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Ships, towers, domes, theatres, and temples lie
Open unto the fields and to the sky,
All bright and glittering in the smokeless air.
Never did sun more beautifully steep,
In his first splendour, valley, rock, or hill;
Ne'er saw I, never felt, a calm so deep!
The river glideth at his own sweet will:
Dear God I the very houses seem asleep;
And all that mighty heart is lying still !
On King's College Chapel, Cambridge. Tax not the royal saint with vain expense, With ill-matched aims the architect who planned, Albeit labouring for a scanty band Of white-robed scholars only, this immense And glorious work of fine intelligence ! Give all thou canst ; high Heaven rejects the lore Of nicely calculated less or more; So deemed the man who fashioned for the sense These lofty pillars, spread that branching roof Self-poised, and scooped into ten thousand cells, Where light and shade repose, where music dwells Lingering—and wandering on, as loath to die; Like thoughts whose very sweetness yieldeth proof That they were born for immortality. His Intimations of Immortality, and Lines on Tintern Abbey, are the finest examples of his rapt imaginative style, blending metaphysical truth with diffuse gorgeous description and metaphor. His simpler effusions are pathetic and tender. He has little strong passion; but in one piece, Vaudracour and Julia, he has painted the passion of love with more warmth than might be anticipated from his abstract idealism
His present mind Was under fascination; he beheld A vision, and adored the thing he saw. Arabian fiction never filled the world With half the wonders that were wrought for him. Earth breathed in one great presence of the spring; Life turned the meanest of her implements Before his eyes, to price above all gold; The house she dwelt in was a sainted shrine ; Her chamber window did surpass in glory The portals of the dawn; all paradise Could, by the simple opening of a door, Let itself in upon him; pathways, walks, Swarmed with enchantment, till his spirit sank, Surcharged within him-overblest to move Beneath a sun that wakes a weary world To its dull round of ordinary cares;
A man too happy for mortality! The lovers parted under circumstances of danger, but had a stolen interview at night
Through all her courts
The vacant city slept; the busy winds,
That keep no certain intervals of rest,
Moved not; meanwhile the galaxy displayed
Her fires, that like mysterious pulses beat
Aloft-momentous but uneasy bliss !
To their full hearts the universe seemed hung
On that brief meeting's slender filament ! This is of the style of Ford or Massinger. Living mostly apart from the world, and nursing with solitary complacency his poetical system, and all that could bear upon his works and pursuits as a poet, Wordsworth fell into those errors of taste and that want of discrimination to which we have already alluded. His most puerile ballads and attempts at humour are apparently as much prized by him, and classed with the same nicety and care, as the most majestic of his conceptions, or the most natural and beautiful of his descriptions. The art of condensation is also rarely practised by him. But if the
poet's retirement or peculiar disposition has been a cause of his weakness, it has also been one of the sources of his strength. It left him untouched by the artificial or mechanical tastes of his age; it gave an originality to his conceptions and to the whole colour of his thoughts; and it completely imbued him with that purer antique life and knowledge of the phenomena of nature-the sky, lakes, and mountains of his native district, in all their tints and forms—which he has depicted with such power and enthusiasm. A less complacent poet would have been chilled by the long neglect and ridicule he ex. perienced. His spirit was self-supported, and his genius, at once observant and meditative, was left to shape out its own creations, and extend its sympathies to that world which lay beyond his happy mountain solitude.
My heart leaps up when I behold
A rainbow in the sky:
So was it when my life began;
So is it now I am a man;
So be it when I shall grow old,
Or let me die!
The child is father of the man;
And I could wish my days to be
Bound each to each by natural piety.
She dwelt among the untrodden ways,
Beside the springs of Dove,
A maid whom there were none to praise,
And very few to love.
A violet by a mossy stone
Half hidden from the eye;
Fair as a star when only one
Is shining in the sky.
She lived unknown, and few could know
When Lucy ceased to be;
But she is in her grave, and oh,
The difference to me!
She was a phantom of delight
When first she gleamed upon my sight;
A lovely apparition, sent
To be a moment's ornament;
Her eyes as stars of twilight fair;
Like twilight's, too, her dusky hair;
But all things else about her drawn
From May-time and the cheerful dawn;
A dancing shape, an image gay,
To haunt, to startle, and waylay.
I saw her upon nearer view,
A spirit, yet a woman too!
