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

Part 9 out of 14

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1845.

Said I, alighting on the ground,
"What can it be, this piteous moan?" 1807.

Forthwith alighted on the ground
To learn what voice the piteous moan
Had made, a little girl I found, C.]

[Variant 4:

1836.

"My Cloak!" the word was last and first,
And loud and bitterly she wept,
As if her very heart would burst; 1807.

"My cloak, my cloak" she cried, and spake
No other word, but loudly wept, C.]

[Variant 5:

1815.

... off the Chaise ... 1807.]

[Variant 6:

1845.

'Twas twisted betwixt nave and spoke;
Her help she lent, and with good heed
Together we released the Cloak; 1807.

... between ... 1840.]

[Variant 7:

1836.

A wretched, wretched rag indeed! 1807.]

[Variant 8:

1845.

She sate like one past all relief;
Sob after sob she forth did send
In wretchedness, as if her grief 1807.]

[Variant 9:

1836.

And then, ... 1807.]

[Variant 10:

1836.

... she'd lost ... 1807.]

* * * * *

FOOTNOTE ON THE TEXT

[Footnote A: There was no sub-title in the edition of 1807.--Ed.]

Charles Lamb wrote to Wordsworth in 1815, referring to
the revisions of this and other poems:

"I am glad that you have not sacrificed a verse to those scoundrels. I
would not have had you offer up the poorest rag that lingered upon the
stript shoulders of little Alice Fell, to have atoned all their
malice; I would not have given 'em a red cloak to save their souls."

See 'Letters of Charles Lamb' (Ainger), vol. i. p. 283.--Ed.

* * * * *

BEGGARS

Composed March 13th and 14th, 1802.--Published 1807

[Written at Town-end, Grasmere. Met, and described to me by my sister,
near the quarry at the head of Rydal Lake, [A] a place still a chosen
resort of vagrants travelling with their families.--I.F.]

The following are Dorothy Wordsworth's references to this poem in her
Grasmere Journal. They justify the remark of the late Bishop of Lincoln,

"his poems are sometimes little more than poetical versions of her
descriptions of the objects which she had seen, _and he treated them
as seen by himself_."

(See
'Memoirs of Wordsworth', vol. i. pp. 180-1.)

"Saturday (March 13, 1802).--William wrote the poem of the Beggar
Woman, taken from a woman whom I had seen in May (now nearly two years
ago), when John and he were at Gallow Hill. I sat with him at
intervals all the morning, and took down his stanzas. After tea I read
W. the account I had written of the little boy belonging to the tall
woman: and an unlucky thing it was, for he could not escape from those
very words, and so he could not write the poem. He left it unfinished,
and went tired to bed. In our walk from Rydal he had got warmed with
the subject, and had half cast the poem."

"Sunday Morning (March 14).--William had slept badly. He got up at 9
o'clock, but before he rose he had finished the Beggar Boy."

The following is the "account" written in her Journal on Tuesday, May
23, 1800:

"A very tall woman, tall much beyond the measure of tall women, called
at the door. She had on a very long brown cloak, and a very white cap,
without bonnet. Her face was brown, but it had plainly once been fair.
She led a little barefooted child about two years old by the hand, and
said her husband, who was a tinker, was gone before with the other
children. I gave her a piece of bread. Afterwards, on my road to
Ambleside, beside the bridge at Rydal, I saw her husband sitting at
the roadside, his two asses standing beside him, and the two young
children at play upon the grass. The man did not beg. I passed on, and
about a quarter of a mile farther I saw two boys before me, one about
ten, the other about eight years old, at play, chasing a butterfly.
They were wild figures, not very ragged, but without shoes and
stockings. The hat of the elder was wreathed round with yellow
flowers; the younger, whose hat was only a rimless crown, had stuck it
round with laurel leaves. They continued at play till I drew very
near, and then they addressed me with the begging cant and the whining
voice of sorrow. I said, 'I served your mother this morning' (the boys
were so like the woman who had called at our door that I could not be
mistaken). 'O,' says the elder, 'you could not serve my mother, for
she's dead, and my father's in at the next town; he's a potter.' I
persisted in my assertion, and that I would give them nothing. Says
the elder, 'Come, let's away,' and away they flew like lightning. They
had, however, sauntered so long in their road that they did not reach
Ambleside before me, and I saw them go up to Mathew Harrison's house
with their wallet upon the elder's shoulder, and creeping with a
beggar's complaining foot. On my return through Ambleside I met, in
the street, the mother driving her asses, in the two panniers of one
of which were the two little children, whom she was chiding and
threatening with a wand with which she used to drive on her asses,
while the little things hung in wantonness over the pannier's edge.
The woman had told me in the morning that she was of Scotland, which
her accent fully proved, and that she had lived (I think at Wigtown);
that they could not keep a house, and so they travelled."

This was one of the "Poems of the Imagination."--Ed.

She had a tall man's height or more;
Her face from summer's noontide heat
No bonnet shaded, but she wore
A mantle, to her very feet
Descending with a graceful flow, 5
And on her head a cap as white as new-fallen snow. [1]

Her skin was of Egyptian brown:
Haughty, as if her eye had seen
Its own light to a distance thrown,
She towered, fit person for a Queen [2] 10
To lead [3] those ancient Amazonian files;
Or ruling Bandit's wife among the Grecian isles.

Advancing, forth she stretched her hand
And begged an alms with doleful plea
That ceased not; on our English land 15
Such woes, I knew, could never be; [4]
And yet a boon I gave her, for the creature
Was beautiful to see--a weed of glorious feature. [B]

I left her, and pursued my way;
And soon before me did espy 20
A pair of little Boys at play,
Chasing a crimson butterfly;
The taller followed with his hat in hand,
Wreathed round with yellow flowers the gayest of the land. [5]

The other wore a rimless crown 25
With leaves of laurel stuck about;
And, while both [6] followed up and down,
Each whooping with a merry shout,
In their fraternal features I could trace
Unquestionable lines of that wild Suppliant's face. [7] 30

Yet _they_, so blithe of heart, seemed fit [8]
For finest tasks of earth or air:
Wings let them have, and they might flit
Precursors to [9] Aurora's car,
Scattering fresh flowers; though happier far, I ween, 35
To hunt their fluttering game o'er rock and level green.

