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

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[Footnote e: Dr. Cradock suggested the reading "rocky cove." Rocky cave
is tautological, and Wordsworth would hardly apply the epithet to an
ordinary boat-house.--Ed.]

[Footnote f: The "craggy steep till then the horizon's bound," is
probably the ridge of Ironkeld, reaching from high Arnside to the Tom
Heights above Tarn Hows; while the "huge peak, black and huge, as if
with voluntary power instinct," may he either the summit of Wetherlam,
or of Pike o'Blisco. Mr. Rawnsley, however, is of opinion that if
Wordsworth rowed off from the west bank of Fasthwaite, he might see
beyond the craggy ridge of Loughrigg the mass of Nab-Scar, and Rydal
Head would rise up "black and huge." If he rowed from the east side,
then Pike o'Stickle, or Harrison Stickle, might rise above Ironkeld,
over Borwick Ground.--Ed.]

[Footnote g: Compare S. T. Coleridge.

"When very many are skating together, the sounds and the noises give
an impulse to the icy trees, and the woods all round the lake

'The Friend', vol. ii. p. 325 (edition 1818).--Ed.]

[Footnote h: The two preceding paragraphs were published in 'The
Friend', December 28, 1809, under the title of the 'Growth of Genius
from the Influences of Natural Objects on the Imagination, in Boyhood
and Early Youth', and were afterwards inserted in all the collective
editions of Wordsworth's poems, from 1815 onwards. For the changes of
the text in these editions, see vol. ii. pp. 66-69.--Ed.]

[Footnote i: The becks amongst the Furness Fells, in Yewdale, and

[Footnote j: Possibly from the top of some of the rounded moraine hills
on the western side of the Hawkshead Valley.--Ed.]

[Footnote k: The pupils in the Hawkshead school, in Wordsworth's time,
boarded in the houses of village dames. Wordsworth lived with one Anne
Tyson, for whom he ever afterwards cherished the warmest regard, and
whose simple character he has immortalised. (See especially in the
fourth book of 'The Prelude', p. 187, etc.) Wordsworth lived in her
cottage at Hawkshead during nine eventful years. It still remains
externally unaltered, and little, if at all, changed in the interior. It
may be reached through a picturesque archway, near the principal inn of
the village (The Lion); and is on the right of a small open yard, which
is entered through this archway. To the left, a lane leads westwards to
the open country. It is a humble dwelling of two storeys. The floor of
the basement flat-paved with the blue flags of Coniston slate--is not
likely to have been changed since Wordsworth's time. The present door
with its "latch" (see book ii. l. 339), is probably the same as that
referred to in the poem, as in use in 1776, and onwards. For further
details see notes to book iv.--Ed.]

[Footnote l: Compare Pope's 'Rape of the Lock', canto iii. l. 54:

'Gained but one trump, and one plebeian card.'


[Footnote m: Compare Walton's 'Compleat Angler', part i. 4:

'I was for that time lifted above earth,
And possess'd joys not promised in my birth.'


[Footnote n: The notes to this edition are explanatory rather than
critical; but as this image has been objected to--as inaccurate, and out
of all analogy with Wordsworth's use and wont--it may be mentioned that
the noise of the breaking up of the ice, after a severe winter in these
lakes, when it cracks and splits in all directions, is exactly as here
described. It is not of course, in any sense peculiar to the English
lakes; but there are probably few districts where the peculiar noise
referred to can be heard so easily or frequently. Compare Coleridge's
account of the Lake of Ratzeburg in winter, in 'The Friend', vol. ii. p.
323 (edition of 1818), and his reference to "the thunders and 'howlings'
of the breaking ice."--Ed.]

[Footnote o: I here insert a very remarkable MS. variation of the text,
or rather (I think) one of these experiments in dealing with his theme,
which were common with Wordsworth. I found it in a copy of the Poems
belonging to the poet's son:

I tread the mazes of this argument, and paint
How nature by collateral interest
And by extrinsic passion peopled first
My mind with beauteous objects: may I well
Forget what might demand a loftier song,
For oft the Eternal Spirit, He that has
His Life in unimaginable things,
And he who painting what He is in all
The visible imagery of all the World
Is yet apparent chiefly as the Soul
Of our first sympathies--O bounteous power
In Childhood, in rememberable days
How often did thy love renew for me
Those naked feelings which, when thou would'st form
A living thing, thou sendest like a breeze
Into its infant being! Soul of things
How often did thy love renew for me
Those hallowed and pure motions of the sense
Which seem in their simplicity to own
An intellectual charm: That calm delight
Which, if I err not, surely must belong
To those first-born affinities which fit
Our new existence to existing things,
And, in our dawn of being, constitute
The bond of union betwixt life and joy.
Yes, I remember, when the changeful youth
And twice five seasons on my mind had stamped
The faces of the moving year, even then
A child, I held unconscious intercourse
With the eternal beauty, drinking in
A pure organic pleasure from the lines
Of curling mist, or from the smooth expanse
Of waters coloured by the clouds of Heaven.


[Footnote p: Snowdrops still grow abundantly in many an orchard and
meadow by the road which skirts the western side of Esthwaite

[Footnote q: Compare the 'Ode, Intimations of Immortality', stanza

* * * * *


SCHOOL-TIME--continued ...

Thus far, O Friend! have we, though leaving much
Unvisited, endeavoured to retrace
The simple ways in which my childhood walked;
Those chiefly that first led me to the love
Of rivers, woods, and fields. The passion yet 5
Was in its birth, sustained as might befal
By nourishment that came unsought; for still
From week to week, from month to month, we lived
A round of tumult. Duly were our games
Prolonged in summer till the day-light failed: 10
No chair remained before the doors; the bench
And threshold steps were empty; fast asleep
The labourer, and the old man who had sate
A later lingerer; yet the revelry
Continued and the loud uproar: at last, 15
When all the ground was dark, and twinkling stars
Edged the black clouds, home and to bed we went,
Feverish with weary joints and beating minds.
Ah! is there one who ever has been young,
Nor needs a warning voice to tame the pride 20
Of intellect and virtue's self-esteem?
One is there, though the wisest and the best
Of all mankind, who covets not at times
Union that cannot be;--who would not give,
If so he might, to duty and to truth 25
The eagerness of infantine desire?
A tranquillising spirit presses now
On my corporeal frame, so wide appears
The vacancy between me and those days
Which yet have such self-presence in my mind, 30
That, musing on them, often do I seem
Two consciousnesses, conscious of myself
And of some other Being. A rude mass
Of native rock, left midway in the square
Of our small market village, was the goal 35
Or centre of these sports; [A] and when, returned
After long absence, thither I repaired,
Gone was the old grey stone, and in its place
A smart Assembly-room usurped the ground
That had been ours. There let the fiddle scream, 40
And be ye happy! Yet, my Friends! I know
That more than one of you will think with me
Of those soft starry nights, and that old Dame
From whom the stone was named, who there had sate,
And watched her table with its huckster's wares 45
Assiduous, through the length of sixty years.

We ran a boisterous course; the year span round
With giddy motion. But the time approached
That brought with it a regular desire
For calmer pleasures, when the winning forms 50
Of Nature were collaterally attached
To every scheme of holiday delight
And every boyish sport, less grateful else
And languidly pursued.
When summer came,
Our pastime was, on bright half-holidays, 55
To sweep, along the plain of Windermere
With rival oars; [B] and the selected bourne
Was now an Island musical with birds
That sang and ceased not; now a Sister Isle
Beneath the oaks' umbrageous covert, sown 60
With lilies of the valley like a field; [C]
And now a third small Island, where survived
In solitude the ruins of a shrine
Once to Our Lady dedicate, and served
Daily with chaunted rites. [D] In such a race 65
So ended, disappointment could be none,
Uneasiness, or pain, or jealousy:
We rested in the shade, all pleased alike,
Conquered and conqueror. Thus the pride of strength,
And the vain-glory of superior skill, 70
Were tempered; thus was gradually produced
A quiet independence of the heart;
And to my Friend who knows me I may add,
Fearless of blame, that hence for future days
Ensued a diffidence and modesty, 75
And I was taught to feel, perhaps too much,
The self-sufficing power of Solitude.

Our daily meals were frugal, Sabine fare!
More than we wished we knew the blessing then
Of vigorous hunger--hence corporeal strength 80
Unsapped by delicate viands; for, exclude
A little weekly stipend, and we lived
Through three divisions of the quartered year
In penniless poverty. But now to school
From the half-yearly holidays returned, 85
We came with weightier purses, that sufficed
To furnish treats more costly than the Dame
Of the old grey stone, from her scant board, supplied.
Hence rustic dinners on the cool green ground,
Or in the woods, or by a river side 90
Or shady fountains, while among the leaves
Soft airs were stirring, and the mid-day sun
Unfelt shone brightly round us in our joy.
Nor is my aim neglected if I tell
How sometimes, in the length of those half-years, 95
We from our funds drew largely;--proud to curb,
And eager to spur on, the galloping steed;
And with the courteous inn-keeper, whose stud
Supplied our want, we haply might employ
Sly subterfuge, if the adventure's bound 100
Were distant: some famed temple where of yore
The Druids worshipped, [E] or the antique walls
Of that large abbey, where within the Vale
Of Nightshade, to St. Mary's honour built, [F]
Stands yet a mouldering pile with fractured arch, 105
Belfry, [G] and images, and living trees,
A holy scene! Along the smooth green turf
Our horses grazed. To more than inland peace
Left by the west wind sweeping overhead
From a tumultuous ocean, trees and towers 110
In that sequestered valley may be seen,
Both silent and both motionless alike;
Such the deep shelter that is there, and such
The safeguard for repose and quietness.

