The Poetical Works of William Wordsworth, Vol. III
by William Wordsworth
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[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 v.—Ed.]

[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 Esthwaite:

'... 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.]

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[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.]

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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 Hushed in profound repose. We left the town Of Gravedona [Hh] with this hope; but soon 700 Were lost, bewildered among woods immense, And on a rock sate down, to wait for day. An open place it was, and overlooked, From high, the sullen water far beneath, On which a dull red image of the moon 705 Lay bedded, changing oftentimes its form Like an uneasy snake. From hour to hour We sate and sate, wondering, as if the night Had been ensnared by witchcraft. On the rock At last we stretched our weary limbs for sleep, 710 But could not sleep, tormented by the stings Of insects, which, with noise like that of noon, Filled all the woods; the cry of unknown birds; The mountains more by blackness visible And their own size, than any outward light; 715 The breathless wilderness of clouds; the clock That told, with unintelligible voice, The widely parted hours; the noise of streams, And sometimes rustling motions nigh at hand, That did not leave us free from personal fear; 720 And, lastly, the withdrawing moon, that set Before us, while she still was high in heaven;— These were our food; and such a summer's night [Ii] Followed that pair of golden days that shed On Como's Lake, and all that round it lay, 725 Their fairest, softest, happiest influence.

But here I must break off, and bid farewell To days, each offering some new sight, or fraught With some untried adventure, in a course Prolonged till sprinklings of autumnal snow 730 Checked our unwearied steps. Let this alone Be mentioned as a parting word, that not In hollow exultation, dealing out Hyperboles of praise comparative; Not rich one moment to be poor for ever; 735 Not prostrate, overborne, as if the mind Herself were nothing, a mere pensioner On outward forms—did we in presence stand Of that magnificent region. On the front Of this whole Song is written that my heart 740 Must, in such Temple, needs have offered up A different worship. Finally, whate'er I saw, or heard, or felt, was but a stream That flowed into a kindred stream; a gale, Confederate with the current of the soul, 745 To speed my voyage; every sound or sight, In its degree of power, administered To grandeur or to tenderness,—to the one Directly, but to tender thoughts by means Less often instantaneous in effect; 750 Led me to these by paths that, in the main, Were more circuitous, but not less sure Duly to reach the point marked out by Heaven.

Oh, most beloved Friend! a glorious time, A happy time that was; triumphant looks 755 Were then the common language of all eyes; As if awaked from sleep, the Nations hailed Their great expectancy: the fife of war Was then a spirit-stirring sound indeed, A black-bird's whistle in a budding grove. 760 We left the Swiss exulting in the fate Of their near neighbours; and, when shortening fast Our pilgrimage, nor distant far from home, We crossed the Brabant armies on the fret [Kk] For battle in the cause of Liberty. 765 A stripling, scarcely of the household then Of social life, I looked upon these things As from a distance; heard, and saw, and felt, Was touched, but with no intimate concern; I seemed to move along them, as a bird 770 Moves through the air, or as a fish pursues Its sport, or feeds in its proper element; I wanted not that joy, I did not need Such help; the ever-living universe, Turn where I might, was opening out its glories, 775 And the independent spirit of pure youth Called forth, at every season, new delights Spread round my steps like sunshine o'er green fields.

* * * * *


[Variant 1:

... gloomy Pass, 1845.]

[Variant 2:

At a slow step 1845.]

* * * * *


[Footnote A: To Cambridge. The Anglo-Saxons called it 'Grantabridge', of which Cambridge may be a corruption, Granta and Cam being different names for the same stream. Grantchester is still the name of a village near Cambridge. It is uncertain whether the village or the city itself is the spot of which Bede writes, "venerunt ad civitatulam quandam desolatam, quae lingua Anglorum 'Grantachester' vocatur." If it was Cambridge itself it had already an alternative name, viz. 'Camboricum'. Compare 'Cache-cache', a Tale in Verse, by William D. Watson. London: Smith, Elder, and Co. 1862:

"Leaving our woods and mountains for the plains Of treeless level Granta." (p. 103.) ... "'Twas then the time When in two camps, like Pope and Emperor, Byron and Wordsworth parted Granta's sons."

(p. 121.) Ed.]

[Footnote B: Note the meaning, as well as the 'curiosa felicitas', of this phrase.—Ed.]

[Footnote C: His Cambridge studies were very miscellaneous, partly owing to his strong natural disinclination to work by rule, partly to unmethodic training at Hawkshead, and to the fact that he had already mastered so much of Euclid and Algebra as to have a twelvemonth's start of the freshmen of his year.

"Accordingly," he tells us, "I got into rather an idle way, reading nothing but Classic authors, according to my fancy, and Italian poetry. As I took to these studies with much interest my Italian master was proud of the progress I made. Under his correction I translated the Vision of Mirza, and two or three other papers of the 'Spectator' into Italian."

Speaking of her brother Christopher, then at Cambridge, Dorothy Wordsworth wrote thus in 1793:

"He is not so ardent in any of his pursuits as William is, but he is yet particularly attached to the same pursuits which have so irresistible an influence over William, and deprive him of the power of chaining his attention to others discordant to his feelings."


[Footnote D: April 1804.—Ed.]

[Footnote E: There is no ash tree now in the grove of St. John's College, Cambridge, and no tradition as to where it stood. Covered as it was—trunk and branch—with "clustering ivy" in 1787, it survived till 1808 at any rate. See Note IV. in the Appendix to this volume, p. 390.—Ed.]

[Footnote F: See notes on pp. 210 [Footnote F to Book V] and 223 Footnote C to this Book, above].—Ed.]

[Footnote G: Before leaving Hawkshead he had mastered five books of Euclid, and in Algebra, simple and quadratic equations. See note, p. 223 [Footnote C to this Book, above].—Ed.]

[Footnote H: Compare the second stanza of the 'Ode to Lycoris':

'Then, Twilight is preferred to Dawn, And Autumn to the Spring.'


[Footnote I: Thomson. See the 'Castle of Indolence', canto I. stanza xv.—Ed.]

[Footnote K: Dovedale, a rocky chasm, rather more than two miles long, not far from Ashburn, in Derbyshire. Thomas Potts writes of it thus:

"The rugged, dissimilar, and frequently grotesque and fanciful appearance of the rocks distinguish the scenery of this valley from perhaps every other in the kingdom. In some places they shoot up in detached masses, in the form of spires or conical pyramids, to the height of 30 or 40 yards.... One rock, distinguished by the name of the Pike, from its spiry form and situation in the midst of the stream, was noticed in the second part of 'The Complete Angler', by Charles Cotton," etc. etc.

('The Beauties of England and Wales,' Derbyshire, vol. iii, pp. 425, 426, and 431. London, 1810.) Potts speaks of the "pellucid waters" of the Dove. "It is transparent to the bottom." (See Whately, 'Observations on Modern Gardening', p. 114.)—Ed.]

[Footnote L: Doubtless Wharfedale, Wensleydale, and Swaledale.—Ed.]

[Footnote M: Compare 'Paradise Lost', v. 310, and in Chapman's 'Blind Beggar of Alexandria':

'Now see a morning in an evening rise.'


[Footnote N: For glimpses of the friendship of Dorothy Wordsworth and Coleridge, see the 'Life' of the poet in the last volume of this edition.—Ed.]

