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

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I left the shady nook where I had stood
And hailed him. Slowly from his resting-place
He rose, and with a lean and wasted arm
In measured gesture lifted to his head
Returned my salutation; then resumed 415
His station as before; and when I asked
His history, the veteran, in reply,
Was neither slow nor eager; but, unmoved,
And with a quiet uncomplaining voice,
A stately air of mild indifference, 420
He told in few plain words a soldier's tale--
That in the Tropic Islands he had served,
Whence he had landed scarcely three weeks past:
That on his landing he had been dismissed,
And now was travelling towards his native home. 425
This heard, I said, in pity, "Come with me."
He stooped, and straightway from the ground took up
An oaken staff by me yet unobserved--
A staff which must have dropt from his slack hand
And lay till now neglected in the grass. 430
Though weak his step and cautious, he appeared
To travel without pain, and I beheld,
With an astonishment but ill suppressed,
His ghostly figure moving at my side;
Nor could I, while we journeyed thus, forbear 435
To turn from present hardships to the past,
And speak of war, battle, and pestilence,
Sprinkling this talk with questions, better spared,
On what he might himself have seen or felt.
He all the while was in demeanour calm, 440
Concise in answer; solemn and sublime
He might have seemed, but that in all he said
There was a strange half-absence, as of one
Knowing too well the importance of his theme,
But feeling it no longer. Our discourse 445
Soon ended, and together on we passed
In silence through a wood gloomy and still.
Up-turning, then, along an open field,
We reached a cottage. At the door I knocked,
And earnestly to charitable care 450
Commended him as a poor friendless man,
Belated and by sickness overcome.
Assured that now the traveller would repose
In comfort, I entreated that henceforth
He would not linger in the public ways, 455
But ask for timely furtherance and help
Such as his state required. At this reproof,
With the same ghastly mildness in his look,
He said, "My trust is in the God of Heaven,
And in the eye of him who passes me!" 460

The cottage door was speedily unbarred,
And now the soldier touched his hat once more
With his lean hand, and in a faltering voice,
Whose tone bespake reviving interests
Till then unfelt, he thanked me; I returned 465
The farewell blessing of the patient man,
And so we parted. Back I cast a look,
And lingered near the door a little space,
Then sought with quiet heart my distant home.

* * * * *


[Footnote A: On the road from Kendal to Windermere.--Ed.]

[Footnote B: At the Ferry below Bowness.--Ed.]

[Footnote C: From the Ferry over the ridge to Sawrey.--Ed.]

[Footnote D: The Vale of Esthwaite.--Ed.]

[Footnote E: Hawkshead Church; an old Norman structure, built in 1160,
the year of the foundation of Furness Abbey. It is no longer
"snow-white," a so-called Restoration having taken place within recent
years, on architectural principles. The plaster is stripped from the
outside of the church, which is now of a dull stone colour.

"Apart from poetic sentiment," wrote Dr. Cradock (the late Principal
of Brasenose College, Oxford), "it may be doubted whether the pale
colour, still preserved at Grasmere and other churches in the
district, does not better harmonize with the scenery and atmosphere of
the Lake country.".

The most interesting feature in the interior is the private chapel of
Archbishop Sandys.--Ed.]

[Footnote F: Hawkshead Church is a conspicuous object as you approach
the town, whether by the Ambleside road, or from Sawrey. It is the
latter approach that is here described.--Ed.]

[Footnote G: Anne Tyson,--Ed.]

[Footnote H: Anne Tyson seems to have removed from Hawkshead village to
Colthouse, on the opposite side of the Vale, and lived there for some
time before her death. Along with Dr. Cradock I examined the Parish
Registers of Hawkshead in the autumn of 1882, and we found the following
entry belonging to the year 1796.

"Anne Tyson of Colthouse, widow, died May 25th buried 28th, in
Churchyard, aged 83."

Her removal to Colthouse is confirmed, in a curious way, by a
reminiscence of William Wordsworth's (the poet's son), who told me that
if asked where the dame's house was, he would have pointed to a spot on
the eastern side of the valley, and out of the village altogether; his
father having taken him from Rydal Mount to Hawkshead when a mere boy,
and pointed out that spot. Doubtless Wordsworth took his son to the
cottage at Colthouse, where Anne Tyson died, as the earlier abode in
Hawkshead village is well known, and its site is indisputable.--Ed.]

[Footnote I: Compare book i. ll. 499-506, p. 148.--Ed.]

[Footnote K: There is no trace and no tradition at Hawkshead of the
"stone table under the dark pine," For a curious parallel to this

'sunny seat
Round the stone table under the dark pine,'

I am indebted to Dr. Cradock. He points out that in the prologue to
'Peter Bell', vol. ii p.9, we have the lines,

'To the stone-table in my garden,
Loved haunt of many a summer hour,'


[Footnote L: There can be little doubt as to the identity of "the famous
brook" "within our garden" boxed, which gives the name of Flag Street to
one of the alleys of Hawkshead.

"Persons have visited the cottage," wrote Dr. Cradock, "without
discovering it; and yet it is not forty yards distant, and is still
exactly as described. On the opposite side of the lane leading to the
cottage, and a few steps above it, is a narrow passage through some
new stone buildings. On emerging from this, you meet a small garden,
the farther side of which is bounded by the brook, confined on both
sides by larger flags, and also covered by flags of the same Coniston
formation, through the interstices of which you may see and hear the
stream running freely. The upper flags are now used as a footpath, and
lead by another passage back into the village. No doubt the garden has
been reduced in size, by the use of that part of it fronting the lane
for building purposes. The stream, before it enters the area of
buildings and gardens, is open by the lane side, and seemingly comes
from the hills to the westwards. The large flags are extremely hard
and durable, and it is probably that the very flags which paved the
channel in Wordsworth's time may still be doing the same duty."

The house adjoining this garden was not Dame Tyson's but a Mr. Watson's.
Possibly, however, some of the boys had free access to the latter, so
that Wordsworth could speak of it as "our garden;" or, Dame Tyson may
have rented it. See Note II. in the Appendix to this volume, p.

[Footnote M: Not wholly so.--Ed.]

[Footnote N: See note on preceding page.--Ed.]

[Footnote O: Compare the sonnet in vol. iv.:

'Beloved Vale!' I said, 'when I shall con
By doubts and thousand petty fancies crost.'

There can be little doubt that it is to the "famous brook" of 'The
Prelude' that reference is made in the later sonnet, and still more
significantly in the earlier poem 'The Fountain', vol. ii. p. 91.
Compare the MS. variants of that poem, printed as footnotes, from Lord
Coleridge's copy of the Poems:

'Down to the vale with eager speed
Behold this streamlet run,
From subterranean bondage freed,
And glittering in the sun.'

with the lines in 'The Prelude':

'The famous brook, who, soon as he was boxed
Within our garden, found himself at once,
Stripped of his voice and left to dimple down, etc.'

This is doubtless the streamlet called Town Beck; and it is perhaps the
most interesting of all the spots alluded to by Wordsworth which can be
traced out in the Hawkshead district, I am indebted to Mr. Rawnsley for
the following note:

"From the village, nay, from the poet's very door when he lived at
Anne Tyson's, a good path leads on, past the vicarage, quite to its
upland place of birth. It has eaten its way deeply into the soil; in
one place there is a series of still pools, that overflow and fall
into others, with quiet sound; at other spots, it is bustling and
busy. Fine timber is found on either side of it, the roots of the
trees often laid bare by the passing current. In one or two places by
the side of this beck, and beneath the shadow of lofty oaks, may be
found boulder stones, grey and moss-covered. Birds make hiding-places
for themselves in these oak and hazel bushes by the stream. Following
it up, we find it receives, at a tiny ford, the tribute of another
stream from the north-west, and comes down between the adjacent hills
(well wooded to the summit) from meadows of short-cropped grass, and
to these from the open moorland, where it takes its rise. Every
conceivable variety of beauty of sound and sight in streamlet life is
found as we follow the course of this Town Beck. We owe much of
Wordsworth's intimate acquaintance with streamlet beauty to it."

Compare 'The Fountain' in detail with this passage in 'The Prelude'.--Ed.]

[Footnote P: So it is in the editions of 1850 and 1857; but it should
evidently be "nor, dear Friend!"--Ed.]

[Footnote Q: The ash tree is gone, but there is no doubt as to the place
where it grew. Mr. Watson, whose father owned and inhabited the house
immediately opposite to Mrs. Tyson's cottage in Wordsworth's time (see a
previous note), told me that a tall ash tree grew on the proper right
front of the cottage, where an outhouse is now built. If this be so,
Wordsworth's bedroom must have been that on the proper left, with the
smaller of the two windows. The cottage faces nearly south-west. In the
upper flat there are two bedrooms to the front, with oak flooring, one
of which must have been Wordsworth's. See Note II. (p. 386) in Appendix
to this volume.--Ed.]

[Footnote R: In one of the small mountain farm-houses near

[Footnote S: Compare 'Paradise Lost', book viii. l. 528:

'Walks, and the melody of birds.'