Our steeds remounted and the summons given, 115
With whip and spur we through the chauntry flew
In uncouth race, and left the cross-legged knight,
And the stone-abbot, [H] and that single wren
Which one day sang so sweetly in the nave
Of the old church, that--though from recent showers 120
The earth was comfortless, and touched by faint
Internal breezes, sobbings of the place
And respirations, from the roofless walls
The shuddering ivy dripped large drops--yet still
So sweetly 'mid the gloom the invisible bird 125
Sang to herself, that there I could have made
My dwelling-place, and lived for ever there
To hear such music. Through the walls we flew
And down the valley, and, a circuit made
In wantonness of heart, through rough and smooth 130
We scampered homewards. Oh, ye rocks and streams,
And that still spirit shed from evening air!
Even in this joyous time I sometimes felt
Your presence, when with slackened step we breathed
Along the sides of the steep hills, or when 135
Lighted by gleams of moonlight from the sea
We beat with thundering hoofs the level sand.

Midway on long Winander's eastern shore,
Within the crescent of a pleasant bay, [I]
A tavern stood; [K] no homely-featured house, 140
Primeval like its neighbouring cottages,
But 'twas a splendid place, the door beset
With chaises, grooms, and liveries, and within
Decanters, glasses, and the blood-red wine.
In ancient times, and ere the Hall was built 145
On the large island, had this dwelling been
More worthy of a poet's love, a hut,
Proud of its own bright fire and sycamore shade.
But--though the rhymes were gone that once inscribed
The threshold, and large golden characters, 150
Spread o'er the spangled sign-board, had dislodged
The old Lion and usurped his place, in slight
And mockery of the rustic painter's hand--[L]
Yet, to this hour, the spot to me is dear
With all its foolish pomp. The garden lay 155
Upon a slope surmounted by a plain
Of a small bowling-green; beneath us stood
A grove, with gleams of water through the trees
And over the tree-tops; [M] nor did we want
Refreshment, strawberries and mellow cream. 160
There, while through half an afternoon we played
On the smooth platform, whether skill prevailed
Or happy blunder triumphed, bursts of glee
Made all the mountains ring. But, ere night-fall,
When in our pinnace we returned at leisure 165
Over the shadowy lake, and to the beach
Of some small island steered our course with one,
The Minstrel of the Troop, and left him there, [N]
And rowed off gently, while he blew his flute
Alone upon the rock--oh, then, the calm 170
And dead still water lay upon my mind
Even with a weight of pleasure, and the sky,
Never before so beautiful, sank down
Into my heart, and held me like a dream!
Thus were my sympathies enlarged, and thus 175
Daily the common range of visible things
Grew dear to me: already I began
To love the sun; a boy I loved the sun,
Not as I since have loved him, as a pledge
And surety of our earthly life, a light 180
Which we behold and feel we are alive; [O]
Nor for his bounty to so many worlds--
But for this cause, that I had seen him lay
His beauty on the morning hills, had seen
The western mountain [P] touch his setting orb, 185
In many a thoughtless hour, when, from excess
Of happiness, my blood appeared to flow
For its own pleasure, and I breathed with joy.
And, from like feelings, humble though intense,
To patriotic and domestic love 190
Analogous, the moon to me was dear;
For I could dream away my purposes,
Standing to gaze upon her while she hung
Midway between the hills, as if she knew
No other region, but belonged to thee, [Q] 195
Yea, appertained by a peculiar right
To thee and thy grey huts, thou one dear Vale! [R]

Those incidental charms which first attached
My heart to rural objects, day by day
Grew weaker, and I hasten on to tell 200
How Nature, intervenient till this time
And secondary, now at length was sought
For her own sake. But who shall parcel out
His intellect by geometric rules,
Split like a province into round and square? 205
Who knows the individual hour in which
His habits were first sown, even as a seed?
Who that shall point as with a wand and say
"This portion of the river of my mind
Came from yon fountain?" [S] Thou, my Friend! art one 210
More deeply read in thy own thoughts; to thee
Science appears but what in truth she is,
Not as our glory and our absolute boast,
But as a succedaneum, and a prop
To our infirmity. No officious slave 215
Art thou of that false secondary power
By which we multiply distinctions; then,
Deem that our puny boundaries are things
That we perceive, and not that we have made.
To thee, unblinded by these formal arts, 220
The unity of all hath been revealed,
And thou wilt doubt, with me less aptly skilled
Than many are to range the faculties
In scale and order, class the cabinet
Of their sensations, and in voluble phrase 225
Run through the history and birth of each
As of a single independent thing.
Hard task, vain hope, to analyse the mind,
If each most obvious and particular thought,
Not in a mystical and idle sense, 230
But in the words of Reason deeply weighed,
Hath no beginning.
Blest the infant Babe,
(For with my best conjecture I would trace
Our Being's earthly progress,) blest the Babe,
Nursed in his Mother's arms, who sinks to sleep 235
Rocked on his Mother's breast; who with his soul
Drinks in the feelings of his Mother's eye!
For him, in one dear Presence, there exists
A virtue which irradiates and exalts
Objects through widest intercourse of sense. 240
No outcast he, bewildered and depressed:
Along his infant veins are interfused
The gravitation and the filial bond
Of nature that connect him with the world.
Is there a flower, to which he points with hand 245
Too weak to gather it, already love
Drawn from love's purest earthly fount for him
Hath beautified that flower; already shades
Of pity cast from inward tenderness
Do fall around him upon aught that bears 250
Unsightly marks of violence or harm.
Emphatically such a Being lives,
Frail creature as he is, helpless as frail,
An inmate of this active universe.
For feeling has to him imparted power 255
That through the growing faculties of sense
Doth like an agent of the one great Mind
Create, creator and receiver both,
Working but in alliance with the works
Which it beholds. Such, verily, is the first 260
Poetic spirit of our human life,
By uniform control of after years,
In most, abated or suppressed; in some,
Through every change of growth and of decay,
Pre-eminent till death.

From early days, 265
Beginning not long after that first time
In which, a Babe, by intercourse of touch
I held mute dialogues with my Mother's heart,
I have endeavoured to display the means
Whereby this infant sensibility, 270
Great birthright of our being, was in me
Augmented and sustained. Yet is a path
More difficult before me; and I fear
That in its broken windings we shall need
The chamois' sinews, and the eagle's wing: 275
For now a trouble came into my mind
From unknown causes. I was left alone
Seeking the visible world, nor knowing why.
The props of my affections were removed,
And yet the building stood, as if sustained 280
By its own spirit! All that I beheld
Was dear, and hence to finer influxes
The mind lay open to a more exact
And close communion. Many are our joys
In youth, but oh! what happiness to live 285
When every hour brings palpable access
Of knowledge, when all knowledge is delight,
And sorrow is not there! The seasons came,
And every season wheresoe'er I moved
Unfolded transitory qualities, 290
Which, but for this most watchful power of love,
Had been neglected; left a register
Of permanent relations, else unknown.
Hence life, and change, and beauty, solitude
More active even than "best society"--[T] 295
Society made sweet as solitude
By silent inobtrusive sympathies--
And gentle agitations of the mind
From manifold distinctions, difference
Perceived in things, where, to the unwatchful eye, 300
No difference is, and hence, from the same source,
Sublimer joy; for I would walk alone,
Under the quiet stars, and at that time
Have felt whate'er there is of power in sound
To breathe an elevated mood, by form 305
Or image unprofaned; and I would stand,
If the night blackened with a coming storm,
Beneath some rock, listening to notes that are
The ghostly language of the ancient earth,
Or make their dim abode in distant winds. 310
Thence did I drink the visionary power;
And deem not profitless those fleeting moods
Of shadowy exultation: not for this,
That they are kindred to our purer mind
And intellectual life; but that the soul, 315
Remembering how she felt, but what she felt
Remembering not, retains an obscure sense
Of possible sublimity, whereto
With growing faculties she doth aspire,
With faculties still growing, feeling still 320
That whatsoever point they gain, they yet
Have something to pursue.