[Footnote O: The absence referred to—"separation desolate"—may refer both to the Hawkshead years, and to those spent at Cambridge; but doubtless the brother and sister met at Penrith, in vacation time from Hawkshead School; and, after William Wordsworth had gone to the university, Dorothy visited Cambridge, while the brother spent the Christmas holidays of 1790 at Forncett Rectory in Norfolk, where his sister was then staying, and where she spent several years with their uncle Cookson, the Canon of Windsor. It is more probable that the "separation desolate" refers to the interval between this Christmas of 1790 and their reunion at Halifax in 1794. In a letter dated Forncett, August 30, 1793, Dorothy says, referring to her brother, "It is nearly three years since we parted."—Ed.]

[Footnote P: Thomas Wilkinson's poem on the River Emont had been written in 1787, but was not published till 1824.—Ed.]

[Footnote Q: Brougham Castle, at the junction of the Lowther and the Emont, about a mile out of Penrith, south-east, on the Appleby road. This castle is associated with other poems. See the 'Song at the Feast of Brougham Castle'.—Ed.]

[Footnote R: Sir Philip Sidney, author of 'Arcadia'.—Ed.]

[Footnote S: Mary Hutchinson.—Ed.]

[Footnote T: The Border Beacon is the hill to the north-east of Penrith. It is now covered with wood, but was in Wordsworth's time a "bare fell."—Ed.]

[Footnote U: He had gone to Malta, "in search of health."—Ed.]

[Footnote V: The Etesian gales are the mild north winds of the Mediterranean, which are periodical, lasting about six weeks in spring and autumn.—Ed.]

[Footnote W: A blue-coat boy in London.—Ed.]

[Footnote X: Christ's Hospital. Compare Charles Lamb's 'Christ's Hospital Five and Thirty Years Ago'.

"Come back into memory, like as thou wert in the dayspring of thy fancies, with hope like a fiery column before thee—the dark pillar not yet turned—Samuel Taylor Coleridge—Logician, Metaphysician, Bard!—How have I seen the casual passer through the cloisters stand still, entranced with admiration (while he weighed the disproportion between the speech and the garb of the young Mirandula), to hear thee unfold, in thy deep and sweet intonations, the mysteries of Jamblichus, or Plotinus (for even in those years thou waxedst not pale at such philosophic draughts), or reciting Homer in his Greek, or Pindar—while the walls of the old Grey Friars re-echoed to the accents of the inspired charity boy!"

('Essays of Elia.')—Ed.]

[Footnote Y: The river Otter, in Devon, thus addressed by Coleridge in one of his early poems:

'Dear native Brook! wild Streamlet of the West! How many various-fated years have passed, What blissful and what anguished hours, since last I skimmed the smooth thin stone along thy breast, Numbering its light leaps! Yet so deep imprest Sink the sweet scenes of Childhood, that mine eyes I never shut amid the sunny haze, But straight with all their tints, thy waters rise, Thy crowning plank, thy margin's willowy maze, And bedded sand that veined with various dyes Gleamed through thy bright transparence to the gaze! Visions of childhood! oft have ye beguiled Lone Manhood's cares, yet waking fondest sighs, Ah! that once more I were a careless child!'


[Footnote Z: Coleridge entered Jesus College, Cambridge, in February 1791, just a month after Wordsworth had taken his B. A. degree, and left the university.—Ed.]

[Footnote a: Coleridge worked laboriously but unmethodically at Cambridge, studying philosophy and politics, besides classics and mathematics. He lost his scholarship however.—Ed.]

[Footnote b: Debt and despondency; flight to London; enlistment in the Dragoons; residence in Bristol; Republican lectures; scheme, along with Southey, for founding a new community in America; its abandonment; his marriage; life at Nether Stowey; editing 'The Watchman'; lecturing on Shakespeare; contributing to 'The Morning Chronicle'; preaching in Unitarian pulpits; publishing his 'Juvenile Poems', etc. etc.; and throughout eccentric, impetuous, original—with contagious enthusiasm and overflowing genius—but erratic, self-confident, and unstable.—Ed.]

[Footnote c: Robert Jones, of Plas-yn-llan, near Ruthin, Denbighshire, to whom the 'Descriptive Sketches', which record the tour, were dedicated.—Ed.]

[Footnote d: See 'Descriptive Sketches', vol. i. p. 35.—Ed.]

[Footnote e: Compare Shakespeare, 'Sonnets', 16:

'Now stand you on the top of happy hours.'


[Footnote f: In 1790, most of what could be shaken in the order of European, and especially of French society and government, was shaken and changed. By the new constitution of 1790, to which the French king took an oath of fidelity, his power was reduced to a shadow, and two years later France became a Republic.

"We crossed at the time," wrote Wordsworth to his sister, "when the whole nation was mad with joy in consequence of the Revolution."


[Footnote g:

"We went staff in hand, without knapsacks, and carrying each his needments tied up in a pocket handkerchief, with about twenty pounds a-piece in our pockets."

W. W. ('Autobiographical Memoranda.)—Ed.]

[Footnote h: July 14, 1790.

"We crossed from Dover and landed at Calais, on the eve of the day when the King was to swear fidelity to the new constitution: an event which was solemnised with due pomp at Calais."

W. W. ('Autobiographical Memoranda.') See also the sonnet "dedicated to National Independence and Liberty," vol. ii. p. 332. beginning,

'Jones! as from Calais southward you and I, and compare the human nature seeming born again'

of 'The Prelude', book vi. I, 341, with "the pomp of a too-credulous day" and the "homeless sound of joy" of the sonnet.—Ed.]

[Footnote i: They went by Ardres, Peronne, Soissons, Chateau Thierry, Sezanne, Bar le Duc, Chatillon-sur-Seine, Nuits, to Chalons-sur-Saone; and thence sailed down to Lyons. See Fenwick note to 'Stray Pleasures' (vol. iv.)

"The town of Chalons, where my friend Jones and I halted a day, when we crossed France, so far on foot. There we embarqued, and floated down to Lyons."


[Footnote k: Compare 'Descriptive Sketches', vol. i. p 40:

'Or where her pathways straggle as they please By lonely farms and secret villages.'


[Footnote m:

"Her road elms rustling thin above my head."

(See 'Descriptive Sketches', vol. i. pp. 39, 40, and compare the two passages in detail.)—Ed.]

[Footnote n: On the 29th July 1790.—Ed.]

[Footnote o: They were at Lyons on the 30th July.—Ed.]

[Footnote p: They reached the Chartreuse on the 4th of August, and spent two days there "contemplating, with increasing pleasure," says Wordsworth, "its wonderful scenery."—Ed.]

[Footnote q: The forest of St. Bruno, near the Chartreuse.—Ed.]

[Footnote r: "Names of rivers at the Chartreuse."—W. W. 1793.

They are called in 'Descriptive Sketches', vol. i. p. 41, "the mystic streams of Life and Death."—Ed.]

[Footnote s: "Name of one of the vallies of the Chartreuse."—W. W. 1793.]

[Footnote t: "Alluding to crosses seen on the spiry rocks of the Chartreuse, which have every appearance of being inaccessible."—W. W. 1793.]

[Footnote u: It extended from July 13 to September 29. See the detailed Itinerary, vol. i. p. 332, and Wordsworth's letter to his sister, from Keswill, describing the trip.—Ed.]

[Footnote v: See the account of "Urseren's open vale serene," and the paragraph which follows it in 'Descriptive Sketches', vol. i. pp. 50, 51.—Ed.]

[Footnote w: See the account of these "abodes of peaceful man," in 'Descriptive Sketches', ll. 208-253.—Ed.]

[Footnote x: Probably the valley between Martigny and the Col de Balme.—Ed.]