They dart across my path--but lo, [10]
Each ready with a plaintive whine!
Said I, "not half an hour ago
Your Mother has had alms of mine." 40
"That cannot be," one answered--"she is dead:"--
I looked reproof--they saw--but neither hung his head. [11]

"She has been dead, Sir, many a day."--
"Hush, boys! you're telling me a lie; [12]
It was your Mother, as I say!" 45
And, in the twinkling of an eye,
"Come! come!" cried one, and without more ado,
Off to some other play the joyous Vagrants flew! [13] [C]

* * * * *

VARIANTS ON THE TEXT

[Variant 1:

1845.

She had a tall Man's height, or more;
No bonnet screen'd her from the heat;
A long drab-colour'd Cloak she wore,
A Mantle reaching to her feet:
What other dress she had I could not know;
Only she wore a Cap that was as white as snow. 1807.

Before me as the Wanderer stood,
No bonnet screened her from the heat;
Nor claimed she service from the hood
Of a blue mantle, to her feet
Depending with a graceful flow;
Only she wore a cap pure as unsullied snow. 1827.

Before my eyes a Wanderer stood;
Her face from summer's noon-day heat
Nor bonnet shaded, nor the hood
Of that blue cloak which to her feet
Depended with a graceful flow;
Only she wore a cap as white as new-fallen snow. 1832.

No bonnet shaded, nor the hood
Of the blue cloak ... 1836.

She had a tall man's height or more;
And while, 'mid April's noontide heat,
A long blue cloak the vagrant wore,
A mantle reaching to her feet,
No bonnet screened her lofty brow,
Only she wore a cap as white as new-fallen snow. C.

She had a tall man's height or more;
A garment for her stature meet,
And for a vagrant life, she wore
A mantle reaching to her feet.
Nor hood, nor bonnet screened her lofty brow, C.]

[Variant 2:

1827.

In all my walks, through field or town,
Such Figure had I never seen:
Her face was of Egyptian brown:
Fit person was she for a Queen, 1807.

Such figure had I never seen
In all my walks through field or town,
Fit person seemed she for a Queen, C.]

[Variant 3:

1836.

To head ... 1807.]

[Variant 4:

1845.

Before me begging did she stand,
Pouring out sorrows like a sea;
Grief after grief:--on English Land
Such woes I knew could never be; 1807.

Her suit no faltering scruples checked;
Forth did she pour, in current free,
Tales that could challenge no respect
But from a blind credulity; 1827.

She begged an alms; no scruple checked
The current of her ready plea,
Words that could challenge ... 1832.

Before me begging did she stand
And boldly urged a doleful plea,
Grief after grief, on English land
Such woes I knew could never be. C.]

[Variant 5:

1807.

With yellow flowers around, as with a golden band. C.]

[Variant 6:

1827.

And they both ... 1807.]

[Variant 7:

1820.

Two Brothers seem'd they, eight and ten years old;
And like that Woman's face as gold is like to gold. 1807.]

[Variant 8: This stanza was added in the edition of 1827.]

[Variant 9:

1836.

Precursors of ... 1827.]

[Variant 10:

1827.

They bolted on me thus, and lo! 1807.]

[Variant 11:

1827.

"Nay but I gave her pence, and she will buy you bread." 1807.]

[Variant 12:

1845.

"Sweet Boys, you're telling me a lie; 1807.

... Heaven hears that rash reply; 1827.

The text of 1807 was resumed in 1836.]

[Variant 13:

1827.

... they both together flew. 1807.

... the thoughtless vagrants flew. C.]

* * * * *

FOOTNOTES ON THE TEXT

[Footnote A: The spot is easily identified, as the quarry still
exists.--Ed.]

[Footnote B: In the MS. of this poem (1807) the words, "a weed of
glorious feature," are placed within inverted commas. The quotation is
from Spenser's 'Muiopotmos' ('The Fate of the Butterflie'), stanza 27;
and is important, as it affects the meaning of the phrase. It is curious
that Wordsworth dropped the commas in his subsequent editions.--Ed.]

[Footnote C: In Wordsworth's letter to Barron Field, of 24th October
1828 (see the volumes containing his correspondence), a detailed account
is given of the reasons which had led him to alter the text of this
poem.--Ed.]

* * * * *

SEQUEL TO THE FOREGOING,

COMPOSED MANY YEARS AFTER

Composed 1817.--Published 1827

In the edition of 1840 the year assigned to this Sequel is 1817. It does
not occur in the edition of 1820, but was first published in 1827. It
was one of the "Poems of the Imagination."--Ed.

Where are they now, those wanton Boys?
For whose free range the daedal earth
Was filled with animated toys,
And implements of frolic mirth;
With tools for ready wit to guide; 5
And ornaments of seemlier pride,
More fresh, more bright, than princes wear;
For what one moment flung aside,
Another could repair;
What good or evil have they seen 10
Since I their pastime witnessed here,
Their daring wiles, their sportive cheer?
I ask--but all is dark between!
[1]

They met me in a genial hour,
When universal nature breathed 15
As with the breath of one sweet flower,--
A time to overrule the power
Of discontent, and check the birth
Of thoughts with better thoughts at strife,
The most familiar bane of life 20
Since parting Innocence bequeathed
Mortality to Earth!
Soft clouds, the whitest of the year,
Sailed through the sky--the brooks ran clear;
The lambs from rock to rock were bounding; 25
With songs the budded groves resounding;
And to my heart are still endeared
The thoughts with which it then was cheered; [2]
The faith which saw that gladsome pair
Walk through the fire with unsinged hair. 30
Or, if such faith [3] must needs deceive--
Then, Spirits of beauty and of grace, [A]
Associates in that eager chase;
Ye, who within the blameless mind
Your favourite seat of empire find--35
Kind Spirits! may we not believe
That they, so happy and so fair
Through your sweet influence, and the care
Of pitying Heaven, at least were free
From touch of _deadly_ injury? 40
Destined, whate'er their earthly doom,
For mercy and immortal bloom?