And not alone,
'Mid gloom and tumult, but no less 'mid fair
And tranquil scenes, that universal power
And fitness in the latent qualities 325
And essences of things, by which the mind
Is moved with feelings of delight, to me
Came, strengthened with a superadded soul,
A virtue not its own. My morning walks
Were early;--oft before the hours of school [U] 330
I travelled round our little lake, [V] five miles
Of pleasant wandering. Happy time! more dear
For this, that one was by my side, a Friend, [W]
Then passionately loved; with heart how full
Would he peruse these lines! For many years 335
Have since flowed in between us, and, our minds
Both silent to each other, at this time
We live as if those hours had never been.
Nor seldom did I lift--our cottage latch [X]
Far earlier, ere one smoke-wreath had risen 340
From human dwelling, or the vernal thrush
Was audible; and sate among the woods
Alone upon some jutting eminence, [Y]
At the first gleam of dawn-light, when the Vale,
Yet slumbering, lay in utter solitude. 345
How shall I seek the origin? where find
Faith in the marvellous things which then I felt?
Oft in these moments such a holy calm
Would overspread my soul, that bodily eyes
Were utterly forgotten, and what I saw 350
Appeared like something in myself, a dream,
A prospect in the mind. [Z]
'Twere long to tell
What spring and autumn, what the winter snows,
And what the summer shade, what day and night,
Evening and morning, sleep and waking, thought 355
From sources inexhaustible, poured forth
To feed the spirit of religious love
In which I walked with Nature. But let this
Be not forgotten, that I still retained
My first creative sensibility; 360
That by the regular action of the world
My soul was unsubdued. A plastic power
Abode with me; a forming hand, at times
Rebellious, acting in a devious mood;
A local spirit of his own, at war 365
With general tendency, but, for the most,
Subservient strictly to external things
With which it communed. An auxiliar light
Came from my mind, which on the setting sun
Bestowed new splendour; the melodious birds, 370
The fluttering breezes, fountains that run on
Murmuring so sweetly in themselves, obeyed
A like dominion, and the midnight storm
Grew darker in the presence of my eye:
Hence my obeisance, my devotion hence, 375
And hence my transport.
Nor should this, perchance,
Pass unrecorded, that I still had loved
The exercise and produce of a toil,
Than analytic industry to me
More pleasing, and whose character I deem 380
Is more poetic as resembling more
Creative agency. The song would speak
Of that interminable building reared
By observation of affinities
In objects where no brotherhood exists 385
To passive minds. My seventeenth year was come;
And, whether from this habit rooted now
So deeply in my mind; or from excess
In the great social principle of life
Coercing all things into sympathy, 390
To unorganic ratures were transferred
My own enjoyments; or the power of truth
Coming in revelation, did converse
With things that really are; I, at this time,
Saw blessings spread around me like a sea. 395
Thus while the days flew by, and years passed on,
From Nature and her overflowing soul,
I had received so much, that all my thoughts
Were steeped in feeling; I was only then
Contented, when with bliss ineffable 400
I felt the sentiment of Being spread
O'er all that moves and all that seemeth still;
O'er all that, lost beyond the reach of thought
And human knowledge, to the human eye
Invisible, yet liveth to the heart; 405
O'er all that leaps and runs, and shouts and sings,
Or beats the gladsome air; o'er all that glides
Beneath the wave, yea, in the wave itself,
And mighty depth of waters. Wonder not
If high the transport, great the joy I felt, 410
Communing in this sort through earth and heaven
With every form of creature, as it looked
Towards the Uncreated with a countenance
Of adoration, with an eye of love.
One song they sang, and it was audible, 415
Most audible, then, when the fleshly ear,
O'ercome by humblest prelude of that strain,
Forgot her functions, and slept undisturbed.

If this be error, and another faith
Find easier access to the pious mind, 420
Yet were I grossly destitute of all
Those human sentiments that make this earth
So dear, if I should fail with grateful voice
To speak of you, ye mountains, and ye lakes
And sounding cataracts, ye mists and winds 425
That dwell among the hills where I was born.
If in my youth I have been pure in heart,
If, mingling with the world, I am content
With my own modest pleasures, and have lived
With God and Nature communing, removed 430
From little enmities and low desires,
The gift is yours; if in these times of fear,
This melancholy waste of hopes o'erthrown,
If, 'mid indifference and apathy,
And wicked exultation when good men 435
On every side fall off, we know not how,
To selfishness, disguised in gentle names
Of peace and quiet and domestic love,
Yet mingled not unwillingly with sneers
On visionary minds; if, in this time 440
Of dereliction and dismay, I yet
Despair not of our nature, but retain
A more than Roman confidence, a faith
That fails not, in all sorrow my support,
The blessing of my life; the gift is yours, 445
Ye winds and sounding cataracts! 'tis yours,
Ye mountains! thine, O Nature! Thou hast fed
My lofty speculations; and in thee,
For this uneasy heart of ours, I find
A never-failing principle of joy 450
And purest passion.
Thou, my Friend! wert reared
In the great city, 'mid far other scenes; [a]
But we, by different roads, at length have gained
The self-same bourne. And for this cause to thee
I speak, unapprehensive of contempt, 455
The insinuated scoff of coward tongues,
And all that silent language which so oft
In conversation between man and man
Blots from the human countenance all trace
Of beauty and of love. For thou hast sought 460
The truth in solitude, and, since the days
That gave thee liberty, full long desired,
To serve in Nature's temple, thou hast been
The most assiduous of her ministers;
In many things my brother, chiefly here 465
In this our deep devotion.
Fare thee well!
Health and the quiet of a healthful mind
Attend thee! seeking oft the haunts of men,
And yet more often living with thyself,
And for thyself, so haply shall thy days 470
Be many, and a blessing to mankind. [b]

* * * * *


[Footnote A: The "square" of the "small market village" of Hawkshead
still remains; and the presence of the new "assembly-room" does not
prevent us from realising it as open, with the "rude mass of native rock
left midway" in it--the "old grey stone," which was the centre of the
village sports.--Ed.]

[Footnote B: Compare 'The Excursion', book ix. ll. 487-90:

'When, on thy bosom, spacious Windermere!
A Youth, I practised this delightful art;
Tossed on the waves alone, or 'mid a crew
Of joyous comrades.'


[Footnote C: Compare 'The Excursion', book ix. l. 544, describing "a
fair Isle with birch-trees fringed," where they gathered leaves of that
shy plant (its flower was shed), the lily of the vale.--Ed.]

[Footnote D: These islands in Windermere are easily identified. In the
Lily of the Valley Island the plant still grows, though not abundantly;
but from Lady Holme the

'ruins of a shrine
Once to Our Lady dedicate'

have disappeared as completely as the shrine in St. Herbert's Island,
Derwentwater. The third island:

'musical with birds,
That sang and ceased not--'

may have been House Holme, or that now called Thomson's Holme. It could
hardly have been Belle Isle; since, from its size, it could not be
described as a "Sister Isle" to the one where the lily of the valley
grew "beneath the oaks' umbrageous covert."--Ed.]

[Footnote E: Doubtless the circle was at Conishead Priory, on the
Cartmell Sands; or that in the vale of Swinside, on the north-east side
of Black Combe; more probably the former. The whole district is rich in
Druidical remains, but Wordsworth would not refer to the Keswick circle,
or to Long Meg and her Daughters in this connection; and the proximity
of the temple on the Cartmell Shore to the Furness Abbey ruins, and the
ease with which it could be visited on holidays by the boys from
Hawkshead school, make it almost certain that he refers to it.--Ed.]

[Footnote F: Furness Abbey, founded by Stephen in 1127, in the glen of
the deadly Nightshade--Bekansghyll--so called from the luxuriant
abundance of the plant, and dedicated to St. Mary. (Compare West's
'Antiquities of Furness'.)--Ed.]

[Footnote G: What was the belfry is now a mass of detached ruins.--Ed.]

[Footnote H: Doubtless the Cartmell Sands beyond Ulverston, at the
estuary of the Leven.--Ed.]

[Footnote I: At Bowness.--Ed.]

[Footnote K: The White Lion Inn at Bowness.--Ed.]

[Footnote L: Compare the reference to the "rude piece of self-taught
art," at the Swan Inn, in the first canto of 'The Waggoner', p. 81.
William Hutchinson, in his 'Excursion to the Lakes in 1773 and 1774'
(second edition, 1776, p. 185), mentions "the White Lion Inn at

[Footnote M: Dr. Cradock told me that William Hutchinson--referred to in
the previous note--describes "Bownas church and its cottages," as seen
from the lake, arising "'above the trees'." Wordsworth, reversing the
view, sees "gleams of water through the trees and 'over the tree
tops'"--another instance of minutely exact description.--Ed.]

[Footnote N: Robert Greenwood, afterwards Senior Fellow of Trinity
College, Cambridge.--Ed.]

[Footnote O: Compare 'Lines composed a few miles above Tintern Abbey',
vol. ii. p. 51.--Ed.]

[Footnote P: Wetherlam, or Coniston Old Man, or both.--Ed.]

[Footnote Q:

"The moon, as it hung over the southernmost shore of Esthwaite, with
Gunner's How, as seen from Hawkshead rising up boldly to the
spectator's left hand, would be thus described."

(H. D. Rawnsley.)--Ed.]

[Footnote R: Esthwaite. Compare 'Peter Bell' (vol. ii. p. 13):

'Where deep and low the hamlets lie
Beneath their little patch of sky
And little lot of stars.'


