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

Part 13 out of 14

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VARIANTS ON THE TEXT

[Variant 1:

1837.

... has ... 1827.]

[Variant 2:

1845.

... of thy infancy! 1827.]

* * * * *

FOOTNOTES ON THE TEXT

[Footnote A: The clause within brackets was added in 1837.--Ed.]

[Footnote B: The Tradition is, that the Castle was built by a Lady
during the absence of her Lord in Palestine.--W. W. 1827.]

From the following passage in Dorothy Wordsworth's 'Recollections' of
their Tour, it will be seen that the poet altered the text considerably
in making his quotation in 1827: August 31, 1803.

"When we had ascended half-way up the hill, directed by the man, I
took a nearer foot-path, and at the top came in view of a most
impressive scene, a ruined castle on an island almost in the middle of
the last compartment of the lake, backed by a mountain cove, down
which came a roaring 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 between;
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
its turrets, nor the walls broken down, though completely in ruin.
After having stood some minutes I joined William on the highroad, and
both wishing to stay longer near this place, we requested the man to
drive his little boy on to Dalmally, about two miles further, and
leave the car at the inn. He told us the ruin was called Kilchurn
Castle, that it belonged to Lord Breadalbane, and had been built by
one of the ladies of that family for her defence, during her lord's
absence at the Crusades; for which purpose she levied a tax of seven
years' rent upon her tenants; he said that from that side of the lake
it did not appear, in very dry weather, to stand upon an island, but
that it was possible to go over to it without being wet-shod. We were
very lucky in seeing it after a great flood; for its enchanting effect
was chiefly owing to its situation in the lake, a decayed palace
rising out of the plain of waters! I have called it a palace, for such
feeling it gave me, though having been built as a place of defence, a
castle or fortress. We turned again and reascended the hill, and sate
a long time in the middle of it looking on the castle, and the huge
mountain cove opposite, and William, addressing himself to the ruin,
poured out these verses."

Compare Wordsworth's description of this ruin in his 'Guide through the
District of the Lakes'.--Ed.

* * * * *

ROB ROY'S GRAVE

Composed between 1803 and 1805.--Published 1807

The History of Rob Roy is sufficiently known; his Grave is near the head
of Loch Ketterine, in one of those small Pin-fold-like Burial-grounds,
of neglected and desolate appearance, which the Traveller meets with in
the Highlands of Scotland.--W. W. 1807.

[I have since been told that I was misinformed as to the burial-place of
Rob Roy. If so, I may plead in excuse that I wrote on apparently good
authority, namely, that of a well educated Lady who lived at the head of
the Lake, within a mile or less of the point indicated as containing the
remains of One so famous in the neighbourhood.--I. F.]

In the copy of 'Rob Roy's Grave', transcribed in Dorothy Wordsworth's
'Recollections' of the Tour in Scotland of 1803, there are several
important variations of text, which occur in none of the printed
editions of the poem. These are indicated (to distinguish them from
other readings) by the initials D. W.--Ed.

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

A famous man is Robin Hood,
The English ballad-singer's joy!
And Scotland has a thief as good,
An outlaw of as daring mood;

She has her brave ROB ROY! [1] 5
Then clear the weeds from off his Grave,
And let us chant a passing stave,
In honour of that Hero [2] brave!

Heaven gave Rob Roy a dauntless [3] heart
And wondrous length and strength of arm: [A] 10
Nor craved he more to quell his foes,
Or keep his friends from harm.

Yet was Rob Roy as _wise_ as brave;
Forgive me if the phrase be strong;--
A Poet worthy of Rob Roy 15
Must scorn a timid song.

Say, then, that he was wise as brave;
As wise in thought as bold in deed:
For in the principles of things
_He_ sought his moral creed. [4] 20

Said generous Rob, "What need of books?
Burn all the statutes and their shelves:
They stir us up against our kind;
And worse, against ourselves.

"We have a passion--make a law, 25
Too false to guide us or control!
And for the law itself we fight
In bitterness of soul.

"And, puzzled, blinded thus, we lose
Distinctions that are plain and few: 30
These find I graven on my heart:
_That_ tells me what to do.

"The creatures see of flood and field,
And those that travel on the wind!
With them no strife can last; they live 35
In peace, and peace of mind.

"For why?--because the good old rule
Sufficeth them, the simple plan,
That they should take, who have the power,
And they should keep who can. 40

"A lesson that [5] is quickly learned,
A signal this which all can see!
Thus nothing here provokes the strong
To wanton [6] cruelty.

"All freakishness [7] of mind is checked; 45
He tamed, who foolishly aspires;
While to the measure of his might [8]
Each fashions his desires. [9]

"All kinds, and creatures, stand and fall
By strength of prowess or of wit: 50
'Tis God's appointment who must sway,
And who is to submit.

"Since, then, the rule of right is plain, [10]
And longest life is but a day;
To have my ends, maintain my rights, 55
I'll take the shortest way."

And thus among these rocks he lived,
Through summer heat and winter snow: [11]
The Eagle, he was lord above,
And Rob was lord below. 60

So was it--_would_, at least, have been
But through untowardness of fate;
For Polity was then too strong--
He came an age too late;

Or shall we say an age too soon? 65
For, were the bold Man living _now_,
How might he flourish in his pride,
With buds on every bough!

Then rents and factors, rights of chase,
Sheriffs, and lairds and their domains, [12] 70
Would all have seemed but paltry things,
Not worth a moment's pains.

Rob Roy had never lingered here,
To these few meagre Vales confined;
But thought how wide the world, the times 75
How fairly to his mind!

And to his Sword he would have said,
"Do Thou my sovereign will enact
From land to land through half the earth!
Judge thou of law and fact! 80

"'Tis fit that we should do our part,
Becoming, that mankind should learn
That we are not to be surpassed
In fatherly concern.

"Of old things all are over old, 85
Of good things none are good enough:--
We'll show that we can help to frame
A world of other stuff.

"I, too, will have my kings that take
From me the sign of life and death: 90
Kingdoms shall shift about, like clouds,
Obedient to my breath."

And, if the word had been fulfilled,
As _might_ have been, then, thought of joy!
France would have had her present Boast, 95
And we our own [13] Rob Roy!