[Footnote T: Dr. Cradock has suggested to me the probable course of that
morning walk.

"All that can be safely said as to the course of that memorable
morning walk is that, in that neighbourhood, a view of the sea can
only be obtained at a considerable elevation; also that if the words
'in _front_ the sea lay laughing' are to be taken as rigidly exact,
the poet's progress towards Hawkshead must have been in a direction
mainly southerly, and therefore from the country north of that place.
These and all other conditions of the description are answered in
several parts of the range of hills lying between Elterwater and

See Appendix, Note III. p. 389.--Ed.]

[Footnote U: Compare the sixth line of the poem, beginning

'This Lawn, a carpet all alive.'

(1829.) And Horace, 'Epistolae', lib. i. ep. xi. l. 28:

'Strenua nos exercet inertia.'


[Footnote V: The "brook" is Sawrey beck, and the "long ascent" is the
second of the two, in crossing from Windermere to Hawkshead, and going
over the ridge between the two Sawreys. It is only at that point that a
brook can be heard "murmuring in the vale." The road is the old one,
above the ferry, marked in the Ordnance Survey Map, by the Briers, not
the new road which makes a curve to the south, and cannot be described
as a "sharp rising."--Ed.]

* * * * *



When Contemplation, like the night-calm felt
Through earth and sky, spreads widely, and sends deep
Into the soul its tranquillising power,
Even then I sometimes grieve for thee, O Man,
Earth's paramount Creature! not so much for woes 5
That thou endurest; heavy though that weight be,
Cloud-like it mounts, or touched with light divine
Doth melt away; but for those palms achieved,
Through length of time, by patient exercise
Of study and hard thought; there, there, it is 10
That sadness finds its fuel. Hitherto,
In progress through this Verse, my mind hath looked
Upon the speaking face of earth and heaven
As her prime teacher, intercourse with man
Established by the sovereign Intellect, 15
Who through that bodily image hath diffused,
As might appear to the eye of fleeting time,
A deathless spirit. Thou also, man! hast wrought,
For commerce of thy nature with herself,
Things that aspire to unconquerable life; 20
And yet we feel--we cannot choose but feel--
That they must perish. Tremblings of the heart
It gives, to think that our immortal being
No more shall need such garments; and yet man,
As long as he shall be the child of earth, 25
Might almost "weep to have" [A] what he may lose,
Nor be himself extinguished, but survive,
Abject, depressed, forlorn, disconsolate.
A thought is with me sometimes, and I say,--
Should the whole frame of earth by inward throes 30
Be wrenched, or fire come down from far to scorch
Her pleasant habitations, and dry up
Old Ocean, in his bed left singed and bare,
Yet would the living Presence still subsist
Victorious, and composure would ensue, 35
And kindlings like the morning--presage sure
Of day returning and of life revived. [B]
But all the meditations of mankind,
Yea, all the adamantine holds of truth
By reason built, or passion, which itself 40
Is highest reason in a soul sublime;
The consecrated works of Bard and Sage,
Sensuous or intellectual, wrought by men,
Twin labourers and heirs of the same hopes;
Where would they be? Oh! why hath not the Mind 45
Some element to stamp her image on
In nature somewhat nearer to her own? [C]
Why, gifted with such powers to send abroad
Her spirit, must it lodge in shrines so frail?

One day, when from my lips a like complaint 50
Had fallen in presence of a studious friend,
He with a smile made answer, that in truth
'Twas going far to seek disquietude;
But on the front of his reproof confessed
That he himself had oftentimes given way 55
To kindred hauntings. Whereupon I told,
That once in the stillness of a summer's noon,
While I was seated in a rocky cave
By the sea-side, perusing, so it chanced,
The famous history of the errant knight 60
Recorded by Cervantes, these same thoughts
Beset me, and to height unusual rose,
While listlessly I sate, and, having closed
The book, had turned my eyes toward the wide sea.
On poetry and geometric truth, 65
And their high privilege of lasting life,
From all internal injury exempt,
I mused, upon these chiefly: and at length,
My senses yielding to the sultry air,
Sleep seized me, and I passed into a dream. 70
I saw before me stretched a boundless plain
Of sandy wilderness, all black and void,
And as I looked around, distress and fear
Came creeping over me, when at my side,
Close at my side, an uncouth shape appeared 75
Upon a dromedary, mounted high.
He seemed an Arab of the Bedouin tribes:
A lance he bore, and underneath one arm
A stone, and in the opposite hand a shell
Of a surpassing brightness. At the sight 80
Much I rejoiced, not doubting but a guide
Was present, one who with unerring skill
Would through the desert lead me; and while yet
I looked and looked, self-questioned what this freight
Which the new-comer carried through the waste 85
Could mean, the Arab told me that the stone
(To give it in the language of the dream)
Was "Euclid's Elements;" and "This," said he,
"Is something of more worth;" and at the word
Stretched forth the shell, so beautiful in shape, 90
In colour so resplendent, with command
That I should hold it to my ear. I did so,
And heard that instant in an unknown tongue,
Which yet I understood, articulate sounds,
A loud prophetic blast of harmony; 95
An Ode, in passion uttered, which foretold
Destruction to the children of the earth
By deluge, now at hand. No sooner ceased
The song, than the Arab with calm look declared
That all would come to pass of which the voice 100
Had given forewarning, and that he himself
Was going then to bury those two books:
The one that held acquaintance with the stars,
And wedded soul to soul in purest bond
Of reason, undisturbed by space or time; 105
The other that was a god, yea many gods,
Had voices more than all the winds, with power
To exhilarate the spirit, and to soothe,
Through every clime, the heart of human kind.
While this was uttering, strange as it may seem, 110
I wondered not, although I plainly saw
The one to be a stone, the other a shell;
Nor doubted once but that they both were books,
Having a perfect faith in all that passed.
Far stronger, now, grew the desire I felt 115
To cleave unto this man; but when I prayed
To share his enterprise, he hurried on
Reckless of me: I followed, not unseen,
For oftentimes he cast a backward look,
Grasping his twofold treasure.--Lance in rest, 120
He rode, I keeping pace with him; and now
He, to my fancy, had become the knight
Whose tale Cervantes tells; yet not the knight,
But was an Arab of the desert too;
Of these was neither, and was both at once. 125
His countenance, meanwhile, grew more disturbed;
And, looking backwards when he looked, mine eyes
Saw, over half the wilderness diffused,
A bed of glittering light: I asked the cause:
"It is," said he, "the waters of the deep 130
Gathering upon us;" quickening then the pace
Of the unwieldy creature he bestrode,
He left me: I called after him aloud;
He heeded not; but, with his twofold charge
Still in his grasp, before me, full in view, 135
Went hurrying o'er the illimitable waste,
With the fleet waters of a drowning world
In chase of him; whereat I waked in terror,
And saw the sea before me, and the book,
In which I had been reading, at my side. [D] 140

Full often, taking from the world of sleep
This Arab phantom, which I thus beheld,
This semi-Quixote, I to him have given
A substance, fancied him a living man,
A gentle dweller in the desert, crazed 145
By love and feeling, and internal thought
Protracted among endless solitudes;
Have shaped him wandering upon this quest!
Nor have I pitied him; but rather felt
Reverence was due to a being thus employed; 150
And thought that, in the blind and awful lair
Of such a madness, reason did lie couched.
Enow there are on earth to take in charge
Their wives, their children, and their virgin loves,
Or whatsoever else the heart holds dear; 155
Enow to stir for these; yea, will I say,
Contemplating in soberness the approach
Of an event so dire, by signs in earth
Or heaven made manifest, that I could share
That maniac's fond anxiety, and go 160
Upon like errand. Oftentimes at least
Me hath such strong enhancement overcome,
When I have held a volume in my hand,
Poor earthly casket of immortal verse,
Shakespeare, or Milton, labourers divine! 165

Great and benign, indeed, must be the power
Of living nature, which could thus so long
Detain me from the best of other guides
And dearest helpers, left unthanked, unpraised,
Even in the time of lisping infancy; 170
And later down, in prattling childhood even,
While I was travelling back among those days,
How could I ever play an ingrate's part?
Once more should I have made those bowers resound,
By intermingling strains of thankfulness 175
With their own thoughtless melodies; at least
It might have well beseemed me to repeat
Some simply fashioned tale, to tell again,
In slender accents of sweet verse, some tale
That did bewitch me then, and soothes me now. 180
O Friend! O Poet! brother of my soul,
Think not that I could pass along untouched
By these remembrances. Yet wherefore speak?
Why call upon a few weak words to say
What is already written in the hearts 185
Of all that breathe?--what in the path of all
Drops daily from the tongue of every child,
Wherever man is found? The trickling tear
Upon the cheek of listening Infancy
Proclaims it, and the insuperable look 190
That drinks as if it never could be full.