[Footnote S: See in the Appendix to this volume, Note II, p. 388.--Ed.]

[Footnote T: See 'Paradise Lost', ix. l. 249.--Ed.]

[Footnote U: The daily work in Hawkshead School began--by Archbishop
Sandys' ordinance--at 6 A.M. in summer, and 7 A.M. in winter.--Ed.]

[Footnote V: Esthwaite.--Ed.]

[Footnote W: The Rev. John Fleming, of Rayrigg, Windermere, or,
possibly, the Rev. Charles Farish, author of 'The Minstrels of
Winandermere' and 'Black Agnes'. Mr. Carter, who edited 'The Prelude' in
1850, says it was the former, but this is not absolutely certain.--Ed.]

[Footnote X: A "cottage latch"--probably the same as that in use in Dame
Tyson's time--is still on the door of the house where she lived at

[Footnote Y: Probably on the western side of the Vale, above the
village. There is but one "'jutting' eminence" on this side of the
valley. It is an old moraine, now grass-covered; and, from this point,
the view both of the village and of the vale is noteworthy. The jutting
eminence, however, may have been a crag, amongst the Colthouse heights,
to the north-east of Hawkshead.--Ed.]

[Footnote Z: Compare in the 'Ode, Intimations of Immortality':

'... those obstinate questionings
Of sense and outward things,
Fallings from us, vanishings,' etc.


[Footnote a: Coleridge's school days were spent at Christ's Hospital in
London. With the above line compare S. T. C.'s 'Frost at Midnight':

'I was reared
In the great city, pent 'mid cloisters dim.'


[Footnote b: Compare 'Stanzas written in my Pocket Copy of Thomsons
"Castle of Indolence,"' vol. ii. p. 305.--Ed.]

* * * * *



It was a dreary morning when the wheels
Rolled over a wide plain o'erhung with clouds,
And nothing cheered our way till first we saw
The long-roofed chapel of King's College lift
Turrets and pinnacles in answering files, 5
Extended high above a dusky grove, [A]

Advancing, we espied upon the road
A student clothed in gown and tasselled cap,
Striding along as if o'ertasked by Time,
Or covetous of exercise and air; 10
He passed--nor was I master of my eyes
Till he was left an arrow's flight behind.
As near and nearer to the spot we drew,
It seemed to suck us in with an eddy's force.
Onward we drove beneath the Castle; caught, 15
While crossing Magdalene Bridge, a glimpse of Cam;
And at the 'Hoop' alighted, famous Inn. [B]

My spirit was up, my thoughts were full of hope;
Some friends I had, acquaintances who there
Seemed friends, poor simple school-boys, now hung round 20
With honour and importance: in a world
Of welcome faces up and down I roved;
Questions, directions, warnings and advice,
Flowed in upon me, from all sides; fresh day
Of pride and pleasure! to myself I seemed 25
A man of business and expense, and went
From shop to shop about my own affairs,
To Tutor or to Tailor, as befel,
From street to street with loose and careless mind.

I was the Dreamer, they the Dream; I roamed 30
Delighted through the motley spectacle;
Gowns, grave, or gaudy, doctors, students, streets,
Courts, cloisters, flocks of churches, gateways, towers:
Migration strange for a stripling of the hills,
A northern villager.
As if the change 35
Had waited on some Fairy's wand, at once
Behold me rich in monies, and attired
In splendid garb, with hose of silk, and hair
Powdered like rimy trees, when frost is keen.
My lordly dressing-gown, I pass it by, 40
With other signs of manhood that supplied
The lack of beard.--The weeks went roundly on,
With invitations, suppers, wine and fruit,
Smooth housekeeping within, and all without
Liberal, and suiting gentleman's array. 45

The Evangelist St. John my patron was:
Three Gothic courts are his, and in the first
Was my abiding-place, a nook obscure; [C]
Right underneath, the College kitchens made
A humming sound, less tuneable than bees, 50
But hardly less industrious; with shrill notes
Of sharp command and scolding intermixed.
Near me hung Trinity's loquacious clock,
Who never let the quarters, night or day,
Slip by him unproclaimed, and told the hours 55
Twice over with a male and female voice.
Her pealing organ was my neighbour too;
And from my pillow, looking forth by light
Of moon or favouring stars, I could behold
The antechapel where the statue stood 60
Of Newton with his prism and silent face,
The marble index of a mind for ever
Voyaging through strange seas of Thought, alone.

Of College labours, of the Lecturer's room
All studded round, as thick as chairs could stand, 65
With loyal students faithful to their books,
Half-and-half idlers, hardy recusants,
And honest dunces--of important days,
Examinations, when the man was weighed
As in a balance! of excessive hopes, 70
Tremblings withal and commendable fears,
Small jealousies, and triumphs good or bad,
Let others that know more speak as they know.
Such glory was but little sought by me,
And little won. Yet from the first crude days 75
Of settling time in this untried abode,
I was disturbed at times by prudent thoughts,
Wishing to hope without a hope, some fears
About my future worldly maintenance,
And, more than all, a strangeness in the mind, 80
A feeling that I was not for that hour,
Nor for that place. But wherefore be cast down?
For (not to speak of Reason and her pure
Reflective acts to fix the moral law
Deep in the conscience, nor of Christian Hope, 85
Bowing her head before her sister Faith
As one far mightier), hither I had come,
Bear witness Truth, endowed with holy powers
And faculties, whether to work or feel.
Oft when the dazzling show no longer new 90
Had ceased to dazzle, ofttimes did I quit
My comrades, leave the crowd, buildings and groves,
And as I paced alone the level fields
Far from those lovely sights and sounds sublime
With which I had been conversant, the mind 95
Drooped not; but there into herself returning,
With prompt rebound seemed fresh as heretofore.
At least I more distinctly recognised
Her native instincts: let me dare to speak
A higher language, say that now I felt 100
What independent solaces were mine,
To mitigate the injurious sway of place
Or circumstance, how far soever changed
In youth, or to be changed in manhood's prime;
Or for the few who shall be called to look 105
On the long shadows in our evening years,
Ordained precursors to the night of death.
As if awakened, summoned, roused, constrained,
I looked for universal things; perused
The common countenance of earth and sky: 110
Earth, nowhere unembellished by some trace
Of that first Paradise whence man was driven;
And sky, whose beauty and bounty are expressed
By the proud name she bears--the name of Heaven.
I called on both to teach me what they might; 115
Or turning the mind in upon herself
Pored, watched, expected, listened, spread my thoughts
And spread them with a wider creeping; felt
Incumbencies more awful, visitings
Of the Upholder of the tranquil soul, 120
That tolerates the indignities of Time,
And, from the centre of Eternity
All finite motions overruling, lives
In glory immutable. But peace! enough
Here to record that I was mounting now 125
To such community with highest truth--
A track pursuing, not untrod before,
From strict analogies by thought supplied
Or consciousnesses not to be subdued.
To every natural form, rock, fruit or flower, 130
Even the loose stones that cover the high-way,
I gave a moral life: I saw them feel,
Or linked them to some feeling: the great mass
Lay bedded in a quickening soul, and all
That I beheld respired with inward meaning. 135
Add that whate'er of Terror or of Love
Or Beauty, Nature's daily face put on
From transitory passion, unto this
I was as sensitive as waters are
To the sky's influence in a kindred mood 140
Of passion; was obedient as a lute
That waits upon the touches of the wind.
Unknown, unthought of, yet I was most rich--
I had a world about me--'twas my own;
I made it, for it only lived to me, 145
And to the God who sees into the heart.
Such sympathies, though rarely, were betrayed
By outward gestures and by visible looks:
Some called it madness--so indeed it was,
If child-like fruitfulness in passing joy, 150
If steady moods of thoughtfulness matured
To inspiration, sort with such a name;
If prophecy be madness; if things viewed
By poets in old time, and higher up
By the first men, earth's first inhabitants, 155
May in these tutored days no more be seen
With undisordered sight. But leaving this,
It was no madness, for the bodily eye
Amid my strongest workings evermore
Was searching out the lines of difference 160
As they lie hid in all external forms,
Near or remote, minute or vast, an eye
Which from a tree, a stone, a withered leaf,
To the broad ocean and the azure heavens
Spangled with kindred multitudes of stars, 165
Could find no surface where its power might sleep;
Which spake perpetual logic to my soul,
And by an unrelenting agency
Did bind my feelings even as in a chain.

And here, O Friend! have I retraced my life 170
Up to an eminence, and told a tale
Of matters which not falsely may be called
The glory of my youth. Of genius, power,
Creation and divinity itself
I have been speaking, for my theme has been 175
What passed within me. Not of outward things
Done visibly for other minds, words, signs,
Symbols or actions, but of my own heart
Have I been speaking, and my youthful mind.
O Heavens! how awful is the might of souls, 180
And what they do within themselves while yet
The yoke of earth is new to them, the world
Nothing but a wild field where they were sown.
This is, in truth, heroic argument,
This genuine prowess, which I wished to touch 185
With hand however weak, but in the main
It lies far hidden from the reach of words.
Points have we all of us within our souls
Where all stand single; this I feel, and make
Breathings for incommunicable powers; 190
But is not each a memory to himself?
And, therefore, now that we must quit this theme,
I am not heartless, for there's not a man
That lives who hath not known his god-like hours,
And feels not what an empire we inherit 195
As natural beings in the strength of Nature.

