The Project Gutenberg EBook of The Poetical Works of William Wordsworth,
Vol. VII, by William Wordsworth

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Title: The Poetical Works of William Wordsworth, Vol. VII

Author: William Wordsworth

Editor: William Knight

Release Date: October 18, 2014 [EBook #47143]

Language: English

Character set encoding: ASCII


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William Wordsworth
after B. R. Haydon




Dove Cottage Grasmere



All rights reserved

[Pg 0b]
[Pg 0c]
[Pg v]


Ecclesiastical Sonnets. In Series—
Part I.—From the Introduction of Christianity into Britain, to the Consummation of the Papal Dominion—
I. Introduction 4
II. Conjectures 5
III. Trepidation of the Druids 6
IV. Druidical Excommunication 7
V. Uncertainty 7
VI. Persecution 8
VII. Recovery 9
VIII. Temptations from Roman Refinements 10
IX. Dissensions 10
X. Struggle of the Britons against the Barbarians 11
XI. Saxon Conquest 12
XII. Monastery of Old Bangor 13
XIII. Casual Incitement 14
XIV. Glad Tidings 15
XV. Paulinus 15
XVI. Persuasion[Pg vi] 16
XVII. Conversion 17
XVIII. Apology 18
XIX. Primitive Saxon Clergy 19
XX. Other Influences 19
XXI. Seclusion 20
XXII. Continued 21
XXIII. Reproof 21
XXIV. Saxon Monasteries, and Lights and Shades of the Religion 22
XXV. Missions and Travels 23
XXVI. Alfred 24
XXVII. His Descendants 25
XXVIII. Influence Abused 26
XXIX. Danish Conquests 27
XXX. Canute 27
XXXI. The Norman Conquest 28
XXXII. "Coldly we spake. The Saxons, overpowered" 29
XXXIII. The Council of Clermont 30
XXXIV. Crusades 31
XXXV. Richard I 31
XXXVI. An Interdict 32
XXXVII. Papal Abuses 33
XXXVIII. Scene in Venice 34
XXXIX. Papal Dominion 34
Part II.—To the Close of the Troubles in the Reign of Charles I—
I. "How soon—alas! did Man, created pure" 33
II. "From false assumption rose, and fondly hail'd" 36
III. Cistertian Monastery[Pg vii] 37
IV. "Deplorable his lot who tills the ground" 38
V. Monks and Schoolmen 39
VI. Other Benefits 40
VII. Continued 40
VIII. Crusaders 41
IX. "As faith thus sanctified the warrior's crest" 42
X. "Where long and deeply hath been fixed the root" 43
XI. Transubstantiation 44
XII. The Vaudois 44
XIII. "Praised be the Rivers, from their mountain springs" 45
XIV. Waldenses 46
XV. Archbishop Chichely to Henry V. 47
XVI. Wars of York and Lancaster 48
XVII. Wicliffe 49
XVIII. Corruptions of the Higher Clergy 49
XIX. Abuse of Monastic Power 50
XX. Monastic Voluptuousness 51
XXI. Dissolution of the Monasteries 52
XXII. The Same Subject 52
XXIII. Continued 53
XXIV. Saints 54
XXV. The Virgin 54
XXVI. Apology 55
XXVII. Imaginative Regrets 56
XXVIII. Reflections 57
XXIX. Translation of the Bible 58
XXX. The Point at Issue 58
XXXI. Edward VI[Pg viii] 59
XXXII. Edward signing the Warrant for the Execution of Joan of Kent 60
XXXIII. Revival of Popery 61
XXXIV. Latimer and Ridley 61
XXXV. Cranmer 62
XXXVI. General View of the Troubles of the Reformation 64
XXXVII. English Reformers in Exile 64
XXXVIII. Elizabeth 65
XXXIX. Eminent Reformers 66
XL. The Same 67
XLI. Distractions 68
XLII. Gunpowder Plot 69
XLIII. Illustration. The Jung-frau and the Fall of the Rhine near Schaffhausen 70
XLIV. Troubles of Charles the First 71
XLV. Laud 71
XLVI. Afflictions of England 72
Part III.—From the Restoration to the Present Times—
I. "I saw the figure of a lovely Maid" 74
II. Patriotic Sympathies 74
III. Charles the Second 75
IV. Latitudinarianism 76
V. Walton's Book of Lives 77
VI. Clerical Integrity 78
VII. Persecution of the Scottish Covenanters 79
VIII. Acquittal of the Bishops 79
IX. William the Third 80
X. Obligations of Civil to Religious Liberty 81
XI. Sacheverel[Pg ix] 82
XII. "Down a swift Stream, thus far, a bold design" 83
XIII. Aspects of Christianity in America.—1. The Pilgrim Fathers 84
