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The fairy isles fled far away;
Tarbat, thy shore I climbed at last;
Night fell, and dark and darker grew
Oh blest retreat, and sacred too!
All silent now, as in the ages past,
How many centuries did the sun go round
From my youth upward have I longed to tread This classic ground; and am I here at last? Wandering at will through the long porticos, And catching, as through some majestic grove, Now the blue ocean, and now, chaos-like, Mountains and mountain-gulfs, and, half-way up, Towns like the living rock from which they grew ! A cloudy region, black and desolate, Where once a slave withstood a world in arms.
The air is sweet with violets, running wild 'Mid broken friezes and fallen capitals; Sweet as when Tully, writing down his thoughts, Those thoughts so precious and so lately lost (Turning to thee, divine philosophy, Èver at hand to calm his troubled soul), Sailed slowly by, two thousand years ago, For Athens; when a ship, if north-east winds Blew from the Pæstan gardens, slacked her course.
On as he moved along the level shore,
In such an hour as this, the sun's broad disk
Walls of some capital city first appeared,
[From Italy.'] They stand between the mountains and the sea ;3 Awful memorials, but of whom we know not. The seaman passing, gazes from the deck, The buffalo-driver, in his shaggy cloak, Points to the work of magic, and moves on. Time was they stood along the crowded street, Temples of gods, and on their ample steps What various habits, various tongues beset The brazen gates for prayer and sacrifice ! Time was perhaps the third was sought for justice; And here the accuser stood, and there the accused, And here the judges sat, and heard, and judged.
To Go-you may call it madness, folly; You shall not chase my gloom away! There's such a charm in melancholy, I would not, if I could, be gay.
1 Signifying in the Gaelic language an isthmus. 2 Loch Long.
3 The temples of Pæstum are three in number, and have survived, nearly nine centuries, the total destruction of the city. Tradition is silent concerning them, but they must have existed now between two and three thousand years.
Oh, if you know the pensive pleasure
They are said to have been discovered by accident about the middle of the last century.
warded the venerable poet with a pension of L.300 per annum. In April 1843 he was appointed poet
Mine be a cot beside the hill;
On a Tear.
laureate, in the room of his deceased and illustrious Who ever fiest to bring relief,
friend Southey. His residence at Rydal Mount has When first we feel the rude control
been truly a poetical retirement. Of Love or Pity, Joy or Grief.
Long have I loved what I behold, The sage's and the poet's theme,
The night that calms, the day that cheers ; In every clime, in every age;
The common growth of mother earth Thou charm'st in Fancy's idle dream,
Suffices me—her tears, her mirth,
Her humblest mirth and tears.
The dragon's wing, the magic ring,
I shall not covet for my dower, That law preserves the earth a sphere,
If I along that lowly way And guides the planets in their course.
With sympathetic heart may stray,
And with a soul of power.
Wordsworth appeared as a poet in his twenty-third WILLIAM WORDSWORTH, the greatest of meta- year, 1793. The title of his first work was The physical poets, is a native of Cockermouth, in the Evening Walk, and Descriptive Sketches. The walk county of Cumberland, where he was born on the is among the mountains of Westmoreland; the 7th of April 1770. His parents were enabled to sketches refer to a tour made in Switzerland by bestow upon their children the advantages of a the poet and his friend, the Rev. R. Jones, fellow of complete education (his father was law-agent to St John's college. The poetry is of the style of Lord Lonsdale), and the poet and his brother (now Goldsmith ; but description predominates over re. Dr Christopher Wordsworth, long master of Trinity flection. The enthusiastic dreams of liberty which college), after being some years at Hawkesworth then buoyed up the young poet, and his associates school, in Lancashire, were sent to the university of Coleridge and Southey, appear in such lines as the Cambridge. William was entered of St John's in following :1787. Poetry has been with him the early and almost the sole business of his life. Having finished Oh give, great God, to freedom's waves to ride his academical course, and taken his degree, he tra- Sublime o'er conquest, avarice, and pride; velled for a short time ; and marrying an amiable And dark oppression builds her thick-ribbed towers;
where pleasure decks her guilty bowers, lady, his cousin, settled down among the lakes and Give them, beneath their breast, while gladness springs, mountains of Westmoreland. A gentleman dying To brood the nations o'er with Nile-like wings ; in his neighbourhood left him a handsome legacy ; And grant that every sceptred child of clay other bequests followed; and about 1814, the pa. Who cries, presumptuous, "Here their tides shall stay, tronage of the noble family of Lowther procured for Swept in their anger from the affrighted shore, the poet the easy and lucrative situation of Distri- With all his creatures sink to rise no more ! butor of Stamps, which left the greater part of his time at his own disposal. In 1842 he resigned this In 1798 was published a collection of Lyrical Balsituation in favour of his son, and government re- lads, some by Coleridge, but the greater part by
