Full Text Archive logoFull Text Archive — Free Classic E-books

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

Part 6 out of 14

Adobe PDF icon
Download this document as a .pdf
File size: 1.2 MB
What's this? light bulb idea Many people prefer to read off-line or to print out text and read from the real printed page. Others want to carry documents around with them on their mobile phones and read while they are on the move. We have created .pdf files of all out documents to accommodate all these groups of people. We recommend that you download .pdfs onto your mobile phone when it is connected to a WiFi connection for reading off-line.

[Variant 1:

1815. (Compressing five lines into three.)

... thistle's beard,
Which, seeming lifeless half, and half impell'd
By some internal feeling, skimm'd along
Close to the surface of the lake that lay
Asleep in a dead calm, ran closely on
Along the dead calm lake, now here, now there, 1800.]

[Variant 2:

1820.

Its very playmate, and its moving soul. 1800.]

[Variant 3:

1802.

... tall plant ... 1800.]

[Variant 4:

1827.

... sweet ... 1800.]

[Variant 5:

1800.

... with listening ... C.]

[Variant 6:

1820.

And in the fashion which I have describ'd,
Feeding unthinking fancies, we advanc'd 1800.]

[Variant 7:

1827.

... we saw 1800.]

[Variant 8:

1800.

... a lake. 1802.

The text of 1815 returns to that of 1800.]

[Variant 9:

1827.

... the margin of the lake.
That way we turn'd our steps; nor was it long,
Ere making ready comments on the sight
Which then we saw, with one and the same voice
We all cried out, that he must be indeed
An idle man, who thus could lose a day 1800.

Did all cry out, that he must be indeed
An Idler, he who thus ... 1815.]

* * * * *

FOOTNOTE ON THE TEXT

[Footnote A: A new road has destroyed this retirement. (MS. footnote in
Lord Coleridge's copy of the edition of 1836.)--Ed.]

The text of this poem reached its final state in the edition of 1827.
The same is true of the poem which follows, 'To M. H.', with the
exception of a single change.

In Wordsworth's early days at Grasmere, a wild woodland path of quiet
beauty led from Dove Cottage along the margin of the lake to the "Point"
referred to in this poem, leaving the eastern shore truly "safe in its
own privacy"--a "retired and difficult way"; the high-way road for
carriages being at that time over White Moss Common. The late Dr.
Arnold, of Rugby and Foxhowe, used to name the three roads from Rydal to
Grasmere thus: the highest, "Old Corruption"; the intermediate, "Bit by
bit Reform"; the lowest and most level, "Radical Reform." Wordsworth was
never quite reconciled to the radical reform effected on a road that
used to be so delightfully wild and picturesque. The spot which the
three friends rather infelicitously named "Point Rash-Judgment" is
easily identified; although, as Wordsworth remarks, the character of the
shore is changed by the public road being carried along its side. The
friends were quite aware that the "memorial name" they gave it was
"uncouth." In spite of its awkwardness, however, it will probably
survive; if not for Browning's reason

'The better the uncouther;
Do roses stick like burrs?'

at least because of the incident which gave rise to the poem.
The date of composition is fixed by Dorothy Wordsworth's
Journal,

"10th Oct. 1800, Wm. sat up after me, writing 'Point
Rash-Judgment.'"

Ed.

* * * * *

TO M. H.

Composed 1800.--Published 1800

[To Mary Hutchinson, two years before our marriage. The pool alluded to
is in Rydal Upper Park.--I.F.]

Our walk was far among the ancient trees:
There was no road, nor any woodman's path;
But a [1] thick umbrage--checking the wild growth
Of weed and sapling, along soft green turf [2]
Beneath the branches--of itself had made 5
A track, that [3] brought us to a slip of lawn,
And a small bed of water in the woods.
All round this pool both flocks and herds might drink
On its firm margin, even as from a well,
Or some stone-basin which the herdsman's hand 10
Had shaped for their refreshment; nor did sun,
Or wind from any quarter, ever come,
But as a blessing to this calm recess,
This glade of water and this one green field.
The spot was made by Nature for herself; 15
The travellers know it not, and 'twill remain
Unknown to them; but it is beautiful;
And if a man should plant his cottage near,
Should sleep beneath the shelter of its trees,
And blend its waters with his daily meal, 20
He would so love it, that in his death-hour
Its image would survive among his thoughts:
And therefore, my sweet MARY, this still Nook,
With all its beeches, we have named from You! [4]

* * * * *

VARIANTS ON THE TEXT

[Variant 1:

1836.

But the ... 1800.]

[Variant 2:

1827.

... on the soft green turf 1800.

... smooth dry ground MS.]

[Variant 3:

1827.

... which ... 1800.]

[Variant 4:

1800.

... for You. 1802.

The text of 1815 returns to that of 1800.]

To find the pool referred to in the Fenwick note, I have carefully
examined the course of Rydal beck, all the way up to the foot of the
Fell. There is a pool beyond the enclosures of the Hall property, about
five hundred feet above Rydal Mount, which partly corresponds to the
description in the poem, but there is no wood around it now; and the
trees which skirt its margin are birch, ash, oak, and hazel, but there
are no beeches. It is a short way below some fine specimens of ice-worn
rocks, which are to the right of the stream as you ascend it, and above
these rocks is a well-marked moraine. It is a deep crystal pool, and has
a "firm margin" of (artificially placed) stones. This may be the spot
described in the poem; or another, within the grounds of the Hall, may
be the place referred to. It is a sequestered nook, beside the third
waterfall as you ascend the beck--this third cascade being itself a
treble fall. Seen two or three days after rain, when the stream is full
enough to break over the whole face of the rock in showers of snowy
brightness, yet low enough to shew the rock behind its transparent veil,
it is specially beautiful. Trees change so much in eighty years that the
absence of "beeches" now would not make this site impossible. In a MS.
copy of the poem (of date Dec. 28, 1800), the last line is

'With all its poplars, we have named from you.'

Of the circular pool beneath this fall it may be said, as Wordsworth
describes it, that

'... both flocks and herds might drink
On its firm margin, even as from a well;'

and a "small slip of lawn" might easily have existed there in his time.
We cannot, however, be confident as to the locality, and I add the
opinion of several, whose judgment may be deferred to. Dr. Cradock
writes:

"As to Mary Hutchinson's pool, I think that it was not on the beck
anywhere, but some detached little pool, far up the hill, to the
eastwards of the Hall, in 'the woods.' The description does not well
suit any part of Rydal beck; and no spot thereon could long 'remain
unknown,' as the brook was until lately much haunted by anglers."