Her household motions light and free,
And steps of virgin liberty;
A countenance in which did meet
Sweet records, promises as sweet;
A creature not too bright or good
For human nature's daily food;
For transient sorrows, simple wiles,
Praise, blame, love, kisses, tears, and smiles.
And now I see with eye serene
The very pulse of the machine;
A being breathing thoughtful breath,
A traveller betwixt life and death;
The reason firm, the temperate will,
Endurance, foresight, strength, and skill,
A perfect woman, nobly planned,
To warn, to comfort, and command;
And yet a spirit still, and bright
With something of an angel light.
Until the breath of this corporeal frame, [Lines Composed a few miles above Tintern Abbey, on
And even the motion of our human blood
Revisiting the Banks of the Wye.]
Almost suspended, we are laid asleep
In body, and become a living soul :
While with an eye made quiet by the power
Of harmony and the deep power of joy,
We see into the life of things.
Be but a vain belief, yet, oh! how oft,
In darkness, and amid the many shapes
Of joyless daylight, when the fretful stir
Unprofitable, and the fever of the world,
Have hung upon the beatings of my heart,
How oft in spirit have I turned to thee,
O sylvan Wye!—thou wanderer through the woods
How often has my spirit turned to thee!
And now, with gleams of half-extinguished thought,
With many recognitions dim and faint,
And somewhat of a sad perplexity,
The picture of the mind revives again :
While here I stand, not only with the sense
Of present pleasure, but with pleasing thoughts
That in this moment there is life and food
For future years. And so I dare to hope,
Though changed, no doubt, from what I was when first
I came among these bills ; when, like a roe,
I bounded o'er the mountains, by the sides
Of the deep rivers, and the lonely streams,
Wherever nature led : more like a man
Flying from something that he dreads, than one
Who sought the thing he loved. For nature then
(The coarser pleasures of my boyish days
Five years have passed ; five summers, with the length Ànd their glad animal movements all gone by)
Of five long winters; and again I hear
To me was all in all—I cannot paint
These waters, rolling from their mountain springs What then I was. The sounding cataract
With a sweet inland murmur. Once again
Haunted me like a passion; the tall rock,
Do I behold these steep and lofty cliffs,
The mountain, and the deep and gloomy wood, Which on a wild secluded scene impress
Their colours and their forms, were then to me
Thoughts of more deep seclusion, and connect An appetite; a feeling and a love
The landscape with the quiet of the sky.
That had no need of a remoter charm,
The day is come when I again repose
By thought supplied, or any interest
Here, under this dark sycamore, and view
Unborrowed from the eye. That time is past,
These plots of cottage ground, these orchard tufts, And all its aching joys are now no more,
Which, at this season, with their unripe fruits, And all its dizzy raptures. Not for this
Are clad in one green hue, and lose themselves Faint I, nor mourn, nor murmur; other gifts
Among the woods and copses, nor disturb
Have followed, for such loss, I would believe,
The wild green landscape. Once again I see Abundant recompense. For I have learned
These hedgerows, hardly hedgerows, little lines To look on nature, not as in the hour
Of sportive wood run wild; these pastoral farms Of thoughtless youth, but hearing oftentimes
Green to the very door; and wreaths of smoke The still sad music of humanity,
Sent up in silence from among the trees,
Nor harsh nor grating, though of ample power
With some uncertain notice, as might seem,
To chasten and subdue. And I have felt Of vagrant dwellers in the houseless woods,
A presence that disturbs me with the joy Or of some hermit's cave, where, by his fire,
Of elevated thoughts ; a sense sublime
The hermit sits alone.