That portion of my story I shall leave
There registered: whatever else of power
Or pleasure sown, or fostered thus, may be
Peculiar to myself, let that remain 195
Where still it works, though hidden from all search
Among the depths of time. Yet is it just
That here, in memory of all books which lay
Their sure foundations in the heart of man,
Whether by native prose, or numerous verse, [E] 200
That in the name of all inspired souls--
From Homer the great Thunderer, from the voice
That roars along the bed of Jewish song,
And that more varied and elaborate,
Those trumpet-tones of harmony that shake 205
Our shores in England,--from those loftiest notes
Down to the low and wren-like warblings, made
For cottagers and spinners at the wheel,
And sun-burnt travellers resting their tired limbs,
Stretched under wayside hedge-rows, ballad tunes, 210
Food for the hungry ears of little ones,
And of old men who have survived their joys--
'Tis just that in behalf of these, the works,
And of the men that framed them, whether known,
Or sleeping nameless in their scattered graves, 215
That I should here assert their rights, attest
Their honours, and should, once for all, pronounce
Their benediction; speak of them as Powers
For ever to be hallowed; only less,
For what we are and what we may become, 220
Than Nature's self, which is the breath of God,
Or His pure Word by miracle revealed.

Rarely and with reluctance would I stoop
To transitory themes; yet I rejoice,
And, by these thoughts admonished, will pour out 225
Thanks with uplifted heart, that I was reared
Safe from an evil which these days have laid
Upon the children of the land, a pest
That might have dried me up, body and soul.
This verse is dedicate to Nature's self, 230
And things that teach as Nature teaches: then,
Oh! where had been the Man, the Poet where,
Where had we been, we two, beloved Friend!
If in the season of unperilous choice,
In lieu of wandering, as we did, through vales 235
Rich with indigenous produce, open ground
Of Fancy, happy pastures ranged at will,
We had been followed, hourly watched, and noosed,
Each in his several melancholy walk
Stringed like a poor man's heifer at its feed, 240
Led through the lanes in forlorn servitude;
Or rather like a stalled ox debarred
From touch of growing grass, that may not taste
A flower till it have yielded up its sweets
A prelibation to the mower's scythe. [F] 245

Behold the parent hen amid her brood,
Though fledged and feathered, and well pleased to part
And straggle from her presence, still a brood,
And she herself from the maternal bond
Still undischarged; yet doth she little more 250
Than move with them in tenderness and love,
A centre to the circle which they make;
And now and then, alike from need of theirs
And call of her own natural appetites,
She scratches, ransacks up the earth for food, 255
Which they partake at pleasure. Early died
My honoured Mother, she who was the heart
And hinge of all our learnings and our loves: [G]
She left us destitute, and, as we might,
Trooping together. Little suits it me 260
To break upon the sabbath of her rest
With any thought that looks at others' blame;
Nor would I praise her but in perfect love.
Hence am I checked: but let me boldly say,
In gratitude, and for the sake of truth, 265
Unheard by her, that she, not falsely taught,
Fetching her goodness rather from times past,
Than shaping novelties for times to come,
Had no presumption, no such jealousy,
Nor did by habit of her thoughts mistrust 270
Our nature, but had virtual faith that He
Who fills the mother's breast with innocent milk,
Doth also for our nobler part provide,
Under His great correction and control,
As innocent instincts, and as innocent food; 275
Or draws for minds that are left free to trust
In the simplicities of opening life
Sweet honey out of spurned or dreaded weeds.
This was her creed, and therefore she was pure
From anxious fear of error or mishap, 280
And evil, overweeningly so called;
Was not puffed up by false unnatural hopes,
Nor selfish with unnecessary cares,
Nor with impatience from the season asked
More than its timely produce; rather loved 285
The hours for what they are, than from regard
Glanced on their promises in restless pride.
Such was she--not from faculties more strong
Than others have, but from the times, perhaps,
And spot in which she lived, and through a grace 290
Of modest meekness, simple-mindedness,
A heart that found benignity and hope,
Being itself benign.
My drift I fear
Is scarcely obvious; but, that common sense
May try this modern system by its fruits, 295
Leave let me take to place before her sight
A specimen pourtrayed with faithful hand.
Full early trained to worship seemliness,
This model of a child is never known
To mix in quarrels; that were far beneath 300
Its dignity; with gifts he bubbles o'er
As generous as a fountain; selfishness
May not come near him, nor the little throng
Of flitting pleasures tempt him from his path;
The wandering beggars propagate his name, 305
Dumb creatures find him tender as a nun,
And natural or supernatural fear,
Unless it leap upon him in a dream,
Touches him not. To enhance the wonder, see
How arch his notices, how nice his sense 310
Of the ridiculous; not blind is he
To the broad follies of the licensed world,
Yet innocent himself withal, though shrewd,
And can read lectures upon innocence;
A miracle of scientific lore, 315
Ships he can guide across the pathless sea,
And tell you all their cunning; he can read
The inside of the earth, and spell the stars;
He knows the policies of foreign lands;
Can string you names of districts, cities, towns, 320
The whole world over, tight as beads of dew
Upon a gossamer thread; he sifts, he weighs;
All things are put to question; he must live
Knowing that he grows wiser every day
Or else not live at all, and seeing too 325
Each little drop of wisdom as it falls
Into the dimpling cistern of his heart:
For this unnatural growth the trainer blame,
Pity the tree.--Poor human vanity,
Wert thou extinguished, little would be left 330
Which he could truly love; but how escape?
For, ever as a thought of purer, birth
Rises to lead him toward a better clime,
Some intermeddler still is on the watch
To drive him back, and pound him, like a stray, 335
Within the pinfold of his own conceit.
Meanwhile old grandame earth is grieved to find
The playthings, which her love designed for him,
Unthought of: in their woodland beds the flowers
Weep, and the river sides are all forlorn. 340
Oh! give us once again the wishing cap
Of Fortunatus, and the invisible coat
Of Jack the Giant-killer, Robin Hood,
And Sabra in the forest with St. George!
The child, whose love is here, at least, doth reap 345
One precious gain, that he forgets himself.

These mighty workmen of our later age,
Who, with a broad highway, have overbridged
The froward chaos of futurity,
Tamed to their bidding; they who have the skill 350
To manage books, and things, and make them act
On infant minds as surely as the sun
Deals with a flower; the keepers of our time,
The guides and wardens of our faculties,
Sages who in their prescience would control 355
All accidents, and to the very road
Which they have fashioned would confine us down,
Like engines; when will their presumption learn,
That in the unreasoning progress of the world
A wiser spirit is at work for us, 360
A better eye than theirs, most prodigal
Of blessings, and most studious of our good,
Even in what seem our most unfruitful hours? [H]

There was a Boy: ye knew him well, ye cliffs
And islands of Winander!--many a time 365
At evening, when the earliest stars began
To move along the edges of the hills,
Rising or setting, would he stand alone
Beneath the trees or by the glimmering lake,
And there, with fingers interwoven, both hands 370
Pressed closely palm to palm, and to his mouth
Uplifted, he, as through an instrument,
Blew mimic hootings to the silent owls,
That they might answer him [I]; and they would shout
Across the watery vale, and shout again, 375
Responsive to his call, with quivering peals,
And long halloos and screams, and echoes loud,
Redoubled and redoubled, concourse wild
Of jocund din; and, when a lengthened pause
Of silence came and baffled his best skill, 380
Then sometimes, in that silence while he hung
Listening, a gentle shock of mild surprise
Has carried far into his heart the voice
Of mountain torrents; or the visible scene
Would enter unawares into his mind, 385
With all its solemn imagery, its rocks,
Its woods, and that uncertain heaven, received
Into the bosom of the steady lake.

This Boy was taken from his mates, and died
In childhood, ere he was full twelve years old. 390
Fair is the spot, most beautiful the vale
Where he was born; the grassy churchyard hangs
Upon a slope above the village school, [K]
And through that churchyard when my way has led
On summer evenings, I believe that there 395
A long half hour together I have stood
Mute, looking at the grave in which he lies! [L]
Even now appears before the mind's clear eye
That self-same village church; I see her sit
(The throned Lady whom erewhile we hailed) 400
On her green hill, forgetful of this Boy
Who slumbers at her feet,--forgetful, too,
Of all her silent neighbourhood of graves,
And listening only to the gladsome sounds
That, from the rural school ascending, [M] play 405
Beneath her and about her. May she long
Behold a race of young ones like to those
With whom I herded!--(easily, indeed,
We might have fed upon a fatter soil
Of arts and letters--but be that forgiven)--410
A race of real children; not too wise,
Too learned, or too good; [N] but wanton, fresh,
And bandied up and down by love and hate;
Not unresentful where self-justified;
Fierce, moody, patient, venturous, modest, shy; 415
Mad at their sports like withered leaves in winds;
Though doing wrong and suffering, and full oft
Bending beneath our life's mysterious weight
Of pain, and doubt, and fear, yet yielding not
In happiness to the happiest upon earth. 420
Simplicity in habit, truth in speech,
Be these the daily strengtheners of their minds;
May books and Nature be their early joy!
And knowledge, rightly honoured with that name--
Knowledge not purchased by the loss of power! 425

Well do I call to mind the very week
When I was first intrusted to the care
Of that sweet Valley; when its paths, its shores,
And brooks [O] were like a dream of novelty
To my half-infant thoughts; that very week, 430
While I was roving up and down alone,
Seeking I knew not what, I chanced to cross
One of those open fields, which, shaped like ears,
Make green peninsulas on Esthwaite's Lake:
Twilight was coming on, yet through the gloom 435
Appeared distinctly on the opposite shore
A heap of garments, as if left by one
Who might have there been bathing. Long I watched,
But no one owned them; meanwhile the calm lake
Grew dark with all the shadows on its breast, 440
And, now and then, a fish up-leaping snapped
The breathless stillness. [P] The succeeding day,
Those unclaimed garments telling a plain tale
Drew to the spot an anxious crowd; some looked
In passive expectation from the shore, 445
While from a boat others hung o'er the deep,
Sounding with grappling irons and long poles.
At last, the dead man, 'mid that beauteous scene
Of trees and hills and water, bolt upright
Rose, with his ghastly face, a spectre shape 450
Of terror; yet no soul-debasing fear,
Young as I was, a child not nine years old,
Possessed me, for my inner eye had seen
Such sights before, among the shining streams
Of faery land, the forest of romance. 455
Their spirit hallowed the sad spectacle
With decoration of ideal grace;
A dignity, a smoothness, like the works
Of Grecian art, and purest poesy.