[Footnote y: Wordsworth and Jones crossed from Martigny to Chamouni on the 11th of August. The "bare ridge," from which they first "beheld unveiled the summit of Mont Blanc," and were disenchanted, was doubtless the Col de Balme. The first view of the great mountain is not impressive as seen from that point, or indeed from any of the possible routes to Chamouni from the Rhone valley, until the village is almost reached. The best approach is from Sallanches by St. Gervais.—Ed.]

[Footnote z: Compare Coleridge's 'Hymn before sun-rise in the Vale of Chamouni', and Shelley's 'Mont Blanc', with Wordsworth's description of the Alps, here in 'The Prelude', in 'Descriptive Sketches', and in the 'Memorials of a Tour on the Continent'.—Ed.]

[Footnote Aa: August 17, 1790.—Ed.]

[Footnote Bb: This passage beginning, "The brook and road," was first published, amongst the "Poems of the Imagination," in the edition of 1845, under the title of 'The Simplon Pass' (see vol. ii. p. 69). It is doubtless to this walk down the Italian side of the Simplon route that Wordsworth refers in the letter to his sister from Keswill, in which he says,

"The impression of there hours of our walk among these Alps will never be effaced."


[Footnote Cc: The old hospice in the Simplon, which is beside a torrent below the level of the road, about 22 miles from Duomo d'Ossola.—Ed.]

[Footnote Dd:

"From Duomo d'Ossola we proceeded to the lake of Locarno, to visit the Boromean Islands, and thence to Como."

(W. W. to his sister.) The lake of Locarno is now called Lago Maggiore.—Ed.]

[Footnote Ee:

"The shores of the lake consist of steeps, covered with large sweeping woods of chestnut, spotted with villages."

(W. W. to his sister.)—Ed.]

[Footnote Ff:

"A small footpath is all the communication by land between one village and another on the side along which we passed, for upwards of thirty miles. We entered on this path about noon, and, owing to the steepness of the banks, were soon unmolested by the sun, which illuminated the woods, rocks, and villages of the opposite shore."

(See letter of W. W. from Keswill.)—Ed.]

[Footnote Gg: See 'Descriptive Sketches', vol. i. pp. 42-46.—Ed.]

[Footnote Hh: They followed the lake of Como to its head, leaving Gravedona on the 20th August.—Ed.]

[Footnote Ii: August 21, 1790.—Ed.]

[Footnote Kk: They reached Cologne on the 28th September, having floated down the Rhine in a small boat; and from Cologne went to Calais, through Belgium.—Ed.]

* * * * *



Six changeful years have vanished since I first Poured out (saluted by that quickening breeze Which met me issuing from the City's [A] walls) A glad preamble to this Verse: [B] I sang Aloud, with fervour irresistible 5 Of short-lived transport, like a torrent bursting, From a black thunder-cloud, down Scafell's side To rush and disappear. But soon broke forth (So willed the Muse) a less impetuous stream, That flowed awhile with unabating strength, 10 Then stopped for years; not audible again Before last primrose-time, [C] Beloved Friend! The assurance which then cheered some heavy thoughts On thy departure to a foreign land [D] Has failed; too slowly moves the promised work. 15 Through the whole summer have I been at rest, [E] Partly from voluntary holiday, And part through outward hindrance. But I heard, After the hour of sunset yester-even, Sitting within doors between light and dark, 20 A choir of redbreasts gathered somewhere near My threshold,—minstrels from the distant woods Sent in on Winter's service, to announce, With preparation artful and benign, That the rough lord had left the surly North 25 On his accustomed journey. The delight, Due to this timely notice, unawares Smote me, and, listening, I in whispers said, "Ye heartsome Choristers, ye and I will be Associates, and, unscared by blustering winds, 30 Will chant together." Thereafter, as the shades Of twilight deepened, going forth, I spied A glow-worm underneath a dusky plume Or canopy of yet unwithered fern, Clear-shining, like a hermit's taper seen 35 Through a thick forest. Silence touched me here No less than sound had done before; the child Of Summer, lingering, shining, by herself, The voiceless worm on the unfrequented hills, Seemed sent on the same errand with the choir 40 Of Winter that had warbled at my door, And the whole year breathed tenderness and love.

The last night's genial feeling overflowed Upon this morning, and my favourite grove, Tossing in sunshine its dark boughs aloft, [F] 45 As if to make the strong wind visible, Wakes in me agitations like its own, A spirit friendly to the Poet's task, Which we will now resume with lively hope, Nor checked by aught of tamer argument 50 That lies before us, needful to be told.

Returned from that excursion, [G] soon I bade Farewell for ever to the sheltered seats [H] Of gowned students, quitted hall and bower, And every comfort of that privileged ground, 55 Well pleased to pitch a vagrant tent among The unfenced regions of society.

Yet, undetermined to what course of life I should adhere, and seeming to possess A little space of intermediate time 60 At full command, to London first I turned, [I] In no disturbance of excessive hope, By personal ambition unenslaved, Frugal as there was need, and, though self-willed, From dangerous passions free. Three years had flown [K] 65 Since I had felt in heart and soul the shock Of the huge town's first presence, and had paced Her endless streets, a transient visitant: [K] Now, fixed amid that concourse of mankind Where Pleasure whirls about incessantly, 70 And life and labour seem but one, I filled An idler's place; an idler well content To have a house (what matter for a home?) That owned him; living cheerfully abroad With unchecked fancy ever on the stir, 75 And all my young affections out of doors.

There was a time when whatsoe'er is feigned Of airy palaces, and gardens built By Genii of romance; or hath in grave Authentic history been set forth of Rome, 80 Alcairo, Babylon, or Persepolis; Or given upon report by pilgrim friars, Of golden cities ten months' journey deep Among Tartarian wilds—fell short, far short, Of what my fond simplicity believed 85 And thought of London—held me by a chain Less strong of wonder and obscure delight. Whether the bolt of childhood's Fancy shot For me beyond its ordinary mark, 'Twere vain to ask; but in our flock of boys 90 Was One, a cripple from his birth, whom chance Summoned from school to London; fortunate And envied traveller! When the Boy returned, After short absence, curiously I scanned His mien and person, nor was free, in sooth, 95 From disappointment, not to find some change In look and air, from that new region brought, As if from Fairy-land. Much I questioned him; And every word he uttered, on my ears Fell flatter than a caged parrot's note, 100 That answers unexpectedly awry, And mocks the prompter's listening. Marvellous things Had vanity (quick Spirit that appears Almost as deeply seated and as strong In a Child's heart as fear itself) conceived 105 For my enjoyment. Would that I could now Recal what then I pictured to myself, Of mitred Prelates, Lords in ermine clad, The King, and the King's Palace, and, not last, Nor least, Heaven bless him! the renowned Lord Mayor: 110 Dreams not unlike to those which once begat A change of purpose in young Whittington, When he, a friendless and a drooping boy, Sate on a stone, and heard the bells speak out Articulate music. [L] Above all, one thought 115 Baffled my understanding: how men lived Even next-door neighbours, as we say, yet still Strangers, not knowing each the other's name.