Oh! say not so; compare them not;
I would not wrong thee, Champion brave!
Would wrong thee nowhere; least of all
Here standing by thy grave. 100

For Thou, although with some wild thoughts
Wild Chieftain of a savage Clan!
Hadst this to boast of; thou didst love
The _liberty_ of man.

And, had it been thy lot to live 105
With us who now behold the light,
Thou would'st have nobly stirred thyself,
And battled for the Right.

For thou wert still [14] the poor man's stay,
The poor man's heart, the poor man's hand; 110
And all the oppressed, who wanted strength,
Had thine at their command. [15]

Bear witness many a pensive sigh
Of thoughtful Herdsman when he strays
Alone upon Loch Veol's heights, 115
And by Loch Lomond's braes!

And, far and near, through vale and hill,
Are faces that attest the same;
The proud heart flashing through the eyes, [16]
At sound of ROB ROY'S name. 120

* * * * *

VARIANTS ON THE TEXT

[Variant 1:

1807.

And Scotland boasts of one as good,
She has her own Rob Roy. 1803. D.W.]

[Variant 2:

1807.

... Outlaw ... 1803. D.W.]

[Variant 3:

1807.

... daring ... 1803. D.W.]

[Variant 4:

1807.

Stanzas 3 and 4 are thus combined by D.W., and also in a printed (not
published) version, given in a copy of the 1807 edition.

Yet Robin was as wise as brave,
As wise in thought as bold in deed,
For in the principles of things
He sought his moral creed.]

[Variant 5:

1827.

... which ... 1807.]

[Variant 6:

1807.

... tyrannous ... 1803. D. W.]

[Variant 7:

1807.

And freakishness ... 1803. D. W.]

[Variant 8:

1807.

... their ... MS.]

[Variant 9:

1807.

All fashion their desires. 1803. D. W.]

[Variant 10:

1815.

"Since then," said Robin, "right is plain, 1807.]

[Variant 11:

1827.

Through summer's heat and winter's snow: 1807.]

[Variant 12:

1807.

The Rents and Land-marks, Rights of Chase,
Sheriffs and Factors, Lairds and Thanes, 1803. D. W.

Sheriffs and Factors, rights of chase,
Their Lairds, and their domains, MS.]

[Variant 13:

1827.

... our brave ... 1807.]

[Variant 14:

1815.

For Robin was ... 1807.]

[Variant 15:

1815.

Had Robin's to command. 1807.]

[Variant 16:

1827.

Kindling with instantaneous joy 1803. D.W.

And kindle, like a fire new stirr'd, 1807.]

* * * * *

FOOTNOTE ON THE TEXT

[Footnote A: The people of the neighbourhood of Loch Ketterine, in order
to prove the extraordinary length of their Hero's arm, tell you that "he
could garter his Tartan Stockings below the knee when standing upright."
According to their account he was a tremendous Swordsman; after having
sought all occasions of proving his prowess, he was never conquered but
once, and this not till he was an Old Man.--W. W. 1807.]

In Dorothy Wordsworth's 'Recollections' of the Scotch Tour the following
occurs:

"August 27, 1803.--We mentioned Rob Roy, and the eyes of all
glistened; even the lady of the house, who was very diffident, and no
great talker, exclaimed, 'He was a good man, Rob Roy! he had been dead
only about eighty years, had lived in the next farm, which belonged to
him, and there his bones were laid.' He was a famous swordsman. Having
an arm much longer than other men, he had a greater command with his
sword. As a proof of the length of his arm, they told us that he could
garter his tartan stockings below the knee without stooping, and added
a dozen different stories of single combats, which he had fought, all
in perfect good humour, merely to prove his prowess. I daresay they
had stories of this kind which would hardly have been exhausted in the
long evenings of a whole December week, Rob Roy being as famous here
as even Robin Hood was in the forest of Sherwood; _he_ also robbed
from the rich, giving to the poor, and defending them from oppression.
They tell of his confining the factor of the Duke of Montrose in one
of the islands of Loch Ketterine, after having taken his money from
him--the Duke's rents--in open day, while they were sitting at table.
He was a formidable enemy of the Duke, but being a small laird against
a greater, was overcome at last, and forced to resign all his lands on
the Braes of Loch Lomond, including the caves which we visited, on
account of the money he had taken from the Duke and could not repay."

September 12:

"Descended into Glengyle, above Loch Ketterine, and passed through Mr.
Macfarlane's grounds, that is, through the whole of the glen, where
there was now no house left but his. We stopped at his door to inquire
after the family, though with little hope of finding them at home,
having seen a large company at work in a hay-field, whom we
conjectured to be his whole household, as it proved, except a
servant-maid who answered our enquiries. We had sent the ferryman
forward from the head of the glen to bring the boat round from the
place where he left it to the other side of the lake. Passed the same
farm-house we had such good reason to remember, and went up to the
burying-ground that stood so sweetly near the water-side. The ferryman
had told us that Rob Roy's grave was there, so we could not pass on
without going up to the spot. There were several tombstones, but the
inscriptions were either worn-out or unintelligible to us, and the
place choked up with nettles and brambles. You will remember the
description I have given of the spot. I have nothing here to add,
except the following poem which it suggested to William."

Rob Roy was buried at the Kirkton of Balquhidder, near the outlet of
Loch Voil in Perthshire. There are three sculptured stones in the rude
burial-place of the Macgregors, at the eastern end of the old church.
The one with the long claymore marks the resting-place of Rob Roy's
wife; the one opposite on the other side is the tomb of his eldest son;
and the central stone, more elaborately carved, marks the grave of the
hero himself.--Ed.

* * * * *

SONNET COMPOSED AT----CASTLE

Composed September 18, 1803.--Published 1807

[The castle here mentioned was Nidpath near Peebles. The person alluded
to was the then Duke of Queensbury. The fact was told to me by Walter
Scott.--I. F.]

In 1815 and 1820 this was one of the "Miscellaneous Sonnets."--Ed.