My difficulty as to a site "far up the hill" is, that it must have been
a pool of some size, if "both flocks and herds might drink" all round
it; and there is no stream, scarce even a rill that joins Rydal beck on
the right, all the way up from its junction with the Rothay. The late
Mr. Hull of Rydal Cottage, wrote:

"Although closely acquainted with every nook about Rydal Park, I have
never been able to discover any spot corresponding to that described
in Wordsworth's lines to M. H. It is possible, however, that the
'small bed of water' may have been a temporary rain pool, such as
sometimes lodges in the hollows on the mountain-slope after heavy
rain."

Mr. F. M. Jones, the agent of the Rydal property, writes:

"I do not know of any pool of water in the Upper Rydal Park. There are
some pools up the river, 'Mirror Pool' among them; but I hardly think
there can ever have been 'beech-trees' growing near them."

There are many difficulties, and the place cannot now be identified.
Wordsworth's own wish will doubtless be realised,

'The travellers know it not, and 'twill remain
Unknown to them.'

Ed.

* * * * *

THE WATERFALL AND THE EGLANTINE

Composed 1800.--Published 1800

[Suggested nearer to Grasmere, in the same mountain track as that
referred to in the following note. The Eglantine remained many years
afterwards, but is now gone.--I.F.]

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

I "Begone, thou fond presumptuous Elf,"
Exclaimed an angry Voice, [1]
"Nor dare to thrust thy foolish self
Between me and my choice!"
A small Cascade fresh swoln with snows 5
Thus threatened a poor Briar-rose, [2]
That, all bespattered with his foam,
And dancing high and dancing low,
Was living, as a child might know,
In an unhappy home. 10

II "Dost thou presume my course to block?
Off, off! or, puny Thing!
I'll hurl thee headlong with the rock
To which thy fibres cling."
The Flood was tyrannous and strong; [A] 15
The patient Briar suffered long,
Nor did he utter groan or sigh,
Hoping the danger would be past;
But, seeing no relief, at last,
He ventured to reply. 20

III "Ah!" said the Briar, "blame me not;
Why should we dwell in strife?
We who in this sequestered spot [3]
Once lived a happy life!
You stirred me on my rocky bed--25
What pleasure through my veins you spread
The summer long, from day to day,
My leaves you freshened and bedewed;
Nor was it common gratitude
That did your cares repay. 30

IV "When spring came on with bud and bell, [B]
Among these rocks did I
Before you hang my wreaths [4] to tell
That gentle days were nigh!
And in the sultry summer hours, 35
I sheltered you with leaves and flowers;
And in my leaves--now shed and gone,
The linnet lodged, and for us two
Chanted his pretty songs, when you
Had little voice or none. 40

V "But now proud thoughts are in your breast--
What grief is mine you see,
Ah! would you think, even yet how blest
Together we might be!
Though of both leaf and flower bereft, 45
Some ornaments to me are left--
Rich store of scarlet hips is mine,
With which I, in my humble way,
Would deck you many a winter day, [5]
A happy Eglantine!" 50

VI What more he said I cannot tell,
The Torrent down the rocky dell
Came thundering loud and fast; [6]
I listened, nor aught else could hear;
The Briar quaked--and much I fear 55
Those accents were his last.

* * * * *

VARIANTS ON THE TEXT

[Variant 1:

1836.

... a thundering Voice, 1800.]

[Variant 2:

1820.

A falling Water swoln with snows
Thus spake to a poor Briar-rose, 1800.]

[Variant 3:

1820.

... in this, our natal spot, 1800.]

[Variant 4:

1815.

... wreath ... 1800.]

[Variant 5:

1836.

... Winter's day, 1800.]

[Variant 6:

1840.

The stream came thundering down the dell
And gallop'd loud and fast; 1800.

The Torrent thundered down the dell
With unabating haste; 1815.

With aggravated haste; 1827.

The Stream came thundering down the dell 1836.]

* * * * *

FOOTNOTES ON THE TEXT

[Footnote A: Compare 'The Ancient Mariner' (part I. stanza II.):

And now the Storm-blast came, and he
Was tyrannous and strong.

Ed.]

[Footnote B: Compare 'A Farewell', p. 325, l. 17.--Ed.]

The spot referred to in this poem can be identified with perfect
accuracy. The Eglantine grew on the little brook that runs past two
cottages (close to the path under Nab Scar), which have been built since
the poet's time, and are marked Brockstone on the Ordnance Map.

"The plant itself of course has long disappeared: but in following up
the rill through the copse, above the cottages, I found an unusually
large Eglantine, growing by the side of the stream."

(Dr Cradock to the editor, in 1877.) It still grows luxuriantly there.

The following extract from Dorothy Wordsworth's Journal illustrates both
this and the next poem:

"Friday, 23rd April 1802.--It being a beautiful morning, we set off at
eleven o'clock, intending to stay out of doors all the morning. We
went towards Rydal, under Nab Scar. The sun shone and we were lazy.
Coleridge pitched upon several places to sit down upon; but we could
not be all of one mind respecting sun and shade, so we pushed on to
the foot of the Scar. It was very grand when we looked up, very stony;
here and there a budding tree. William observed that the umbrella
Yew-tree that breasts the wind had lost its character as a tree, and
had become like solid wood. Coleridge and I pushed on before. We left
William sitting on the stones, feasting with silence, and I sat down
upon a rocky seat, a couch it might be, under the Bower of William's
'Eglantine,' 'Andrew's Broom.' He was below us, and we could see him.
He came to us, and repeated his Poems, while we sat beside him. We
lingered long, looking into the vales; Ambleside Vale, with the
copses, the village under the hill, and the green fields; Rydale, with
a lake all alive and glittering, yet but little stirred by breezes;
and our own dear Grasmere, making a little round lake of Nature's own,
with never a house, never a green field, but the copses and the bare
hills enclosing it, and the river flowing out of it. Above rose the
Coniston Fells, in their own shape and colour, ... the sky, and the
clouds, and a few wild creatures. Coleridge went to search for
something new. We saw him climbing up towards a rock. He called us,
and we found him in a bower,--the sweetest that was ever seen. The
rock on one side is very high, and all covered with ivy, which hung
loosely about, and bore bunches of brown berries. On the other side,
it was higher than my head. We looked down on the Ambleside vale, that
seemed to wind away from us, the village lying under the hill. The fir
tree island was reflected beautifully.... About this bower there is
mountain-ash, common ash, yew tree, ivy, holly, hawthorn, roses,
flowers, and a carpet of moss. Above at the top of the rock there is
another spot. It is scarce a bower, a little parlour, not enclosed by
walls, but shaped out for a resting-place by the rocks, and the ground
rising about it. It had a sweet moss carpet. We resolved to go and
plant flowers, in both these places to-morrow."