O, wond'rous power of words, by simple faith Licensed to take the meaning that we love! 120 Vauxhall and Ranelagh! I then had heard Of your green groves, [M] and wilderness of lamps Dimming the stars, and fireworks magical, And gorgeous ladies, under splendid domes, Floating in dance, or warbling high in air 125 The songs of spirits! Nor had Fancy fed With less delight upon that other class Of marvels, broad-day wonders permanent: The River proudly bridged; the dizzy top And Whispering Gallery of St. Paul's; the tombs 130 Of Westminster; the Giants of Guildhall; Bedlam, and those carved maniacs at the gates, [N] Perpetually recumbent; Statues—man, And the horse under him—in gilded pomp Adorning flowery gardens, 'mid vast squares; 135 The Monument, [O] and that Chamber of the Tower [P] Where England's sovereigns sit in long array, Their steeds bestriding,—every mimic shape Cased in the gleaming mail the monarch wore, Whether for gorgeous tournament addressed, 140 Or life or death upon the battle-field. Those bold imaginations in due time Had vanished, leaving others in their stead: And now I looked upon the living scene; Familiarly perused it; oftentimes, 145 In spite of strongest disappointment, pleased Through courteous self-submission, as a tax Paid to the object by prescriptive right.

Rise up, thou monstrous ant-hill on the plain Of a too busy world! Before me flow, 150 Thou endless stream of men and moving things! Thy every-day appearance, as it strikes— With wonder heightened, or sublimed by awe— On strangers, of all ages; the quick dance Of colours, lights, and forms; the deafening din; 155 The comers and the goers face to face, Face after face; the string of dazzling wares, Shop after shop, with symbols, blazoned names, And all the tradesman's honours overhead: Here, fronts of houses, like a title-page, 160 With letters huge inscribed from top to toe, Stationed above the door, like guardian saints; There, allegoric shapes, female or male, Or physiognomies of real men, Land-warriors, kings, or admirals of the sea, 165 Boyle, Shakespeare, Newton, or the attractive head Of some quack-doctor, famous in his day.

Meanwhile the roar continues, till at length, Escaped as from an enemy, we turn Abruptly into some sequestered nook, 170 Still as a sheltered place when winds blow loud! At leisure, thence, through tracts of thin resort, And sights and sounds that come at intervals, We take our way. A raree-show is here, With children gathered round; another street 175 Presents a company of dancing dogs, Or dromedary, with an antic pair Of monkeys on his back; a minstrel band Of Savoyards; or, single and alone, An English ballad-singer. Private courts, 180 Gloomy as coffins, and unsightly lanes Thrilled by some female vendor's scream, belike The very shrillest of all London cries, May then entangle our impatient steps; Conducted through those labyrinths, unawares, 185 To privileged regions and inviolate, Where from their airy lodges studious lawyers Look out on waters, walks, and gardens green.

Thence back into the throng, until we reach, Following the tide that slackens by degrees, 190 Some half-frequented scene, where wider streets Bring straggling breezes of suburban air. Here files of ballads dangle from dead walls; Advertisements, of giant-size, from high Press forward, in all colours, on the sight; 195 These, bold in conscious merit, lower down; That, fronted with a most imposing word, Is, peradventure, one in masquerade. As on the broadening causeway we advance, Behold, turned upwards, a face hard and strong 200 In lineaments, and red with over-toil. 'Tis one encountered here and everywhere; A travelling cripple, by the trunk cut short, And stumping on his arms. In sailor's garb Another lies at length, beside a range 205 Of well-formed characters, with chalk inscribed Upon the smooth flat stones: the Nurse is here, The Bachelor, that loves to sun himself, The military Idler, and the Dame, That field-ward takes her walk with decent steps. 210

Now homeward through the thickening hubbub, where See, among less distinguishable shapes, The begging scavenger, with hat in hand; The Italian, as he thrids his way with care, Steadying, far-seen, a frame of images 215 Upon his head; with basket at his breast The Jew; the stately and slow-moving Turk, With freight of slippers piled beneath his arm!

Enough;—the mighty concourse I surveyed With no unthinking mind, well pleased to note 220 Among the crowd all specimens of man, Through all the colours which the sun bestows, And every character of form and face: The Swede, the Russian; from the genial south, The Frenchman and the Spaniard; from remote 225 America, the Hunter-Indian; Moors, Malays, Lascars, the Tartar, the Chinese, And Negro Ladies in white muslin gowns.

At leisure, then, I viewed, from day to day, The spectacles within doors,—birds and beasts 230 Of every nature, and strange plants convened From every clime; and, next, those sights that ape The absolute presence of reality, Expressing, as in mirror, sea and land, And what earth is, and what she has to shew. 235 I do not here allude to subtlest craft, By means refined attaining purest ends, But imitations, fondly made in plain Confession of man's weakness and his loves. Whether the Painter, whose ambitious skill 240 Submits to nothing less than taking in A whole horizon's circuit, do with power, Like that of angels or commissioned spirits, Fix us upon some lofty pinnacle, Or in a ship on waters, with a world 245 Of life, and life-like mockery beneath, Above, behind, far stretching and before; Or more mechanic artist represent By scale exact, in model, wood or clay, From blended colours also borrowing help, 250 Some miniature of famous spots or things,— St. Peter's Church; or, more aspiring aim, In microscopic vision, Rome herself; Or, haply, some choice rural haunt,—the Falls Of Tivoli; and, high upon that steep, 255 The Sibyl's mouldering Temple! every tree, Villa, or cottage, lurking among rocks Throughout the landscape; tuft, stone scratch minute— All that the traveller sees when he is there.

Add to these exhibitions, mute and still, 260 Others of wider scope, where living men, Music, and shifting pantomimic scenes, Diversified the allurement. Need I fear To mention by its name, as in degree, Lowest of these and humblest in attempt, 265 Yet richly graced with honours of her own, Half-rural Sadler's Wells? [Q] Though at that time Intolerant, as is the way of youth Unless itself be pleased, here more than once Taking my seat, I saw (nor blush to add, 270 With ample recompense) giants and dwarfs, Clowns, conjurors, posture-masters, harlequins, Amid the uproar of the rabblement, Perform their feats. Nor was it mean delight To watch crude Nature work in untaught minds; 275 To note the laws and progress of belief; Though obstinate on this way, yet on that How willingly we travel, and how far! To have, for instance, brought upon the scene The champion, Jack the Giant-killer: Lo! 280 He dons his coat of darkness; on the stage Walks, and achieves his wonders, from the eye Of living Mortal covert, "as the moon Hid in her vacant interlunar cave." [R] Delusion bold! and how can it be wrought? 285 The garb he wears is black as death, the word "Invisible" flames forth upon his chest.

Here, too, were "forms and pressures of the time," [S] Rough, bold, as Grecian comedy displayed When Art was young; dramas of living men, 290 And recent things yet warm with life; a sea-fight, Shipwreck, or some domestic incident Divulged by Truth and magnified by Fame, Such as the daring brotherhood of late Set forth, too serious theme for that light place—295 I mean, O distant Friend! a story drawn From our own ground,—the Maid of Buttermere,—[T] And how, unfaithful to a virtuous wife Deserted and deceived, the spoiler came And wooed the artless daughter of the hills, 300 And wedded her, in cruel mockery Of love and marriage bonds. [U] These words to thee Must needs bring back the moment when we first, Ere the broad world rang with the maiden's name, Beheld her serving at the cottage inn, 305 Both stricken, as she entered or withdrew, With admiration of her modest mien And carriage, marked by unexampled grace. We since that time not unfamiliarly Have seen her,—her discretion have observed, 310 Her just opinions, delicate reserve, Her patience, and humility of mind Unspoiled by commendation and the excess Of public notice—an offensive light To a meek spirit suffering inwardly. 315

