt that this is the sentence referred to both by
Dorothy and William Wordsworth. Thomas Wilkinson was the friend, in
whose memory Wordsworth wrote the poem 'To the Spade of a Friend,
composed while we were labouring together in his pleasure-ground'. They
were comparatively near neighbours, as Wilkinson lived near Yanwath on
the Emont; and he had given his MS. to the Wordsworth family to read. I
have received some additional information about this MS., and
Wordsworth's knowledge of it, from Mr. Wilson Robinson, who writes,

"From all the evidence, I conclude that Wilkinson's 'Tour to the
Highlands' was shown in manuscript to his friends soon after his
return;--that he was not only willing to show it, but even to allow it
to be copied, though reluctant to publish it;--that there was
sufficient intimacy between him and the Wordsworths to account for his
showing or lending the manuscript to them, especially as they had
travelled over much of the same ground, and would therefore be more
interested in it; and that in fact it was never published till 1824."

When Wordsworth was living at Coleorton during the late autumn of 1806
he wrote to Wilkinson:

"... What shall I say in apology for your Journal, which is now locked
up with my manuscripts at Grasmere. As I could not go over to your
part of the country myself, my intention was to have taken it with me
to Kendal ... to be carefully transmitted to you; unluckily, most
unluckily, in the hurry of departure, I forgot it, together with two
of my own manuscripts which were along with it; and I am afraid you
will be standing in great need of it.... If you do not want it, it is
in a place where it can take no injury, and I may have the pleasure of
delivering it to you myself in the spring...."

Ed.

* * * * *

ADDRESS TO KILCHURN CASTLE

UPON LOCH AWE

Begun 1803.--Published 1827

"From the top of the hill a most impressive scene opened upon our
view,--a ruined Castle on an Island (for an Island the flood had made
it) [A] at some distance from the shore, backed by a Cove of the
Mountain Cruachan, down which came a foaming stream. The Castle
occupied every foot of the Island that was visible to us, appearing to
rise out of the Water,--mists rested upon the mountain side, with
spots of sunshine; there was a mild desolation in the low-grounds, a
solemn grandeur in the mountains, and the Castle was wild, yet
stately--not dismantled of Turrets--nor the walls broken down, though
obviously a ruin."

'Extract from the Journal of my Companion.'--W. W. 1827.

[The first three lines were thrown off at the moment I first caught
sight of the Ruin, from a small eminence by the wayside; the rest was
added many years after.--I.F.]

Child of loud-throated War! the mountain Stream
Roars in thy hearing; but thy hour of rest
Is come, and thou art silent in thy age;
Save when the wind sweeps by and sounds are caught
Ambiguous, neither wholly thine nor theirs. 5
Oh! there is life that breathes not; Powers there are
That touch each other to the quick in modes
Which the gross world no sense hath to perceive,
No soul to dream of. What art Thou, from care
Cast off--abandoned by thy rugged Sire, 10
Nor by soft Peace adopted; though, in place
And in dimension, such that thou might'st seem
But a mere footstool to yon sovereign Lord,
Huge Cruachan, (a thing that meaner hills
Might crush, nor know that it had suffered harm;) 15
Yet he, not loth, in favour of thy claims
To reverence, suspends his own; submitting
All that the God of Nature hath conferred,
All that he holds [1] in common with the stars,
To the memorial majesty of Time 20
Impersonated in thy calm decay!

Take, then, thy seat, Vicegerent unreproved!
Now, while a farewell gleam of evening light
Is fondly lingering on thy shattered front,
Do thou, in turn, be paramount; and rule 25
Over the pomp and beauty of a scene
Whose mountains, torrents, lake, and woods, unite
To pay thee homage; and with these are joined,
In willing admiration and respect,
Two Hearts, which in thy presence might be called 30
Youthful as Spring.--Shade of departed Power,
Skeleton of unfleshed humanity,
The chronicle were welcome that should call
Into the compass of distinct regard
The toils and struggles of thy infant years! [2] 35
Yon foaming flood seems motionless as ice;
Its dizzy turbulence eludes the eye,
Frozen by distance; so, majestic Pile,
To the perception of this Age, appear
Thy fierce beginnings, softened and subdued 40
And quieted in character--the strife,
The pride, the fury uncontrollable,
Lost on the aerial heights of the Crusades!" [B]

* * * * *

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