Degenerate Douglas! oh, the unworthy Lord!
Whom mere despite of heart could so far please, [1]
And love of havoc, (for with such disease
Fame taxes him,) that he could send forth word
To level with the dust a noble horde, 5
A brotherhood of venerable Trees,
Leaving an ancient dome, and towers like these,
Beggared and outraged!--Many hearts deplored
The fate of those old Trees; and oft with pain
The traveller, at this day, will stop and gaze 10
On wrongs, which Nature scarcely seems to heed:
For sheltered places, bosoms, nooks, and bays,
And the pure mountains, and the gentle Tweed,
And the green silent pastures, yet remain.

* * * * *

VARIANT ON THE TEXT

[Variant 1:

1807.

Now as I live, I pity that great Lord,
Whom pure despite ...

MS. letter to Sir Walter Scott. Oct. 1803.

Ill wishes shall attend the unworthy Lord MS.]

"Sunday, September 18th.--After breakfast walked up the river to
Neidpath Castle, about a mile and a half from the town. The castle
stands upon a green hill, over-looking the Tweed, a strong
square-towered edifice, neglected and desolate, though not in ruin,
the garden overgrown with grass, and the high walls that fenced it
broken down. The Tweed winds between green steeps, upon which, and
close to the river side, large flocks of sheep pasturing; higher still
are the grey mountains; but I need not describe the scene, for William
has done it better than I could do in a sonnet which he wrote the same
day; the five last lines, at least, of his poem will impart to you
more of the feeling of the place than it would be possible for me to
do."

(Dorothy Wordsworth's 'Recollections of a Tour made in Scotland'.)
Writing to Sir Walter Scott (October 16, 1803), Wordsworth enclosed a
copy of this sonnet, with the variation of text which has been quoted.
Lockhart tells us

"in that original shape Scott always recited it, and few lines in the
language were more frequently in his mouth."

Compare Burns' 'Verses on the destruction of the Woods near Drumlanrig',
which refer to the same subject.--Ed.

* * * * *

YARROW UNVISITED

Composed 1803.--Published 1807

See the various Poems the scene of which is laid upon the Banks of the
Yarrow; in particular, the exquisite Ballad of Hamilton, beginning:

"Busk ye, busk ye, my bonny, bonny Bride,
Busk ye, busk ye, my winsome Marrow!"

W. W. 1807.

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

From Stirling castle we had seen
The mazy Forth unravelled;
Had trod the banks of Clyde, and Tay,
And with the Tweed had travelled;
And when we came to Clovenford, 5
Then said my "_winsome Marrow_,"
"Whate'er betide, we'll turn aside,
And see the Braes of Yarrow."

"Let Yarrow folk, _frae_ Selkirk town,
Who have been buying, selling, 10
Go back to Yarrow, 'tis their own;
Each maiden to her dwelling!
On Yarrow's banks let herons feed,
Hares couch, and rabbits burrow!
But we will downward [1] with the Tweed, 15
Nor turn aside to Yarrow.

"There's Galla Water, Leader Haughs,
Both lying right before us;
And Dryborough, where with chiming Tweed
The lintwhites sing in chorus; 20
There's pleasant Tiviot-dale, a land
Made blithe with plough and harrow:
Why throw away a needful day
To go in search of Yarrow?

"What's Yarrow but a river bare, 25
That glides the dark hills under?
There are a thousand such elsewhere
As worthy of your wonder."
--Strange words they seemed of slight and scorn;
My True-love sighed for sorrow; 30
And looked me in the face, to think
I thus could speak of Yarrow!

"Oh! green," said I, "are Yarrow's holms,
And sweet is Yarrow flowing!
Fair hangs the apple frae the rock, [A] 35
But we will leave it growing.
O'er hilly path, and open Strath,
We'll wander Scotland thorough;
But, though so near, we will not turn
Into the dale of Yarrow. 40

"Let beeves and home-bred kine partake
The sweets of Burn-mill meadow;
The swan on still St. Mary's Lake
Float double, swan and shadow! [B]
We will not see them; will not go, 45
To-day, nor yet to-morrow;
Enough if in our hearts we know
There's such a place as Yarrow.

"Be Yarrow stream unseen, unknown!
It must, or we shall rue it: 50
We have a vision of our own;
Ah! why should we undo it?
The treasured dreams of times long past,
We'll keep them, winsome Marrow!
For when we're there, although 'tis fair, 55
'Twill be another Yarrow.

"If Care with freezing years should come,
And wandering seem but folly,--
Should we be loth to stir from home,
And yet be melancholy; 60
Should life be dull, and spirits low,
'Twill soothe us in our sorrow,
That earth has something yet to show,
The bonny holms of Yarrow!"

* * * * *

VARIANT ON THE TEXT

[Variant 1:

1832.

... downwards ... 1807.]

* * * * *

FOOTNOTES ON THE TEXT

[Footnote A: See Hamilton's Ballad as above.--W. W. 1807.]

[Footnote B: In his "Recollections of Wordsworth," Aubrey de Vere
reports a conversation, in which the poet said to him,

"Scott misquoted in one of his novels my lines on 'Yarrow', He makes
me write,

'The swans on sweet St. Mary's Lake
Float double, swans and shadow;'

but I wrote,

'The _swan_ on _still_ St. Mary's Lake.'

Never could I have written 'swans' in the plural. The scene when I saw
it, with its still and dim lake, under the dusky hills, was one of
utter loneliness: there was _one_ swan, and one only, stemming the
water, and the pathetic loneliness of the region gave importance to
the one companion of that swan, its own white image in the water. It
was for that reason that I recorded the Swan and the Shadow. Had there
been many swans and many shadows, they would have implied nothing as
regards the character of the place; and I should have said nothing
about them."

See his 'Essays, chiefly on Poetry', vol. ii. p. 277.

Wordsworth wrote to his friend, Walter Scott, to thank him for a copy of
'The Lay of the Last Minstrel', and in return sent a copy of these
stanzas, 'Yarrow Unvisited'. Scott replied gratefully on the 16th March
1805, and said,

"... I by no means admit your apology, however ingeniously and
artfully stated, for not visiting the bonny holms of Yarrow, and
certainly will not rest till I have prevailed upon you to compare the
ideal with the real stream."

Wordsworth had asked him if he could suggest any name more true to the
place than Burnmill, in the line, "The sweets of Burn-mill meadow."
Scott replied:

"We have Broad-meadow upon Yarrow, which with the addition of green or
fair or any other epithet of one syllable, will give truth to the
locality, and supply the place of Burnmill meadow, which we have not.
... I like your swan upon St. Mary's Lake. How came you to know that
it is actually frequented by that superb bird?"