Wordsworth, and designed by him as an experiment diction, to such themes as “The Idiot Boy,' and a how far a simpler kind of poetry than that in use style of composition disfigured by colloquial plainwould afford permanent interest to readers. The ness, and by the mixture of ludicrous images and humblest subjects, he contended, were fit for poetry, associations with passages of tenderness and pathos, and the language should be that really used by was too violent to escape ridicule or insure general men.' The fine fabric of poetic diction which gene- success. It was often impossible to tell whether the rations of the tuneful tribe had been laboriously poet meant to be comic or tender, serious or rearing, he proposed to destroy altogether. The Iudicrous ; while the choice of his subjects and illuslanguage of humble and rustic life, arising out of trations, instead of being regarded as genuine simrepeated experience and regular feelings, he con- plicity, had an appearance of silliness or affectation. sidered to be a more permanent and far more philo- The faults of his worst ballads were so glaring, sophical language than that which is frequently that they overpowered, at least for a time, the substituted for it by poets. The attempt of Words- simple natural beauties, the spirit of gentleness and worth was either totally neglected or assailed with humanity, with which they were accompanied. It ridicule. The transition from the refined and sen- was a first experiment, and it was made without timental school of verse, with select and polished | any regard for existing prejudices or feelings, or any
wish to conciliate. The poems, however, were read | elevated character. The influence of Wordsworth by some. Two more volumes were added in 1807 ; on the poetry of his age has thus been as beneficial and it was seen that, whatever might be the theory as extensive. He has turned the public taste from of the poet, he possessed a vein of pure and exalted pompous inanity to the study of man and nature; description and meditation which it was impossible he has banished the false and exaggerated style of not to feel and admire. The influence of nature character and emotion which even the genius of upon man was his favourite theme; and though Byron stooped to imitate; and he has enlisted the sensometimes unintelligible from his idealism, he was sibilities and sympathies of his intellectual brethren also, on other occasions, just and profound. His in favour of the most expansive and kindly philan. worship of nature was ennobling and impressive. In thropy. The pleasures and graces of his muse real simplicity, however, Wordsworth is inferior to are all simple, pure, and lasting. In working out Cowper, Goldsmith, and many others. He has the plan of his Excursion,' the poet has not, howtriumphed as a poet, in spite of his own theory. As ever, escaped from the errors of his early poems. the circle of his admirers was gradually extending, The incongruity or want of keeping in most of he continued to supply it with fresh materials of a Wordsworth's productions is observable in this higher order. In 1814 appeared The Excursion, a work. The principal character is a poor Scotch philosophical poem in blank verse, by far the noblest pedlar, who traverses the mountains in company production of the author, and containing passages with the poet, and is made to discourse, with clerk. of sentiment, description, and pure eloquence, not like fluency, excelled by any living poet, while its spirit of enlightened humanity and Christian benevolence-ex
Of truth, of grandeur, beauty, love, and hope. tending over all ranks of sentient and animated It is thus that the poet violates the conventional being—imparts to the poem a peculiarly sacred and rules of poetry and the realities of life; for surely it
is inconsistent with truth and probability, that a quiet and tender beauty characteristic of the author. profound moralist and dialectician should be found We subjoin two passages, the first descriptive of a in such a situation. In his travels with the. Wan- peasant youth, the hero of his native vale :derer,' the poet is introduced to a 'Solitary,' who lives secluded from the world, after a life of busy
The mountain ash adventures and high hope, ending in disappointment No eye can overlook, when ʼmid a grove and disgust. They all proceed to the house of the Of yet unfaded trees she lifts her head pastor, who (in the style of Crabbe's Parish Register) Decked with autumnal berries, that outshine recounts some of the deaths and mutations that had Spring's richest blossoms; and ye may have marked taken place in his sequestered valley; and with a By a brook side or solitary tarn, description of a visit made by the three to a neigh How she her station doth adorn. The pool bouring lake, the poem concludes. The 'Excursion' Glows at her feet, and all the gloomy rocks is an unfinished work, part of a larger poem, The Re Are brightened round her. In his native vale, cluse, “having for its principal object the sensations such and so glorious did this youth appear; and opinions of a poet living in retirement.' Whether A sight that kindled pleasure in all hearts the remainder of the work will ever be given to the By his ingenuous beauty, by the gleam world, or completed by the poet, is uncertain. The of his fair eyes, by his capacious brow, want of incident would, we fear, be fatal to its suc- By all the graces with which nature's hand cess. The narrative part of the Excursion' is a Had lavishly arrayed him. As old bards mere framework, rude and unskilful, for a series of Tell in their idle songs of wandering gods, pictures of mountain scenery and philosophical dis- Pan or Apollo, veiled in human form; sertations, tending to show how the external world Yet, like the sweet-breathed violet of the shade, is adapted to the mind of man, and good educed out Discovered in their own despite to sense of evil and suffering
Of mortals (if such fables without blame
May find chance mention on this sacred ground), Within the soul a faculty abides,
So, through a simple rustic garb's disguise, That with interpositions, which would hide
And through the impediment of rural cares, And darken, so can deal, that they become
In him revealed a scholar's genius shone; Contingencies of pomp, and serve to exalt
And so, not wholly hidden from men's sight, Her native brightness. As the ample moon
In him the spirit of a hero walked In the deep stillness of a summer even