XIV. 2. Continued 85
XV. 3. Concluded.—American Episcopacy 85
XVI. "Bishops and Priests, blessèd are ye, if deep" 86
XVII. Places of Worship 87
XVIII. Pastoral Character 87
XIX. The Liturgy 88
XX. Baptism 89
XXI. Sponsors 90
XXII. Catechising 91
XXIII. Confirmation 92
XXIV. Confirmation Continued 92
XXV. Sacrament 93
XXVI. The Marriage Ceremony 94
XXVII. Thanksgiving after Childbirth 95
XXVIII. Visitation of the Sick 96
XXIX. The Commination Service 96
XXX. Forms of Prayer at Sea 97
XXXI. Funeral Service 97
XXXII. Rural Ceremony 98
XXXIII. Regrets 99
XXXIV. Mutability 100
XXXV. Old Abbeys 100
XXXVI. Emigrant French Clergy 101
XXXVII. Congratulation 102
XXXVIII. New Churches 102
XXIX. Church to be erected 103
XL. Continued 104
XLI. New Churchyard[Pg x] 104
XLII. Cathedrals, etc. 105
XLIII. Inside of King's College Chapel, Cambridge 106
XLIV. The Same 106
XLV. Continued 107
XLVI. Ejaculation 107
XLVII. Conclusion 108
To the Lady Fleming, on seeing the Foundation preparing for the Erection of Rydal Chapel, Westmoreland 109
On the Same Occasion 114
Memory 117
"Not Love, not War, nor the tumultuous swell" 118
"A volant Tribe of Bards on earth are found" 119
To —— 121
To —— 122
"How rich that forehead's calm expanse!" 123
To —— 124
A Flower Garden, at Coleorton Hall, Leicestershire 125
To the Lady E. B. and the Hon. Miss P. 128
To the Torrent at the Devil's Bridge, North Wales, 1824 129
Composed among the Ruins of a Castle in North Wales 131
Elegiac Stanzas 132
Cenotaph 135
The Pillar of Trajan 137
The Contrast: The Parrot and the Wren 141
To a Skylark[Pg xi] 143
"Ere with cold beads of midnight dew" 145
Ode composed on May Morning 146
To May 148
"Once I could hail (howe'er serene the sky)" 152
"The massy Ways, carried across these heights" 154
Farewell Lines 155
On seeing a Needlecase in the Form of a Harp 157
Miscellaneous Sonnets—
Dedication 159
To —— 159
"Her only pilot the soft breeze, the boat" 160
"Why, Minstrel, these untuneful murmurings" 161
To S. H. 162
Decay of Piety 163
"Scorn not the Sonnet; Critic, you have frowned" 163
"Fair Prime of life! were it enough to gild" 164
Retirement 165
"There is a pleasure in poetic pains" 166
Recollection of the Portrait of King Henry Eighth, Trinity Lodge, Cambridge 166
"When Philoctetes in the Lemnian isle" 167
"While Anna's peers and early playmates tread" 168
To the Cuckoo 169
The Infant M—— M—— 170
To Rotha Q—— 171
To ——, in her Seventieth Year 172
"In my mind's eye a Temple, like a cloud"[Pg xii] 173
"Go back to antique ages, if thine eyes" 174
"If thou indeed derive thy light from Heaven" 174
In the Woods of Rydal 176
Conclusion. To —— 177
A Morning Exercise 178
The Triad 181
The Wishing-Gate 189
The Wishing-Gate Destroyed 192
A Jewish Family 195
Incident at Brugès 198
A Grave-Stone upon the Floor in the Cloisters of Worcester Cathedral 201
The Gleaner 202
On the Power of Sound 203
Gold and Silver Fishes in a Vase 214
Liberty. (Sequel to the above) 216
Humanity 222
"This Lawn, a carpet all alive" 227
Thoughts on the Seasons 229
A Tradition of Oker Hill in Darley Dale, Derbyshire 230
Filial Piety 231
The Armenian Lady's Love 232
The Russian Fugitive[Pg xiii] 239
The Egyptian Maid; or, The Romance of the Water Lily 252
The Poet and the Caged Turtledove 265
Presentiments 266
"In these fair vales hath many a Tree" 269
Elegiac Musings 269
"Chatsworth! thy stately mansion, and the pride" 272
The Primrose of the Rock 274
To B. R. Haydon, on seeing his Picture of Napoleon Bonaparte on the Island of St. Helena 276
Yarrow Revisited, and Other Poems—
I. "The gallant Youth, who may have gained" 280
II. On the Departure of Sir Walter Scott from Abbotsford, for Naples 284
III. A Place of Burial in the South of Scotland 285