A precious treasure had I long possessed, 460
A little yellow, canvas-covered book,
A slender abstract of the Arabian tales;
And, from companions in a new abode,
When first I learnt, that this dear prize of mine
Was but a block hewn from a mighty quarry--465
That there were four large volumes, laden all
With kindred matter, 'twas to me, in truth,
A promise scarcely earthly. Instantly,
With one not richer than myself, I made
A covenant that each should lay aside 470
The moneys he possessed, and hoard up more,
Till our joint savings had amassed enough
To make this book our own. Through several months,
In spite of all temptation, we preserved
Religiously that vow; but firmness failed, 475
Nor were we ever masters of our wish.

And when thereafter to my father's house
The holidays returned me, there to find
That golden store of books which I had left,
What joy was mine! How often in the course 480
Of those glad respites, though a soft west wind
Ruffled the waters to the angler's wish
For a whole day together, have I lain
Down by thy side, O Derwent! murmuring stream,
On the hot stones, and in the glaring sun, 485
And there have read, devouring as I read,
Defrauding the day's glory, desperate!
Till with a sudden bound of smart reproach,
Such as an idler deals with in his shame,
I to the sport betook myself again. 490

A gracious spirit o'er this earth presides,
And o'er the heart of man: invisibly
It comes, to works of unreproved delight,
And tendency benign, directing those
Who care not, know not, think not what they do. 495
The tales that charm away the wakeful night
In Araby, romances; legends penned
For solace by dim light of monkish lamps;
Fictions, for ladies of their love, devised
By youthful squires; adventures endless, spun 500
By the dismantled warrior in old age,
Out of the bowels of those very schemes
In which his youth did first extravagate;
These spread like day, and something in the shape
Of these will live till man shall be no more. 505
Dumb yearnings, hidden appetites, are ours,
And _they must_ have their food. Our childhood sits,
Our simple childhood, sits upon a throne
That hath more power than all the elements.
I guess not what this tells of Being past, 510
Nor what it augurs of the life to come; [Q]
But so it is, and, in that dubious hour,
That twilight when we first begin to see
This dawning earth, to recognise, expect,
And in the long probation that ensues, 515
The time of trial, ere we learn to live
In reconcilement with our stinted powers;
To endure this state of meagre vassalage,
Unwilling to forego, confess, submit,
Uneasy and unsettled, yoke-fellows 520
To custom, mettlesome, and not yet tamed
And humbled down; oh! then we feel, we feel,
We know where we have friends. Ye dreamers, then,
Forgers of daring tales! we bless you then,
Impostors, drivellers, dotards, as the ape 525
Philosophy will call you: _then_ we feel
With what, and how great might ye are in league,
Who make our wish, our power, our thought a deed,
An empire, a possession,--ye whom time
And seasons serve; all Faculties to whom 530
Earth crouches, the elements are potter's clay,
Space like a heaven filled up with northern lights,
Here, nowhere, there, and everywhere at once.

Relinquishing this lofty eminence
For ground, though humbler, not the less a tract 535
Of the same isthmus, which our spirits cross
In progress from their native continent
To earth and human life, the Song might dwell
On that delightful time of growing youth,
When craving for the marvellous gives way 540
To strengthening love for things that we have seen;
When sober truth and steady sympathies,
Offered to notice by less daring pens,
Take firmer hold of us, and words themselves
Move us with conscious pleasure.

I am sad 545
At thought of raptures now for ever flown; [R]
Almost to tears I sometimes could be sad
To think of, to read over, many a page,
Poems withal of name, which at that time
Did never fail to entrance me, and are now 550
Dead in my eyes, dead as a theatre
Fresh emptied of spectators. Twice five years
Or less I might have seen, when first my mind
With conscious pleasure opened to the charm
Of words in tuneful order, found them sweet 555
For their own _sakes_, a passion, and a power;
And phrases pleased me chosen for delight,
For pomp, or love. Oft, in the public roads
Yet unfrequented, while the morning light
Was yellowing the hill tops, I went abroad 560
With a dear friend, [S] and for the better part
Of two delightful hours we strolled along
By the still borders of the misty lake, [T]
Repeating favourite verses with one voice,
Or conning more, as happy as the birds 565
That round us chaunted. Well might we be glad,
Lifted above the ground by airy fancies,
More bright than madness or the dreams of wine;
And, though full oft the objects of our love
Were false, and in their splendour overwrought, [U] 570
Yet was there surely then no vulgar power
Working within us,--nothing less, in truth,
Than that most noble attribute of man,
Though yet untutored and inordinate,
That wish for something loftier, more adorned, 575
Than is the common aspect, daily garb,
Of human life. What wonder, then, if sounds
Of exultation echoed through the groves!
For, images, and sentiments, and words,
And everything encountered or pursued 580
In that delicious world of poesy,
Kept holiday, a never-ending show,
With music, incense, festival, and flowers!

Here must we pause: this only let me add,
From heart-experience, and in humblest sense 585
Of modesty, that he, who in his youth
A daily wanderer among woods and fields
With living Nature hath been intimate,
Not only in that raw unpractised time
Is stirred to extasy, as others are, 590
By glittering verse; but further, doth receive,
In measure only dealt out to himself,
Knowledge and increase of enduring joy
From the great Nature that exists in works
Of mighty Poets. Visionary power 595
Attends the motions of the viewless winds,
Embodied in the mystery of words:
There, darkness makes abode, and all the host
Of shadowy things work endless changes,--there,
As in a mansion like their proper home, 600
Even forms and substances are circumfused
By that transparent veil with light divine,
And, through the turnings intricate of verse,
Present themselves as objects recognised,
In flashes, and with glory not their own. 605

* * * * *


[Footnote A: This quotation I am unable to trace.--Ed.]

[Footnote B: Compare Emily Bronte's statement of the same, in the last
verse she wrote:

'Though Earth and Man were gone,
And suns and universes ceased to be,
And Thou wert left alone,
Every existence would exist in Thee.

There is not room for Death,
Nor atom that His might could render void;
Thou--THOU art Being and Breath,
And what THOU art may never be destroyed.'


[Footnote C:

"Because she would then become farther and farther removed from the
source of essential life and being, diffused instead of concentrated."

(William Davies).--Ed.]

[Footnote D: Mr. A. J. Duffield, the translator of Don Quixote, wrote me
the following letter on Wordsworth and Cervantes, which I transcribe in

"So far as I can learn Wordsworth had not read any critical work on
Don Quixote before he wrote the fifth book of 'The Prelude', [a] nor
for that matter had any criticism of the master-piece of Cervantes
then appeared. Yet Wordsworth,

'by patient exercise
Of study and hard thought,'

has given us not only a most poetical insight into the real nature of
the 'Illustrious Hidalgo of La Mancha'; he has shown us that it was a
nature compacted of the madman and the poet, and this in language so
appropriate, that the consideration of it cannot fail to give pleasure
to all who have found a reason for weighing Wordsworth's words.

"He demands

'Oh! why hath not the Mind
Some element to stamp her image on?'

then falls asleep, 'his senses yielding to the sultry air,' and he
sees before him

'stretched a boundless plain
Of sandy wilderness, all black and void,
And as I looked around, distress and fear
Came creeping over me, when at my side,
Close at my side, an uncouth shape appeared
Upon a dromedary, mounted high.
He seemed an Arab ...'

Here we have the plains of Montiel, and the poet realising all that
Don Quixote felt on that day of July, 'the hottest of the year,' when
he first set out on his quest and met with nothing worth recording.

'The uncouth shape'

is of course the Don himself,

the 'dromedary'

is Rozinante, and

the 'Arab'

doubtless is Cid Hamete Benengeli.