No more: for now into a populous plain
We must descend. A Traveller I am,
Whose tale is only of himself; even so,
So be it, if the pure of heart be prompt 200
To follow, and if thou, my honoured Friend!
Who in these thoughts art ever at my side,
Support, as heretofore, my fainting steps.

It hath been told, that when the first delight
That flashed upon me from this novel show 205
Had failed, the mind returned into herself;
Yet true it is, that I had made a change
In climate, and my nature's outward coat
Changed also slowly and insensibly.
Full oft the quiet and exalted thoughts 210
Of loneliness gave way to empty noise
And superficial pastimes; now and then
Forced labour, and more frequently forced hopes;
And, worst of all, a treasonable growth
Of indecisive judgments, that impaired 215
And shook the mind's simplicity.--And yet
This was a gladsome time. Could I behold--
Who, less insensible than sodden clay
In a sea-river's bed at ebb of tide,
Could have beheld,--with undelighted heart, 220
So many happy youths, so wide and fair
A congregation in its budding-time
Of health, and hope, and beauty, all at once
So many divers samples from the growth
Of life's sweet season--could have seen unmoved 225
That miscellaneous garland of wild flowers
Decking the matron temples of a place
So famous through the world? To me, at least,
It was a goodly prospect: for, in sooth,
Though I had learnt betimes to stand unpropped, 230
And independent musings pleased me so
That spells seemed on me when I was alone,
Yet could I only cleave to solitude
In lonely places; if a throng was near
That way I leaned by nature; for my heart 235
Was social, and loved idleness and joy.

Not seeking those who might participate
My deeper pleasures (nay, I had not once,
Though not unused to mutter lonesome songs,
Even with myself divided such delight, 240
Or looked that way for aught that might be clothed
In human language), easily I passed
From the remembrances of better things,
And slipped into the ordinary works
Of careless youth, unburthened, unalarmed. 245
_Caverns_ there were within my mind which sun
Could never penetrate, yet did there not
Want store of leafy _arbours_ where the light
Might enter in at will. Companionships,
Friendships, acquaintances, were welcome all. 250
We sauntered, played, or rioted; we talked
Unprofitable talk at morning hours;
Drifted about along the streets and walks,
Read lazily in trivial books, went forth
To gallop through the country in blind zeal 255
Of senseless horsemanship, or on the breast
Of Cam sailed boisterously, and let the stars
Come forth, perhaps without one quiet thought.

Such was the tenor of the second act
In this new life. Imagination slept, 260
And yet not utterly. I could not print
Ground where the grass had yielded to the steps
Of generations of illustrious men,
Unmoved. I could not always lightly pass
Through the same gateways, sleep where they had slept, 265
Wake where they waked, range that inclosure old,
That garden of great intellects, undisturbed.
Place also by the side of this dark sense
Of noble feeling, that those spiritual men,
Even the great Newton's own ethereal self, 270
Seemed humbled in these precincts thence to be
The more endeared. Their several memories here
(Even like their persons in their portraits clothed
With the accustomed garb of daily life)
Put on a lowly and a touching grace 275
Of more distinct humanity, that left
All genuine admiration unimpaired.

Beside the pleasant Mill of Trompington [D]
I laughed with Chaucer in the hawthorn shade;
Heard him, while birds were warbling, tell his tales 280
Of amorous passion. And that gentle Bard,
Chosen by the Muses for their Page of State--
Sweet Spenser, moving through his clouded heaven
With the moon's beauty and the moon's soft pace,
I called him Brother, Englishman, and Friend! 285
Yea, our blind Poet, who, in his later day,
Stood almost single; uttering odious truth--
Darkness before, and danger's voice behind,
Soul awful--if the earth has ever lodged
An awful soul--I seemed to see him here 290
Familiarly, and in his scholar's dress
Bounding before me, yet a stripling youth--
A boy, no better, with his rosy cheeks
Angelical, keen eye, courageous look,
And conscious step of purity and pride. 295
Among the band of my compeers was one
Whom chance had stationed in the very room
Honoured by Milton's name. O temperate Bard!
Be it confest that, for the first time, seated
Within thy innocent lodge and oratory, 300
One of a festive circle, I poured out
Libations, to thy memory drank, till pride
And gratitude grew dizzy in a brain
Never excited by the fumes of wine
Before that hour, or since. Then, forth I ran 305
From the assembly; through a length of streets,
Ran, ostrich-like, to reach our chapel door
In not a desperate or opprobrious time,
Albeit long after the importunate bell
Had stopped, with wearisome Cassandra voice 310
No longer haunting the dark winter night.
Call back, O Friend! [E] a moment to thy mind,
The place itself and fashion of the rites.
With careless ostentation shouldering up
My surplice, [F] through the inferior throng I clove 315
Of the plain Burghers, who in audience stood
On the last skirts of their permitted ground,
Under the pealing organ. Empty thoughts!
I am ashamed of them: and that great Bard,
And thou, O Friend! who in thy ample mind 320
Hast placed me high above my best deserts,
Ye will forgive the weakness of that hour,
In some of its unworthy vanities,
Brother to many more.
In this mixed sort
The months passed on, remissly, not given up 325
To wilful alienation from the right,
Or walks of open scandal, but in vague
And loose indifference, easy likings, aims
Of a low pitch--duty and zeal dismissed,
Yet Nature, or a happy course of things 330
Not doing in their stead the needful work.
The memory languidly revolved, the heart
Reposed in noontide rest, the inner pulse
Of contemplation almost failed to beat.
Such life might not inaptly be compared 335
To a floating island, an amphibious spot
Unsound, of spongy texture, yet withal
Not wanting a fair face of water weeds
And pleasant flowers. [G] The thirst of living praise,
Fit reverence for the glorious Dead, the sight 340
Of those long vistas, sacred catacombs,
Where mighty minds lie visibly entombed,
Have often stirred the heart of youth, and bred
A fervent love of rigorous discipline.--
Alas! such high emotion touched not me. 345
Look was there none within these walls to shame
My easy spirits, and discountenance
Their light composure, far less to instil
A calm resolve of mind, firmly addressed
To puissant efforts. Nor was this the blame 350
Of others, but my own; I should, in truth,
As far as doth concern my single self,
Misdeem most widely, lodging it elsewhere:
For I, bred up 'mid Nature's luxuries,
Was a spoiled child, and rambling like the wind, 355
As I had done in daily intercourse
With those crystalline rivers, solemn heights,
And mountains, ranging like a fowl of the air,
I was ill-tutored for captivity;
To quit my pleasure, and, from month to month, 360
Take up a station calmly on the perch
Of sedentary peace. Those lovely forms
Had also left less space within my mind,
Which, wrought upon instinctively, had found
A freshness in those objects of her love, 365
A winning power, beyond all other power.
Not that I slighted books, [H]--that were to lack
All sense,--but other passions in me ruled,
Passions more fervent, making me less prompt
To in-door study than was wise or well, 370
Or suited to those years. Yet I, though used
In magisterial liberty to rove,
Culling such flowers of learning as might tempt
A random choice, could shadow forth a place
(If now I yield not to a flattering dream) 375
Whose studious aspect should have bent me down
To instantaneous service; should at once
Have made me pay to science and to arts
And written lore, acknowledged my liege lord,
A homage frankly offered up, like that 380
Which I had paid to Nature. Toil and pains
In this recess, by thoughtful Fancy built,
Should spread from heart to heart; and stately groves,
Majestic edifices, should not want
A corresponding dignity within. 385
The congregating temper that pervades
Our unripe years, not wasted, should be taught
To minister to works of high attempt--
Works which the enthusiast would perform with love.
Youth should be awed, religiously possessed 390
With a conviction of the power that waits
On knowledge, when sincerely sought and prized
For its own sake, on glory and on praise
If but by labour won, and fit to endure
The passing day; should learn to put aside 395
Her trappings here, should strip them off abashed
Before antiquity and stedfast truth
And strong book-mindedness; and over all
A healthy sound simplicity should reign,
A seemly plainness, name it what you will, 400
Republican or pious.
If these thoughts
Are a gratuitous emblazonry
That mocks the recreant age _we_ live in, then
Be Folly and False-seeming free to affect
Whatever formal gait of discipline 405
Shall raise them highest in their own esteem--
Let them parade among the Schools at will,
But spare the House of God. Was ever known
The witless shepherd who persists to drive
A flock that thirsts not to a pool disliked? 410
A weight must surely hang on days begun
And ended with such mockery. Be wise,
Ye Presidents and Deans, and, till the spirit
Of ancient times revive, and youth be trained
At home in pious service, to your bells 415
Give seasonable rest, for 'tis a sound
Hollow as ever vexed the tranquil air;
And your officious doings bring disgrace
On the plain steeples of our English Church,
Whose worship, 'mid remotest village trees, 420
Suffers for this. Even Science, too, at hand
In daily sight of this irreverence,
Is smitten thence with an unnatural taint,
Loses her just authority, falls beneath
Collateral suspicion, else unknown. 425
This truth escaped me not, and I confess,
That having 'mid my native hills given loose
To a schoolboy's vision, I had raised a pile
Upon the basis of the coming time,
That fell in ruins round me. Oh, what joy 430
To see a sanctuary for our country's youth
Informed with such a spirit as might be
Its own protection; a primeval grove,
Where, though the shades with cheerfulness were filled,
Nor indigent of songs warbled from crowds 435
In under-coverts, yet the countenance
Of the whole place should bear a stamp of awe;
A habitation sober and demure
For ruminating creatures; a domain
For quiet things to wander in; a haunt 440
In which the heron should delight to feed
By the shy rivers, and the pelican
Upon the cypress spire in lonely thought
Might sit and sun himself.--Alas! Alas!
In vain for such solemnity I looked; 445
Mine eyes were crossed by butterflies, ears vexed
By chattering popinjays; the inner heart
Seemed trivial, and the impresses without
Of a too gaudy region.
Different sight
Those venerable Doctors saw of old, 450
When all who dwelt within these famous walls
Led in abstemiousness a studious life;
When, in forlorn and naked chambers cooped
And crowded, o'er the ponderous books they hung
Like caterpillars eating out their way 455
In silence, or with keen devouring noise
Not to be tracked or fathered. Princes then
At matins froze, and couched at curfew-time,
Trained up through piety and zeal to prize
Spare diet, patient labour, and plain weeds. 460
O seat of Arts! renowned throughout the world!
Far different service in those homely days
The Muses' modest nurslings underwent
From their first childhood: in that glorious time
When Learning, like a stranger come from far, 465
Sounding through Christian lands her trumpet, roused
Peasant and king; when boys and youths, the growth
Of ragged villages and crazy huts,
Forsook their homes, and, errant in the quest
Of Patron, famous school or friendly nook, 470
Where, pensioned, they in shelter might sit down,
From town to town and through wide scattered realms
Journeyed with ponderous folios in their hands;
And often, starting from some covert place,
Saluted the chance comer on the road, 475
Crying, "An obolus, a penny give
To a poor scholar!" [I]--when illustrious men,
Lovers of truth, by penury constrained,
Bucer, Erasmus, or Melancthon, read
Before the doors or windows of their cells 480
By moonshine through mere lack of taper light.