Our unpretending valley. How the quoit Rising behind a thick and lofty grove,
Whizzed from the stripling's arm! If touched by him, Burns like an unconsuming fire of light
The inglorious football mounted to the pitch In the green trees; and, kindling on all sides, Of the lark's flight, or shaped a rainbow curve Their leafy umbrage turns the dusky veil
Aloft in prospect of the shouting field ! Into a substance glorious as her own,
The indefatigable fox had learned Yea, with her own incorporated, by power
To dread his perseverance in the chase. Capacious and serene; like power abides
With admiration would he lift his eyes In man's celestial spirit; virtue thus
To the wide-ruling eagle, and his hand Sets forth and magnifies herself_thuş feeds
Was loath to assault the majesty he loved, A calm, a beautiful, and silent fire,
Else had the strongest fastnesses proved weak From the encumbrances of mortal life;
To guard the royal brood. The sailing glede, From error, disappointment-nay, from guilt;
The wheeling swallow, and the darting snipe, And sometimes, so relenting justice wills,
The sporting sea-gull dancing with the waves,
And cautious waterfowl from distant climes,
Were subject to young Oswald's steady aim. In a still loftier style of moral observation on the changes of life, the “gray-haired wanderer' ex- The peasant youth, with others in the vale, roused claims
by the cry to arms, studies the rudiments of war, So fails, so languishes, grows dim, and dies,
but dies suddenly :All that this world is proud of. From their spheres
To him, thus snatched away, his comrade paid The stars of human glory are cast down;
A soldier's honours. At his funeral hour Perish the roses and the flowers of kings,
Bright was the sun, the sky a cloudless blue Princes, and emperors, and the crowns and palms
A golden lustre slept upon the hills; Of all the mighty, withered and consumed !
And if by chance a stranger, wandering there, Nor is power given to lowliest innocence
From some commanding eminence had looked Long to protect her own. The man himself
Down on this spot, well pleased would he have seen Departs; and soon is spent the line of those
A glittering spectacle ; but every face Who, in the bodily image, in the mind,
Was pallid-seldom hath that eye been moist In heart or soul, in station or pursuit,
With tears that wept not then ;, nor were the few Did most resemble him. Degrees and ranks, Who from their dwellings came not forth to join Fraternities and orders—heaping high
In this sad service, less disturbed than we. New wealth upon the burthen of the old,
They started at the tributary peal And placing trust in privilege confirmed
Of instantaneous thunder which announced And re-confirmed—are scoffed at with a smile
Through the still air the closing of the grave; Of greedy foretaste, from the secret stand
And distant mountains echoed with a sound
Of lamentation never heard before.
A description of deafness in a peasant would seem Expire; and Nature's pleasant robe of green,
to be a subject hardly susceptible of poetical ornaHumanity's appointed shroud, en wraps
ment; yet, by contrasting it with the surrounding Their monuments and their memory.
objects—the pleasant sounds and stir of natureand by his vein of pensive and graceful reflection,
Wordsworth has made this one of his finest picThe picturesque parts of the 'Excursion' are full of a tures :
Almost at the root
secured a new generation of readers. A tribe of worOf that tall pine, the shadow of whose bare
shippers, in the young poets of the day, have arisen to And slender stem, while here I sit at eve,
do him homage, and in some instances have carried Oft stretches towards me, like a strong straight path the feeling to a sectarian and bigotted excess. Many Traced faintly in the greensward, there, beneath of his former depreciators have also joined the ranks A plain blue stone, a gentle dalesman lies,
of his admirers-partly because in his late works From whom in early childhood was withdrawn he has done himself more justice both in his style The precious gift of hearing. He grew up
and subjects. He is too intellectual, and too little From year to year in loneliness of soul;
sensuous, to use the phrase of Milton, ever to beAnd this deep mountain valley was to him
come generally popular, unless in some of his smaller Soundless, with all its streams. The bird of dawn
pieces. His peculiar sensibilities cannot be relished Did never rouse this cottager from sleep
by all. His poetry, however, is of various kinds. With startling summons; not for his delight Forgetting his own theory as to the proper subjects The vernal cuckoo shouted; not for him
of poetry, he has ventured on the loftiest themes, Murmured the labouring bee. When stormy winds and in calm sustained elevation of thought, approWere working the broad bosom of the lake
priate imagery, and intense feeling, he often reInto a thousand thousand sparkling waves,
minds the reader of the sublime strains of Milton. Rocking the trees, or driving cloud on cloud
His Laodamia, the Vernal Ode, the Ode to Lycoris Along the sharp edge of yon lofty crags,
and Dion, are pure and richly classic poems in conThe agitated scene before his eye Was silent as a picture: evermore
ception and diction. Many of his sonnets have also
a chaste and noble simplicity. In these short comWere all things silent, wheresoe'er he moved. Yet, by the solace of his own pure thoughts
positions, his elevation and power as a poet are per
haps more remarkably displayed than in any of his Upheld, he duteously pursued the round Of rural labours; the steep mountain side
other productions. They possess a winning sweetAscended with his staff and faithful dog;
ness or simple grandeur, without the most distant The plough he guided, and the scythe he swayed ;
approach to antithesis or straining for effect; while And the ripe corn before his sickle fell
that tendency to prolixity and diffuseness which Among the jocund reapers.