IV. On the Sight of a Manse in the South of Scotland 286
V. Composed in Roslin Chapel, during a Storm 287
VI. The Trosachs 288
VII. "The pibroch's note, discountenanced or mute" 290
VIII. Composed after reading a Newspaper of the Day 290
IX. Composed in the Glen of Loch Etive 291
X. Eagles 292
XI. In the Sound of Mull 293
XII. Suggested at Tyndrum in a Storm 294
XIII. The Earl of Breadalbane's Ruined Mansion, and Family Burial-Place, near Killin 295
XIV. "Rest and be Thankful!" 295
XV. Highland Hut 296
XVI. The Brownie 297
XVII. To the Planet Venus, an Evening Star[Pg xiv] 299
XVIII. Bothwell Castle 299
XIX. Picture of Daniel in the Lions' Den, at Hamilton Palace 301
XX. The Avon 303
XXI. Suggested by a View from an Eminence in Inglewood Forest 304
XXII. Hart's-Horn Tree, near Penrith 305
XXIII. Fancy and Tradition 306
XXIV. Countess' Pillar 307
XXV. Roman Antiquities 308
XXVI. Apology for the Foregoing Poems 309
XXVII. The Highland Broach 310
Devotional Incitements 314
"Calm is the fragrant air, and loth to lose" 317
To the Author's Portrait 318
Rural Illusions 319
Loving and Liking 320
Upon the late General Fast 323
A Wren's Nest 325
To ——, upon the Birth of her First-born Child, March 1833 328
The Warning. A Sequel to the Foregoing 330
"If this great world of joy and pain" 336
On a High Part of the Coast of Cumberland 337
(By the Sea-Side) 338
Composed by the Sea-Shore[Pg xv] 340
Poems, composed or suggested during a Tour in the Summer of 1833—
I. "Adieu, Rydalian Laurels! that have grown" 342
II. "Why should the Enthusiast, journeying through this Isle" 343
III. "They called Thee Merry England, in old time" 343
IV. To the River Greta, near Keswick 344
V. To the River Derwent 345
VI. In Sight of the Town of Cockermouth 346
VII. Address from the Spirit of Cockermouth Castle 347
VIII. Nun's Well, Brigham 347
IX. To a Friend 348
X. Mary Queen of Scots 349
XI. Stanzas suggested in a Steam-Boat off Saint Bees' Heads, on the Coast of Cumberland 351
XII. In the Channel, between the Coast of Cumberland and the Isle of Man 358
XIII. At Sea off the Isle of Man 359
XIV. "Desire we past illusions to recal?" 360
XV. On entering Douglas Bay, Isle of Man 360
XVI. By the Sea-Shore, Isle of Man 361
XVII. Isle of Man 362
XVIII. Isle of Man 363
XIX. By a Retired Mariner 364
XX. At Bala-Sala, Isle of Man 365
XXI. Tynwald Hill 366
XXII. "Despond who will—I heard a Voice exclaim" 368
XXIII. In the Frith of Clyde, Ailsa Crag, during an Eclipse of the Sun, July 17 369
XXIV. On the Frith of Clyde 370
XXV. On revisiting Dunolly Castle 371
XXVI. The Dunolly Eagle[Pg xvi] 372
XXVII. Written in a Blank Leaf of Macpherson's Ossian 373
XXVIII. Cave of Staffa 376
XXIX. Cave of Staffa. (After the Crowd had departed) 377
XXX. Cave of Staffa 377
XXXI. Flowers on the Top of the Pillars at the Entrance of the Cave 378
XXXII. Iona 379
XXXIII. Iona. (Upon Landing) 380
XXXIV. The Black Stones of Iona 381
XXXV. "Homeward we turn. Isle of Columba's Cell" 382
XXXVI. Greenock 383
XXXVII. "'There!' said a Stripling, pointing with meet pride" 383
XXXVIII. The River Eden, Cumberland 385
XXXIX. Monument of Mrs. Howard, in Wetheral Church, near Corby, on the Banks of the Eden 386
XL. Suggested by the Foregoing 387
XLI. Nunnery 388
XLII. Steamboats, Viaducts, and Railways 389
XLIII. The Monument, commonly called Long Meg and her Daughters, near the River Eden 390
XLIV. Lowther 391
XLV. To the Earl of Lonsdale 392
XLVI. The Somnambulist 393
XLVII. To Cordelia M—— 400
XLVIII. "Most sweet it is with unuplifted eyes"[Pg xvii] 401
"Not in the lucid intervals of life" 402
By the Side of Rydal Mere 403
"Soft as a cloud is yon blue Ridge—the Mere" 405
"The leaves that rustled on this oak-crowned hill" 406
The Labourer's Noon-Day Hymn 408
The Redbreast 410