(See 'Familiar Letters of Sir Walter Scott', vol. i. pp. 28, 29.)--Ed.]

"September 18, 1803.--We left the Tweed when we were within about a
mile and a half or two miles of Clovenford, where we were to lodge.
Turned up the side of a hill, and went along sheep-grounds till we
reached the spot--a single stone house, without a tree near it or to
be seen from it. On our mentioning Mr. Scott's name, the woman of the
house showed us all possible civility, but her slowness was really
amusing. I should suppose it a house little frequented, for there is
no appearance of an inn. Mr. Scott, who she told me was a very clever
gentleman, 'goes there in the fishing season;' but indeed Mr. Scott is
respected everywhere; I believe that by favour of his name one might
be hospitably entertained throughout all the borders of Scotland. We
dined and drank tea--did not walk out, for there was no temptation; a
confined barren prospect from the window.

"At Clovenford, being so near to the Yarrow, we could not but think of
the possibility of going thither, but came to the conclusion of
reserving the pleasure for some future time, in consequence of which,
after our return, William wrote the poem which I shall here
transcribe."

(From Dorothy Wordsworth's 'Recollections of a Tour made in Scotland',
1803.)--Ed.

* * * * *

THE MATRON OF JEDBOROUGH AND HER HUSBAND

Composed between 1803 and 1805.--Published 1807

At Jedborough we went into private Lodgings for a few days; and the
following Verses were called forth by the character, and domestic
situation, of our Hostess.--W. W. 1807.

One of the "Poems referring to the Period of Old Age" in 1815 and
1820.--Ed.

Age! twine thy brows with fresh spring flowers,
And call a train of laughing Hours;
And bid them dance, and bid them sing;
And thou, too, mingle in the ring!
Take to thy heart a new delight; 5
If not, make merry in despite
That [1] there is One who scorns thy power:--
But dance! for under Jedborough Tower,
A Matron dwells who, though she bears
The weight of more than seventy years, 10
Lives in the light of youthful glee, [2]
And she will dance and sing with thee.

Nay! start not at that Figure--there!
Him who is rooted to his chair!
Look at him--look again! for he 15
Hath long been of thy family.
With legs that move not, if they can,
And useless arms, a trunk of man,
He sits, and with a vacant eye;
A sight to make a stranger sigh! 20
Deaf, drooping, that is now his doom:
His world is in this single room:
Is this a place for mirthful cheer? [3]
Can merry-making enter here? [A]

The joyous Woman is the Mate 25
Of him in that forlorn estate!
He breathes a subterraneous damp;
But bright as Vesper shines her lamp:
He is as mute as Jedborough Tower:
She jocund as it was of yore, 30
With all its bravery on; in times
When all alive with merry chimes,
Upon a sun-bright morn of May,
It roused the Vale to holiday.

I praise thee, Matron! and thy due 35
Is praise, heroic praise, and true!
With admiration I behold
Thy gladness unsubdued and bold:
Thy looks, thy gestures, all present
The picture of a life well spent: 40
This do I see; and something more;
A strength unthought of heretofore!
Delighted am I for thy sake;
And yet a higher joy partake:
Our Human-nature throws away 45
Its second twilight, and looks gay;
A land of promise and of pride
Unfolding, wide as life is wide.

Ah! see her helpless Charge! enclosed
Within himself as seems, composed; 50
To fear of loss, and hope of gain,
The strife of happiness and pain,
Utterly dead! yet in the guise
Of little infants, when their eyes
Begin to follow to and fro 55
The persons that before them go,
He tracks her motions, quick or slow.
Her buoyant spirit can prevail
Where common cheerfulness would fail;
She strikes upon him with the heat 60
Of July suns; he feels it sweet;
An animal delight though dim!
'Tis all that now remains for him!

The more I looked, I wondered more--
And, while I scanned them o'er and o'er, [4] 65
Some inward trouble suddenly
Broke from the Matron's strong black eye--[5]
A remnant of uneasy light,
A flash of something over-bright![B]
Nor long this mystery did detain 70
My thoughts;--she told in pensive strain [6]
That she had borne a heavy yoke,
Been stricken by a twofold stroke;
Ill health of body; and had pined
Beneath worse ailments of the mind. 75

So be it!--but let praise ascend
To Him who is our lord and friend!
Who from disease and suffering
[7] Hath called for thee a second spring;
Repaid thee for that sore distress 80
By no untimely joyousness;
Which makes of thine a blissful state;
And cheers thy melancholy Mate!

* * * * *

VARIANTS ON THE TEXT

[Variant 1:

1827.

For ... 1807.]

[Variant 2:

1837.

... under Jedborough Tower
There liveth in the prime of glee,
A Woman, whose years are seventy-three,
And She ... 1807.

There lives a woman of seventy-three,
And she will dance and sing with thee, MS.

A Matron dwells, who though she bears
Our mortal complement of years,
Lives in the light of youthful glee, 1827.]

[Variant 3:

1827.

... for mirth and cheer? 1807.]

[Variant 4:

1827.

I look'd, I scann'd her o'er and o'er;
The more I look'd I wonder'd more: 1807.]

[Variant 5:

1837.

When suddenly I seem'd to espy
A trouble in her strong black eye; 1807.

A moment gave me to espy
A trouble . . . 1827.]

[Variant 6:

1827.

And soon she made this matter plain;
And told me, in a thoughtful strain, 1807.]

[Variant 7:

As bad almost as Life can bring, Added in MS.]

* * * * *

FOOTNOTE ON THE TEXT

[Footnote A: Compare Tennyson's 'Deserted House', stanza iv.:

'Come away: no more of mirth
Is here, or merry-making sound.'

Ed.]

[Footnote B: Compare stanza xiii. of 'Resolution and Independence', p.
318.--Ed.]

Sept. 20, 1803.