"Taking such an one for the guide,

'who with unerring skill
Would through the desert lead me,'

is a most sweet play of humour like to the lambent flame of his whose
satire was as a summer breath, and who smiled all the time he wrote,
although he wrote chiefly in a prison.

'The loud prophetic blast of harmony'

is doubtless a continuation of this humour, down to the lines

'Nor doubted once but that they both were books,
Having a perfect faith in all that passed.'

"Our poet now becomes positive,

'Lance in rest,
He rode, I keeping pace with him; and now
He, to my fancy, had become the knight
Whose tale Cervantes tells; _yet not the knight
But was an Arab of the desert too_,
Of these was neither, and was both at once.'

This is absolutely true, and was one of the earliest complaints made a
century and a half ago, when Spaniards began to criticise their one
great book. They could not tell at times whether Don Quixote was
speaking, or Cervantes, or Cid Hamete Benengeli.

'A bed of glittering light'

is a delightful description of the attitude of Don Quixote's mind
towards external nature while passing through the desert.

'It is,' said he, 'the waters of the deep
Gathering upon us.'

"It was, of course, only the mirage; but this he changed to suit his
own purpose into the 'waters of the deep,' as he changed the row of
Castilian wind-mills into giants, and the roar of the fulling mills
into the din of war.

"Wordsworth is now awake from his dream, but turning all he saw in it
into a reality, as only the poet can, he feels that

'Reverence was due to a being thus employed;
And thought that, _in the blind and awful lair
Of such a madness, reason did lie couched._'

Here again is a most profound description of the creation of
Cervantes. Don Quixote was mad, but his was a madness that proceeded
from that 'blind and awful lair,' a disordered stomach, rather than
from an injured brain. Had Don Quixote not forsaken the exercise of
the chase and early rising, if he had not taken to eating chestnuts at
night, cold spiced meat, together with onions and 'ollas podridas',
then proceeding to read exciting, unnatural tales of love and war, he
would not have gone mad.

"But his reason only lay 'couched,' not overthrown. Only give him a
dose of the balsam of Fierabras, his reason shall spring out of its
lair, like a lion from out its hiding-place, as indeed it did; and you
then have that wonderful piece of rhetoric, which describes the army
of Alifanfaron in the eighteenth chapter, Part I.

"There are many other things worthy of note, such as

By love and feeling, and internal thought
Protracted among endless solitudes,'

all of which are 'fit epithets blessed in the marriage of pure words,'
which the author of 'The Prelude', without any special learning, or
personal knowledge of Spain, has given us, and are so striking as to
compel us once again to go to Wordsworth and say, 'we do not all
understand thee yet, not all that thou hast given us.'

Very truly yours, A. J. Duffield."


[Footnote E: Compare 'Paradise Lost', v. 1. 150:

'In prose or numerous verse.'


[Footnote F: Wordsworth's earliest teachers, before he was sent to
Hawkshead School, were his mother and the Rev. Mr. Gilbanks at
Cockermouth, and Mrs. Anne Birkett at Penrith. His mother and Dame
Birkett taught him to read, and trained his infant memory. Mr. Gilbanks
also gave him elementary instruction; while his father made him commit
to memory portions of the English poets. At Hawkshead he read English
literature, learned Latin and Mathematics, and wrote both English and
Latin verse. There was little or no method, and no mechanical or
artificial drill in his early education. Though he was taught both
languages and mathematics he was left as free to range the "happy
pastures" of literature, as to range the Hawkshead woods on autumn
nights in pursuit of woodcocks. It is likely that the reference in the
above passage is to his education both in childhood and in youth,
although specially to the former. In his 'Autobiographical Memoranda',
Wordsworth says,

"Of my earliest days at School I have little to say, but that they
were very happy ones, chiefly because I was left at liberty, then and
in the vacations, to read whatever books I liked. For example, I read
all Fielding's works, 'Don Quixote', 'Gil Blas', and any part of
Swift that I liked; 'Gulliver's Travels' and the 'Tale of a Tub' being
both much to my taste."

As Wordsworth alludes to Coleridge's education, along with his own, "in
the season of unperilous choice," the reference is probably to
Coleridge's early time at the vicarage of Ottery St. Mary's, Devonshire,
and at the Grammar School there, as well as at Christ's Hospital in
London, where (with Charles Lamb as school-companion) he was as
enthusiastic in his exploits in the New River, as he was an eager
student of books.--Ed.]

[Footnote G: Mrs. Wordsworth died at Penrith, in the year 1778, the
poet's eighth year.--Ed.]

[Footnote H: Compare, in 'Expostulation and Reply' (vol. i. p. 273),

'Think you, 'mid all this mighty sum
Of things for ever speaking,
That nothing of itself will come,
But we must still be seeking?'


[Footnote I: See the Fenwick note to the poem, 'There was a Boy', vol.
ii. p. 57, and Wordsworth's reference to his schoolfellow William

[Footnote K: Hawkshead Grammar School.--Ed.]

[Footnote L: Lines 364-97 were first published in "Lyrical Ballads,"
1800, and appeared in all the subsequent collective editions of the
poems, standing first in the group of "Poems of the Imagination."

The grave of this "immortal boy" cannot be identified. His name, and
everything about him except what is here recorded, is unknown; but he
was, in all likelihood, a school companion of Wordsworth's at Hawkshead.

'And through that churchyard when my way has led
On summer evenings.'

One may localize the above description almost anywhere at

[Footnote M: Hawkshead School, in which Wordsworth was taught for eight
years--from 1778 to 1786--was founded by Archbishop Sandys of York, in
1585, and the building is still very much as it was in Wordsworth's
time. The main school-room is on the ground floor. One small chamber on
the first floor was used, in the end of last century, by the head
master, as a private class-room, for teaching a few advanced pupils. In
another is a small library, formed in part by the donations of the
scholars; it having been a custom for each pupil to present a volume on
leaving the school, or to send one afterwards. Very probably one of the
volumes now in the library was presented by Wordsworth. There are
several which were presented by his school-fellows, during the years in
which Wordsworth was at Hawkshead. The master, in 1877, promised me that
he would search through his somewhat musty treasures, to see if he could
discover a book with the poet's autograph; but I never heard of his
success. On the wall of the room containing the library is a tablet,
recording the names of several masters. There also, in an old oak chest,
is kept the original charter of the school. The oak benches downstairs
are covered with the names or initials of the boys, deeply cut; and,
amongst them, the name of William Wordsworth--but not those of his
brothers Richard, John, or Christopher--may be seen. For further details
as to the Hawkshead School, see the 'Life' of the Poet in this edition.
Towards the close of last century, when Wordsworth and his three
brothers were educated there, the school was one of the best educational
institutions in the north of England.--Ed.]

[Footnote N: Compare in the lines beginning "She was a Phantom of
delight" p. 2:

'Creature not too bright or good
For human nature's daily food.'


[Footnote O: Compare book iv. ll. 50 and 383, with relative notes--Ed.]

[Footnote P: Compare in 'Fidelity', p. 45:

'There sometimes doth a leaping fish
Send through the tarn a lonely cheer.'


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

[Footnote R: Compare, in 'Tintern Abbey', vol. ii. p.54:

'That time is past,
And all its aching joys are now no more,
And all its dizzy raptures.'

And in the 'Ode, Intimations of Immortality', vol. viii.:

'What though the radiance which was once so bright
Be now for ever taken from my sight.'


[Footnote S: This friend of his boyhood, with whom Wordsworth spent
these "delightful hours," is as unknown as is the immortal Boy of
Windermere, who blew "mimic hootings to the silent owls," and who sleeps
in the churchyard "above the village school" of Hawkshead, and the Lucy
of the Goslar poems. Compare, however, p. 163. Wordsworth _may_ refer to
John Fleming of Rayrigg, with whom he used to take morning walks round

'... five miles
Of pleasant wandering ...'


[Footnote T: Esthwaite.--Ed.]

[Footnote U: Probably they were passages from Goldsmith, or Pope, or
writers of their school. The verses which he wrote upon the completion
of the second century of the foundation of the school were, as he
himself tells us, "a tame imitation of Pope's versification, and a
little in his style."--Ed.]

* * * * *


[Sub-Footnote a: Wordsworth studied Spanish during the winter he spent
at Orleans (1792). Don Quixote was one of the books he had read when at
the Hawkshead school.--Ed.]