But peace to vain regrets! We see but darkly
Even when we look behind us, and best things
Are not so pure by nature that they needs
Must keep to all, as fondly all believe, 485
Their highest promise. If the mariner,
When at reluctant distance he hath passed
Some tempting island, could but know the ills
That must have fallen upon him had he brought
His bark to land upon the wished-for shore, 490
Good cause would oft be his to thank the surf
Whose white belt scared him thence, or wind that blew
Inexorably adverse: for myself
I grieve not; happy is the gowned youth,
Who only misses what I missed, who falls 495
No lower than I fell.

I did not love,
Judging not ill perhaps, the timid course
Of our scholastic studies; could have wished
To see the river flow with ampler range
And freer pace; but more, far more, I grieved 500
To see displayed among an eager few,
Who in the field of contest persevered,
Passions unworthy of youth's generous heart
And mounting spirit, pitiably repaid,
When so disturbed, whatever palms are won. 505
From these I turned to travel with the shoal
Of more unthinking natures, easy minds
And pillowy; yet not wanting love that makes
The day pass lightly on, when foresight sleeps,
And wisdom and the pledges interchanged 510
With our own inner being are forgot.

Yet was this deep vacation not given up
To utter waste. Hitherto I had stood
In my own mind remote from social life,
(At least from what we commonly so name,) 515
Like a lone shepherd on a promontory
Who lacking occupation looks far forth
Into the boundless sea, and rather makes
Than finds what he beholds. And sure it is,
That this first transit from the smooth delights 520
And wild outlandish walks of simple youth
To something that resembles an approach
Towards human business, to a privileged world
Within a world, a midway residence
With all its intervenient imagery, 525
Did better suit my visionary mind,
Far better, than to have been bolted forth;
Thrust out abruptly into Fortune's way
Among the conflicts of substantial life;
By a more just gradation did lead on 530
To higher things; more naturally matured,
For permanent possession, better fruits,
Whether of truth or virtue, to ensue.
In serious mood, but oftener, I confess,
With playful zest of fancy did we note 535
(How could we less?) the manners and the ways
Of those who lived distinguished by the badge
Of good or ill report; or those with whom
By frame of Academic discipline
We were perforce connected, men whose sway 540
And known authority of office served
To set our minds on edge, and did no more.
Nor wanted we rich pastime of this kind,
Found everywhere, but chiefly in the ring
Of the grave Elders, men unsecured, grotesque 545
In character, tricked out like aged trees
Which through the lapse of their infirmity
Give ready place to any random seed
That chooses to be reared upon their trunks.

Here on my view, confronting vividly 550
Those shepherd swains whom I had lately left,
Appeared a different aspect of old age;
How different! yet both distinctly marked,
Objects embossed to catch the general eye,
Or portraitures for special use designed, 555
As some might seem, so aptly do they serve
To illustrate Nature's book of rudiments--
That book upheld as with maternal care
When she would enter on her tender scheme
Of teaching comprehension with delight, 560
And mingling playful with pathetic thoughts.

The surfaces of artificial life
And manners finely wrought, the delicate race
Of colours, lurking, gleaming up and down
Through that state arras woven with silk and gold; 565
This wily interchange of snaky hues,
Willingly or unwillingly revealed,
I neither knew nor cared for; and as such
Were wanting here, I took what might be found
Of less elaborate fabric. At this day 570
I smile, in many a mountain solitude
Conjuring up scenes as obsolete in freaks
Of character, in points of wit as broad,
As aught by wooden images performed
For entertainment of the gaping crowd 575
At wake or fair. And oftentimes do flit
Remembrances before me of old men--
Old humourists, who have been long in their graves,
And having almost in my mind put off
Their human names, have into phantoms passed 580
Of texture midway between life and books.

I play the loiterer: 'tis enough to note
That here in dwarf proportions were expressed
The limbs of the great world; its eager strifes
Collaterally pourtrayed, as in mock fight, 585
A tournament of blows, some hardly dealt
Though short of mortal combat; and whate'er
Might in this pageant be supposed to hit
An artless rustic's notice, this way less,
More that way, was not wasted upon me--590
And yet the spectacle may well demand
A more substantial name, no mimic show,
Itself a living part of a live whole,
A creek in the vast sea; for, all degrees
And shapes of spurious fame and short-lived praise 595
Here sate in state, and fed with daily alms
Retainers won away from solid good;
And here was Labour, his own bond-slave; Hope,
That never set the pains against the prize;
Idleness halting with his weary clog, 600
And poor misguided Shame, and witless Fear,
And simple Pleasure foraging for Death;
Honour misplaced, and Dignity astray;
Feuds, factions, flatteries, enmity, and guile
Murmuring submission, and bald government, 605
(The idol weak as the idolater),
And Decency and Custom starving Truth,
And blind Authority beating with his staff
The child that might have led him; Emptiness
Followed as of good omen, and meek Worth 610
Left to herself unheard of and unknown.

Of these and other kindred notices
I cannot say what portion is in truth
The naked recollection of that time,
And what may rather have been called to life 615
By after-meditation. But delight
That, in an easy temper lulled asleep,
Is still with Innocence its own reward,
This was not wanting. Carelessly I roamed
As through a wide museum from whose stores 620
A casual rarity is singled out
And has its brief perusal, then gives way
To others, all supplanted in their turn;
Till 'mid this crowded neighbourhood of things
That are by nature most unneighbourly, 625
The head turns round and cannot right itself;
And though an aching and a barren sense
Of gay confusion still be uppermost,
With few wise longings and but little love,
Yet to the memory something cleaves at last, 630
Whence profit may be drawn in times to come.

Thus in submissive idleness, my Friend!
The labouring time of autumn, winter, spring,
Eight months! rolled pleasingly away; the ninth
Came and returned me to my native hills. 635

* * * * *


[Footnote A: Wordsworth went from York to Cambridge, entering it by the
coach road from the north-west. This was doubtless the road which now
leads to the city from Girton. "The long-roofed chapel of King's
College" must have been seen from that road.--Ed.]

[Footnote B: The Hoop Inn still exists, not now so famous as in the end
of last century.--Ed.]

[Footnote C: He entered St. John's College in October 1787. His rooms in
the College were unknown to the officials a dozen years ago, although
they are pretty clearly indicated by Wordsworth in this passage. They
were in the first of the three courts of St. John's; they were above the
College kitchens; and from the window of his bedroom he could look into
the antechapel of Trinity, with its statue of Newton. They have been
recently removed in connection with sundry improvements in the college
kitchen. For details, see the 'Life of Wordsworth' which will follow
this edition of his Works.--Ed.]