characterise his longer poems, is repressed by the
necessity for brief and rapid thought and concise Book VII.
expression, imposed by the nature of the sonnet. It By viewing man in connection with external nature, is no exaggeration to say that Milton alone has the poet blends his metaphysics with pictures of life surpassed—if even he has surpassed—some of the and scenery. To build up and strengthen the powers noble sonnets of Wordsworth dedicated to liberty of the mind, in contrast to the operations of sense, and inspired by patriotism. is ever his object. Like Bacon, Wordsworth would rather believe all the fables in the Talmud and
Sonnets. Alcoran than that this universal frame is without
London, 1802. a mind-or that that mind does not, by its external symbols, speak to the human heart.' He lives under Milton! thou shouldst be living at this hour; the 'habitual sway' of nature.
England hath need of thee; she is a fen To me the meanest flower that blows can give
Of stagnant waters; altar, sword, and pen,
Fireside, the heroic wealth of hall and bower, Thoughts that do often lie too deep for tears.
Have forfeited their ancient English dower The subsequent works of the poet are numerous Of inward happiness. We are selfish men ; The White Doe of Rylstone, a romantic narrative Oh! raise us up, return to us again ; poem, yet coloured with his peculiar genius ; Son- And give us manners, virtue, freedom, power. nets on the River Duddon; The Waggoner ; Peter Bell; Thy soul was like a star, and dwelt apart; Ecclesiastical Sketches; Yarrow Revisited, &c. Having Thou hadst a voice whose sound was like the sea ; made repeated tours in Scotland and on the conti- Pure as the naked heavens—majestic, free, nent, the poet diversified his subjects with descrip- So didst thou travel on life's common way tions of particular scenes, local manners, legends, In cheerful godliness; and yet thy heart and associations. The whole of his works have The lowliest duties on herself didst lay. been arranged by their author according to their respective subjects; as Poems referring to the Period
The World is Too Much with Us. of Childhood; Poems founded on the Affections ; The world is too much with us; late and soon, Poems of the Fancy; Poems of the Imagination, &c. Getting and spending, we lay waste our powers : This classification is often arbitrary and capricious; Little we see in nature that is ours ; but it is one of the conceits of Wordsworth, that his We have given our hearts away, a sordid boon! poems should be read in a certain continuous order, This sea that bares her bosom to the moon, to give full effect to bis system. Thus classified The winds that will be howling at all hours, and published, the poet's works form six volumes. And are up-gathered now like sleeping flowers ; A seventh has lately (1842) been added, consisting For this, for everything, we are out of tune; of poems written very early and very late in life It moves us not. Great God! I'd rather be (as is stated), and a tragedy which had long lain A pagan suckled in a creed outworn ; past the author. The latter is not happy, for Words- So might I, standing on this pleasant lea, worth has less dramatic power than any other living Have glimpses that would make me less forlorn ; poet. In the drama, however, both Scott and Byron Have sight of Proteus coming from the sea ; failed ; and Coleridge, with his fine imagination and Or hear old Triton blow his wreathed horn. pictorial expression, was only a shade more successful. The fame of Wordsworth is daily extending. The
Composed upon Westininster Bridge, September 3, 1803. few ridiculous or puerile pieces which excited 80 Earth has not anything to show more fair: much sarcasm, parody, and derision, have been Dull would he be of soul who could pass by quietly forgotten, or are considered as mere idiosyn- A sight so touching in its majesty : crasies of the poet that provoke a smile, while his This city now doth like a garment wear higher attributes command admiration, and have the beauty of the morning ; silent, bare,