Addenda 415
[Pg xviii]
[Pg 1]


The only poems belonging to the years 1821-2 were the "Ecclesiastical Sonnets," originally called "Ecclesiastical Sketches." These were written at intervals, from 1821 onwards, but the great majority belong to 1821. They were first published in 1822, in three parts; 102 Sonnets in all. Ten were added in the edition of 1827, several others in the years 1835 and 1836, and fourteen in 1845,—the final edition of 1850 containing 132.

After Wordsworth's return from the Continent in 1820, he visited the Beaumonts at Coleorton, and as Sir George was then about to build a new Church on his property, conversation turned frequently to ecclesiastical topics, and gave rise to the idea of embodying the History of the Church of England in a series of "Ecclesiastical Sketches" in verse. The Sonnets Nos. XXXIX., XL., and XLI., in the third series, entitled, Church to be erected, and New Churchyard, are probably those to which Wordsworth refers as written first, in memory of his morning walk with Sir George Beaumont to fix the site of the Church: but it was the discussions which were being carried on in the British Parliament and elsewhere, in 1821, on the subject of Catholic Disabilities, that led him to enlarge his idea, and project a series of Sonnets dealing with the whole course of the Ecclesiastical History of his country. His brother Christopher—while Dean and Rector of Bocking, and domestic chaplain to the Archbishop of Canterbury—had published, in 1809, six volumes of Ecclesiastical Biography; or, the Lives of Eminent Men connected with the History of Religion in England. Southey's Book of the Church,—to which Wordsworth refers in[Pg 2] the Fenwick note prefixed to his Sonnets—was not published till 1823; and Wordsworth says, in a note to the edition of 1822, that his own work was far advanced before he was aware that Southey had taken up the subject. As several of the Sonnets, however, are well illustrated by passages in Southey's book, I have given a number of extracts from the latter work in the editorial notes.

Southey, writing to C. H. Townshend, on 6th May 1821, says: "Wordsworth was with me lately. His thoughts and mine have for some time unconsciously been travelling in the same direction; for while I have been sketching a brief history of the English Church, and the systems which it has subdued or struggled with, he has been pursuing precisely the same subject in a series of sonnets, to which my volume will serve for a commentary, as completely as if it had been written with that intent." (See Life and Correspondence of R. Southey, vol. v. p. 65.)

Wordsworth's own notes appended to the Sonnets, and others which are added, will show his indebtedness to such writers as Bede, Strype, Foxe, Walton, Whitaker, and Sharon Turner. The subjects of the sonnets on the "Aspects of Christianity in America" were suggested to him by Bishop Doane and Professor Henry Reed; and others in the series, dealing with offices of the English Liturgy, were also suggested by Mr. Reed.—Ed.


Composed 1821.—Published 1822

[My purpose in writing this Series was, as much as possible, to confine my view to the introduction, progress, and operation [Pg 3]of the Church in England, both previous and subsequent to the Reformation. The Sonnets were written long before ecclesiastical history and points of doctrine had excited the interest with which they have been recently enquired into and discussed. The former particular is mentioned as an excuse for my having fallen into error in respect to an incident which had been selected as setting forth the height to which the power of the Popedom over temporal sovereignty had attained, and the arrogance with which it was displayed. I allude to the last Sonnet but one in the first series, where Pope Alexander the Third at Venice is described as setting his foot on the neck of the Emperor Barbarossa. Though this is related as a fact in history, I am told it is a mere legend of no authority. Substitute for it an undeniable truth not less fitted for my purpose, namely the penance inflicted by Gregory the Seventh upon the Emperor Henry the Fourth.