"We were received with hearty welcome by a good woman, who, though
above seventy years old, moved about as briskly as if she was only
seventeen. Those parts of the house which we were to occupy were neat
and clean; she showed me every corner, and, before I had been ten
minutes in the house, opened her very drawers that I might see what a
stock of linen she had; then asked how long we should stay, and said
she wished we were come for three months. She was a most remarkable
person; the alacrity with which she ran up-stairs when we rung the
bell, and guessed at, and strove to prevent, our wants was surprising;
she had a quick eye, and keen strong features, and a joyousness in her
motions, like what used to be in old Molly when she was particularly
elated. I found afterwards that she had been subject to fits of
dejection and ill-health: we then conjectured that her overflowing
gaiety and strength might in part be attributed to the same cause as
her former dejection. Her husband was deaf and infirm, and sate in a
chair with scarcely the power to move a limb--an affecting contrast!
The old woman said they had been a very hard-working pair; they had
wrought like slaves at their trade--her husband had been a currier;
and she told me how they had portioned off their daughters with money,
and each a feather bed, and that in their old age they had laid out
the little they could spare in building and furnishing that house, and
she added with pride that she had lived in her youth in the family of
Lady Egerton, who was no high lady, and now was in the habit of coming
to her house whenever she was at Jedburgh, and a hundred other things;
for when she once began with Lady Egerton, she did not know how to
stop, nor did I wish it, for she was very entertaining. Mr. Scott sat
with us an hour or two, and repeated a part of the 'Lay of the Last
Minstrel'. When he was gone our hostess came to see if we wanted
anything, and to wish us good-night. On all occasions her manners were
governed by the same spirit: there was no withdrawing one's attention
from her. We were so much interested that William, long afterwards,
thought it worth while to express in verse the sensations which she
had excited, and which then remained as vividly in his mind as at the
moment when we lost sight of Jedburgh."

(From Dorothy Wordsworth's 'Recollections of a Tour made in Scotland',
1803.)--Ed.

* * * * *

"FLY, SOME KIND HARBINGER, TO GRASMERE-DALE" [A]

Composed September 25, 1803.--Published 1815

[This was actually composed the last day of our tour between Dalston and
Grasmere.--I.F.]

One of the "Miscellaneous Sonnets" in 1815 and 1820.--Ed.

Fly, some kind Harbinger, to Grasmere-dale! [1]
Say that we come, and come by this day's light;
Fly upon swiftest wing round field and height, [2]
But chiefly let one Cottage hear the tale;
There let a mystery of joy prevail, 5
The kitten frolic, like a gamesome sprite, [3]
And Rover whine, as at a second sight
Of near-approaching good that shall not fail:
And from that Infant's face let joy appear;
Yea, let our Mary's one companion child--10
That hath her six weeks' solitude beguiled
With intimations manifold and dear,
While we have wandered over wood and wild--
Smile on his Mother now with bolder cheer.

* * * * *

VARIANTS ON THE TEXT

[Variant 1:

1837.

Fly, some kind Spirit, fly to Grasmere Vale! 1815.

... dale, 1827.]

[Variant 2:

1837.

Glad tidings!--spread them over field and height; 1815.]

[Variant 3:

1837.

The Kitten frolic with unruly might, 1815.

The happy Kitten bound with frolic might, 1827.]

* * * * *

FOOTNOTE ON THE TEXT

[Footnote A: In the editions of 1815 and 1820, this poem bore the title,
'On approaching Home, after a Tour in Scotland, 1803',--Ed.]

"Sunday, September 25, 1803.--A beautiful autumnal day. Breakfasted at
a public-house by the road-side; dined at Threlkeld; arrived at home
between eight and nine o'clock, where we found Mary in perfect health,
Joanna Hutchinson with her, and little John asleep in the
clothes-basket by the fire."

(From Dorothy Wordsworth's 'Recollections of a Tour made in Scotland',
1803.)--Ed.

* * * * *

THE BLIND HIGHLAND BOY

A TALE TOLD BY THE FIRE-SIDE, AFTER RETURNING TO THE VALE OF GRASMERE[A]

Date of composition uncertain.--Published 1807

[The story was told me by George Mackereth, for many years parish-clerk
of Grasmere. He had been an eye-witness of the occurrence. The vessel in
reality was a washing-tub, which the little fellow had met with on the
shores of the Loch.--I.F.]

One of the "Poems referring to the Period of Childhood" in 1815 and
1820.--Ed.

Now we are tired of boisterous joy,
Have [1] romped enough, my little Boy!
Jane hangs her head upon my breast,
And you shall bring your stool and rest;
This corner is your own. 5

There! take your seat, and let me see
That [2] you can listen quietly:
And, as I promised, I will tell [3]
That strange adventure which befel
A poor blind Highland Boy. 10

A _Highland_ Boy!--why call him so?
Because, my Darlings, ye must know
That, under hills which rise like towers, [4]
Far higher hills than these of ours!
He from his birth had lived. 15

He ne'er had seen one earthly sight
The sun, the day; the stars, the night;
Or tree, or butterfly, or flower,
Or fish in stream, or bird in bower,
Or woman, man, or child. 20

And yet he neither drooped nor pined,
Nor had a melancholy mind;
For God took pity on the Boy,
And was his friend; and gave him joy
Of which we nothing know. 25

His Mother, too, no doubt, above
Her other children him did love:
For, was she here, or was she there,
She thought of him with constant care,
And more than mother's love. 30

And proud she was of heart, when clad
In crimson stockings, tartan plaid,
And bonnet with a feather gay,
To Kirk he on the sabbath day
Went hand in hand with her. 35

A dog too, had he; not for need,
But one to play with and to feed;
Which would [5] have led him, if bereft
Of company or friends, and left
Without a better guide. 40

And then the bagpipes he could blow--
And thus from house to house would go;
And all were pleased to hear and see,
For none made sweeter melody
Than did the poor blind Boy. 45

Yet he had many a restless dream;
Both when he heard the eagles scream,
And when he heard the torrents roar,
And heard the water beat the shore
Near which their cottage stood. 50

Beside a lake their cottage stood,
Not small like ours, a peaceful flood;
But one of mighty size, and strange;
That, rough or smooth, is full of change,
And stirring in its bed. 55

For to this lake, by night and day,
The great Sea-water finds its way
Through long, long windings of the hills
And drinks up all the pretty [B] rills
And rivers large and strong: [C] 60

Then hurries back the road it came--
Returns, on errand still the same;
This did it when the earth was new;
And this for evermore will do,
As long as earth shall last. 65