This extract is taken from the "Journal" as originally transcribed by me
in 1889. When it appears in this edition it will be greatly
enlarged.--Ed.

* * * * *

THE OAK AND THE BROOM

A PASTORAL

Composed 1800.--Published 1800

[Suggested upon the mountain pathway that leads from Upper Rydal to
Grasmere. The ponderous block of stone, which is mentioned in the poem,
remains, I believe, to this day, a good way up Nab-Scar. Broom grows
under it, and in many places on the side of the precipice.--I.F.]

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

I His simple truths did Andrew glean
Beside the babbling rills;
A careful student he had been
Among the woods and hills.
One winter's night, when through the trees 5
The wind was roaring, [1] on his knees
His youngest born did Andrew hold:
And while the rest, a ruddy quire,
Were seated round their blazing fire,
This Tale the Shepherd told. 10

II "I saw a crag, a lofty stone
As ever tempest beat!
Out of its head an Oak had grown,
A Broom out of its feet.
The time was March, a cheerful noon--15
The thaw wind, with the breath of June,
Breathed gently from the warm south-west:
When, in a voice sedate with age,
This Oak, a giant and a sage, [2]
His neighbour thus addressed:--20

III "'Eight weary weeks, through rock and clay,
Along this mountain's edge,
The Frost hath wrought both night and day,
Wedge driving after wedge.
Look up! and think, above your head 25
What trouble, surely, will be bred;
Last night I heard a crash--'tis true,
The splinters took another road--
I see them yonder--what a load
For such a Thing as you! 30

IV "'You are preparing as before
To deck your slender shape;
And yet, just three years back--no more--
You had a strange escape:
Down from yon cliff a fragment broke; 35
It thundered down, with fire and smoke,
And hitherward pursued its way; [3]
This ponderous block was caught by me,
And o'er your head, as you may see,
'Tis hanging to this day! 40

V "'If breeze or bird to this rough steep
Your kind's first seed did bear;
The breeze had better been asleep,
The bird caught in a snare: [4]
For you and your green twigs decoy 45
The little witless shepherd-boy
To come and slumber in your bower;
And, trust me, on some sultry noon,
Both you and he, Heaven knows how soon!
Will perish in one hour. 50

VI "'From me this friendly warning take'--
The Broom began to doze,
And thus, to keep herself awake,
Did gently interpose:
'My thanks for your discourse are due; 55
That more than what you say is true, [5]
I know, and I have known it long;
Frail is the bond by which we hold
Our being, whether young or old, [6]
Wise, foolish, weak, or strong. 60

VII "'Disasters, do the best we can,
Will reach both great and small;
And he is oft the wisest man,
Who is not wise at all.
For me, why should I wish to roam? 65
This spot is my paternal home,
It is my pleasant heritage;
My father many a happy year,
Spread here [7] his careless blossoms, here
Attained a good old age. 70

VIII "'Even such as his may be my lot.
What cause have I to haunt
My heart with terrors? Am I not
In truth a favoured plant!
On me such bounty Summer pours, 75
That I am covered o'er with flowers; [8]
And, when the Frost is in the sky,
My branches are so fresh and gay
That you might look at me [9] and say,
This Plant can never die. 80

IX "'The butterfly, all green and gold,
To me hath often flown,
Here in my blossoms to behold
Wings lovely as his own.
When grass is chill with rain or dew, 85
Beneath my shade, the mother-ewe
Lies with her infant lamb; I see
The love they to each other make,
And the sweet joy which they partake,
It is a joy to me.' 90

X "Her voice was blithe, her heart was light;
The Broom might have pursued
Her speech, until the stars of night
Their journey had renewed;
But in the branches of the oak 95
Two ravens now began to croak
Their nuptial song, a gladsome air;
And to her own green bower the breeze
That instant brought two stripling bees
To rest, or [10] murmur there. 100

XI "One night, my Children! from the north
There came a furious blast; [11]
At break of day I ventured forth,
And near the cliff I passed.
The storm had fallen upon the Oak, 105
And struck him with a mighty stroke,
And whirled, and whirled him far away;
And, in one hospitable cleft,
The little careless Broom was left
To live for many a day." 110

* * * * *

VARIANTS ON THE TEXT

[Variant 1:

1820.

... thundering, ... 1800.]

[Variant 2:

1815.

... half giant and half sage, 1800.]

[Variant 3:

1820.

It came, you know, with fire and smoke
And hither did it bend its way. 1800.

And hitherward it bent its way. 1802.]

[Variant 4:

1836.

The Thing had better been asleep,
Whatever thing it were,
Or Breeze, or Bird, or fleece of Sheep,
That first did plant you there. 1800.

Or Breeze, or Bird, or Dog, or Sheep, 1802.]

[Variant 5:

1820.

That it is true, and more than true, 1800.]

[Variant 6:

1827.

... be we young or old, 1800.]

[Variant 7:

1836.

Here spread ... 1800.]

[Variant 8:

1815.

The Spring for me a garland weaves
Of yellow flowers and verdant leaves, 1800.]

[Variant 9:

1802.

... on me ... 1800.]

[Variant 10:

1827.

To feed and ... 1800.

To rest and ... 1815.]

[Variant 11:

1815.

One night the Wind came from the North
And blew a furious blast, 1800.]

The spot is fixed within narrow limits by the Fenwick note. It is,
beyond doubt, on the wooded part of Nab-Scar, through which the upper
path from Grasmere to Rydal passes. There is one huge block of stone
high above the path, which answers well to the description in the second
stanza. Crabb Robinson wrote in his 'Diary' (Sept. 11, 1816):

"The poem of 'The Oak and the Broom' proceeded from his" (Wordsworth)
"beholding a tree in just such a situation as he described the broom
to be in."