* * * * *

VARIANTS ON THE TEXT

[Variant 1:

Spirits of beauty and of grace!
Associates in that eager chase;
Ye, by a course to nature true,
The sterner judgment can subdue;
And waken a relenting smile
When she encounters fraud or guile;
And sometimes ye can charm away
The inward mischief, or allay,
Ye, who within the blameless mind
Your favourite seat of empire find!

The above is a separate stanza in the editions of 1827 and 1832. Only
the first two and the last two lines of this stanza were retained in the
edition of 1836, and were then transferred to the place they occupy in
the final text.--Ed.]

[Variant 2:

1836.

And to my heart is still endeared
The faith with which ... 1827.]

[Variant 3:

1836.

... such thoughts ... 1827.]

* * * * *

FOOTNOTE ON THE TEXT

[Footnote A: This and the three following lines were placed here in the
edition of 1836. See note to the previous page.--Ed.]

* * * * *

TO A BUTTERFLY (#1)

Composed March 14, 1802.--Published 1807

[Written in the Orchard, Town-end, Grasmere. My sister and I were parted
immediately after the death of our mother, who died in 1778, both being
very young.--I. F.]

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

Stay near me--do not take thy flight!
A little longer stay in sight!
Much converse do I find in thee,
Historian of my infancy!
Float near me; do not yet depart! 5
Dead times revive in thee:
Thou bring'st, gay creature as thou art!
A solemn image to my heart,
My father's family!

Oh! pleasant, pleasant were the days, 10
The time, when, in our childish plays,
My sister Emmeline [A] and I
Together chased the butterfly!
A very hunter did I rush
Upon the prey:--with leaps and springs 15
I followed on from brake to bush;
But she, God love her! feared to brush
The dust from off its wings.

* * * * *

FOOTNOTE ON THE TEXT

[Footnote A: In the MS. for the edition of 1807 the transcriber (not W.
W.) wrote "Dorothy." This, Wordsworth erased, putting in
"Emmeline."--Ed.]

The text of this poem was never changed. It refers to days of childhood
spent at Cockermouth before 1778. "My sister Emmeline" is Dorothy
Wordsworth. In her Grasmere Journal, of Sunday, March 14, 1802, the
following occurs:

"While we were at breakfast he" (William) "wrote the poem 'To a
Butterfly'. He ate not a morsel, but sate with his shirt neck
unbuttoned, and his waistcoat open when he did it. The thought first
came upon him as we were talking about the pleasure we both always
felt at the sight of a butterfly. I told him that I used to chase them
a little, but that I was afraid of brushing the dust off their wings,
and did not catch them. He told me how he used to kill all the white
ones when he went to school, because they were Frenchmen. Mr. Simpson
came in just as he was finishing the poem. After he was gone, I wrote
it down, and the other poems, and I read them all over to him....
William began to try to alter 'The Butterfly', and tired himself."

Compare the later poem 'To a Butterfly' (#2) (April 20), p. 297.--Ed.

* * * * *

THE EMIGRANT MOTHER

Composed March 16th and 17th, 1802.--Published 1807

[Suggested by what I have noticed in more than one French fugitive
during the time of the French Revolution. If I am not mistaken the lines
were composed at Sockburn when I was on a visit to Mary and her
brothers.--I. F.]

In the editions of 1807 and 1815, this poem had no distinctive title;
but in the Wordsworth circle, it was known from the year 1802 as 'The
Emigrant Mother', and at least one copy was transcribed with this title
in 1802. It was first published under that name in 1820. It was revised
and altered in 1820, 1827, 1832, 1836, and more especially in 1845.

In Dorothy Wordsworth's Journal the following entries occur:

"Tuesday (March 16).--William went up into the orchard, and wrote a
part of 'The Emigrant Mother'."

"Wednesday.--William went up into the orchard, and finished the
poem.... I went and sate with W., and walked backwards and forwards in
the orchard till dinner-time. He read me his poem."

This poem was included among those "founded on the Affections."--Ed.

Once in a lonely hamlet I sojourned
In which a Lady driven from France did dwell;
The big and lesser griefs with which she mourned,
In friendship she to me would often tell.

This Lady, [1] dwelling upon British [2] ground, 5
Where she was childless, daily would [3] repair
To a poor neighbouring cottage; as I found,
For sake of a young Child whose home was there.

Once having seen her clasp with fond embrace
This Child, I chanted to myself a lay, 10
Endeavouring, in our English tongue, to trace
Such things as she unto the Babe might say: [4]
And thus, from what I heard and knew, or guessed, [5]
My song the workings of her heart expressed.

I "Dear Babe, thou daughter of another, 15
One moment let me be thy mother!
An infant's face and looks are thine
And sure a mother's heart is mine:
Thy own dear mother's far away,
At labour in the harvest field: 20
Thy little sister is at play;--
What warmth, what comfort would it yield
To my poor heart, if thou wouldst be
One little hour a child to me!

II "Across the waters I am come, 25
And I have left a babe at home:
A long, long way of land and sea!
Come to me--I'm no enemy:
I am the same who at thy side
Sate yesterday, and made a nest 30
For thee, sweet Baby!--thou hast tried,
Thou know'st the pillow of my breast;
Good, good art thou:--alas! to me
Far more than I can be to thee.

III "Here, little Darling, dost thou lie; 35
An infant thou, a mother I!
Mine wilt thou be, thou hast no fears;
Mine art thou--spite of these my tears.
Alas! before I left the spot,
My baby and its dwelling-place; 40
The nurse said to me, 'Tears should not
Be shed upon an infant's face,
It was unlucky'--no, no, no;
No truth is in them who say so!