Of something far more deeply interfused,
Though absent long,
Whose dwelling is the light of setting suns,
These forms of beauty have not been to me
And the round ocean, and the living air, As is a landscape to a blind man's eye:
And the blue sky, and in the mind of man; But oft, in lonely rooms, and ’mid the din
A motion and a spirit that impels Of towns and cities, I have owed to them,
All thinking things, all objects of all thought, In hours of weariness, sensations sweet,
And rolls through all things. Therefore am I still Felt in the blood, and felt along the heart,
A lover of the meadows and the woods And passing even into my purer mind
And mountains, and of all that we behold With tranquil restoration-feelings, too,
From this green earth; of all the mighty world Of unremembered pleasure; such, perhaps,
Of eye and ear, both what they half create As may have had no trivial influence
And what perceive; well pleased to recognise On that best portion of a good man's life,
In nature, and the language of the sense, His little, nameless, unremembered acts
The anchor of my purest thoughts, the nurse, Of kindness and of love. Nor less, I trust,
The guide, the guardian of my heart, and soul To them I may have owed another gift,
Of all my moral being. Of aspect more sublime; that blessed mood
Nor, perchance, In which the burthen of the mystery,
If I were not thus taught, should I the more In which the heavy and the weary weight
Suffer my genial spirits to decay: Of all this unintelligible world
For thou art with me here, upon the banks Is lightened ; that serene and blessed mood
Of this fair river; thou, my dearest friend, In which the affections gently lead us on,
My dear, dear friend, and in thy voice I catch
The language of my former heart, and read
My former pleasures in the shooting lights
Of thy wild eyes. Oh! yet a little while
May I behold in thee what I was once,
My dear, dear sister! And this prayer I make,
Knowing that nature never did betray
The heart that loved her ; 'tis her privilege,
Through all the years of this our life, to lead
From joy to joy; for she can so inform
The mind that is within us, so impress
With quietness and beauty, and so feed
With lofty thoughts, that neither evil tongues,
Rash judgments, nor the sneers of selfish men,
Nor greetings where no kindness is, nor all
The dreary intercourse of daily life,
Shall e'er prevail against us, or disturb
Our cheerful faith that all which we behold
Is full of blessings. Therefore let the moon
Shine on thee in thy solitary walk;
And let the misty mountain winds be free
To blow against thee : and in after years,
When these wild ecstacies shall be matured
Into a sober pleasure, when thy mind
Shall be a mansion for all lovely forms,
Thy memory be as a dwelling-place
For all sweet sounds and harmonies ; oh! then,
If solitude, or fear, or pain, or grief,
Should be thy portion, with what healing thoughts
Of tender joy wilt thou remember me,
And these my exhortations ! Nor, perchance,
If I should be where I no more can hear
Thy voice, nor catch from thy wild eyes these gleams
Of past existence, wilt thou then forget
That on the banks of this delightful stream
We stood together; and that I, so long
A worshipper of nature, hither came,
Unwearied in that service : rather say
With warmer love, oh! with far deeper zeal
Of holier love. Nor wilt thou then forget,
That after many wanderings, many years,
Of absence, these steep woods and lofty cliffs,
And this green pastoral landscape, were to me
More dear, both for themselves and for thy sake.*
* In our admiration of the external forms of nature, the mind is redeemed from a sense of the transitory, which so often mixes perturbation with pleasure; and there is perhaps no feeling of the human heart which, being so intense, is at the same time so composed. It is for this reason, amongst others, that it is peculiarly favourable to the contemplations of a poetical philosopher, and eminently so to one like Mr Wordsworth, in whose scheme of thought there is no feature more prominent than the doctrine, that the intellect should be nourished by the feelings, and that the state of mind which bestows a gift of genuine insight, is one of profound emotion as well as profound composure; or, as Coleridge has somewhere expressed himself
Deep self-possession, an intense repose. The power which lies in the beauty of nature to induce this union of the tranquil and the vivid is described, and to every disciple of Wordsworth has been, as much as is possible, imparted by the celebrated 'Lines written in 1798, a few miles above Tintern Abbey,' in which the poet, having attributed to his intermediate recollections of the landscape then revisited a benign influence over many acts of daily life, describes the particulars in which he is indebted to them. * * The impassioned love of nature is interfused through the whole of Mr Wordsworth's system of thought, filling up all interstices, penetrating all recesses, colouring all media, supporting, associating, and giving coherency and mutual relevancy to it in all its parts. Though man is his subject, yet is man never presented to us divested of his relations with external nature. Man is the text, but there is always a running commentary of natural phenomena.- Quarterly Review for 1834. In illustration of this remark, every episode in the 'Excursion' might be cited (particularly the affecting and beautiful tale of Margaret in the first book); and the poems of "The Cumberland Beggar,'
Michael,' and 'The Fountain' (the last unquestionably one of the finest of the ballads), are also striking instances.
Picture of Christmas Eve. [Addressed to the Rev. Dr Wordsworth, with Sonnets to the
River Duddon, &c.]
The minstrels played their Christmas tune
To-night beneath my cottage eaves :
While, smitten by a lofty moon,
The encircling laurels, thick with leaves,
Gave back a rich and dazzling sheen,
That overpowered their natural green.