Ed.

* * * * *

"'TIS SAID, THAT SOME HAVE DIED FOR LOVE"

Composed 1800.--Published 1800

One of the "Poems founded on the Affections."--Ed.

'Tis said, that some have died for love:
And here and there a church-yard grave is found
In the cold north's unhallowed ground,
Because the wretched man himself had slain,
His love was such a grievous pain. 5
And there is one whom I five years have known;
He dwells alone
Upon Helvellyn's side:
He loved--the pretty Barbara died;
And thus he makes his moan: 10
Three years had Barbara in her grave been laid
When thus his moan he made:

"Oh, move, thou Cottage, from behind that oak!
Or let the aged tree uprooted lie,
That in some other way yon smoke 15
May mount into the sky!
The clouds pass on; they from the heavens depart:
I look--the sky is empty space;
I know not what I trace;
But when I cease to look, my hand is on my heart. 20

"O! what a weight is in these shades! Ye leaves,
That murmur once so dear, when will it cease?
Your sound my heart of rest bereaves,
It robs my heart of peace. [1]
Thou Thrush, that singest loud--and loud and free, 25
Into yon row of willows flit,
Upon that alder sit;
Or sing another song, or choose another tree.

"Roll back, sweet Rill! back to thy mountain-bounds,
And there for ever be thy waters chained! 30
For thou dost haunt the air with sounds
That cannot be sustained;
If still beneath that [2] pine-tree's ragged bough
Headlong yon waterfall must come,
Oh let it then be dumb! 35
Be anything, sweet Rill, but that which thou art now.

"Thou Eglantine, so bright with sunny showers,
Proud as a rainbow spanning half the vale, [3]
Thou one fair shrub, oh! shed thy flowers,
And stir not in the gale. 40
For thus to see thee nodding in the air,
To see thy arch thus stretch and bend,
Thus rise and thus descend,--
Disturbs me till the sight is more than I can bear."

The Man who makes this feverish complaint 45
Is one of giant stature, who could dance
Equipped from head to foot in iron mail.
Ah gentle Love! if ever thought was thine
To store up kindred hours for me, thy face
Turn from me, gentle Love! nor let me walk 50
Within the sound of Emma's voice, nor [4] know
Such happiness as I have known to-day.

* * * * *

VARIANTS ON THE TEXT

[Variant 1:

1836.

... Ye leaves,
When will that dying murmur be suppress'd?
Your sound my heart of peace bereaves,
It robs my heart of rest. 1800.]

[Variant 2:

1800.

... yon ... MS.]

[Variant 3:

1836.

Thou Eglantine whose arch so proudly towers
(Even like a rainbow ... 1800.

... the rainbow ... 1802.

The text of 1815 returns to that of 1800.]

[Variant 4:

1836.

... or ... 1800.]

If the second, third, and fourth stanzas of this poem had been published
without the first, the fifth, and the last, it would have been deemed an
exquisite fragment by those who object to the explanatory preamble, and
to the moralising sequel. The intermediate stanzas suggest Burns's

'Ye banks and braes o' bonnie Doon,
How can ye bloom sae fresh and fair!
How can ye chant, ye little birds,
An' I sae weary, fu' o' care!'

and Browning's 'May and Death':

'I wish that when you died last May,
Charles, there had died along with you
Three parts of spring's delightful things;
Ay, and, for me, the fourth part too.'

This mood of mind Wordsworth appreciated as fully as the opposite, or
complementary one, which finds expression in the great 'Ode, Intimations
of Immortality' (vol. viii.), l. 26.

'No more shall grief of mine the season wrong,'

and which Browning expresses in other verses of his lyric, and
repeatedly elsewhere. The allusion in the last stanza of this poem is to
Wordsworth's sister Dorothy.--Ed.

* * * * *

THE CHILDLESS FATHER

Composed 1800.-Published 1800 [A]

[Written at Town-end, Grasmere. When I was a child at Cockermouth, no
funeral took place without a basin filled with sprigs of boxwood being
placed upon a table covered with a white cloth in front of the house.
The huntings on foot, in which the old man is supposed to join as here
described, were of common, almost habitual, occurrence in our vales when
I was a boy, and the people took much delight in them. They are now less
frequent.--I.F.]

One of the "Poems founded on the Affections."--Ed.

"Up, Timothy, up with your staff and away!
Not a soul in the village this morning will stay;
The hare has just started from Hamilton's grounds,
And Skiddaw is glad with the cry of the hounds."

--Of coats and of jackets grey, scarlet, and green, 5
On the slopes of the pastures all colours were seen;
With their comely blue aprons, and caps white as snow,
The girls on the hills made a holiday show.

Fresh sprigs of green box-wood, not six months before,
Filled the funeral basin [B] at Timothy's door; [1] 10
A coffin through Timothy's threshold had past;
One Child [C] did it bear, and that Child was his last.

Now fast up the dell came the noise and the fray,
The horse and the horn, and the hark! hark away!
Old Timothy took up his staff, and he shut 15
With a leisurely motion the door of his hut.

Perhaps to himself at that moment he said;
"The key I must take, for my Ellen is dead."
But of this in my ears not a word did he speak;
And he went to the chase with a tear on his cheek. 20

* * * * *

VARIANTS ON THE TEXT

[Variant 1:

1827.

The basin of box-wood, just six months before,
Had stood on the table at Timothy's door, 1800.

The basin had offered, just six months before,
Fresh sprigs of green box-wood at Timothy's door; 1820.]

* * * * *

FOOTNOTES ON THE TEXT

[Footnote A: Also in 'The Morning Post', Jan. 30, 1801.--Ed.]

[Footnote B: In several parts of the North of England, when a funeral
takes place, a basin full of Sprigs of Box-wood is placed at the door of
the house from which the Coffin is taken up, and each person who attends
the funeral ordinarily takes a Sprig of this Box-wood, and throws it
into the grave of the deceased.--W. W. 1800.]

[Footnote C: In the list of _errata_, in the edition of 1820 "one child"
is corrected, and made "a child"; but the text remained "one child" in
all subsequent editions.--Ed.]

* * * * *

SONG FOR THE WANDERING JEW

Composed 1800.--Published 1800

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

Though the torrents from their fountains
Roar down many a craggy steep,
Yet they find among the mountains
Resting-places calm and deep.