And, with the coming of the tide,
Come boats and ships that safely [6] ride
Between the woods and lofty rocks;
And to the shepherds with their flocks
Bring tales of distant lands. 70

And of those tales, whate'er they were,
The blind Boy always had his share;
Whether of mighty towns, or vales
With warmer suns and softer gales,
Or wonders of the Deep. 75

Yet more it pleased him, more it stirred,
When from the water-side he heard
The shouting, and the jolly cheers;
The bustle of the mariners
In stillness or in storm. 80

But what do his desires avail?
For He must never handle sail;
Nor mount the mast, nor row, nor float
In sailor's ship, or fisher's boat,
Upon the rocking waves. 85

His Mother often thought, and said,
What sin would be upon her head
If she should suffer this: "My Son,
Whate'er you do, leave this undone;
The danger is so great." 90

Thus lived he by Loch-Leven's side
Still sounding with the sounding tide,
And heard the billows leap and dance,
Without a shadow of mischance,
Till he was ten years old. 95

When one day (and now mark me well,
Ye [7] soon shall know how this befell)
He in a vessel of his own,
On the swift flood is hurrying down,
Down to the mighty Sea. [8] 100

In such a vessel never more
May human creature leave the Shore! [9]
If this or that way he should stir,
Woe to the poor blind Mariner!
For death will be his doom. 105
[10]
But say what bears him?--Ye have seen
The Indian's bow, his arrows keen,
Rare beasts, and birds with plumage bright;
Gifts which, for wonder or delight,
Are brought in ships from far. [11] 110

[D] Such gifts had those seafaring men
Spread round that haven in the glen;
Each hut, perchance, might have its own;
And to the Boy they all were known--
He knew and prized them all. 115

The rarest was a Turtle-shell
Which he, poor Child, had studied well;
A shell of ample size, and light
As the pearly car of Amphitrite,
That sportive dolphins drew. [12] 120

And, as a Coracle that braves
On Vaga's breast the fretful waves,
This shell upon the deep would swim,
And gaily lift its fearless brim
Above the tossing surge. [13] 125

And this the little blind Boy knew:
And he a story strange yet true
Had heard, how in a shell like this
An English Boy, O thought of bliss!
Had stoutly launched from shore; 130

Launched from the margin of a bay
Among the Indian isles, where lay
His father's ship, and had sailed far--
To join that gallant ship of war,
In his delightful shell. 135

Our Highland Boy oft visited
'The house that [14] held this prize; and, led
By choice or chance, did thither come
One day when no one was at home,
And found the door unbarred. 140

While there he sate, alone and blind,
That story flashed upon his mind;--
A bold thought roused him, and he took
The shell from out its secret nook,
And bore it on his head. [15] 145

He launched his vessel,--and in pride
Of spirit, from Loch-Leven's side,
Stepped into it--his thoughts all free
As the light breezes that with glee
Sang through the adventurer's hair. [16] 150

A while he stood upon his feet;
He felt the motion--took his seat;
Still better pleased as more and more
The tide retreated from the shore,
And sucked, and sucked him in. [17] 155

And there he is in face of Heaven.
How rapidly the Child is driven!
The fourth part of a mile, I ween,
He thus had gone, ere he was seen
By any human eye. 160

But when he was first seen, oh me
What shrieking and what misery!
For many saw; among the rest
His Mother, she who loved him best,
She saw her poor blind Boy. 165

But for the child, the sightless Boy,
It is the triumph of his joy!
The bravest traveller in balloon,
Mounting as if to reach the moon,
Was never half so blessed. 170

And let him, let him go his way,
Alone, and innocent, and gay!
For, if good Angels love to wait
On the forlorn unfortunate,
This Child will take no harm. 175

But now the passionate lament,
Which from the crowd on shore was sent,
The cries which broke from old and young
In Gaelic, or the English tongue,
Are stifled--all is still. 180

And quickly with a silent crew
A boat is ready to pursue;
And from the shore their course they take,
And swiftly down the running lake
They follow the blind Boy. 185

But soon they move with softer pace;
So have ye seen the fowler chase
On Grasmere's clear unruffled breast
A youngling of the wild-duck's nest
With deftly-lifted oar; 190

Or as the wily sailors crept
To seize (while on the Deep it slept)
The hapless creature which did dwell
Erewhile within the dancing shell,
They steal upon their prey. [18] 195

With sound the least that can be made,
They follow, more and more afraid,
More cautious as they draw more near;
But in his darkness he can hear,
And guesses their intent. 200

"_Lei-gha--Lei-gha_"--he then cried out,
"_Lei-gha--Lei-gha_"--with eager shout; [19]
Thus did he cry, and thus did pray,
And what he meant was, "Keep away,
And leave me to myself!" [E] 205

Alas! and when he felt their hands--
You've often heard [20] of magic wands,
That with a motion overthrow
A palace of the proudest show,
Or melt it into air: 210

So all his dreams--that inward light
With which his soul had shone so bright--
All vanished;--'twas a heartfelt cross
To him, a heavy, bitter loss,
As he had ever known. 215

But hark! a gratulating voice,
With which the very hills rejoice:
'Tis from the crowd, who tremblingly
Have [21] watched the event, and now can see
That he is safe at last. 220

And then, when he was brought to land,
Full sure they were a happy band,
Which, gathering round, did on the banks
Of that great Water give God thanks,
And welcomed the poor Child. 225

And in the general joy of heart
The blind Boy's little dog took part;
He leapt about, and oft did kiss
His master's hands in sign of bliss,
With sound like lamentation. 230

But most of all, his Mother dear,
She who had fainted with her fear,
Rejoiced when waking she espies
The Child; when she can trust her eyes,
And touches the blind Boy. 235

She led him home, and wept amain,
When he was in the house again:
Tears flowed in torrents from her eyes;
She kissed him--how could she chastise? [22]
She was too happy far. 240

Thus, after he had fondly braved
The perilous Deep, the Boy was saved;
And, though his fancies had been wild,
Yet he was pleased and reconciled
To live in peace on shore. 245

And in the lonely Highland dell
Still do they keep the Turtle-shell;
And long the story will repeat
Of the blind Boy's adventurous feat,
And how he was preserved. [23] 250

* * * * *

VARIANTS ON THE TEXT

[Variant 1:

1827.