Through hill and valley every breeze
Had sunk to rest with folded wings;
Keen was the air, but could not freeze,
Nor check the music of the strings;
So stout and hardy were the band
That scraped the chords with strenuous hand.
And who but listened ! till was paid
Respect to every inmate's claim;
The greeting given, the music played
In honour of each household name,
Duly pronounced with lusty call,
And.merry Christmas' wished to all!
O brother! I revere the choice
That took thee from thy native hills;
And it is given thee to rejoice:
Though public care full often tills
(Heaven only witness of the toil)
A barren and ungrateful soil.
Yet, would that thou, with me and mine,
Hadst heard this never-failing rite;
And seen on other faces shine
A true revival of the light;
Which nature, and these rustic powers,
In simple childhood spread through ours !
For pleasure hath not ceased to wait
On these expected annual rounds,
Whether the rich man's sumptuous gate
Call forth the unelaborate sounds,
Or they are offered at the door
That guards the lowliest of the poor.
How touching, when at midnight sweep
Snow-muffled winds, and all is dark,
To hear—and sink again to sleep!
Or, at an earlier call, to mark,
By blazing fire, the still suspense
Of self-complacent innocence;
The mutual nod—the grave disguise
Of hearts with gladness brimming o'er;
And some unbidden tears that rise
For names once heard, and heard no more ;
Tears brightened by the serenade
For infant in the cradle laid!
Ah! not for emerald fields alone,
With ambient streams more pure and bright
Than fabled Cytherea's zone
Glittering before the thunderer's sight,
Is to my heart of hearts endeared
The ground where we were born and reared !
Hail, ancient manners ! sure defence,
Where they survive, of wholesome laws;
Remnants of love, whose modest sense
Thus into narrow room withdraws;
Hail, usages of pristine mould,
And ye that guard them, mountains old !
Bear with me, brother, quench the thought
That slights this passion or condemns ;
If thee fond fancy ever brought
From the proud margin of the Thames
And Lambeth's venerable towers
To humbler streams and greener bowers.
He spake of plants that hourly change
Their blossoms, through a boundless range
Of intermingling hues ;
With budding, fading, faded flowers,
They stand the wonder of the bowers
From morn to evening dews.
He told of the magnolia, spread
High as a cloud, high overhead !
The cypress and her spire ;
Of flowers that with one scarlet gleam
Cover a hundred leagues, and seem
To set the hills on fire.
The youth of green savannahs spake,
And many an endless, endless lake,
With all its fairy crowds
Of islands, that together lie
As quietly as spots of sky
Among the evening clouds.
* How pleasant,' then he said, "it were
A fisher or a hunter there,
In sunshine or through shade
To wander with an easy mind,
And build a household fire, and find
A home in every glade !
What days and what bright years! Ah me!
Our life were life indeed, with thee
So passed in quiet bliss,
And all the while,' said he, 'to know
That we were in a world of wo,
On such an earth as this !
Yes, they can make, who fail to find
Short leisure even in busiest days;
Moments—to cast a look behind,
And profit by those kindly rays
That through the clouds do sometimes steal,
And all the far-off past reveal.
Hence, while the imperial city's din
Beats frequent on thy satiate ear,
A pleased attention I may win
To agitations less severe,
That neither overwhelm nor cloy,
But fill the hollow vale with joy!
When Ruth was left half desolate,
Her father took another mate ;
And Ruth, not seven years old,
A slighted child, at her own will
Went wandering over dale and hill
In thoughtless freedom bold.
And she had made a pipe of straw,
And music from that pipe could draw
Like sounds of winds and floods ;
Had built a bower upon the green,
As if she from her birth had been'
An infant of the woods.
Beneath her father's roof, alone
She seemed to live ; her thoughts her own ;
Herself her own delight;
Pleased with herself, nor sad, nor gay;
And, passing thus the live-long day,
She grew to woman's height.
There came a youth from Georgia's shore
A military casque he wore,
With splendid feathers drest ;
He brought them from the Cherokees ;
The feathers nodded in the breeze,
And made a gallant crest.
From Indian blood you deem him sprung:
But no! he spake the English tongue,
And bore a soldier's name ;
And, when America was free
From battle and from jeopardy,
He 'cross the ocean came.