* * * * *



The leaves were fading when to Esthwaite's banks
And the simplicities of cottage life
I bade farewell; and, one among the youth
Who, summoned by that season, reunite
As scattered birds troop to the fowler's lure, 5
Went back to Granta's cloisters, [A] not so prompt
Or eager, though as gay and undepressed
In mind, as when I thence had taken flight
A few short months before. I turned my face
Without repining from the coves and heights 10
Clothed in the sunshine of the withering fern; [B]
Quitted, not both, the mild magnificence
Of calmer lakes and louder streams; and you,
Frank-hearted maids of rocky Cumberland,
You and your not unwelcome days of mirth, 15
Relinquished, and your nights of revelry,
And in my own unlovely cell sate down
In lightsome mood--such privilege has youth
That cannot take long leave of pleasant thoughts.
The bonds of indolent society 20
Relaxing in their hold, henceforth I lived
More to myself. Two winters may be passed
Without a separate notice: many books
Were skimmed, devoured, or studiously perused,
But with no settled plan. [C] I was detached 25
Internally from academic cares;
Yet independent study seemed a course
Of hardy disobedience toward friends
And kindred, proud rebellion and unkind.
This spurious virtue, rather let it bear 30
A name it now deserves, this cowardice,
Gave treacherous sanction to that over-love
Of freedom which encouraged me to turn
From regulations even of my own
As from restraints and bonds. Yet who can tell--35
Who knows what thus may have been gained, both then
And at a later season, or preserved;
What love of nature, what original strength
Of contemplation, what intuitive truths,
The deepest and the best, what keen research, 40
Unbiassed, unbewildered, and unawed?

The Poet's soul was with me at that time;
Sweet meditations, the still overflow
Of present happiness, while future years
Lacked not anticipations, tender dreams, 45
No few of which have since been realised;
And some remain, hopes for my future life.
Four years and thirty, told this very week, [D]
Have I been now a sojourner on earth,
By sorrow not unsmitten; yet for me 50
Life's morning radiance hath not left the hills,
Her dew is on the flowers. Those were the days
Which also first emboldened me to trust
With firmness, hitherto but lightly touched
By such a daring thought, that I might leave 55
Some monument behind me which pure hearts
Should reverence. The instinctive humbleness,
Maintained even by the very name and thought
Of printed books and authorship, began
To melt away; and further, the dread awe 60
Of mighty names was softened down and seemed
Approachable, admitting fellowship
Of modest sympathy. Such aspect now,
Though not familiarly, my mind put on,
Content to observe, to achieve, and to enjoy. 65

All winter long, whenever free to choose,
Did I by night frequent the College groves
And tributary walks; the last, and oft
The only one, who had been lingering there
Through hours of silence, till the porter's bell, 70
A punctual follower on the stroke of nine,
Rang with its blunt unceremonious voice,
Inexorable summons! Lofty elms,
Inviting shades of opportune recess,
Bestowed composure on a neighbourhood 75
Unpeaceful in itself. A single tree
With sinuous trunk, boughs exquisitely wreathed,
Grew there; [E] an ash which Winter for himself
Decked out with pride, and with outlandish grace:
Up from the ground, and almost to the top, 80
The trunk and every master branch were green
With clustering ivy, and the lightsome twigs
And outer spray profusely tipped with seeds
That hung in yellow tassels, while the air
Stirred them, not voiceless. Often have I stood 85
Foot-bound uplooking at this lovely tree
Beneath a frosty moon. The hemisphere
Of magic fiction, verse of mine perchance
May never tread; but scarcely Spenser's self
Could have more tranquil visions in his youth, 90
Or could more bright appearances create
Of human forms with superhuman powers,
Than I beheld loitering on calm clear nights
Alone, beneath this fairy work of earth.

On the vague reading of a truant youth [F] 95
'Twere idle to descant. My inner judgment
Not seldom differed from my taste in books.
As if it appertained to another mind,
And yet the books which then I valued most
Are dearest to me _now_; for, having scanned, 100
Not heedlessly, the laws, and watched the forms
Of Nature, in that knowledge I possessed
A standard, often usefully applied,
Even when unconsciously, to things removed
From a familiar sympathy.--In fine, 105
I was a better judge of thoughts than words,
Misled in estimating words, not only
By common inexperience of youth,
But by the trade in classic niceties,
The dangerous craft of culling term and phrase 110
From languages that want the living voice
To carry meaning to the natural heart;
To tell us what is passion, what is truth,
What reason, what simplicity and sense.

Yet may we not entirely overlook 115
The pleasure gathered from the rudiments
Of geometric science. Though advanced
In these inquiries, with regret I speak,
No farther than the threshold, [G] there I found
Both elevation and composed delight: 120
With Indian awe and wonder, ignorance pleased
With its own struggles, did I meditate
On the relation those abstractions bear
To Nature's laws, and by what process led,
Those immaterial agents bowed their heads 125
Duly to serve the mind of earth-born man;
From star to star, from kindred sphere to sphere,
From system on to system without end.

More frequently from the same source I drew
A pleasure quiet and profound, a sense 130
Of permanent and universal sway,
And paramount belief; there, recognised
A type, for finite natures, of the one
Supreme Existence, the surpassing life
Which--to the boundaries of space and time, 135
Of melancholy space and doleful time,
Superior, and incapable of change,
Nor touched by welterings of passion--is,
And hath the name of, God. Transcendent peace
And silence did await upon these thoughts 140
That were a frequent comfort to my youth.

'Tis told by one whom stormy waters threw,
With fellow-sufferers by the shipwreck spared,
Upon a desert coast, that having brought
To land a single volume, saved by chance, 145
A treatise of Geometry, he wont,
Although of food and clothing destitute,
And beyond common wretchedness depressed,
To part from company and take this book
(Then first a self-taught pupil in its truths) 150
To spots remote, and draw his diagrams
With a long staff upon the sand, and thus
Did oft beguile his sorrow, and almost
Forget his feeling: so (if like effect
From the same cause produced, 'mid outward things 155
So different, may rightly be compared),
So was it then with me, and so will be
With Poets ever. Mighty is the charm
Of those abstractions to a mind beset
With images, and haunted by herself, 160
And specially delightful unto me
Was that clear synthesis built up aloft
So gracefully; even then when it appeared
Not more than a mere plaything, or a toy
To sense embodied: not the thing it is 165
In verity, an independent world,
Created out of pure intelligence.

Such dispositions then were mine unearned
By aught, I fear, of genuine desert--
Mine, through heaven's grace and inborn aptitudes. 170
And not to leave the story of that time
Imperfect, with these habits must be joined,
Moods melancholy, fits of spleen, that loved
A pensive sky, sad days, and piping winds,
The twilight more than dawn, autumn than spring; [H] 175
A treasured and luxurious gloom of choice
And inclination mainly, and the mere
Redundancy of youth's contentedness.
--To time thus spent, add multitudes of hours
Pilfered away, by what the Bard who sang 180
Of the Enchanter Indolence hath called
"Good-natured lounging," [I] and behold a map
Of my collegiate life--far less intense
Than duty called for, or, without regard
To duty, _might_ have sprung up of itself 185
By change of accidents, or even, to speak
Without unkindness, in another place.
Yet why take refuge in that plea?--the fault,
This I repeat, was mine; mine be the blame.

In summer, making quest for works of art, 190
Or scenes renowned for beauty, I explored
That streamlet whose blue current works its way
Between romantic Dovedale's spiry rocks; [K]
Pried into Yorkshire dales, [L] or hidden tracts
Of my own native region, and was blest 195
Between these sundry wanderings with a joy
Above all joys, that seemed another morn
Risen on mid noon; [M] blest with the presence, Friend!
Of that sole Sister, her who hath been long
Dear to thee also, thy true friend and mine, [N] 200
Now, after separation desolate,
Restored to me--such absence that she seemed
A gift then first bestowed. [O] The varied banks
Of Emont, hitherto unnamed in song, [P]
And that monastic castle, 'mid tall trees, 205
Low-standing by the margin of the stream, [Q]
A mansion visited (as fame reports)
By Sidney, [R] where, in sight of our Helvellyn,
Or stormy Cross-fell, snatches he might pen
Of his Arcadia, by fraternal love 210
Inspired;--that river and those mouldering towers
Have seen us side by side, when, having clomb
The darksome windings of a broken stair,
And crept along a ridge of fractured wall,
Not without trembling, we in safety looked 215
Forth, through some Gothic window's open space,
And gathered with one mind a rich reward
From the far-stretching landscape, by the light
Of morning beautified, or purple eve;
Or, not less pleased, lay on some turret's head, 220
Catching from tufts of grass and hare-bell flowers
Their faintest whisper to the passing breeze,
Given out while mid-day heat oppressed the plains.