We've ... 1807.]

[Variant 2:

1807.

How ... MS.]

[Variant 3:

1807.

Aye, willingly, and what is more
One which you never heard before,
True story this which I shall tell MS.]

[Variant 4:

1837.

In land where many a mountain towers, 1807.]

[Variant 5:

1807.

... could ... MS.]

[Variant 6:

1827.

... sweetly ... 1807.]

[Variant 7:

1815.

You ... 1807.]

[Variant 8:

1837.

He's in a vessel of his own,
On the swift water hurrying down
Towards the mighty Sea. 1807.

He in a vessel of his own,
On the swift flood is hurrying down 1827.

Towards the great, great Sea. MS.]

[Variant 9:

1815.

... ne'er before
Did human Creature ... 1807.]

[Variant 10: The following stanza was only in the edition of 1807:

Strong is the current; but be mild,
Ye waves, and spare the helpless Child!
If ye in anger fret or chafe,
A Bee-hive would be ship as safe
As that in which he sails.]

[Variant 11:

1815.

But say, what was it? Thought of fear!
Well may ye tremble when ye hear!
--A Household Tub, like one of those,
Which women use to wash their clothes,
This carried the blind Boy. 1807.]

[Variant 12:

1820.

And one, the rarest, was a Shell
Which he, poor Child, had studied well;
The Shell of a green Turtle, thin
And hollow;--you might sit therein.
It was so wide and deep. 1815.]

[Variant 13:

1820.

'Twas even the largest of its kind,
Large, thin, and light as birch-tree rind;
So light a Shell that it would swim,
And gaily lift its fearless brim
Above the tossing waves. 1815.]

[Variant 14:

1837.

... which ... 1815.]

[Variant 15:

1827.

... in his arms. 1815.]

[Variant 16:

1827.

Close to the water he had found
This Vessel, push'd it from dry ground,
Went into it; and, without dread,
Following the fancies in his head,
He paddled up and down. 1807.

And with the happy burthen hied,
And pushed it from Loch Levin's side,--
Stepped into it; and, without dread, 1815.]

[Variant 17:

1827.

And dallied thus, till from the shore
The tide retreating more and more
Had suck'd, and suck'd him in. 1807.]

[Variant 18: The two previous stanzas were added in the edition of 1815.]

[Variant 19:

1837.

... then did he cry
... most eagerly; 1807.]

[Variant 20:

1807.

... read ... MS.]

[Variant 21:

1837.

Had ... 1807.]

[Variant 22:

1832.

She could not blame him, or chastise; 1807.]

[Variant 23: This stanza was added in the edition of 1815.]

* * * * *

FOOTNOTES ON THE TEXT

[Footnote A: The title in the editions of 1807 to 1820 was 'The Blind
Highland Boy. (A Tale told by the Fireside.)'

This poem gave its title to a separate division in the second volume of
the edition of 1807, viz. "The Blind Highland Boy; with other
Poems."--Ed.]

[Footnote B: This reading occurs in all the editions. But Wordsworth,
whose MS. was not specially clear, may have written, or meant to write
"petty," (a much better word), and not perceived the mistake when
revising the sheets. If he really wrote "petty," he may have meant
either small rills (rillets), or used the word as Shakespeare used it,
for "pelting" rills.--Ed.]

[Footnote C: Compare Tennyson's 'In Memoriam', stanza xix.:

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

Ed.]

[Footnote D: This and the following six stanzas were added in 1815.--Ed.]

[Footnote E: Writing to Walter Scott, from Coleorton, on Jan. 20, 1807,
Wordsworth sent him this stanza of the poem, and asked

"Could you furnish me, by application to any of your Gaelic friends, a
phrase in that language which could take its place in the following
verse of eight syllables, and have the following meaning."

He adds,

"The above is part of a little poem which I have written on a Highland
story told me by an eye-witness ..."

This is the nearest clue we have to the date of the composition of the
poem.--Ed.]

It is recorded in Dampier's Voyages that a Boy, the Son of a Captain of
a Man of War, seated himself in a Turtle-shell and floated in it from
the shore to his Father's Ship, which lay at anchor at the distance of
half a mile. Upon the suggestion of a Friend, I have substituted such a
Shell for that less elegant vessel in which my blind voyager did
actually intrust himself to the dangerous current of Loch Levin, as was
related to me by an Eye-witness.--W. W. 1815.

This note varies slightly in later editions.

The Loch Leven referred to is a sea-loch in Argyllshire, into which the
tidal water flows with some force from Loch Linnhe at Ballachulish.

'By night and day
The great Sea-water finds its way
Through long, long windings of the hills.'

The friend referred to in the note of 1815, who urged Wordsworth to give
his blind voyager a Shell, instead of a washing-tub to sail in, was
Coleridge. The original tale of the tub was not more unfortunate than
the lines in praise of Wilkinson's spade, and several of Wordsworth's
friends, notably Charles Lamb and Barren Field, objected to the change.
Lamb wrote to Wordsworth in 1815,

"I am afraid lest that substitution of a shell (a flat falsification
of the history) for the household implement, as it stood at first, was
a kind of tub thrown out to the beast" [_i. e._ the reviewer!] "or
rather thrown out for him. The tub was a good honest tub in its place,
and nothing could fairly be said against it. You say you made the
alteration for the 'friendly reader,' but the 'malicious' will take it
to himself."

('The Letters of Charles Lamb', edited by Alfred Ainger, vol. i. p.
283.) Wordsworth could not be induced to "undo his work," and go back to
his own original; although he evidently agreed with what Lamb had said
(as is seen in a letter to Barren Field, Oct. 24, 1828).--Ed.

* * * * *

OCTOBER, 1803

Composed October 1803.--Published 1807

Included among the "Sonnets dedicated to Liberty"; renamed in 1845,
"Poems dedicated to National Independence and Liberty."--Ed.

One might believe that natural miseries
Had blasted France, and made of it a land
Unfit for men; and that in one great band
Her sons were bursting forth, to dwell at ease.
But 'tis a chosen soil, where sun and breeze 5
Shed gentle favours: rural works are there,
And ordinary business without care;
Spot rich in all things that can soothe and please!
How piteous then that there should be such dearth
Of knowledge; that whole myriads should unite 10
To work against themselves such fell despite:
Should come in phrensy and in drunken mirth,
Impatient to put out the only light
Of Liberty that yet remains on earth!