[Footnote D: A village two and a half miles south of Cambridge.

"There are still some remains of the mill here celebrated by Chaucer
in his Reve's Tale."

(Lewis' 'Topographical Dictionary of England', vol. iv. p. 390.)--Ed.]

[Footnote E: S. T. C., who entered Cambridge when Wordsworth left

[Footnote F: On certain days a surplice is worn, instead of a gown, by
the undergraduates.--Ed.]

[Footnote G: Compare the poem 'Floating Island', by Dorothy

[Footnote H: The following extract from a letter of Dorothy Wordsworth's
illustrates the above and other passages of this book. It was written
from Forncett, on the 26th of June, 1791. She is speaking of her two
brothers, William and Christopher. Of Christopher she says:

"His abilities, though not so great, perhaps, as his brother's, may be
of more use to him, as he has not fixed his mind upon any particular
species of reading or conceived an aversion to any. He is not fond of
mathematics, but has resolution sufficient to study them; because it
will be impossible for him to obtain a fellowship without them.
William lost the chance, indeed the certainty, of a fellowship, by not
combating his inclinations. He gave way to his natural dislike to
studies so dry as many parts of the mathematics, consequently could
not succeed in Cambridge. He reads Italian, Spanish, French, Greek,
Latin, and English; but never opens a mathematical book.... Do not
think from what I have said that he reads not at all; for he does read
a great deal, and not only poetry, in these languages he is acquainted
with, but History also," etc. etc.


[Footnote I: 'Date obolum Belisario'. Belisarius, a general of the
Emperor Justinian's, died 564 A.D. The story of his begging charity is
probably a legend, but the "begging scholar" was common in Christendom
throughout the Middle Ages, and was met with in the last century.--Ed.]

* * * * *



Bright was the summer's noon when quickening steps
Followed each other till a dreary moor
Was crossed, a bare ridge clomb, upon whose top [A]
Standing alone, as from a rampart's edge,
I overlooked the bed of Windermere, 5
Like a vast river, stretching in the sun.
With exultation, at my feet I saw
Lake, islands, promontories, gleaming bays,
A universe of Nature's fairest forms
Proudly revealed with instantaneous burst, 10
Magnificent, and beautiful, and gay.
I bounded down the hill shouting amain
For the old Ferryman; to the shout the rocks
Replied, and when the Charon of the flood
Had staid his oars, and touched the jutting pier, [B] 15
I did not step into the well-known boat
Without a cordial greeting. Thence with speed
Up the familiar hill I took my way [C]
Towards that sweet Valley [D] where I had been reared;
'Twas but a short hour's walk, ere veering round 20
I saw the snow-white church upon her hill [E]
Sit like a throned Lady, sending out
A gracious look all over her domain. [F]
Yon azure smoke betrays the lurking town;
With eager footsteps I advance and reach 25
The cottage threshold where my journey closed.
Glad welcome had I, with some tears, perhaps,
From my old Dame, so kind and motherly, [G]
While she perused me with a parent's pride.
The thoughts of gratitude shall fall like dew 30
Upon thy grave, good creature! While my heart
Can beat never will I forget thy name.
Heaven's blessing be upon thee where thou liest
After thy innocent and busy stir
In narrow cares, thy little daily growth 35
Of calm enjoyments, after eighty years,
And more than eighty, of untroubled life, [H]
Childless, yet by the strangers to thy blood
Honoured with little less than filial love.
What joy was mine to see thee once again, 40
Thee and thy dwelling, and a crowd of things
About its narrow precincts all beloved, [I]
And many of them seeming yet my own!
Why should I speak of what a thousand hearts
Have felt, and every man alive can guess? 45
The rooms, the court, the garden were not left
Long unsaluted, nor the sunny seat
Round the stone table under the dark pine, [K]
Friendly to studious or to festive hours;
Nor that unruly child of mountain birth, 50
The famous brook, who, soon as he was boxed
Within our garden, [L] found himself at once,
As if by trick insidious and unkind,
Stripped of his voice [M] and left to dimple down
(Without an effort and without a will) 55
A channel paved by man's officious care. [N]
I looked at him and smiled, and smiled again,
And in the press of twenty thousand thoughts, [O]
"Ha," quoth I, "pretty prisoner, are you there!"
Well might sarcastic Fancy then have whispered, 60
"An emblem here behold of thy own life;
In its late course of even days with all
Their smooth enthralment;" but the heart was full,
Too full for that reproach. My aged Dame
Walked proudly at my side: she guided me; 65
I willing, nay--nay, wishing to be led.
--The face of every neighbour whom I met
Was like a volume to me; some were hailed
Upon the road, some busy at their work,
Unceremonious greetings interchanged 70
With half the length of a long field between.
Among my schoolfellows I scattered round
Like recognitions, but with some constraint
Attended, doubtless, with a little pride,
But with more shame, for my habiliments, 75
The transformation wrought by gay attire.
Not less delighted did I take my place
At our domestic table: and, [P] dear Friend
In this endeavour simply to relate
A Poet's history, may I leave untold 80
The thankfulness with which I laid me down
In my accustomed bed, more welcome now
Perhaps than if it had been more desired
Or been more often thought of with regret;
That lowly bed whence I had heard the wind 85
Roar and the rain beat hard, where I so oft
Had lain awake on summer nights to watch
The moon in splendour couched among the leaves
Of a tall ash, that near our cottage stood; [Q]
Had watched her with fixed eyes while to and fro 90
In the dark summit of the waving tree
She rocked with every impulse of the breeze.

Among the favourites whom it pleased me well
To see again, was one by ancient right
Our inmate, a rough terrier of the hills; 95
By birth and call of nature pre-ordained
To hunt the badger and unearth the fox
Among the impervious crags, but having been
From youth our own adopted, he had passed
Into a gentler service. And when first 100
The boyish spirit flagged, and day by day
Along my veins I kindled with the stir,
The fermentation, and the vernal heat
Of poesy, affecting private shades
Like a sick Lover, then this dog was used 105
To watch me, an attendant and a friend,
Obsequious to my steps early and late,
Though often of such dilatory walk
Tired, and uneasy at the halts I made.
A hundred times when, roving high and low 110
I have been harassed with the toil of verse,
Much pains and little progress, and at once
Some lovely Image in the song rose up
Full-formed, like Venus rising from the sea;
Then have I darted forwards to let 115
My hand upon his back with stormy joy,
Caressing him again and yet again.
And when at evening on the public way
I sauntered, like a river murmuring
And talking to itself when all things 120
Are still, the creature trotted on before;
Such was his custom; but whene'er he met
A passenger approaching, he would turn
To give me timely notice, and straightway,
Grateful for that admonishment, I 125
My voice, composed my gait, and, with the air
And mien of one whose thoughts are free, advanced
To give and take a greeting that might save
My name from piteous rumours, such as wait
On men suspected to be crazed in brain. 130

Those walks well worthy to be prized and loved--
Regretted!--that word, too, was on my tongue,
But they were richly laden with all good,
And cannot be remembered but with thanks
And gratitude, and perfect joy of heart--135
Those walks in all their freshness now came back
Like a returning Spring. When first I made
Once more the circuit of our little lake,
If ever happiness hath lodged with man,
That day consummate happiness was mine, 140
Wide-spreading, steady, calm, contemplative.
The sun was set, or setting, when I left
Our cottage door, and evening soon brought on
A sober hour, not winning or serene,
For cold and raw the air was, and untuned; 145
But as a face we love is sweetest then
When sorrow damps it, or, whatever look
It chance to wear, is sweetest if the heart
Have fulness in herself; even so with me
It fared that evening. Gently did my soul 150
Put off her veil, and, self-transmuted, stood
Naked, as in the presence of her God.
While on I walked, a comfort seemed to touch
A heart that had not been disconsolate:
Strength came where weakness was not known to be, 155
At least not felt; and restoration came
Like an intruder knocking at the door
Of unacknowledged weariness. I took
The balance, and with firm hand weighed myself.
--Of that external scene which round me lay, 160
Little, in this abstraction, did I see;
Remembered less; but I had inward hopes
And swellings of the spirit, was rapt and soothed,
Conversed with promises, had glimmering views
How life pervades the undecaying mind; 165
How the immortal soul with God-like power
Informs, creates, and thaws the deepest sleep
That time can lay upon her; how on earth,
Man, if he do but live within the light
Of high endeavours, daily spreads abroad 170
His being armed with strength that cannot fail.
Nor was there want of milder thoughts, of love
Of innocence, and holiday repose;
And more than pastoral quiet, 'mid the stir
Of boldest projects, and a peaceful end 175
At last, or glorious, by endurance won.
Thus musing, in a wood I sate me down
Alone, continuing there to muse: the slopes
And heights meanwhile were slowly overspread
With darkness, and before a rippling breeze 180
The long lake lengthened out its hoary line,
And in the sheltered coppice where I sate,
Around me from among the hazel leaves,
Now here, now there, moved by the straggling wind,
Came ever and anon a breath-like sound, 185
Quick as the pantings of the faithful dog,
The off and on companion of my walk;
And such, at times, believing them to be,
I turned my head to look if he were there;
Then into solemn thought I passed once more. 190

A freshness also found I at this time
In human Life, the daily life of those
Whose occupations really I loved;
The peaceful scene oft filled me with surprise
Changed like a garden in the heat of spring 195
After an eight-days' absence. For (to omit
The things which were the same and yet appeared
Fair otherwise) amid this rural solitude,
A narrow Vale where each was known to all,
'Twas not indifferent to a youthful mind 200
To mark some sheltering bower or sunny nook,
Where an old man had used to sit alone,
Now vacant; pale-faced babes whom I had left
In arms, now rosy prattlers at the feet
Of a pleased grandame tottering up and down; 205
And growing girls whose beauty, filched away
With all its pleasant promises, was gone
To deck some slighted playmate's homely cheek.