Clouds that love through air to hasten, 5
Ere the storm its fury stills,
Helmet-like themselves will fasten
On the heads of towering hills. [1]

What, if through the frozen centre
Of the Alps the Chamois bound, 10
Yet he has a home to enter
In some nook of chosen ground: [2]

And the Sea-horse, though the ocean
Yield him no domestic cave,
Slumbers without sense of motion, 15
Couched upon the rocking wave. [3]

If on windy days the Raven
Gambol like a dancing skiff,
Not the less she loves her haven [4]
In [5] the bosom of the cliff. [A] 20

The fleet Ostrich, till day closes,
Vagrant over desert sands,
Brooding on her eggs reposes
When chill night that care demands. [6]

Day and night my toils redouble, 25
Never nearer to the goal;
Night and day, I feel the trouble
Of the Wanderer in my soul. [7]

* * * * *

VARIANTS ON THE TEXT

[Variant 1: This stanza was added in the edition of 1827.]

[Variant 2:

1827.

Though almost with eagle pinion
O'er the rocks the Chamois roam,
Yet he has some small dominion
Which no doubt he calls his home. 1800.

Though, as if with eagle pinion
O'er the rocks the Chamois roam,
Yet he has some small dominion
Where he feels himself at home. 1815.]

[Variant 3:

1836.

Though the Sea-horse in the ocean
Own no dear domestic cave;
Yet he slumbers without motion
On the calm and silent wave. 1800.

Yet he slumbers--by the motion
Rocked of many a gentle wave. 1827.]

[Variant 4:

1827.

... he loves his haven 1800.]

[Variant 5:

1815.

On ... 1800.]

[Variant 6: This stanza was added in 1827.]

[Variant 7:

1800.

Never--never does the trouble
Of the Wanderer leave my soul. 1815.

The text of 1827 returns to that of 1800.]

* * * * *

FOOTNOTE ON THE TEXT

[Footnote A: In the editions of 1800 to 1832 stanzas 4 and 5 were
transposed. Their present order was adjusted in the edition of
1836.--Ed.]

* * * * *

THE BROTHERS [A]

Composed 1800. [B]--Published 1800

[This poem was composed in a grove at the north-eastern end of Grasmere
lake, which grove was in a great measure destroyed by turning the high
road along the side of the water. The few trees that are left were
spared at my intercession. The poem arose out of the fact, mentioned to
me at Ennerdale, that a shepherd had fallen asleep upon the top of the
rock called the Pillar, and perished as here described, his staff being
left midway on the rock.--I. F.]

One of the "Poems founded on the Affections."--Ed.

These Tourists, heaven preserve us! needs must live
A profitable life: some glance along,
Rapid and gay, as if the earth were air,
And they were butterflies to wheel about
Long as the [1] summer lasted: some, as wise, 5
Perched on the forehead of a jutting crag,
Pencil in hand and book upon the knee,
Will look and scribble, scribble on and look, [2]
Until a man might travel twelve stout miles,
Or reap an acre of his neighbour's corn. 10
But, for that moping Son of Idleness,
Why can he tarry _yonder_?--In our church-yard
Is neither epitaph nor monument,
Tombstone nor name--only the turf we tread
And a few natural graves." 15

To Jane, his wife,
Thus spake the homely Priest of Ennerdale.
It was a July evening; and he sate
Upon the long stone-seat beneath the eaves
Of his old cottage,--as it chanced, that day, 20
Employed in winter's work. Upon the stone
His wife sate near him, teasing matted wool,
While, from the twin cards toothed with glittering wire,
He fed the spindle of his youngest child,
Who, in the open air, with due accord 25
Of busy hands and back-and-forward steps,
Her large round wheel was turning. [3] Towards the field
In which the Parish Chapel stood alone,
Girt round with a bare ring of mossy wall,
While half an hour went by, the Priest had sent 30
Many a long look of wonder: and at last,
Risen from his seat, beside the snow white ridge
Of carded wool which the old man had piled
He laid his implements with gentle care,
Each in the other locked; and, down the path 35
That [4] from his cottage to the church-yard led,
He took his way, impatient to accost
The Stranger, whom he saw still lingering there.

'Twas one well known to him in former days,
A Shepherd-lad; who ere his sixteenth year 40
Had left that calling, tempted to entrust
His expectations to the fickle winds
And perilous waters; with the mariners [5]
A fellow-mariner;--and so had fared
Through twenty seasons; but he had been reared 45
Among the mountains, and he in his heart
Was half a shepherd on the stormy seas.
Oft in the piping shrouds had Leonard heard
The tones of waterfalls, and inland sounds
Of caves and trees:--and, when the regular wind 50
Between the tropics filled the steady sail,
And blew with the same breath through days and weeks,
Lengthening invisibly its weary line
Along the cloudless Main, he, in those hours
Of tiresome indolence, would often hang 55
Over the vessel's side, and gaze and gaze;
And, while the broad blue [6] wave and sparkling foam
Flashed round him images and hues that wrought
In union with the employment of his heart,
He, thus by feverish passion overcome, 60
Even with the organs of his bodily eye,
Below him, in the bosom of the deep,
Saw mountains; saw the forms of sheep that grazed
On verdant hills--with dwellings among trees,
And shepherds clad in the same country grey 65
Which he himself had worn. [C]

And now, at last, [7]
From perils manifold, with some small wealth
Acquired by traffic 'mid [8] the Indian Isles,
To his paternal home he is returned, 70
With a determined purpose to resume
The life he had lived there; [9] both for the sake
Of many darling pleasures, and the love
Which to an only brother he has borne
In all his hardships, since that happy time 75
When, whether it blew foul or fair, they two
Were brother-shepherds on their native hills.
--They were the last of all their race: and now,
When Leonard had approached his home, his heart
Failed in him; and, not venturing to enquire 80
Tidings of one so long and dearly loved, [10]
He to the solitary church-yard turned; [11]
That, as he knew in what particular spot
His family were laid, he thence might learn
If still his Brother lived, or to the file 85
Another grave was added.--He had found
Another grave,--near which a full half-hour
He had remained; but, as he gazed, there grew
Such a confusion in his memory,
That he began to doubt; and even to hope [12] 90
That he had seen this heap of turf before,--
That it was not another grave; but one
He had forgotten. He had lost his path,
As up the vale, that afternoon, he walked [13]
Through fields which once had been well known to him: 95
And oh what joy this [14] recollection now
Sent to his heart! he lifted up his eyes,
And, looking round, imagined that he saw [15]
Strange alteration wrought on every side
Among the woods and fields, and that the rocks, 100
And everlasting hills [16] themselves were changed.