IV "My own dear Little-one will sigh, 45
Sweet Babe! and they will let him die.
'He pines,' they'll say, 'it is his doom,
And you may see his hour is come.'
Oh! had he but thy cheerful smiles,
Limbs stout as thine, and lips as gay, 50
Thy looks, thy cunning, and thy wiles,
And countenance like a summer's day,
They would have hopes of him;--and then
I should behold his face again!

V "'Tis gone--like dreams that we forget; 55
There was a smile or two--yet--yet [6]
I can remember them, I see
The smiles, worth all the world to me.
Dear Baby! I must lay thee down;
Thou troublest me with strange alarms; 60
Smiles hast thou, bright [7] ones of thy own;
I cannot keep thee in my arms;
For they confound me;--where--where is
That last, that sweetest smile of his? [8]

VI "Oh! how I love thee!--we will stay 65
Together here this one half day.
My sister's child, who bears my name,
From France to sheltering England came; [9]
She with her mother crossed the sea;
The babe and mother near me dwell: 70
Yet does my yearning heart to thee
Turn rather, though I love her well: [10]
Rest, little Stranger, rest thee here!
Never was any child more dear!

VII "--I cannot help it; ill intent 75
I've none, my pretty Innocent!
I weep--I know they do thee wrong,
These tears--and my poor idle tongue.
Oh, what a kiss was that! my cheek
How cold it is! but thou art good; So 80
Thine eyes are on me--they would speak,
I think, to help me if they could. [11]
Blessings upon that soft, warm face, [12]
My heart again is in its place!

VIII

"While thou art mine, my little Love, 85
This cannot be a sorrowful grove;
Contentment, hope, and mother's glee, [13]
I seem to find them all in thee: [14]
Here's grass to play with, here are flowers;
I'll call thee by my darling's name; 90
Thou hast, I think, a look of ours,
Thy features seem to me the same;
His little sister thou shalt be;
And, when once more my home I see,
I'll tell him many tales of Thee." 95

* * * * *

VARIANTS ON THE TEXT

[Variant 1:

1807.

This Mother ... MS.]

[Variant 2:

1845.

... English ... 1807.]

[Variant 3:

1827.

... did ... 1807.]

[Variant 4:

1845.

Once did I see her clasp the Child about,
And take it to herself; and I, next day,
Wish'd in my native tongue to fashion out
Such things as she unto this Child might say: 1807.

Once did I see her take with fond embrace
This Infant to herself; and I, next day,
Endeavoured in my native tongue to trace
Such things as she unto the Child might say: 1820.

Once, having seen her take with fond embrace
This Infant to herself, I framed a lay,
Endeavouring, in my native tongue, to trace 1827.]

[Variant 5:

1845.

And thus, from what I knew, had heard, and guess'd, 1807.]

[Variant 6:

1820.

'Tis gone--forgotten--let me do
My best--there was a smile or two, 1807.]

[Variant 7:

1827.

... sweet ... 1807.]

[Variant 8:

1836.

For they confound me: as it is,
I have forgot those smiles of his. 1807.

For they bewilder me--even now
_His_ smiles are lost,--I know not how! 1820.

By those bewildering glances crost
In which the light of his is lost. [a] 1827.]

[Variant 9:

1827.

From France across the Ocean came; 1807.]

[Variant 10:

1845.

My Darling, she is not to me
What thou art! though I love her well: 1807.

But to my heart she cannot be 1836.]

[Variant 11:

1807.

And I grow happy while I speak,
Kiss, kiss me, Baby, thou art good. MS.]

[Variant 12:

1820.

... that quiet face, 1807.]

[Variant 13:

1807.

A Joy, a Comforter thou art;
Sunshine and pleasure to my heart;
And love and hope and mother's glee, MS.]

[Variant 14:

1807.

My yearnings are allayed by thee,
My heaviness is turned to glee. MS.]

* * * * *

SUB-FOOTNOTE ON THE TEXT

[Sub-Footnote a: In a letter to Barron Field (24th Oct. 1828),
Wordsworth says that his substitution of the text of 1827 for that of
1807, was due to the objections of Coleridge.--Ed.]

* * * * *

TO THE CUCKOO

Composed 1802.--Published 1807

[Composed in the Orchard at Town-end, 1804.--I.F.]

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

O blithe New-comer! I have heard,
I hear thee and rejoice.
O Cuckoo! shall I call thee Bird,
Or but a wandering Voice? [A]

While I am lying on the grass 5
Thy twofold shout I hear,
From hill to hill it seems to pass,
At once far off, and near. [1]

Though babbling only to the Vale,
Of sunshine and of flowers, 10
Thou bringest unto me a tale [2]
Of visionary hours.

Thrice welcome, darling of the Spring!
Even yet thou art to me
No bird, but an invisible thing, [3] 15
A voice, a mystery;

The same whom in my school-boy days
I listened to; that Cry
Which made me look a thousand ways
In bush, and tree, and sky. 20

To seek thee did I often rove
Through woods and on the green;
And thou wert still a hope, a love;
Still longed for, never seen.

And I can listen to thee yet; 25
Can lie upon the plain
And listen, till I do beget
That golden time again.

O blessed Bird! the earth we pace
Again appears to be 30
An unsubstantial, faery place;
That is fit home for Thee!

* * * * *

VARIANTS ON THE TEXT

[Variant 1:

1845.

While I am lying on the grass,
I hear thy restless shout:
From hill to hill it seems to pass,
About, and all about! 1807.

Thy loud note smites my ear!--
From hill to hill it seems to pass,
At once far off and near! 1815.

Thy loud note smites my ear!
It seems to fill the whole air's space,
At once far off and near! 1820.

Thy twofold shout I hear,
That seems to fill the whole air's space,
As loud far off as near. [a] 1827.]

[Variant 2:

1827.

To me, no Babbler with a tale
Of sunshine and of flowers,
Thou tellest, Cuckoo! in the vale 1807.

I hear thee babbling to the Vale
Of sunshine and of flowers;
And unto me thou bring'st a tale 1815.

But unto me .... 1820.]