From this memorial tribute to my theme I was returning, when, with sundry forms Commingled—shapes which met me in the way That we must tread—thy image rose again, Maiden of Buttermere! She lives in peace 320 Upon the spot where she was born and reared; Without contamination doth she live In quietness, without anxiety: Beside the mountain chapel, sleeps in earth Her new-born infant, fearless as a lamb 325 That, thither driven from some unsheltered place, Rests underneath the little rock-like pile When storms are raging. Happy are they both— Mother and child!—These feelings, in themselves Trite, do yet scarcely seem so when I think 330 On those ingenuous moments of our youth Ere we have learnt by use to slight the crimes And sorrows of the world. Those simple days Are now my theme; and, foremost of the scenes, Which yet survive in memory, appears 335 One, at whose centre sate a lovely Boy, A sportive infant, who, for six months' space, Not more, had been of age to deal about Articulate prattle—Child as beautiful As ever clung around a mother's neck, 340 Or father fondly gazed upon with pride. There, too, conspicuous for stature tall And large dark eyes, beside her infant stood The mother; but, upon her cheeks diffused, False tints too well accorded with the glare 345 From play-house lustres thrown without reserve On every object near. The Boy had been The pride and pleasure of all lookers-on In whatsoever place, but seemed in this A sort of alien scattered from the clouds. 350 Of lusty vigour, more than infantine He was in limb, in cheek a summer rose Just three parts blown—a cottage-child—if e'er, By cottage-door on breezy mountain side, Or in some sheltering vale, was seen a babe 355 By Nature's gifts so favoured. Upon a board Decked with refreshments had this child been placed, His little stage in the vast theatre, And there he sate surrounded with a throng Of chance spectators, chiefly dissolute men 360 And shameless women, treated and caressed; Ate, drank, and with the fruit and glasses played, While oaths and laughter and indecent speech Were rife about him as the songs of birds Contending after showers. The mother now 365 Is fading out of memory, but I see The lovely Boy as I beheld him then Among the wretched and the falsely gay, Like one of those who walked with hair unsinged Amid the fiery furnace. Charms and spells 370 Muttered on black and spiteful instigation Have stopped, as some believe, the kindliest growths. Ah, with how different spirit might a prayer Have been preferred, that this fair creature, checked By special privilege of Nature's love, 375 Should in his childhood be detained for ever! But with its universal freight the tide Hath rolled along, and this bright innocent, Mary! may now have lived till he could look With envy on thy nameless babe that sleeps, 380 Beside the mountain chapel, undisturbed.

Four rapid years had scarcely then been told [V] Since, travelling southward from our pastoral hills, I heard, and for the first time in my life, The voice of woman utter blasphemy—385 Saw woman as she is, to open shame Abandoned, and the pride of public vice; I shuddered, for a barrier seemed at once Thrown in, that from humanity divorced Humanity, splitting the race of man 390 In twain, yet leaving the same outward form. Distress of mind ensued upon the sight And ardent meditation. Later years Brought to such spectacle a milder sadness. Feelings of pure commiseration, grief 395 For the individual and the overthrow Of her soul's beauty; farther I was then But seldom led, or wished to go; in truth The sorrow of the passion stopped me there.

But let me now, less moved, in order take 400 Our argument. Enough is said to show How casual incidents of real life, Observed where pastime only had been sought, Outweighed, or put to flight, the set events And measured passions of the stage, albeit 405 By Siddons trod in the fulness of her power. Yet was the theatre my dear delight; The very gilding, lamps and painted scrolls, And all the mean upholstery of the place, Wanted not animation, when the tide 410 Of pleasure ebbed but to return as fast With the ever-shifting figures of the scene, Solemn or gay: whether some beauteous dame Advanced in radiance through a deep recess Of thick entangled forest, like the moon 415 Opening the clouds; or sovereign king, announced With flourishing trumpet, came in full-blown state Of the world's greatness, winding round with train Of courtiers, banners, and a length of guards; Or captive led in abject weeds, and jingling 420 His slender manacles; or romping girl Bounced, leapt, and pawed the air; or mumbling sire, A scare-crow pattern of old age dressed up In all the tatters of infirmity All loosely put together, hobbled in, 425 Stumping upon a cane with which he smites, From time to time, the solid boards, and makes them Prate somewhat loudly of the whereabout [W] Of one so overloaded with his years. But what of this! the laugh, the grin, grimace, 430 The antics striving to outstrip each other, Were all received, the least of them not lost, With an unmeasured welcome. Through the night, Between the show, and many-headed mass Of the spectators, and each several nook 435 Filled with its fray or brawl, how eagerly And with what flashes, as it were, the mind Turned this way—that way! sportive and alert And watchful, as a kitten when at play, While winds are eddying round her, among straws 440 And rustling leaves. Enchanting age and sweet! Romantic almost, looked at through a space, How small, of intervening years! For then, Though surely no mean progress had been made In meditations holy and sublime, 445 Yet something of a girlish child-like gloss Of novelty survived for scenes like these; Enjoyment haply handed down from times When at a country-playhouse, some rude barn Tricked out for that proud use, if I perchance 450 Caught, on a summer evening through a chink In the old wall, an unexpected glimpse Of daylight, the bare thought of where I was Gladdened me more than if I had been led Into a dazzling cavern of romance, 455 Crowded with Genii busy among works Not to be looked at by the common sun.

The matter that detains us now may seem, To many, neither dignified enough Nor arduous, yet will not be scorned by them, 460 Who, looking inward, have observed the ties That bind the perishable hours of life Each to the other, and the curious props By which the world of memory and thought Exists and is sustained. More lofty themes, 465 Such as at least do wear a prouder face, Solicit our regard; but when I think Of these, I feel the imaginative power Languish within me; even then it slept, When, pressed by tragic sufferings, the heart 470 Was more than full; amid my sobs and tears It slept, even in the pregnant season of youth. For though I was most passionately moved And yielded to all changes of the scene With an obsequious promptness, yet the storm 475 Passed not beyond the suburbs of the mind; Save when realities of act and mien, The incarnation of the spirits that move In harmony amid the Poet's world, Rose to ideal grandeur, or, called forth 480 By power of contrast, made me recognise, As at a glance, the things which I had shaped, And yet not shaped, had seen and scarcely seen, When, having closed the mighty Shakespeare's page, I mused, and thought, and felt, in solitude. 485

Pass we from entertainments, that are such Professedly, to others titled higher, Yet, in the estimate of youth at least, More near akin to those than names imply,— I mean the brawls of lawyers in their courts 490 Before the ermined judge, or that great stage [X] Where senators, tongue-favoured men, perform, Admired and envied. Oh! the beating heart, When one among the prime of these rose up,— One, of whose name from childhood we had heard 495 Familiarly, a household term, like those, The Bedfords, Glosters, Salsburys, of old Whom the fifth Harry talks of. [Y] Silence! hush! This is no trifler, no short-flighted wit, No stammerer of a minute, painfully 500 Delivered. No! the Orator hath yoked The Hours, like young Aurora, to his car: Thrice welcome Presence! how can patience e'er Grow weary of attending on a track That kindles with such glory! All are charmed, 505 Astonished; like a hero in romance, He winds away his never-ending horn; Words follow words, sense seems to follow sense: What memory and what logic! till the strain Transcendent, superhuman as it seemed, 510 Grows tedious even in a young man's ear.