By this the Priest, who down the field had come,
Unseen by Leonard, at the church-yard gate
Stopped short,--and thence, at leisure, limb by limb
Perused him [17] with a gay complacency. 105
Ay, thought the Vicar, smiling to himself,
'Tis one of those who needs must leave the path
Of the world's business to go wild alone:
His arms have a perpetual holiday;
The happy man will creep about the fields, 110
Following his fancies by the hour, to bring
Tears down his cheek, [18] or solitary smiles
Into his face, until the setting sun
Write fool upon his forehead.--Planted thus
Beneath a shed that over-arched the gate 120
Of this rude church-yard, till the stars appeared
The good Man might have communed with himself,
But that the Stranger, who had left the grave,
Approached; he recognised the Priest at once,
And, after greetings interchanged, and given 120
By Leonard to the Vicar as to one
Unknown to him, this dialogue ensued.

_Leonard_. You live, Sir, in these dales, a quiet life:
Your years make up one peaceful family;
And who would grieve and fret, if, welcome come 125
And welcome gone, they are so like each other,
They cannot be remembered? Scarce a funeral
Comes to this church-yard once in eighteen months;
And yet, some changes must take place among you:
And you, who dwell here, even among these rocks, 130
Can trace the finger of mortality,
And see, that with our threescore years and ten
We are not all that perish.--I remember,
(For many years ago I passed this road)
There was a foot-way all along the fields 135
By the brook-side--'tis gone--and that dark cleft!
To me it does not seem to wear the face
Which then it had!

_Priest_. Nay, Sir, [19] for aught I know,
That chasm is much the same--140

_Leonard_. But, surely, yonder--

_Priest_. Ay, there, indeed, your memory is a friend
That does not play you false.--On that tall pike
(It is the loneliest place of all these hills)
There were two springs which bubbled side by side, [D] 145
As if they had been made that they might be
Companions for each other: the huge crag
Was rent with lightning--one hath disappeared; [20]
The other, left behind, is flowing still,
For accidents and changes such as these, 150
We want not store of them; [21]--a water-spout
Will bring down half a mountain; what a feast
For folks that wander up and down like you,
To see an acre's breadth of that wide cliff
One roaring cataract! a sharp May-storm 155
Will come with loads of January snow,
And in one night send twenty score of sheep
To feed the ravens; or a shepherd dies
By some untoward death among the rocks:
The ice breaks up and sweeps away a bridge; 160
A wood is felled:--and then for our own homes!
A child is born or christened, a field ploughed,
A daughter sent to service, a web spun,
The old house-clock is decked with a new face;
And hence, so far from wanting facts or dates 165
To chronicle the time, we all have here
A pair of diaries,--one serving, Sir,
For the whole dale, and one for each fire-side--
Yours was a stranger's judgment: for historians,
Commend me to these valleys! 170

_Leonard_. Yet your Church-yard
Seems, if such freedom may be used with you,
To say that you are heedless of the past:
An orphan could not find his mother's grave:
Here's neither head nor foot-stone, plate of brass, 175
Cross-bones nor skull,--type of our earthly state
Nor emblem of our hopes: [22] the dead man's home
Is but a fellow to that pasture-field.

_Priest_. Why, there, Sir, is a thought that's new to me!
The stone-cutters, 'tis true, might beg their bread 180
If every English church-yard were like ours;
Yet your conclusion wanders from the truth:
We have no need of names and epitaphs;
We talk about the dead by our fire-sides.
And then, for our immortal part! _we_ want 185
No symbols, Sir, to tell us that plain tale:
The thought of death sits easy on the man
Who has been born and dies among the mountains. [E]

_Leonard_. Your Dalesmen, then, do in each other's thoughts
Possess a kind of second life: no doubt 190
You, Sir, could help me to the history
Of half these graves?

_Priest_. For eight-score winters past,
With what I've witnessed, and with what I've heard,
Perhaps I might; and, on a winter-evening, [23] 195
If you were seated at my chimney's nook,
By turning o'er these hillocks one by one,
We two could travel, Sir, through a strange round;
Yet all in the broad highway of the world.
Now there's a grave--your foot is half upon it,--200
It looks just like the rest; and yet that man
Died broken-hearted.

_Leonard_. 'Tis a common case.
We'll take another: who is he that lies
Beneath yon ridge, the last of those three graves? 205
It touches on that piece of native rock
Left in the church-yard wall.

_Priest_. That's Walter Ewbank. [F]
He had as white a head and fresh a cheek
As ever were produced by youth and age 210
Engendering in the blood of hale fourscore.
Through five [24] long generations had the heart
Of Walter's forefathers o'erflowed the bounds
Of their inheritance, that single cottage--
You see it yonder! and those few green fields. 215
They toiled and wrought, and still, from sire to son,
Each struggled, and each yielded as before
A little--yet a little,--and old Walter,
They left to him the family heart, and land
With other burthens than the crop it bore. 220
Year after year the old man still kept up [25]
A cheerful mind,--and buffeted with bond,
Interest, and mortgages; at last he sank,
And went into his grave before his time.
Poor Walter! whether it was care that spurred him 225
God only knows, but to the very last
He had the lightest foot in Ennerdale:
His pace was never that of an old man:
I almost see him tripping down the path
With his two grandsons after him:--but you, 230
Unless our Landlord be your host to-night,
Have far to travel,--and on [26] these rough paths
Even in the longest day of midsummer--

_Leonard_. But those [27] two Orphans!

_Priest_. Orphans!--Such they were--235
Yet not while Walter lived:--for, though their parents
Lay buried side by side as now they lie,
The old man was a father to the boys,
Two fathers in one father: and if tears,
Shed when he talked of them where they were not, 240
And hauntings from the infirmity of love,
Are aught of what makes up a mother's heart,
This old Man, in the day of his old age,
Was half a mother to them.--If you weep, Sir,
To hear a stranger talking about strangers, 245
Heaven bless you when you are among your kindred!
Ay--you may turn that way--it is a grave
Which will bear looking at.