[Variant 3:

1836.

No Bird; but an invisible Thing, 1807.]

* * * * *

FOOTNOTE ON THE TEXT

[Footnote A:

"_Vox et praterea nihil_. See Lipsius 'of the Nightingale.'"

Barron Field.--Ed.

* * * * *

SUB-FOOTNOTE ON THE TEXT

[Sub-Footnote a: Barron Field remonstrated with Wordsworth about this
reading, and he agreed to restore that of 1820; saying, at the same
time, that he had "made the change to record a fact observed by
himself."--Ed.]

In the chronological lists of his poems, published in 1815 and 1820,
Wordsworth left a blank opposite this one, in the column containing the
year of composition. From 1836 to 1849, the date assigned by him was
1804. But in Dorothy Wordsworth's Journal the following occurs under
date Tuesday, 22nd March 1802:

"A mild morning. William worked at the Cuckoo poem.... At the closing
in of day, went to sit in the orchard. William came to me, and walked
backwards and forwards. W. repeated the poem to me. I left him there;
and in 20 minutes he came in, rather tired with attempting to write."

"Friday (March 25).--A beautiful morning. William worked at 'The
Cuckoo'."

It is therefore evident that it belongs to the year 1802; although it
may have been altered and readjusted in 1804. The connection of the
seventh stanza of this poem with the first of that which follows it, "My
heart leaps up," etc., and of both with the 'Ode, Intimations of
Immortality' (vol. viii.), is obvious.--Ed.

* * * * *

"MY HEART LEAPS UP WHEN I BEHOLD"

Composed March 26, 1802.--Published 1807

[Written at Town-end, Grasmere.--I.F.]

One of the "Poems referring to the Period of Childhood." In 1807 it was
No. 4 of the series called "Moods of my own Mind."--Ed.

My heart leaps up when I behold
A rainbow in the sky:
So was it when my life began;
So is it now I am a man;
So be it when I shall grow old, 5
Or let me die!
The Child is father of the Man; [A]
And I could wish my days to be
Bound each to each by natural piety.

* * * * *

FOOTNOTE ON THE TEXT

[Footnote A: Compare Milton's phrase in 'Paradise Regained' (book iv. l.
220):

'The childhood shews the man,
As morning shews the day.'

Dryden's 'All for Love', act IV. scene I:

'Men are but children of a larger growth.'

And Pope's 'Essay on Man', Ep. iv. l. 175:

'The boy and man an individual makes.'

Also Chatterton's 'Fragment' (Aldine edition, vol. 1. p. 132):

'Nature in the infant marked the man.'

Ed.]

"March 26, 1802.--While I was getting into bed he" (W.) "wrote 'The
Rainbow.'"

"May 14th.--... William very nervous. After he was in bed, haunted
with altering 'The Rainbow.'"

(Dorothy Wordsworth's Grasmere Journal.) This poem was known familiarly
in the household as "The Rainbow," although not printed under that
title. The text was never changed.

In 'The Friend', vol. i. p. 58 (ed. 1818), Coleridge writes:

"Men laugh at the falsehoods imposed on them during their childhood,
because they are not good and wise enough to contemplate the past in
the present, and so to produce that continuity in their
self-consciousness, which Nature has made the law of their animal
life. Men are ungrateful to others, only when they have ceased to look
back on their former selves with joy and tenderness. They exist in
fragments."

He then quotes the above poem, and adds:

"I am informed that these lines have been cited as a specimen of
despicable puerility. So much the worse for the citer; not willingly
in _his_ presence would I behold the sun setting behind our
mountains.... But let the dead bury their dead! The poet sang for the
living.... I was always pleased with the motto placed under the figure
of the rosemary in old herbals:

'Sus, apage! Haud tibi spiro.'"

Compare the passage in 'The Excursion' (book ix. l. 36) beginning:

'... Ah! why in age
Do we revert so fondly, etc.'

also that in 'The Prelude' (book v. l. 507) beginning:

'Our childhood sits.'

* * * * *

WRITTEN IN MARCH, WHILE RESTING ON THE BRIDGE AT THE FOOT OF BROTHERS
WATER

Composed April 16, 1802.--Published 1807

[Extempore. This little poem was a favourite with Joanna Baillie.--I.F.]

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

The Cock is crowing,
The stream is flowing,
The small birds twitter,
The lake doth glitter,
The green field sleeps in the sun; 5
The oldest and youngest
Are at work with the strongest;
The cattle are grazing,
Their heads never raising;
There are forty feeding like one! 10

Like an army defeated
The snow hath retreated,
And now doth fare ill
On the top of the bare hill;
The Ploughboy is whooping--anon--anon: [A] 15
There's joy in the mountains;
There's life in the fountains;
Small clouds are sailing,
Blue sky prevailing;
The rain is over and gone! 20

* * * * *

FOOTNOTE ON THE TEXT

[Footnote A: This line was an afterthought.--Ed.]

The text of this poem was never altered. It was not "written in March"
(as the title states), but on the 16th of April (Good Friday) 1802. The
bridge referred to crosses Goldrill Beck, a little below Hartsop in
Patterdale. The following, from Dorothy Wordsworth's Journal, records
the walk from Ullswater, over Kirkstone Pass, to Ambleside:

"Friday, 16th April (Good Friday).--... When we came to the foot of
Brothers Water, I left William sitting on the bridge, and went along
the path on the right side of the lake through the wood. I was
delighted with what I saw: the water under the boughs of the bare old
trees, the simplicity of the mountains, and the exquisite beauty of
the path. There was one grey cottage. I repeated 'The Glowworm' as I
walked along. I hung over the gate, and thought I could have stayed
for ever. When I returned, I found William writing a poem descriptive
of the sights and sounds we saw and heard. There was the gentle
flowing of the stream, the glittering lively lake, green fields,
without a living creature to be seen on them; behind us, a flat
pasture with forty-two cattle feeding; to our left, the road leading
to the hamlet. No smoke there, the sun shone on the bare roofs. The
people were at work, ploughing, harrowing, and sowing; lasses working;
a dog barking now and then; cocks crowing, birds twittering; the snow
in patches at the top of the highest hills; yellow palms, purple and
green twigs on the birches, ashes with their glittering stems quite
bare. The hawthorn a bright green, with black stems under the oak. The
moss of the oaks glossy.... As we went up the vale of Brothers Water,
more and more cattle feeding, a hundred of them. William finished his
poem before we got to the foot of Kirkstone. There were hundreds of
cattle in the vale.... The walk up Kirkstone was very interesting. The
becks among the rocks were all alive. William shewed me the little
mossy streamlet which he had before loved, when he saw its bright
green track in the snow. The view above Ambleside very beautiful.
There we sate, and looked down on the green vale. We watched the crows
at a little distance from us become white as silver, as they flew in
the sunshine; and, when they went still farther, they looked like
shapes of water passing over the green fields."