Genius of Burke! forgive the pen seduced By specious wonders, and too slow to tell Of what the ingenuous, what bewildered men, Beginning to mistrust their boastful guides, 515 And wise men, willing to grow wiser, caught, Rapt auditors! from thy most eloquent tongue— Now mute, for ever mute in the cold grave. I see him,—old, but Vigorous in age,— Stand like an oak whose stag-horn branches start 520 Out of its leafy brow, the more to awe The younger brethren of the grove. But some— While he forewarns, denounces, launches forth, Against all systems built on abstract rights, Keen ridicule; the majesty proclaims 525 Of Institutes and Laws, hallowed by time; Declares the vital power of social ties Endeared by Custom; and with high disdain, Exploding upstart Theory, insists Upon the allegiance to which men are born—530 Some—say at once a froward multitude— Murmur (for truth is hated, where not loved) As the winds fret within the AEolian cave, Galled by their monarch's chain. The times were big With ominous change, which, night by night, provoked 535 Keen struggles, and black clouds of passion raised; But memorable moments intervened, When Wisdom, like the Goddess from Jove's brain, Broke forth in armour of resplendent words, Startling the Synod. Could a youth, and one 540 In ancient story versed, whose breast had heaved Under the weight of classic eloquence, Sit, see, and hear, unthankful, uninspired?

Nor did the Pulpit's oratory fail To achieve its higher triumph. Not unfelt 545 Were its admonishments, nor lightly heard The awful truths delivered thence by tongues Endowed with various power to search the soul; Yet ostentation, domineering, oft Poured forth harangues, how sadly out of place!—550 There have I seen a comely bachelor, Fresh from a toilette of two hours, ascend His rostrum, with seraphic glance look up, And, in a tone elaborately low Beginning, lead his voice through many a maze 555 A minuet course; and, winding up his mouth, From time to time, into an orifice Most delicate, a lurking eyelet, small, And only not invisible, again Open it out, diffusing thence a smile 560 Of rapt irradiation, exquisite. Meanwhile the Evangelists, Isaiah, Job, Moses, and he who penned, the other day, The Death of Abel, [Z] Shakespeare, and the Bard Whose genius spangled o'er a gloomy theme 565 With fancies thick as his inspiring stars, [a] And Ossian (doubt not, 'tis the naked truth) Summoned from streamy Morven [b]—each and all Would, in their turns, lend ornaments and flowers To entwine the crook of eloquence that helped 570 This pretty Shepherd, pride of all the plains, To rule and guide his captivated flock.

I glance but at a few conspicuous marks, Leaving a thousand others, that, in hall, Court, theatre, conventicle, or shop, 575 In public room or private, park or street, Each fondly reared on his own pedestal, Looked out for admiration. Folly, vice, Extravagance in gesture, mien, and dress, And all the strife of singularity, 580 Lies to the ear, and lies to every sense— Of these, and of the living shapes they wear, There is no end. Such candidates for regard, Although well pleased to be where they were found, I did not hunt after, nor greatly prize, 585 Nor made unto myself a secret boast Of reading them with quick and curious eye; But, as a common produce, things that are To-day, to-morrow will be, took of them Such willing note, as, on some errand bound 590 That asks not speed, a Traveller might bestow On sea-shells that bestrew the sandy beach, Or daisies swarming through the fields of June.

But foolishness and madness in parade, Though most at home in this their dear domain, 595 Are scattered everywhere, no rarities, Even to the rudest novice of the Schools. Me, rather, it employed, to note, and keep In memory, those individual sights Of courage, or integrity, or truth, 600 Or tenderness, which there, set off by foil, Appeared more touching. One will I select; A Father—for he bore that sacred name— Him saw I, sitting in an open square, Upon a corner-stone of that low wall, 605 Wherein were fixed the iron pales that fenced A spacious grass-plot; there, in silence, sate This One Man, with a sickly babe outstretched Upon his knee, whom he had thither brought For sunshine, and to breathe the fresher air. 610 Of those who passed, and me who looked at him, He took no heed; but in his brawny arms (The Artificer was to the elbow bare, And from his work this moment had been stolen) He held the child, and, bending over it, 615 As if he were afraid both of the sun And of the air, which he had come to seek, Eyed the poor babe with love unutterable.

As the black storm upon the mountain top Sets off the sunbeam in the valley, so 620 That huge fermenting mass of human-kind Serves as a solemn back-ground, or relief, To single forms and objects, whence they draw, For feeling and contemplative regard, More than inherent liveliness and power. 625 How oft, amid those overflowing streets, Have I gone forward with the crowd, and said Unto myself, "The face of every one That passes by me is a mystery!" Thus have I looked, nor ceased to look, oppressed 630 By thoughts of what and whither, when and how, Until the shapes before my eyes became A second-sight procession, such as glides Over still mountains, or appears in dreams; And once, far-travelled in such mood, beyond 635 The reach of common indication, lost Amid the moving pageant, I was smitten Abruptly, with the view (a sight not rare) Of a blind Beggar, who, with upright face, Stood, propped against a wall, upon his chest 640 Wearing a written paper, to explain His story, whence he came, and who he was. Caught by the spectacle my mind turned round As with the might of waters; an apt type This label seemed of the utmost we can know, 645 Both of ourselves and of the universe; And, on the shape of that unmoving man, His steadfast face and sightless eyes, I gazed, As if admonished from another world.

Though reared upon the base of outward things, 650 Structures like these the excited spirit mainly Builds for herself; scenes different there are, Full-formed, that take, with small internal help, Possession of the faculties,—the peace That comes with night; the deep solemnity 655 Of nature's intermediate hours of rest, When the great tide of human life stands still; The business of the day to come, unborn, Of that gone by, locked up, as in the grave; The blended calmness of the heavens and earth, 660 Moonlight and stars, and empty streets, and sounds Unfrequent as in deserts; at late hours Of winter evenings, when unwholesome rains Are falling hard, with people yet astir, The feeble salutation from the voice 665 Of some unhappy woman, now and then Heard as we pass, when no one looks about, Nothing is listened to. But these, I fear, Are falsely catalogued; things that are, are not, As the mind answers to them, or the heart 670 Is prompt, or slow, to feel. What say you, then, To times, when half the city shall break out Full of one passion, vengeance, rage, or fear? To executions, to a street on fire, Mobs, riots, or rejoicings? From these sights 675 Take one,—that ancient festival, the Fair, Holden where martyrs suffered in past time, And named of St. Bartholomew; [c] there, see A work completed to our hands, that lays, If any spectacle on earth can do, 680 The whole creative powers of man asleep!— For once, the Muse's help will we implore, And she shall lodge us, wafted on her wings, Above the press and danger of the crowd, Upon some showman's platform. What a shock 685 For eyes and ears! what anarchy and din, Barbarian and infernal,—a phantasma, Monstrous in colour, motion, shape, sight, sound! Below, the open space, through every nook Of the wide area, twinkles, is alive 690 With heads; the midway region, and above, Is thronged with staring pictures and huge scrolls, Dumb proclamations of the Prodigies; With chattering monkeys dangling from their poles, And children whirling in their roundabouts; 695 With those that stretch the neck and strain the eyes, And crack the voice in rivalship, the crowd Inviting; with buffoons against buffoons Grimacing, writhing, screaming,—him who grinds The hurdy-gurdy, at the fiddle weaves, 700 Rattles the salt-box, thumps the kettle-drum, And him who at the trumpet puffs his cheeks, The silver-collared Negro with his timbrel, Equestrians, tumblers, women, girls, and boys, Blue-breeched, pink-vested, with high-towering plumes.—705 All moveables of wonder, from all parts, Are here—Albinos, painted Indians, Dwarfs, The Horse of knowledge, and the learned Pig, The Stone-eater, the man that swallows fire, Giants, Ventriloquists, the Invisible Girl, 710 The Bust that speaks and moves its goggling eyes, The Wax-work, Clock-work, all the marvellous craft Of modern Merlins, Wild Beasts, Puppet-shows, All out-o'-the-way, far-fetched, perverted things, All freaks of nature, all Promethean thoughts 715 Of man, his dullness, madness, and their feats All jumbled up together, to compose A Parliament of Monsters. Tents and Booths Meanwhile, as if the whole were one vast mill, Are vomiting, receiving on all sides, 720 Men, Women, three-years' Children, Babes in arms.