Another maid there was, [S] who also shed
A gladness o'er that season, then to me, 225
By her exulting outside look of youth
And placid under-countenance, first endeared;
That other spirit, Coleridge! who is now
So near to us, that meek confiding heart,
So reverenced by us both. O'er paths and fields 230
In all that neighbourhood, through narrow lanes
Of eglantine, and through the shady woods,
And o'er the Border Beacon, and the waste [T]
Of naked pools, and common crags that lay
Exposed on the bare felt, were scattered love, 235
The spirit of pleasure, and youth's golden gleam.
O Friend! we had not seen thee at that time,
And yet a power is on me, and a strong
Confusion, and I seem to plant thee there.
Far art thou wandered now in search of health 240
And milder breezes,--melancholy lot! [U]
But thou art with us, with us in the past,
The present, with us in the times to come.
There is no grief, no sorrow, no despair,
No languor, no dejection, no dismay, 245
No absence scarcely can there be, for those
Who love as we do. Speed thee well! divide
With us thy pleasure; thy returning strength,
Receive it daily as a joy of ours;
Share with us thy fresh spirits, whether gift 250
Of gales Etesian or of tender thoughts. [V]

I, too, have been a wanderer; but, alas!
How different the fate of different men.
Though mutually unknown, yea nursed and reared
As if in several elements, we were framed 255
To bend at last to the same discipline,
Predestined, if two beings ever were,
To seek the same delights, and have one health,
One happiness. Throughout this narrative,
Else sooner ended, I have borne in mind 260
For whom it registers the birth, and marks the growth,
Of gentleness, simplicity, and truth,
And joyous loves, that hallow innocent days
Of peace and self-command. Of rivers, fields,
And groves I speak to thee, my Friend! to thee, 265
Who, yet a liveried schoolboy, in the depths
Of the huge city, [W] on the leaded roof
Of that wide edifice, [X] thy school and home,
Wert used to lie and gaze upon the clouds
Moving in heaven; or, of that pleasure tired, 270
To shut thine eyes, and by internal light
See trees, and meadows, and thy native stream, [Y]
Far distant, thus beheld from year to year
Of a long exile. Nor could I forget,
In this late portion of my argument, 275
That scarcely, as my term of pupilage
Ceased, had I left those academic bowers
When thou wert thither guided. [Z] From the heart
Of London, and from cloisters there, thou camest,
And didst sit down in temperance and peace, 280
A rigorous student. [a] What a stormy course
Then followed. [b] Oh! it is a pang that calls
For utterance, to think what easy change
Of circumstances might to thee have spared
A world of pain, ripened a thousand hopes, 285
For ever withered. Through this retrospect
Of my collegiate life I still have had
Thy after-sojourn in the self-same place
Present before my eyes, have played with times
And accidents as children do with cards, 290
Or as a man, who, when his house is built,
A frame locked up in wood and stone, doth still,
As impotent fancy prompts, by his fireside,
Rebuild it to his liking. I have thought
Of thee, thy learning, gorgeous eloquence, 295
And all the strength and plumage of thy youth,
Thy subtle speculations, toils abstruse
Among the schoolmen, and Platonic forms
Of wild ideal pageantry, shaped out
From things well-matched or ill, and words for things, 300
The self-created sustenance of a mind
Debarred from Nature's living images,
Compelled to be a life unto herself,
And unrelentingly possessed by thirst
Of greatness, love, and beauty. Not alone, 305
Ah! surely not in singleness of heart
Should I have seen the light of evening fade
From smooth Cam's silent waters: had we met,
Even at that early time, needs must I trust
In the belief, that my maturer age, 310
My calmer habits, and more steady voice,
Would with an influence benign have soothed,
Or chased away, the airy wretchedness
That battened on thy youth. But thou hast trod
A march of glory, which doth put to shame 315
These vain regrets; health suffers in thee, else
Such grief for thee would be the weakest thought
That ever harboured in the breast of man.

A passing word erewhile did lightly touch
On wanderings of my own, that now embraced 320
With livelier hope a region wider far.

When the third summer freed us from restraint,
A youthful friend, he too a mountaineer, [c]
Not slow to share my wishes, took his staff,
And sallying forth, we journeyed side by side, 325
Bound to the distant Alps. [d] A hardy slight
Did this unprecedented course imply
Of college studies and their set rewards;
Nor had, in truth, the scheme been formed by me
Without uneasy forethought of the pain, 330
The censures, and ill-omening of those
To whom my worldly interests were dear.
But Nature then was sovereign in my mind,
And mighty forms, seizing a youthful fancy,
Had given a charter to irregular hopes. 335
In any age of uneventful calm
Among the nations, surely would my heart
Have been possessed by similar desire;
But Europe at that time was thrilled with joy,
France standing on the top of golden hours, [e] 340
And human nature seeming born again. [f]

Lightly equipped, [g] and but a few brief looks
Cast on the white cliffs of our native shore
From the receding vessel's deck, we chanced
To land at Calais on the very eve 345
Of that great federal day; [h] and there we saw,
In a mean city, and among a few,
How bright a face is worn when joy of one
Is joy for tens of millions. [h] Southward thence
We held our way, direct through hamlets, towns, [i] 350
Gaudy with reliques of that festival,
Flowers left to wither on triumphal arcs,
And window-garlands. On the public roads,
And, once, three days successively, through paths
By which our toilsome journey was abridged, [k] 355
Among sequestered villages we walked
And found benevolence and blessedness
Spread like a fragrance everywhere, when spring
Hath left no corner of the land untouched:
Where elms for many and many a league in files 360
With their thin umbrage, on the stately roads
Of that great kingdom, rustled o'er our heads, [m]
For ever near us as we paced along:
How sweet at such a time, with such delight
On every side, in prime of youthful strength, 365
To feed a Poet's tender melancholy
And fond conceit of sadness, with the sound
Of undulations varying as might please
The wind that swayed them; once, and more than once,
Unhoused beneath the evening star we saw 370
Dances of liberty, and, in late hours
Of darkness, dances in the open air
Deftly prolonged, though grey-haired lookers on
Might waste their breath in chiding.
Under hills--
The vine-clad hills and slopes of Burgundy, 375
Upon the bosom of the gentle Saone
We glided forward with the flowing stream, [n]
Swift Rhone! thou wert the _wings_ on which we cut
A winding passage with majestic ease
Between thy lofty rocks. [o] Enchanting show 380
Those woods and farms and orchards did present
And single cottages and lurking towns,
Reach after reach, succession without end
Of deep and stately vales! A lonely pair
Of strangers, till day closed, we sailed along, 385
Clustered together with a merry crowd
Of those emancipated, a blithe host
Of travellers, chiefly delegates returning
From the great spousals newly solemnised
At their chief city, in the sight of Heaven. 390
Like bees they swarmed, gaudy and gay as bees;
Some vapoured in the unruliness of joy,
And with their swords flourished as if to fight
The saucy air. In this proud company
We landed--took with them our evening meal, 395
Guests welcome almost as the angels were
To Abraham of old. The supper done,
With flowing cups elate and happy thoughts
We rose at signal given, and formed a ring
And, hand in hand, danced round and round the board; 400
All hearts were open, every tongue was loud
With amity and glee; we bore a name
Honoured in France, the name of Englishmen,
And hospitably did they give us hail,
As their forerunners in a glorious course; 405
And round and round the board we danced again.
With these blithe friends our voyage we renewed
At early dawn. The monastery bells
Made a sweet jingling in our youthful ears;
The rapid river flowing without noise, 410
And each uprising or receding spire
Spake with a sense of peace, at intervals
Touching the heart amid the boisterous crew
By whom we were encompassed. Taking leave
Of this glad throng, foot-travellers side by side, 415
Measuring our steps in quiet, we pursued
Our journey, and ere twice the sun had set
Beheld the Convent of Chartreuse, and there
Rested within an awful _solitude_: [p]
Yes, for even then no other than a place 420
Of soul-affecting _solitude_ appeared
That far-famed region, though our eyes had seen,
As toward the sacred mansion we advanced,
Arms flashing, and a military glare
Of riotous men commissioned to expel 425
The blameless inmates, and belike subvert
That frame of social being, which so long
Had bodied forth the ghostliness of things
In silence visible and perpetual calm.

--"Stay, stay your sacrilegious hands!"--The voice 430
Was Nature's, uttered from her Alpine throne;
I heard it then and seem to hear it now--
"Your impious work forbear, perish what may,
Let this one temple last, be this one spot
Of earth devoted to eternity!" 435
She ceased to speak, but while St. Bruno's pines [q]
Waved their dark tops, not silent as they waved,
And while below, along their several beds,
Murmured the sister streams of Life and Death, [r]
Thus by conflicting passions pressed, my heart 440
Responded; "Honour to the patriot's zeal!
Glory and hope to new-born Liberty!
Hail to the mighty projects of the time!
Discerning sword that Justice wields, do thou
Go forth and prosper; and, ye purging fires, 445
Up to the loftiest towers of Pride ascend,
Fanned by the breath of angry Providence.
But oh! if Past and Future be the wings,
On whose support harmoniously conjoined
Moves the great spirit of human knowledge, spare 450
These courts of mystery, where a step advanced
Between the portals of the shadowy rocks
Leaves far behind life's treacherous vanities,
For penitential tears and trembling hopes
Exchanged--to equalise in God's pure sight 455
Monarch and peasant: be the house redeemed
With its unworldly votaries, for the sake
Of conquest over sense, hourly achieved
Through faith and meditative reason, resting
Upon the word of heaven-imparted truth, 460
Calmly triumphant; and for humbler claim
Of that imaginative impulse sent
From these majestic floods, yon shining cliffs,
The untransmuted shapes of many worlds,
Cerulean ether's pure inhabitants, 465
These forests unapproachable by death,
That shall endure as long as man endures,
To think, to hope, to worship, and to feel,
To struggle, to be lost within himself
In trepidation, from the blank abyss 470
To look with bodily eyes, and be consoled."
Not seldom since that moment have I wished
That thou, O Friend! the trouble or the calm
Hadst shared, when, from profane regards apart,
In sympathetic reverence we trod 475
The floors of those dim cloisters, till that hour,
From their foundation, strangers to the presence
Of unrestricted and unthinking man.
Abroad, how cheeringly the sunshine lay
Upon the open lawns! Vallombre's groves 480
Entering, [s] we fed the soul with darkness; thence
Issued, and with uplifted eyes beheld,
In different quarters of the bending sky,
The cross of Jesus stand erect, as if
Hands of angelic powers had fixed it there, [t] 485
Memorial reverenced by a thousand storms;
Yet then, from the undiscriminating sweep
And rage of one State-whirlwind, insecure.