_Leonard_. These boys--I hope
They loved this good old Man?--250

_Priest_. They did--and truly:
But that was what we almost overlooked,
They were such darlings of each other. Yes,
Though from the cradle they had lived with Walter,
The only kinsman near them, and though he 255
Inclined to both by reason of his age,
With a more fond, familiar, tenderness;
They, notwithstanding, had much love to spare, [28]
And it all went into each other's hearts.
Leonard, the elder by just eighteen months, 260
Was two years taller: 'twas a joy to see,
To hear, to meet them!--From their house the school
Is [29] distant three short miles, and in the time
Of storm and thaw, when every water-course
And unbridged stream, such as you may have noticed 265
Crossing our roads at every hundred steps,
Was swoln into a noisy rivulet
Would Leonard then, when elder boys remained
At home, go staggering through the slippery fords, [30]
Bearing his brother on his back. I have [31] seen him, 270
On windy days, in one of those stray brooks,
Ay, more than once I have [31] seen him, mid-leg deep,
Their two books lying both on a dry stone,
Upon the hither side: and once I said,
As I remember, looking round these rocks 275
And hills on which we all of us were born,
That God who made the great book of the world
Would bless such piety--

_Leonard_. It may be then--

_Priest_. Never did worthier lads break English bread; 280
The very brightest Sunday Autumn saw [32]
With all its mealy clusters of ripe nuts,
Could never keep those [33] boys away from church,
Or tempt them to an hour of sabbath breach.
Leonard and James! I warrant, every corner 285
Among these rocks, and every hollow place
That venturous foot could reach, to one or both [34]
Was known as well as to the flowers that grow there.
Like roe-bucks they went bounding o'er the hills;
They played like two young ravens on the crags: 290
Then they could write, ay and speak too, as well
As many of their betters--and for Leonard!
The very night before he went away,
In my own house I put into his hand
A bible, and I'd wager house and field 295
That, if he be alive, he has it yet. [35]

_Leonard_. It seems, these Brothers have not lived to be
A comfort to each other--

_Priest_. That they might
Live to such end [36] is what both old and young 300
In this our valley all of us have wished,
And what, for my part, I have often prayed:
But Leonard--

_Leonard_. Then James still is left among you!

_Priest_. 'Tis of the elder brother I am speaking: 305
They had an uncle;--he was at that time
A thriving man, and trafficked on the seas:
And, but for that [37] same uncle, to this hour
Leonard had never handled rope or shroud:
For the boy loved the life which we lead here; 310
And though of unripe years, a stripling only, [38]
His soul was knit to this his native soil.
But, as I said, old Walter was too weak
To strive with such a torrent; when he died,
The estate and house were sold; and all their sheep, 315
A pretty flock, and which, for aught I know,
Had clothed the Ewbanks for a thousand years:--
Well--all was gone, and they were destitute,
And Leonard, chiefly for his Brother's sake,
Resolved to try his fortune on the seas. 320
Twelve years are past [39] since we had tidings from him.
If there were [40] one among us who had heard
That Leonard Ewbank was come home again,
From the Great Gavel, [G] down by Leeza's banks,
And down the Enna, far as Egremont. 325
The day would be a joyous festival; [41]
And those two bells of ours, which there you see--
Hanging in the open air--but, O good Sir!
This is sad talk--they'll never sound for him--
Living or dead.--When last we heard of him, 330
He was in slavery among the Moors
Upon the Barbary coast.--'Twas not a little
That would bring down his spirit; and no doubt,
Before it ended in his death, the Youth [42]
Was sadly crossed.--Poor Leonard! when we parted, 335
He took me by the hand, and said to me,
If e'er he should grow rich, he would return,
To live in peace upon his father's land,
And lay his bones among us. [43]

_Leonard_. If that day 340
Should come, 'twould needs be a glad day for him;
He would himself, no doubt, be happy then
As any that should meet him--

_Priest_. Happy! Sir--

_Leonard_. You said his kindred all were in their graves, 345
And that he had one Brother--

_Priest_. That is but
A fellow-tale of sorrow. From his youth
James, though not sickly, yet was delicate;
And Leonard being always by his side 350
Had done so many offices about him,
That, though he was not of a timid nature,
Yet still the spirit of a mountain-boy
In him was somewhat checked; and, when his Brother
Was gone to sea, and he was left alone, 355
The little colour that he had was soon
Stolen from his cheek; he drooped, and pined, and pined--

_Leonard_. But these are all the graves of full-grown men!

_Priest_. Ay, Sir, that passed away: we took him to us;
He was the child of all the dale--he lived 360
Three months with one, and six months with another;
And wanted neither food, nor clothes, nor love:
And many, many happy days were his.
But, whether blithe or sad, 'tis my belief
His absent Brother still was at his heart. 365
And, when he dwelt [44] beneath our roof, we found
(A practice till this time unknown to him)
That often, rising from his bed at night,
He in his sleep would walk about, and sleeping
He sought his brother Leonard.--You are moved! 370
Forgive me, Sir: before I spoke to you,
I judged you most unkindly.

_Leonard_. But this Youth,
How did he die at last?

_Priest_. One sweet May-morning, 375
(It will be twelve years since when Spring returns)
He had gone forth among the new-dropped lambs,
With two or three companions, whom their course
Of occupation led from height to height
Under a cloudless sun--till he, at length, 380
Through weariness, or, haply, to indulge
The humour of the moment, lagged behind. [45]
You see yon precipice;--it wears the shape
Of a vast building made of many crags; [46]
And in the midst is one particular rock 385
That rises like a column from the vale,
Whence by our shepherds it is called, THE PILLAR.
Upon its aery summit crowned with heath,
The loiterer, not unnoticed by his comrades,
Lay stretched at ease; but, passing by the place 390
On their return, they found that he was gone.
No ill was feared; till one of them by chance
Entering, when evening was far spent, the house
Which at that time was James's home, there learned [47]
That nobody had seen him all that day: [H] 395
The morning came, and still he was unheard of:
The neighbours were alarmed, and to the brook
Some hastened; some ran to the lake: [48] ere noon
They found him at the foot of that same rock
Dead, and with mangled limbs. The third day after 400
I buried him, poor Youth, [49] and there he lies!

_Leonard_. And that then _is_ his grave!--Before his death
You say [50] that he saw many happy years?