Yes, I had something of a subtler sense,
And often looking round was moved to smiles 210
Such as a delicate work of humour breeds;
I read, without design, the opinions, thoughts,
Of those plain-living people now observed
With clearer knowledge; with another eye
I saw the quiet woodman in the woods, 215
The shepherd roam the hills. With new delight,
This chiefly, did I note my grey-haired Dame;
Saw her go forth to church or other work
Of state, equipped in monumental trim;
Short velvet cloak, (her bonnet of the like), 220
A mantle such as Spanish Cavaliers
Wore in old time. Her smooth domestic life,
Affectionate without disquietude,
Her talk, her business, pleased me; and no less
Her clear though shallow stream of piety 225
That ran on Sabbath days a fresher course;
With thoughts unfelt till now I saw her read
Her Bible on hot Sunday afternoons,
And loved the book, when she had dropped asleep
And made of it a pillow for her head. 230

Nor less do I remember to have felt,
Distinctly manifested at this time,
A human-heartedness about my love
For objects hitherto the absolute wealth
Of my own private being and no more: 235
Which I had loved, even as a blessed spirit
Or Angel, if he were to dwell on earth,
Might love in individual happiness.
But now there opened on me other thoughts
Of change, congratulation or regret, 240
A pensive feeling! It spread far and wide;
The trees, the mountains shared it, and the brooks,
The stars of Heaven, now seen in their old haunts--
White Sirius glittering o'er the southern crags,
Orion with his belt, and those fair Seven, 245
Acquaintances of every little child,
And Jupiter, my own beloved star!
Whatever shadings of mortality,
Whatever imports from the world of death
Had come among these objects heretofore, 250
Were, in the main, of mood less tender: strong,
Deep, gloomy were they, and severe; the scatterings
Of awe or tremulous dread, that had given way
In later youth to yearnings of a love
Enthusiastic, to delight and hope. 255

As one who hangs down-bending from the side
Of a slow-moving boat, upon the breast
Of a still water, solacing himself
With such discoveries as his eye can make
Beneath him in the bottom of the deep, 260
Sees many beauteous sights--weeds, fishes, flowers.
Grots, pebbles, roots of trees, and fancies more,
Yet often is perplexed and cannot part
The shadow from the substance, rocks and sky,
Mountains and clouds, reflected in the depth 265
Of the clear flood, from things which there abide
In their true dwelling; now is crossed by gleam
Of his own image, by a sun-beam now,
And wavering motions sent he knows not whence,
Impediments that make his task more sweet; 270
Such pleasant office have we long pursued
Incumbent o'er the surface of past time
With like success, nor often have appeared
Shapes fairer or less doubtfully discerned
Than these to which the Tale, indulgent Friend! 275
Would now direct thy notice. Yet in spite
Of pleasure won, and knowledge not withheld,
There was an inner falling off--I loved,
Loved deeply all that had been loved before,
More deeply even than ever: but a swarm 280
Of heady schemes jostling each other, gawds,
And feast and dance, and public revelry,
And sports and games (too grateful in themselves,
Yet in themselves less grateful, I believe,
Than as they were a badge glossy and fresh 285
Of manliness and freedom) all conspired
To lure my mind from firm habitual quest
Of feeding pleasures, to depress the zeal
And damp those yearnings which had once been mine--
A wild, unworldly-minded youth, given up 290
To his own eager thoughts. It would demand
Some skill, and longer time than may be spared,
To paint these vanities, and how they wrought
In haunts where they, till now, had been unknown.
It seemed the very garments that I wore 295
Preyed on my strength, and stopped the quiet stream
Of self-forgetfulness.
Yes, that heartless chase
Of trivial pleasures was a poor exchange
For books and nature at that early age.
'Tis true, some casual knowledge might be gained 300
Of character or life; but at that time,
Of manners put to school I took small note,
And all my deeper passions lay elsewhere.
Far better had it been to exalt the mind
By solitary study, to uphold 305
Intense desire through meditative peace;
And yet, for chastisement of these regrets,
The memory of one particular hour
Doth here rise up against me. 'Mid a throng
Of maids and youths, old men, and matrons staid, 310
A medley of all tempers, I had passed
The night in dancing, gaiety, and mirth,
With din of instruments and shuffling feet,
And glancing forms, and tapers glittering,
And unaimed prattle flying up and down; [R] 315
Spirits upon the stretch, and here and there
Slight shocks of young love-liking interspersed,
Whose transient pleasure mounted to the head,
And tingled through the veins. Ere we retired,
The cock had crowed, and now the eastern sky 320
Was kindling, not unseen, from humble copse
And open field, through which the pathway wound,
And homeward led my steps. Magnificent
The morning rose, in memorable pomp,
Glorious as e'er I had beheld--in front, 325
The sea lay laughing at a distance; near,
The solid mountains shone, bright as the clouds,
Grain-tinctured, drenched in empyrean light;
And in the meadows and the lower grounds
Was all the sweetness of a common dawn--330
Dews, vapours, and the melody of birds, [S]
And labourers going forth to till the fields.
Ah! need I say, dear Friend! that to the brim
My heart was full; I made no vows, but vows
Were then made for me; bond unknown to me 335
Was given, that I should be, else sinning greatly,
A dedicated Spirit. On I walked
In thankful blessedness, which yet survives. [T]

Strange rendezvous! My mind was at that time
A parti-coloured show of grave and gay, 340
Solid and light, short-sighted and profound;
Of inconsiderate habits and sedate,
Consorting in one mansion unreproved.
The worth I knew of powers that I possessed,
Though slighted and too oft misused. Besides, 345
That summer, swarming as it did with thoughts
Transient and idle, lacked not intervals
When Folly from the frown of fleeting Time
Shrunk, and the mind experienced in herself
Conformity as just as that of old 350
To the end and written spirit of God's works,
Whether held forth in Nature or in Man,
Through pregnant vision, separate or conjoined.

When from our better selves we have too long
Been parted by the hurrying world, and droop, 355
Sick of its business, of its pleasures tired,
How gracious, how benign, is Solitude;
How potent a mere image of her sway;
Most potent when impressed upon the mind
With an appropriate human centre--hermit, 360
Deep in the bosom of the wilderness;
Votary (in vast cathedral, where no foot
Is treading, where no other face is seen)
Kneeling at prayers; or watchman on the top
Of lighthouse, beaten by Atlantic waves; 365
Or as the soul of that great Power is met
Sometimes embodied on a public road,
When, for the night deserted, it assumes
A character of quiet more profound
Than pathless wastes.
Once, when those summer months 370
Were flown, and autumn brought its annual show
Of oars with oars contending, sails with sails,
Upon Winander's spacious breast, it chanced
That--after I had left a flower-decked room
(Whose in-door pastime, lighted up, survived 375
To a late hour), and spirits overwrought
Were making night do penance for a day
Spent in a round of strenuous idleness--[U]
My homeward course led up a long ascent,
Where the road's watery surface, to the top 380
Of that sharp rising, glittered to the moon
And bore the semblance of another stream
Stealing with silent lapse to join the brook
That murmured in the vale. [V] All else was still;
No living thing appeared in earth or air, 385
And, save the flowing water's peaceful voice,
Sound there was none--but, lo! an uncouth shape,
Shown by a sudden turning of the road,
So near that, slipping back into the shade
Of a thick hawthorn, I could mark him well, 390
Myself unseen. He was of stature tall,
A span above man's common measure, tall,
Stiff, lank, and upright; a more meagre man
Was never seen before by night or day.
Long were his arms, pallid his hands; his mouth 395
Looked ghastly in the moonlight: from behind,
A mile-stone propped him; I could also ken
That he was clothed in military garb,
Though faded, yet entire. Companionless,
No dog attending, by no staff sustained, 400
He stood, and in his very dress appeared
A desolation, a simplicity,
To which the trappings of a gaudy world
Make a strange back-ground. From his lips, ere long,
Issued low muttered sounds, as if of pain 405
Or some uneasy thought; yet still his form
Kept the same awful steadiness--at his feet
His shadow lay, and moved not. From self-blame
Not wholly free, I watched him thus; at length
Subduing my heart's specious cowardice, 410

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