Ed.

* * * * *

THE REDBREAST CHASING THE BUTTERFLY [A]

Composed April 18, 1802.--Published 1807

[Observed, as described, in the then beautiful orchard, Town-end,
Grasmere.--I.F.]

Included among the "Poems of the Fancy."

In some editions this poem is assigned to the year 1806; but, in Dorothy
Wordsworth's Journal the following occurs, under date "Sunday, 18th"
(April 1802):

"A mild grey morning with rising vapours. We sate in the orchard.
William wrote the poem on the Robin and the Butterfly.... W. met me at
Rydal with the conclusion of the poem to the Robin. I read it to him
in bed. We left out some lines."

Ed.

Art thou the bird whom Man loves best,
The pious bird [B] with the scarlet breast,
Our little English Robin;
The bird that comes about our doors
When Autumn-winds are sobbing? 5
Art thou the Peter of Norway Boors?
Their Thomas in Finland,
And Russia far inland?
The bird, that [1] by some name or other
All men who know thee call their brother, 10
The darling of children and men?
Could Father Adam [C] open his eyes
And see this sight beneath the skies,
He'd wish to close them again.
--If the Butterfly knew but his friend, 15
Hither his flight he would bend;
And find his way to me,
Under the branches of the tree:
In and out, he darts about;
Can this be the bird, to man so good, 20
That, after their bewildering, [2]
Covered [3] with leaves the little children,
So painfully in the wood?

What ailed thee, Robin, that thou could'st pursue
A beautiful creature, 25
That is gentle by nature?
Beneath the summer sky
From flower to flower let him fly;
'Tis all that he wishes to do.
The cheerer Thou of our in-door sadness, 30
He is the friend of our summer gladness:
What hinders, then, that ye should be
Playmates in the sunny weather,
And fly about in the air together!
His beautiful wings in crimson are drest, 35
A crimson as bright as thine own: [4]
Would'st thou be [5] happy in thy nest,
O pious Bird! whom man loves best,
Love him, or leave him alone!

* * * * *

VARIANTS ON THE TEXT

[Variant 1:

1849.

... whom ... 1807.

... who ... 1827.]

[Variant 2:

1815.

In and out, he darts about;
His little heart is throbbing:
Can this be the Bird, to man so good,
Our consecrated Robin!
That, after ... 1807.

... Robin! Robin!
His little heart is throbbing;
Can this ... MS.]

[Variant 3:

1832.

Did cover ... 1807.]

[Variant 4:

1815.

... Like thine own breast
His beautiful wings in crimson are drest,
As if he were bone of thy bone. MS.

Like the hues of thy breast
His beautiful wings in crimson are drest,
A brother he seems of thine own: 1807.

... in the air together!
His beautiful bosom is drest,
In crimson as bright as thine own: 1832.

The edition of 1836 resumes the text of 1815.]

[Variant 5:

1836.

If thou would'st be ... 1807.]

* * * * *

FOOTNOTES ON THE TEXT

[Footnote A: The title, in the editions 1807 to 1820, was 'The Redbreast
and the Butterfly'. In the editions 1827 to 1843 it was 'The Redbreast
and Butterfly'. The final title was given in 1845.--Ed.]

[Footnote B: Compare Cowley:

'And Robin Redbreasts whom men praise,
For pious birds.'

Ed.]

[Footnote C: See 'Paradise Lost', book XI., where Adam points out to Eve
the ominous sign of the Eagle chasing "two Birds of gayest plume," and
the gentle Hart and Hind pursued by their enemy.--W. W. 1815.

The passage in book XI. of 'Paradise Lost' includes lines 185-90.--Ed.]

* * * * *

TO A BUTTERFLY (#2)

Composed April 20, 1802.--Published 1807

[Written at the same time and place. The Orchard, Grasmere Town-end,
1801.--I.F.]

Included among the "Poems founded on the Affections."--Ed.

I've watch'd you now a full [1] half-hour,
Self-poised upon that yellow flower;
And, little Butterfly! indeed
I know not if you sleep or feed.
How motionless!--not frozen seas 5
More motionless! and then
What joy awaits you, when the breeze
Hath found you out among the trees,
And calls you forth again!

This plot of orchard-ground is ours; 10
My trees they are, my Sister's flowers;
Here rest your wings when they are weary;
Here lodge as in a sanctuary! [2]
Come often to us, fear no wrong;
Sit near us on the bough! 15
We'll talk of sunshine and of song,
And summer days, when we were young;
Sweet childish days, that were as long
As twenty days are now.

* * * * *

VARIANTS ON THE TEXT

[Variant 1:

1807.

... short ... 1836.

The text of 1845 reverts to the reading of 1807.]

[Variant 2:

1815.

Stop here whenever you are weary,
And rest as in a sanctuary! 1807.

And feed ... MS.]

Wordsworth's date, as given to Miss Fenwick, is incorrect. In her
Journal, April 20, 1802, Dorothy Wordsworth writes:

"William wrote a conclusion to the poem of 'The Butterfly', 'I've
watch'd you now a full half-hour.'"