With hues of genius on his cheek,
In finest tones the youth could speak :
While he was yet a boy,
The moon, the glory of the sun,
And streams that murmur as they run,
Had been his dearest joy.
He was a lovely youth ! I guess
The panther in the wilderness
Was not so fair as he ;
And, when he chose to sport and play,
No dolphin ever was so gay
Upon the tropic sea.
Among the Indians he had fought,
And with him many tales he brought
Of pleasure and of fear ;
Such tales as told to any maid
By such a youth, in the green shade,
Were perilous to hear.
He told of girls-a happy rout !
Who quit their fold with dance and shout,
Their pleasant Indian town,
To gather strawberries all day long ;
Returning with a choral song
When daylight is gone down.
And then he sometimes interwove Fond thoughts about a father's love : * For there,' said he,' are spun Around the heart such tender ties, That our own children to our eyes Are dearer than the sun.
Sweet Ruth ! and could you go with me
My helpmate in the woods to be,
Our shed at night to rear ;
Or run, my own adopted bride,
A sylvan huntress at my side,
And drive the flying deer!
Beloved Ruth !-No more he said.
The wakeful Ruth at midnight shed
A solitary tear :
She thought again-and did agree
With him to sail across the sea,
And drive the flying deer.
* And now, as fitting is and right,
We in the church our faith will plight,
A husband and a wife.'
Even so they did ; and I may say
That to sweet Ruth that happy day
Was more than human life.
Meanwhile, as thus with him it fared,
They for the voyage were prepared,
And went to the sea-shore;
But, when they thither came, the youth
Deserted his poor bride, and Ruth
Could never find him more.
The wind, the tempest roaring high,
The tumult of a tropic sky,
Might well be dangerous food
For him, a youth to whom was given
So much of earth-so much of heaven,
And such impetuous blood.
Whatever in those climes he found
Irregular in sight or sound
Did to his mind impart
A kindred impulse, seemed allied
To his own powers, and justified
The workings of his heart.
Nor less, to feed voluptuous thought,
The beauteous forms of nature wrought,
Fair trees and lovely flowers ;
The breezes their own languor lent ;
The stars had feelings, which they sent
Into those gorgeous bowers.
God help thee, Ruth !-Such pains she had,
That she in a half year was mad,
And in a prison housed;
And there, with many a doleful song
Made of wild words, her cup of wrong
She fearfully caroused.
Yet sometimes milder hours she knew,
Nor wanted sun, nor rain, nor dew,
Nor pastimes of the May;.
They all were with her in her cell ;
And a clear brook with cheerful knell
Did o'er the pebbles play.
When Ruth three seasons thus had lain,
There came a respite to her pain;
She from her prison fled;
But of the vagrant none took thought;
And where it liked her best, she sought
Her shelter and her bread.
Yet, in his worst pursuits, I ween
That sometimes there did intervene
Pure hopes of high intent:
For passions linked to forms so fair
And stately, needs must have their share
Of noble sentiment.
An innocent life, yet far astray!
And Ruth will, long before her day,
Be broken down and old :
Sore aches she needs must have! but less
Of mind than body's wretchedness,
From damp, and rain, and cold.
Sometimes, most earnestly, he said,
O Ruth! I have been worse than dead; False thoughts, thoughts bold and vain, Encompassed me on every side When first, in confidence and pride, I crossed the Atlantic main. It was a fresh and glorious worldA banner bright that shone unfurled Before me suddenly : I looked upon those hills and plains, And seemed as if let loose from chains, To live at liberty. But wherefore speak of this ? For now, Dear Ruth ! with thee, I know not how, I feel my spirit burn; My soul from darkness is released, Like the whole sky when to the east The morning doth return.'
If she is pressed by want of food,
She from her dwelling in the wood
Repairs to a road-side;
And there she begs at one steep place,
Where up and down with easy pace
The horsemen-travellers ride.
That oaten pipe of hers is mute,
Or thrown away; but with a flute
Her loneliness she cheers :
This flute, made of a hemlock stalk,
At evening in his homeward walk
The Quantock woodman hears.
Full soon that purer mind was gone ;
No hope, no wish remained, not one
They stirred him now no more ;
New objects did new pleasure give,
And once again he wished to live
As lawless as before.
I, too, have passed her on the hills
Setting her little water-mills
By spouts and fountains wild-
Such small machinery as she tumed
Ere she had wept, ere she had mourned,
A young and happy child!