Oh, blank confusion! true epitome Of what the mighty City is herself, To thousands upon thousands of her sons, Living amid the same perpetual whirl 725 Of trivial objects, melted and reduced To one identity, by differences That have no law, no meaning, and no end— Oppression, under which even highest minds Must labour, whence the strongest are not free. [d] 730 But though the picture weary out the eye, By nature an unmanageable sight, It is not wholly so to him who looks In steadiness, who hath among least things An under-sense of greatest; sees the parts 735 As parts, but with a feeling of the whole. This, of all acquisitions, first awaits On sundry and most widely different modes Of education, nor with least delight On that through which I passed. Attention springs, 740 And comprehensiveness and memory flow, From early converse with the works of God Among all regions; chiefly where appear Most obviously simplicity and power. Think, how the everlasting streams and woods, 745 Stretched and still stretching far and wide, exalt The roving Indian, on his desert sands: What grandeur not unfelt, what pregnant show Of beauty, meets the sun-burnt Arab's eye: And, as the sea propels, from zone to zone, 750 Its currents; magnifies its shoals of life Beyond all compass; spreads, and sends aloft Armies of clouds,—even so, its powers and aspects Shape for mankind, by principles as fixed, The views and aspirations of the soul 755 To majesty. Like virtue have the forms Perennial of the ancient hills; nor less The changeful language of their countenances Quickens the slumbering mind, and aids the thoughts, However multitudinous, to move 760 With order and relation. This, if still, As hitherto, in freedom I may speak, Not violating any just restraint, As may be hoped, of real modesty,— This did I feel, in London's vast domain. 765 The Spirit of Nature was upon me there; The soul of Beauty and enduring Life Vouchsafed her inspiration, and diffused, Through meagre lines and colours, and the press Of self-destroying, transitory things, 770 Composure, and ennobling Harmony.

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[Footnote A: Goslar, February 10th, 1799. Compare Mr. Carter's note to 'The Prelude', book vii. l. 3.—Ed.]

[Footnote B: The first two paragraphs of book i.—Ed.]

[Footnote C: April 1804: see the reference in book vi. l. 48.—Ed.]

[Footnote D: Before he left for Malta, Coleridge had urged Wordsworth to complete this work.—Ed.]

[Footnote E: The summer of 1804.—Ed.]

[Footnote F: Doubtless John's Grove, below White Moss Common. On November 24, 1801, Dorothy Wordsworth wrote in her Journal,

"As we were going along, we were stopped at once, at the distance perhaps of fifty yards from our favourite birch tree. It was yielding to the gusty wind with all its tender twigs. The sun shone upon it, and it glanced in the wind like a flying sunshiny shower. It was a tree in shape, with stem and branches, but it was like a spirit of water. The sun went in, and it resumed its purplish appearance, the twigs still yielding to the wind, but not so visibly to us. The other birch trees that were near it looked bright and cheerful, but it was a Creation by itself amongst them."

This does not refer to John's Grove, but it may be interesting to compare the sister's description of a birch tree "tossing in sunshine," with the brother's account of a grove of fir trees similarly moved.—Ed.]

[Footnote G: The visit to Switzerland with Jones in 1790, described in book vi.—Ed.]

[Footnote H: He took his B. A. degree in January 1791, and immediately afterwards left Cambridge.—Ed.]

[Footnote I: Going to Forncett Rectory, near Norwich, he spent six weeks with his sister, and then went to London, where he stayed four months.—Ed.]

[Footnote K: From the hint given in this passage, it would seem that he had gone up to London for a few days in 1788. Compare book viii. l. 543, and note [Footnote o].—Ed.]

[Footnote L: The story of Whittington, hearing the bells ring out the prosperity in store for him,

'Turn again, Whittington, Thrice Lord Mayor of London,'

is well known.—Ed.]

[Footnote M: Tea-gardens, till well on in this century; now built over.—Ed.]

[Footnote N: Bedlam, a popular corruption of Bethlehem, a lunatic hospital, founded in 1246. The old building, with its "carved maniacs at the gates," was taken down in 1675, and the hospital removed to Moorfields. The second building—the one to which Wordsworth refers—was demolished in 1814.—Ed.]

[Footnote O: The London "Monument," erected from a design by Sir Christopher Wren, on the spot where the great London Fire of 1666 began.—Ed.]

[Footnote P: The historic Tower of London.—Ed.]

[Footnote Q: A theatre in St. John's Street Road, Clerkenwell, erected in 1765.—Ed.]

[Footnote R: See 'Samson Agonistes', l. 88.—Ed.]

[Footnote S: See 'Hamlet', act I. sc. v. l. 100.—Ed.]

[Footnote T: The story of Mary, "The Maid of Buttermere," as told in the guidebooks, is as follows:

'She was the daughter of the inn-keeper at the Fish Inn. She was much admired, and many suitors sought her hand in vain. At last a stranger, named Hatfield, who called himself the Hon. Colonel Hope, brother of Lord Hopetoun, won her heart, and married her. Soon after the marriage, he was apprehended on a charge of forgery, surreptitiously franking a letter in the name of a Member of Parliament, tried at Carlisle, convicted, and hanged. It was discovered during the trial, that he had a wife and family, and had fled to these sequestered parts to escape the arm of the law.'

See 'Essays on his own Times', by S. T. Coleridge, edited by his daughter Sara. A melodrama on the story of the Maid of Buttermere was produced in all the suburban London theatres; and in 1843 a novel was published in London by Henry Colburn, entitled 'James Hatfield and the Beauty of Buttermere, a Story of Modern Times', with illustrations by Robert Cruikshank.—Ed.]

[Footnote U: Compare S. T. C.'s 'Essays on his own Times', p. 585.—Ed.]

[Footnote V: He first went south to Cambridge, in October 1787; and he left London, at the close of his second visit to Town, in the end of May 1791.—Ed.]

[Footnote W: Compare 'Macbeth', act II. sc. i. l. 58:

'Thy very stones prate of my whereabout.'


[Footnote X: The Houses of Parliament.—Ed.]

[Footnote Y: See Shakespeare's 'King Henry the Fifth', act IV. sc. iii. l. 53.—Ed.]

[Footnote Z: Solomon Gesner (or Gessner), a landscape artist, etcher, and poet, born at Zuerich in 1730, died in 1787. His 'Tod Abels' (the death of Abel), though the poorest of all his works, became a favourite in Germany, France, and England. It was translated into English by Mary Collyer, a 12th edition of her version appearing in 1780. As 'The Death of Abel' was written before 1760, in the line "he who penned, the other day," Wordsworth probably refers to some new edition of the translation.—Ed.]

[Footnote a: Edward Young, author of 'Night Thoughts, on Life, Death, and Immortality'.—Ed.]

[Footnote b: In Argyleshire.—Ed.]

[Footnote c: Permission was given by Henry I. to hold a "Fair" on St. Bartholomew's day.—Ed.]