This, and the structure of the two poems, makes it probable that the
latter was originally meant to be a sort of conclusion to the former (p.
283); but they were always printed as separate poems.

Many of the "flowers" in the orchard at Dove Cottage were planted by
Dorothy Wordsworth, and some of the "trees" by William. The "summer
days" of childhood are referred to in the previous poem, 'To a
Butterfly', written on the 14th of March 1802.--Ed.

* * * * *

FORESIGHT

Composed April 28, 1802.--Published 1807

[Also composed in the Orchard, Town-end, Grasmere.--I.F.]

Included among the "Poems referring to the Period of Childhood."--Ed.

That is work of waste and ruin--[1]
Do as Charles and I are doing!
Strawberry-blossoms, one and all,
We must spare them--here are many:
Look at it--the flower is small, 5
Small and low, though fair as any:
Do not touch it! summers two
I am older, Anne, than you.
Pull the primrose, sister Anne!
Pull as many as you can. 10
--Here are daisies, take your fill;
Pansies, and the cuckoo-flower:
Of the lofty daffodil
Make your bed, or [2] make your bower;
Fill your lap, and fill your bosom; 15
Only spare the strawberry-blossom!

Primroses, the Spring may love them--
Summer knows but little of them:
Violets, a barren kind,
Withered on the ground must lie; 20
Daisies leave no fruit behind
When the pretty flowerets die;
Pluck them, and another year
As many will be blowing here. [3]

God has given a kindlier power [4] 25
To the favoured strawberry-flower.
Hither soon as spring is fled
You and Charles and I will walk; [5]
Lurking berries, ripe and red,
Then will hang on every stalk, 30
Each within its leafy bower;
And for that promise spare the flower!

* * * * *

VARIANTS ON THE TEXT

[Variant 1:

1815.

That is work which I am rueing--1807.]

[Variant 2:

1836.

... and ... 1807.]

[Variant 3:

1815.

Violets, do what they will,
Wither'd on the ground must lie;
Daisies will be daisies still;
Daisies they must live and die:
Fill your lap, and fill your bosom,
Only spare the Strawberry-blossom! 1807.]

[Variant 4: This last stanza was added in the edition of 1815.]

[Variant 5:

1836.

When the months of spring are fled
Hither let us bend our walk; 1815.]

The full title of this poem, in the editions of 1807 to 1832, was
'Foresight, or the Charge of a Child to his younger Companion', but it
was originally known in the household as "Children gathering Flowers."
The shortened title was adopted in 1836. The following is from Dorothy
Wordsworth's Journal:

"Wednesday, 28th April (1802).--Copied the 'Prioress's Tale'. William
was in the orchard. I went to him; he worked away at his poem, though
he was ill, and tired. I happened to say that when I was a child I
would not have pulled a strawberry blossom; I left him, and wrote out
the 'Manciple's Tale'. At dinner time he came in with the poem of
'Children gathering Flowers,' but it was not quite finished, and it
kept him long from his dinner. It is now done. He is working at 'The
Tinker.'"

At an earlier date in the same year,--Jan. 31st, 1802,--the following
occurs:

"I found a strawberry blossom in a rock. The little slender flower had
more courage than the green leaves, for _they_ were but half expanded
and half grown, but the blossom was spread full out. I uprooted it
rashly, and I felt as if I had been committing an outrage; so I
planted it again. It will have but a stormy life of it, but let it
live if it can."

With this poem compare a parallel passage in Marvel's 'The Picture of T.
C. in a Prospect of Flowers':

'But oh, young beauty of the woods,
Whom nature courts with fruits and flowers,
Gather the flowers, but spare the buds;
Lest Flora, angry at thy crime
To kill her infants in their prime,
Should quickly make the example yours;
And, ere we see,
Nip in the blossom all our hopes in thee.'

Ed.

* * * * *

TO THE SMALL CELANDINE [A]

Composed April 30, 1802.--Published 1807

[Written at Town-end, Grasmere. It is remarkable that this flower,
coming out so early in the spring as it does, and so bright and
beautiful, and in such profusion, should not have been noticed earlier
in English verse. What adds much to the interest that attends it is its
habit of shutting itself up and opening out according to the degree of
light and temperature of the air.--I.F.]

One of the "Poems of the Fancy." In the original MS. this poem is called
'To the lesser Celandine', but in the proof "small" was substituted for
"lesser."

In Dorothy Wordsworth's Journal the following occurs, under date April
30, 1802:

"We came into the orchard directly after breakfast, and sat there. The
lake was calm, the sky cloudy. William began to write the poem of 'The
Celandine'.... I walked backwards and forwards with William. He
repeated his poem to me, then he got to work again, and would not give
over."

Ed.

Pansies, lilies, kingcups, daisies,
Let them live upon their praises;
Long as there's a sun that sets,
Primroses will have their glory;
Long as there are violets, 5
They will have a place in story:
There's a flower that shall be mine,
'Tis the little Celandine.

Eyes of some men travel far
For the finding of a star; 10
Up and down the heavens they go,
Men that keep a mighty rout!
I'm as great as they, I trow,
Since the day I found thee out,
Little Flower!--I'll make a stir, 15
Like a sage [1] astronomer.

Modest, yet withal an Elf
Bold, and lavish of thyself;
Since we needs must first have met
I have seen thee, high and low, 20
Thirty years or more, and yet
'Twas a face I did not know;
Thou hast now, go where I may,
Fifty greetings in a day.

Ere a leaf is on a bush, 25
In the time before the thrush
Has a thought about her [2] nest,
Thou wilt come with half a call,
Spreading out thy glossy breast
Like a careless Prodigal; 30
Telling tales about the sun,
When we've little warmth, or none.

Poets, vain men in their mood!
Travel with the multitude:
Never heed them; I aver 35
That they all are wanton wooers;
But the thrifty cottager,
Who stirs little out of doors,
Joys to spy thee near her home;
Spring is coming, Thou art come! 40

[B]

Comfort have thou of thy merit,
Kindly, unassuming Spirit!
Careless of thy neighbourhood,
Thou dost show thy pleasant face
On the moor, and in the wood, 45
In the lane;--there's not a place,
Howsoever mean it be,
But 'tis good enough for thee.