* * * * *

"THERE IS A BONDAGE WORSE, FAR WORSE, TO BEAR"

Composed possibly in 1803.--Published 1807

Included among the "Sonnets dedicated to Liberty"; renamed in 1845,
"Poems dedicated to National Independence and Liberty."--Ed.

There is a bondage worse, far worse, to bear [1]
Than his who breathes, by roof, and floor, and wall,
Pent in, a Tyrant's solitary Thrall:
'Tis his who walks about in the open air,
One of a Nation who, henceforth, must wear 5
Their fetters in their souls. For who could be,
Who, even the best, in such condition, free
From self-reproach, reproach that [2] he must share
With Human-nature? Never be it ours
To see the sun how brightly it will shine, 10
And know that noble feelings, manly powers,
Instead of gathering strength, must droop and pine;
And earth with all her pleasant fruits and flowers
Fade, and participate in man's decline.

* * * * *

VARIANTS ON THE TEXT

[Variant 1:

1827.

... which is worse to bear 1807.]

[Variant 2:

1837.

... which ... 1807.]

* * * * *

OCTOBER, 1803 (#2)

Composed October 1803.--Published 1807

This was one of the "Sonnets dedicated to Liberty"; afterwards called,
"Poems dedicated to National Independence and Liberty."--Ed.

These times strike [1] monied worldlings with dismay:
Even rich men, brave by nature, taint the air
With words of apprehension and despair:
While tens of thousands, thinking on the affray,
Men unto whom sufficient for the day 5
And minds not stinted or unfilled are given,
Sound, healthy, children of the God of heaven,
Are cheerful as the rising sun in May.
What do we gather hence but firmer faith
That every gift of noble origin 10
Is breathed upon by Hope's perpetual breath;
That virtue and the faculties within
Are vital,--and that riches are akin
To fear, to change, to cowardice, and death?

* * * * *

VARIANT ON THE TEXT

[Variant 1:

1837.

... touch ... 1807.]

* * * * *

"ENGLAND! THE TIME IS COME WHEN THOU SHOULD'ST WEAN"

Composed possibly in 1803.--Published 1807

This was one of the "Sonnets dedicated to Liberty"; afterwards called,
"Poems dedicated to National Independence and Liberty."--Ed.

England! the time is come when thou should'st wean
Thy heart from its emasculating food;
The truth should now be better understood;
Old things have been unsettled; we have seen
Fair seed-time, better harvest might have been 5
But for thy trespasses; and, at this day,
If for Greece, Egypt, India, Africa,
Aught good were destined, thou would'st step between.
England! all nations in this charge agree:
But worse, more ignorant in love and hate, 10
Far--far more abject, is thine Enemy:
Therefore the wise pray for thee, though the freight
Of thy offences be a heavy weight:
Oh grief that Earth's best hopes rest all with Thee!

* * * * *

OCTOBER, 1803 (#3)

Composed October 1803.--Published 1807

Included among the "Sonnets dedicated to Liberty"; afterwards called,
"Poems dedicated to National Independence and Liberty."--Ed.

When, looking on the present face of things,
I see one man, of men the meanest too!
Raised up to sway the world, to do, undo,
With mighty Nations for his underlings,
The great events with which old story rings 5
Seem vain and hollow; I find nothing great:
Nothing is left which I can venerate;
So that a doubt almost [1] within me springs
Of Providence, such emptiness at length
Seems at the heart of all things. But, great God! 10
I measure back the steps which I have trod;
And tremble, seeing whence proceeds the strength [2]
Of such poor Instruments, with thoughts sublime
I tremble at the sorrow of the time.

* * * * *

VARIANTS ON THE TEXT

[Variant 1:

1845.

... almost a doubt ... 1807.]

[Variant 2:

1827.

... seeing, as I do, the strength 1807.]

The reference is, of course, to Napoleon.--Ed.

* * * * *

TO THE MEN OF KENT. OCTOBER, 1803

Composed October 1803.--Published 1807

One of the "Sonnets dedicated to Liberty"; re-named in 1845, "Poems
dedicated to National Independence and Liberty."--Ed.

Vanguard of Liberty, ye men of Kent, [A]
Ye children of a Soil that doth advance
Her [1] haughty brow against the coast of France,
Now is the time to prove your hardiment!
To France be words of invitation sent! 5
They from their fields can see the countenance
Of your fierce war, may ken the glittering lance
And hear you shouting forth your brave intent.
Left single, in bold parley, ye, of yore,
Did from the Norman win a gallant wreath; 10
Confirmed the charters that were yours before;--
No parleying now! In Britain is one breath;
We all are with you now from shore to shore:--
Ye men of Kent, 'tis victory or death!

* * * * *

VARIANT ON THE TEXT

[Variant 1:

1827.

It's ... 1807.

It's haughty forehead 'gainst ... MS.]

* * * * *

FOOTNOTE ON THE TEXT

[Footnote A: Compare Michael Drayton's 'Barons' Wars', book i.:

'Then those of Kent, unconquered of the rest,
That to this day maintain their ancient right.'

Ed.]

* * * * *

IN THE PASS OF KILLICRANKY,

An invasion being expected, October 1803

Composed October 1803.--Published 1807

From 1807 to 1820 this sonnet was one of those "dedicated to Liberty."
In 1827 it was included among the "Memorials of a Tour in Scotland,
1803." From 1807 to 1820 the title was simply October, 1803.--Ed.

Six thousand veterans practised in war's game,
Tried men, at Killicranky were arrayed
Against an equal host that wore the plaid,
Shepherds and herdsmen.--Like a whirlwind came
The Highlanders, the slaughter spread like flame; 5
And Garry, thundering down his mountain-road,
Was stopped, and could not breathe beneath the load
Of the dead bodies.--'Twas a day of shame
For them whom precept and the pedantry
Of cold mechanic battle do enslave. 10
O for a single hour of that Dundee, [A]
Who on that day the word of onset gave!
Like conquest would the Men of England see;
And her Foes find a like inglorious grave.

* * * * *

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