_Priest_. Ay, that he did--

_Leonard_. And all went well with him?--405

_Priest_. If he had one, the Youth [51] had twenty homes.

_Leonard_. And you believe, then, that his mind was easy?--

_Priest_. Yes, long before he died, he found that time
Is a true friend to sorrow; and unless
His thoughts were turned on Leonard's luckless fortune, 410
He talked about him with a cheerful love.

_Leonard_. He could not come to an unhallowed end!

_Priest_. Nay, God forbid!--You recollect I mentioned
A habit which disquietude and grief
Had brought upon him; and we all conjectured 415
That, as the day was warm, he had lain down
On the soft heath, [52] and, waiting for his comrades,
He there had fallen asleep; that in his sleep
He to the margin of the precipice
Had walked, and from the summit had fallen headlong: 420
And so no doubt he perished. When the Youth
Fell, in his hand he must have grasp'd, we think, [53]
His shepherd's staff; for on that Pillar of rock
It had been caught mid way; and there for years [54]
It hung;--and mouldered there. 425

The Priest here ended--
The Stranger would have thanked him, but he felt
A gushing from his heart, that took away
The power of speech. Both left the spot in silence; [55]
And Leonard, when they reached the church-yard gate, 430
As the Priest lifted up the latch, turned round,--
And, looking at the grave, he said, "My Brother!"
The Vicar did not hear the words: and now,
He pointed towards his dwelling-place, entreating [56]
That Leonard would partake his homely fare: 435
The other thanked him with an earnest [57] voice;
But added, that, the evening being calm,
He would pursue his journey. So they parted.

It was not long ere Leonard reached a grove
That overhung the road: he there stopped short, 440
And, sitting down beneath the trees, reviewed
All that the Priest had said: his early years
Were with him:--his long absence, cherished hopes, [58]
And thoughts which had been his an hour before,
All pressed on him with such a weight, that now, 445
This vale, where he had been so happy, seemed
A place in which he could not bear to live:
So he relinquished all his purposes.
He travelled back [59] to Egremont: and thence,
That night, he wrote a letter to the Priest, [60] 450
Reminding him of what had passed between them;
And adding, with a hope to be forgiven,
That it was from the weakness of his heart
He had not dared to tell him who he was.
This done, he went on shipboard, and is now 455
A Seaman, a grey-headed Mariner.

* * * * *

VARIANTS ON THE TEXT

[Variant 1:

1815.

... their ... 1800.]

[Variant 2:

1827.

Upon the forehead of a jutting crag
Sit perch'd with book and pencil on their knee,
And look and scribble, ... 1800.]

[Variant 3:

1836.

... youngest child,
Who turn'd her large round wheel in the open air
With back and forward steps.... 1800.]

[Variant 4:

1827.

Which ... 1800.]

[Variant 5:

1815.

... who ere his thirteenth year
Had chang'd his calling, with the mariners 1800.]

[Variant 6:

1840.

... green ... 1800.]

[Variant 7:

1815.

... at length, ... 1800.]

[Variant 8:

1827.

... traffic in ... 1800.]

[Variant 9:

1827.

... which he liv'd there, ... 1800.]

[Variant 10:

1836.

... of one whom he so dearly lov'd, 1800.]

[Variant 11:

1836.

Towards the church-yard he had turn'd aside, 1800.]

[Variant 12:

1836.

... and he had hopes 1800.

... and hope was his 1832.]

[Variant 13:

1815.

As up the vale he came that afternoon, 1800.]

[Variant 14:

1836.

... the ... 1800.]

[Variant 15:

1815.

... he thought that he perceiv'd 1800.]

[Variant 16:

1827.

And the eternal hills, ... 1800.

And the everlasting hills, ... 1820.]

[Variant 17:

1815.

He scann'd him ... 1800.]

[Variant 18:

1800.

... cheeks, ... 1802.

The text of 1827 returns to that of 1800.]

[Variant 19:

1815.

Why, Sir, ... 1800.]

[Variant 20:

1827.

Companions for each other: ten years back,
Close to those brother fountains, the huge crag
Was rent with lightning--one is dead and gone, 1800.]

[Variant 21:

1815.

Why we have store of them! ... 1800.]

[Variant 22:

1815.

Cross-bones or skull, type of our earthly state
Or emblem of our hopes: ... 1800.]

[Variant 23:

1827.

... winter's evening, 1800.]

[Variant 24:

1815.

For five ... 1800.]

[Variant 25:

1802.

... still preserv'd 1800.]

[Variant 26:

1815.

... in ... 1800.]

[Variant 27:

1815.

... these ... 1800.]

[Variant 28:

1836.

... For
Though from their cradles they had liv'd with Walter,
The only kinsman near them in the house,
Yet he being old, they had much love to spare, 1800.

The only Kinsman near them, and though he
Inclined to them, by reason of his age,
With a more fond, familiar tenderness,
They, notwithstanding, had much love to spare, 1815.]

[Variant 29:

1820.

Was ... 1800.]

[Variant 30:

1836.

... when elder boys perhaps
Remain'd at home, go staggering through the fords 1800.]

[Variant 31:

1832.

... I've ... 1800.]

[Variant 32:

1836.

The finest Sunday that the Autumn saw, 1800.]

[Variant 33:

1836.

... these .... 1800.]

[Variant 34:

1836.

Where foot could come, to one or both of them 1800.]

[Variant 35:

1836.

... and I'd wager twenty pounds,
That, if he is alive, ... 1800.

... and I'd wager house and field 1827.]

[Variant 36:

1815.

... that end, ... 1800.]

[Variant 37:

1815.

... this ... 1800.]

[Variant 38:

1815.

And, though a very Stripling, twelve years old; 1800.]

[Variant 39:

1827.

'Tis now twelve years ... 1800.]

[Variant 40:

1820.

... was ... 1800.]

[Variant 41:

1836.

... a very festival, 1800.]

[Variant 42:

1815.

... the Lad 1800.]

[Variant 43.

1832.

If ever the day came when he was rich,
He would return, and on his Father's Land
He would grow old among us. 1800.]

[Variant 44:

1827.

... liv'd ... 1800.]

[Variant 45:

1820.

With two or three companions whom it chanc'd
Some further business summon'd to a house
Which stands at the Dale-head. James, tir'd perhaps,

Book of the day:
Facebook Google Reddit StumbleUpon Twitter Pinterest