'Tis not my present purpose to retrace
That variegated journey step by step. 490
A march it was of military speed, [u]
And Earth did change her images and forms
Before us, fast as clouds are changed in heaven.
Day after day, up early and down late,
From hill to vale we dropped, from vale to hill 495
Mounted--from province on to province swept,
Keen hunters in a chase of fourteen weeks, [u]
Eager as birds of prey, or as a ship
Upon the stretch, when winds are blowing fair:
Sweet coverts did we cross of pastoral life, 500
Enticing valleys, greeted them and left
Too soon, while yet the very flash and gleam [v]
Of salutation were not passed away.
Oh! sorrow for the youth who could have seen
Unchastened, unsubdued, unawed, unraised 505
To patriarchal dignity of mind,
And pure simplicity of wish and will,
Those sanctified abodes of peaceful man,
Pleased (though to hardship born, and compassed round
With danger, varying as the seasons change), 510
Pleased with his daily task, or, if not pleased,
Contented, from the moment that the dawn
(Ah! surely not without attendant gleams
Of soul-illumination) calls him forth
To industry, by glistenings flung on rocks, 515
Whose evening shadows lead him to repose, [w]
Well might a stranger look with bounding heart
Down on a green recess, [x] the first I saw
Of those deep haunts, an aboriginal vale,
Quiet and lorded over and possessed 520
By naked huts, wood-built, and sown like tents
Or Indian cabins over the fresh lawns
And by the river side.

That very day,
From a bare ridge [y] we also first beheld
Unveiled the summit of Mont Blanc, and grieved 525
To have a soulless image on the eye
That had usurped upon a living thought
That never more could be. The wondrous Vale
Of Chamouny stretched far below, and soon
With its dumb cataracts and streams of ice, 530
A motionless array of mighty waves,
Five rivers broad and vast, [z] made rich amends,
And reconciled us to realities;
There small birds warble from the leafy trees,
The eagle soars high in the element, 535
There doth the reaper bind the yellow sheaf,
The maiden spread the haycock in the sun,
While Winter like a well-tamed lion walks,
Descending from the mountain to make sport
Among the cottages by beds of flowers. 540

Whate'er in this wide circuit we beheld,
Or heard, was fitted to our unripe state
Of intellect and heart. With such a book
Before our eyes, we could not choose but read
Lessons of genuine brotherhood, the plain 545
And universal reason of mankind,
The truths of young and old. Nor, side by side
Pacing, two social pilgrims, or alone
Each with his humour, could we fail to abound
In dreams and fictions, pensively composed: 550
Dejection taken up for pleasure's sake,
And gilded sympathies, the willow wreath,
And sober posies of funereal flowers,
Gathered among those solitudes sublime
From formal gardens of the lady Sorrow, 555
Did sweeten many a meditative hour.

Yet still in me with those soft luxuries
Mixed something of stem mood, an under-thirst
Of vigour seldom utterly allayed.
And from that source how different a sadness 560
Would issue, let one incident make known.
When from the Vallais we had turned, and clomb
Along the Simplon's steep and rugged road, [Aa]
Following a band of muleteers, we reached
A halting-place, where all together took 565
Their noon-tide meal. Hastily rose our guide,
Leaving us at the board; awhile we lingered,
Then paced the beaten downward way that led
Right to a rough stream's edge, and there broke off;
The only track now visible was one 570
That from the torrent's further brink held forth
Conspicuous invitation to ascend
A lofty mountain. After brief delay
Crossing the unbridged stream, that road we took,
And clomb with eagerness, till anxious fears 575
Intruded, for we failed to overtake
Our comrades gone before. By fortunate chance,
While every moment added doubt to doubt,
A peasant met us, from whose mouth we learned
That to the spot which had perplexed us first 580
We must descend, and there should find the road,
Which in the stony channel of the stream
Lay a few steps, and then along its banks;
And, that our future course, all plain to sight,
Was downwards, with the current of that stream. 585
Loth to believe what we so grieved to hear,
For still we had hopes that pointed to the clouds,
We questioned him again, and yet again;
But every word that from the peasant's lips
Came in reply, translated by our feelings, 590
Ended in this,--'that we had crossed the Alps'.

Imagination--here the Power so called
Through sad incompetence of human speech,
That awful Power rose from the mind's abyss
Like an unfathered vapour that enwraps, 595
At once, some lonely traveller. I was lost;
Halted without an effort to break through;
But to my conscious soul I now can say--
"I recognise thy glory:" in such strength
Of usurpation, when the light of sense 600
Goes out, but with a flash that has revealed
The invisible world, doth greatness make abode,
There harbours; whether we be young or old,
Our destiny, our being's heart and home,
Is with infinitude, and only there; 605
With hope it is, hope that can never die,
Effort, and expectation, and desire,
And something evermore about to be.
Under such banners militant, the soul
Seeks for no trophies, struggles for no spoils 610
That may attest her prowess, blest in thoughts
That are their own perfection and reward,
Strong in herself and in beatitude
That hides her, like the mighty flood of Nile
Poured from his fount of Abyssinian clouds 615
To fertilise the whole Egyptian plain.

The melancholy slackening that ensued
Upon those tidings by the peasant given
Was soon dislodged. Downwards we hurried fast,
And, with the half-shaped road which we had missed, 620
Entered a narrow chasm. The brook and road [1]
Were fellow-travellers in this gloomy strait, [Bb]
And with them did we journey several hours
At a slow pace. [2] The immeasurable height
Of woods decaying, never to be decayed, 625
The stationary blasts of waterfalls,
And in the narrow rent at every turn
Winds thwarting winds, bewildered and forlorn,
The torrents shooting from the clear blue sky,
The rocks that muttered close upon our ears, 630
Black drizzling crags that spake by the way-side
As if a voice were in them, the sick sight
And giddy prospect of the raving stream,
The unfettered clouds and region of the Heavens,
Tumult and peace, the darkness and the light--635
Were all like workings of one mind, the features
Of the same face, blossoms upon one tree;
Characters of the great Apocalypse,
The types and symbols of Eternity,
Of first, and last, and midst, and without end. 640

That night our lodging was a house that stood
Alone within the valley, at a point
Where, tumbling from aloft, a torrent swelled
The rapid stream whose margin we had trod;
A dreary mansion, large beyond all need, [Cc] 645
With high and spacious rooms, deafened and stunned
By noise of waters, making innocent sleep
Lie melancholy among weary bones.

Uprisen betimes, our journey we renewed,
Led by the stream, ere noon-day magnified 650
Into a lordly river, broad and deep,
Dimpling along in silent majesty,
With mountains for its neighbours, and in view
Of distant mountains and their snowy tops,
And thus proceeding to Locarno's Lake, [Dd] 655
Fit resting-place for such a visitant.
Locarno! spreading out in width like Heaven,
How dost thou cleave to the poetic heart,
Bask in the sunshine of the memory;
And Como! thou, a treasure whom the earth 660
Keeps to herself, confined as in a depth
Of Abyssinian privacy. I spake
Of thee, thy chestnut woods, [Ee] and garden plots
Of Indian corn tended by dark-eyed maids;
Thy lofty steeps, and pathways roofed with vines, 665
Winding from house to house, from town to town,
Sole link that binds them to each other; [Ff] walks,
League after league, and cloistral avenues,
Where silence dwells if music be not there:
While yet a youth undisciplined in verse, 670
Through fond ambition of that hour I strove
To chant your praise; [Gg] nor can approach you now
Ungreeted by a more melodious Song,
Where tones of Nature smoothed by learned Art
May flow in lasting current. Like a breeze 675
Or sunbeam over your domain I passed
In motion without pause; but ye have left
Your beauty with me, a serene accord
Of forms and colours, passive, yet endowed
In their submissiveness with power as sweet 680
And gracious, almost might I dare to say,
As virtue is, or goodness; sweet as love,
Or the remembrance of a generous deed,
Or mildest visitations of pure thought,
When God, the giver of all joy, is thanked 685
Religiously, in silent blessedness;
Sweet as this last herself, for such it is.

With those delightful pathways we advanced,
For two days' space, in presence of the Lake,
That, stretching far among the Alps, assumed 690
A character more stern. The second night,
From sleep awakened, and misled by sound
Of the church clock telling the hours with strokes
Whose import then we had not learned, we rose
By moonlight, doubting not that day was nigh, 695
And that meanwhile, by no uncertain path,
Along the winding margin of the lake,
Led, as before, we should behold the scene

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