Ill befal the yellow flowers,
Children of the flaring hours! 50
Buttercups, that will be seen,
Whether we will see or no;
Others, too, of lofty mien;
They have done as worldlings do,
Taken praise that should be thine, 55
Little, humble Celandine!

Prophet of delight and mirth,
Ill-requited [3] upon earth;
Herald of a mighty band,
Of a joyous train ensuing, 60
Serving at my heart's command,
Tasks that are no tasks renewing, [4]
I will sing, as doth behove,
Hymns in praise of what I love!

* * * * *

VARIANTS ON THE TEXT

[Variant 1:

1836.

... great ... 1807.]

[Variant 2:

1832.

... it's ... 1807.]

[Variant 3:

1836.

Scorn'd and slighted ... 1807.]

[Variant 4:

1836.

Singing at my heart's command,
In the lanes my thoughts pursuing, 1807.]

* * * * *

FOOTNOTES ON THE TEXT

[Footnote A: Common Pilewort.--W. W. 1807.]

[Footnote B: The following stanza was inserted in the editions of
1836-1843:

'Drawn by what peculiar spell,
By what charm for sight or smell,
Do those winged dim-eyed creatures,
Labourers sent from waxen cells,
Settle on thy brilliant features,
In neglect of buds and bells
Opening daily at thy side,
By the season multiplied?'

In 1845 it was transferred to the following poem, where it will be
found, with a change of text.--Ed.]

* * * * *

TO THE SAME FLOWER

Composed May 1, 1802.--Published 1807

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

Pleasures newly found are sweet
When they lie about our feet:
February last, my heart
First at sight of thee was glad;
All unheard of as thou art, 5
Thou must needs, I think, have had,
Celandine! and long ago,
Praise of which I nothing know.

I have not a doubt but he,
Whosoe'er the man might be, 10
Who the first with pointed rays
(Workman worthy to be sainted)
Set the sign-board in a blaze,
When the rising [1] sun he painted,
Took the fancy from a glance 15
At thy glittering countenance.

Soon as gentle breezes bring
News of winter's vanishing,
And the children build their bowers,
Sticking 'kerchief-plots of mould 20
All about with full-blown flowers,
Thick as sheep in shepherd's fold!
With the proudest thou art there,
Mantling in the tiny square.

Often have I sighed to measure 25
By myself a lonely pleasure,
Sighed to think, I read a book
Only read, perhaps, by me;
Yet I long could overlook
Thy bright coronet and Thee, 30
And thy arch and wily ways,
And thy store of other praise.

Blithe of heart, from week to week
Thou dost play at hide-and-seek;
While the patient primrose sits 35
Like a beggar in the cold,
Thou, a flower of wiser wits,
Slip'st into thy sheltering [2] hold;
Liveliest of the vernal train [3]
When ye all are out again. 40

Drawn by what peculiar spell,
By what charm of sight or smell,
Does the dim-eyed curious Bee,
Labouring for her waxen cells,
Fondly settle upon Thee 45
Prized above all buds and bells
Opening daily at thy side,
By the season multiplied? [4]

Thou art not beyond the moon,
But a thing "beneath our shoon:" [A] 50
Let the bold Discoverer thrid
In his bark the polar sea;
Rear who will a pyramid; [5]
Praise it is enough for me,
If there be but three or four 55
Who will love my little Flower.

* * * * *

VARIANTS ON THE TEXT

[Variant 1:

1836.

... risen ... 1807.]

[Variant 2:

1832.

... shelter'd ... 1807.]

[Variant 3:

1845.

Bright as any of the train 1807.]

[Variant 4: This stanza was added in 1845. (See note [Footnote B, To the
Small Celandine], p. 302.)]

[Variant 5:

1845.

Let, as old Magellen did,
Others roam about the sea;
Build who will a pyramid; [a] 1807.

Let, with bold advent'rous skill,
Others thrid the polar sea;
Rear a pyramid who will; 1820.

Let the bold Adventurer thrid
In his bark the polar sea;
Rear who will a pyramid; 1827.]

* * * * *

FOOTNOTE ON THE TEXT

[Footnote A: This may be an imperfect reminiscence of 'Comus', ll.
634-5.--Ed.]

* * * * *

SUB-FOOTNOTE ON THE TEXT

[Sub-Footnote a: Barron Field asked Wordsworth to restore these lines of
1807, and Wordsworth promised to do so, but never did it.--Ed.]

The following is an extract from Dorothy Wordsworth's Grasmere Journal.
Saturday, May 1.

"A heavenly morning. We went into the garden, and sowed the scarlet
beans about the house. It was a clear sky. I sowed the flowers,
William helped me. We then went and sat in the orchard till dinner
time. It was very hot. William wrote 'The Celandine' (second part). We
planned a shed, for the sun was too much for us."

Ed.

* * * * *

STANZAS WRITTEN IN MY POCKET COPY OF THOMSON'S "CASTLE OF INDOLENCE"

Begun 9th May, finished 11th May, 1802.--Published 1815

[Composed in the orchard, Town-end, Grasmere, Coleridge living with us
much at this time: his son Hartley has said, that his father's character
and habits are here preserved in a livelier way than in anything that
has been written about him. I.F.]

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

Within our happy Castle there dwelt One
Whom without blame I may not overlook;
For never sun on living creature shone
Who more devout enjoyment with us took:
Here on his hours he hung as on a book, 5
On his own time here would he float away,
As doth a fly upon a summer brook;
But go to-morrow, or belike to-day,
Seek for him,--he is fled; and whither none can say.

Thus often would he leave our peaceful home, 10
And find elsewhere his business or delight;
Out of our Valley's limits did he roam:
Full many a time, upon a stormy night, [A]
His voice came to us from the neighbouring height:
Oft could [1] we see him driving full in view 15
At midday when the sun was shining bright;
What ill was on him, what he had to do,

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