[Footnote d: In one of the MS. books in Dorothy Wordsworth's handwriting, on the outside leather cover of which is written, "May to December 1802," there are some lines which were evidently dictated to her, or copied by her, from the numerous experimental efforts of her brother in connection with this autobiographical poem. They are as follows:

'Shall he who gives his days to low pursuits Amid the undistinguishable crowd Of cities, 'mid the same eternal flow Of the same objects, melted and reduced To one identity, by differences That have no law, no meaning, and no end, Shall he feel yearning to those lifeless forms, And shall we think that Nature is less kind To those, who all day long, through a busy life, Have walked within her sight? It cannot be.'


* * * * *



What sounds are those, Helvellyn, that [1] are heard Up to thy summit, through the depth of air Ascending, as if distance had the power To make the sounds more audible? What crowd Covers, or sprinkles o'er, yon village green? [2] 5 Crowd seems it, solitary hill! to thee, Though but a little family of men, Shepherds and tillers of the ground—betimes Assembled with their children and their wives, And here and there a stranger interspersed. 10 They hold a rustic fair—a festival, Such as, on this side now, and now on that, [3] Repeated through his tributary vales, Helvellyn, in the silence of his rest, Sees annually, [A] if clouds towards either ocean 15 Blown from their favourite resting-place, or mists Dissolved, have left him [4] an unshrouded head. Delightful day it is for all who dwell In this secluded glen, and eagerly They give it welcome. [5] Long ere heat of noon, 20 From byre or field the kine were brought; the sheep [6] Are penned in cotes; the chaffering is begun. The heifer lows, uneasy at the voice Of a new master; bleat the flocks aloud. Booths are there none; a stall or two is here; 25 A lame man or a blind, the one to beg, The other to make music; hither, too, From far, with basket, slung upon her arm, Of hawker's wares—books, pictures, combs, and pins— Some aged woman finds her way again, 30 Year after year, a punctual visitant! There also stands a speech-maker by rote, Pulling the strings of his boxed raree-show; And in the lapse of many years may come [7] Prouder itinerant, mountebank, or he 35 Whose wonders in a covered wain lie hid. But one there is, [8] the loveliest of them all, Some sweet lass of the valley, looking out For gains, and who that sees her would not buy? Fruits of her father's orchard, are her wares, 40 And with the ruddy produce, she walks round [9] Among the crowd, half pleased with, half ashamed Of her new office, [10] blushing restlessly. The children now are rich, for the old to-day Are generous as the young; and, if content 45 With looking on, some ancient wedded pair Sit in the shade together, while they gaze, "A cheerful smile unbends the wrinkled brow, The days departed start again to life, And all the scenes of childhood reappear, 50 Faint, but more tranquil, like the changing sun To him who slept at noon and wakes at eve." [B] Thus gaiety and cheerfulness prevail, Spreading from young to old, from old to young, And no one seems to want his share.—Immense [11] 55 Is the recess, the circumambient world Magnificent, by which they are embraced: They move about upon the soft green turf: [12] How little they, they and their doings, seem, And all that they can further or obstruct! [13] 60 Through utter weakness pitiably dear, As tender infants are: and yet how great! For all things serve them: them the morning light Loves, as it glistens on the silent rocks; And them the silent rocks, which now from high 65 Look down upon them; the reposing clouds; The wild brooks prattling from [14] invisible haunts; And old Helvellyn, conscious of the stir Which animates this day [15] their calm abode.

With deep devotion, Nature, did I feel, 70 In that enormous City's turbulent world Of men and things, what benefit I owed To thee, and those domains of rural peace, Where to the sense of beauty first my heart Was opened; [C] tract more exquisitely fair 75 Than that famed paradise often thousand trees, [D] Or Gehol's matchless gardens, [E] for delight Of the Tartarian dynasty composed (Beyond that mighty wall, not fabulous, China's stupendous mound) by patient toil 80 Of myriads and boon nature's lavish help; [F] There, in a clime from widest empire chosen, Fulfilling (could enchantment have done more?) A sumptuous dream of flowery lawns, with domes Of pleasure [G] sprinkled over, shady dells 85 For eastern monasteries, sunny mounts With temples crested, bridges, gondolas, Rocks, dens, and groves of foliage taught to melt Into each other their obsequious hues, Vanished and vanishing in subtle chase, 90 Too fine to be pursued; or standing forth In no discordant opposition, strong And gorgeous as the colours side by side Bedded among rich plumes of tropic birds; And mountains over all, embracing all; 95 And all the landscape, endlessly enriched With waters running, falling, or asleep.

But lovelier far than this, the paradise Where I was reared; [H] in Nature's primitive gifts Favoured no less, and more to every sense 100 Delicious, seeing that the sun and sky, The elements, and seasons as they change, Do find a worthy fellow-labourer there— Man free, man working for himself, with choice Of time, and place, and object; by his wants, 105 His comforts, native occupations, cares, Cheerfully led to individual ends Or social, and still followed by a train Unwooed, unthought-of even—simplicity, And beauty, and inevitable grace. 110

Yea, when a glimpse of those imperial bowers Would to a child be transport over-great, When but a half-hour's roam through such a place Would leave behind a dance of images, That shall break in upon his sleep for weeks; 115 Even then the common haunts of the green earth, And ordinary interests of man, Which they embosom, all without regard As both may seem, are fastening on the heart Insensibly, each with the other's help. 120 For me, when my affections first were led From kindred, friends, and playmates, to partake Love for the human creature's absolute self, That noticeable kindliness of heart Sprang out of fountains, there abounding most 125 Where sovereign Nature dictated the tasks And occupations which her beauty adorned, And Shepherds were the men that pleased me first; [I] Not such as Saturn ruled 'mid Latian wilds, With arts and laws so tempered, that their lives 130 Left, even to us toiling in this late day, A bright tradition of the golden age; [K] Not such as, 'mid Arcadian fastnesses Sequestered, handed down among themselves Felicity, in Grecian song renowned; [L] 135 Nor such as—when an adverse fate had driven, From house and home, the courtly band whose fortunes Entered, with Shakespeare's genius, the wild woods Of Arden—amid sunshine or in shade, Culled the best fruits of Time's uncounted hours, 140 Ere Phoebe sighed for the false Ganymede; [M] Or there where Perdita and Florizel Together danced, Queen of the feast, and King; [N] Nor such as Spenser fabled. True it is, That I had heard (what he perhaps had seen) 145 Of maids at sunrise bringing in from far Their May-bush [O], and along the streets in flocks Parading with a song of taunting rhymes, Aimed at the laggards slumbering within doors; Had also heard, from those who yet remembered, 150 Tales of the May-pole dance, and wreaths that decked Porch, door-way, or kirk-pillar; [O] and of youths, Each with his maid, before the sun was up, By annual custom, issuing forth in troops, To drink the waters of some sainted well, 155 And hang it round with garlands. Love survives; But, for such purpose, flowers no longer grow: The times, too sage, perhaps too proud, have dropped These lighter graces; and the rural ways And manners which my childhood looked upon 160 Were the unluxuriant produce of a life Intent on little but substantial needs, Yet rich in beauty, beauty that was felt. But images of danger and distress, Man suffering among awful Powers and Forms; 165 Of this I heard, and saw enough to make Imagination restless; nor was free Myself from frequent perils; nor were tales Wanting,—the tragedies of former times, Hazards and strange escapes, of which the rocks 170 Immutable and overflowing streams, Where'er I roamed, were speaking monuments.

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