Before I conclude my notice of these Sonnets, let me observe that the opinion I pronounced in favour of Laud (long before the Oxford Tract Movement) and which had brought censure upon me from several quarters, is not in the least changed. Omitting here to examine into his conduct in respect to the persecuting spirit with which he has been charged, I am persuaded that most of his aims to restore ritual practices which had been abandoned were good and wise, whatever errors he might commit in the manner he sometimes attempted to enforce them. I further believe that, had not he, and others who [Pg 4]shared his opinions and felt as he did, stood up in opposition to the reformers of that period, it is questionable whether the Church would ever have recovered its lost ground and become the blessing it now is, and will, I trust, become in a still greater degree, both to those of its communion and to those who unfortunately are separated from it.—I. F.]


[1] During the month of December, 1820, I accompanied a much-beloved and honoured Friend[2] in a walk through different parts of his estate, with a view to fix upon the site of a new Church which he intended to erect. It was one of the most beautiful mornings of a mild season,—our feelings were in harmony with the cherishing[3] influences of the scene; and such being our purpose, we were naturally led to look back upon past events with wonder and gratitude, and on the future with hope. Not long afterwards, some of the Sonnets which will be found towards the close of this series were produced as a private memorial of that morning's occupation.

The Catholic Question, which was agitated in Parliament about that time, kept my thoughts in the same course; and it struck me that certain points in the Ecclesiastical History of our Country might advantageously be presented to view in verse. Accordingly, I took up the subject, and what I now offer to the reader was the result.

When this work was far advanced, I was agreeably surprised to find that my friend, Mr. Southey, had been engaged with similar views in writing a concise History of the Church in England. If our Productions, thus unintentionally coinciding, shall be found to illustrate each other, it will prove a high gratification to me, which I am sure my friend will participate.

W. Wordsworth.

Rydal Mount, January 24, 1822.

For the convenience of passing from one point of the subject to another without shocks of abruptness, this work has taken the shape of a series of Sonnets: but the Reader, it is to be hoped, will find that the pictures are often so closely connected as to have jointly the effect of passages of a poem in a form of stanza to which there is no objection but one that bears upon the Poet only—its difficulty.—W. W. 1822.

[2] Sir George Beaumont.—Ed.

[3] This occurs in all the editions. It maybe a misprint for "cheering."—Ed.


A verse may catch a wandering Soul, that flies
Profounder Tracts, and by a blest surprise
Convert delight into a Sacrifice.[4]


[4] Compare, in George Herbert's "The Temple," The Church Porch, i. 1—

A verse may find him, who a Sermon flies,
And turn delight into a Sacrifice.—Ed.


I, who accompanied with faithful pace[5]
Cerulean Duddon from its[6] cloud-fed spring,[7]
And loved with spirit ruled by his to sing
Of mountain-quiet and boon nature's grace;[8]
[Pg 5] I, who essayed the nobler Stream to trace 5
Of Liberty,[9] and smote the plausive string
Till the checked torrent, proudly triumphing,
Won for herself a lasting resting-place;[10]
Now seek upon the heights of Time the source
Of a Holy River,[11]on whose banks are found 10
Sweet pastoral flowers, and laurels that have crowned
Full oft the unworthy brow of lawless force;
And,[12] for delight of him who tracks its course,[13]
Immortal amaranth and palms abound.


[5] 1827.

I, who descended with glad step to chase 1822.

[6] 1850.

... his ... 1822.

The text of 1857 (edited by Mr. Carter) returned to that of 1822.

[7] See "The River Duddon, a Series of Sonnets" (vol. vi. p. 225).—Ed.

[8] 1827.

And of my wild Companion dared to sing,
In verse that moved with strictly-measured pace; 1822.

[9] See the series of "Poems dedicated to National Independence and Liberty."—Ed.

[10] 1827.

... Torrent, fiercely combating,
In victory found her natural resting-place; 1822.

[11] Compare the last sonnet of this Series (Part III. XLVII., p. 108).—Ed.

[12] 1837.

Where, ... 1822.

[13] It may not be unworthy of note that in the first edition of this sonnet Wordsworth made the stream of the Duddon masculine, that of Liberty feminine, and that of the Church neuter.—Ed.


If there be prophets on whose spirits rest
Past things, revealed like future, they can tell
What Powers, presiding o'er the sacred well
Of Christian Faith, this savage Island blessed
With its first bounty. Wandering through the west,
Did holy Paul[14] a while in Britain dwell, 6
And call the Fountain forth by miracle,
[Pg 6] And with dread signs the nascent Stream invest?
Or He, whose bonds dropped off, whose prison doors
Flew open, by an Angel's voice unbarred?[15] 10
Or some of humbler name, to these wild shores
Storm-driven; who, having seen the cup of woe
Pass from their Master, sojourned here to guard
The precious Current they had taught to flow?


[14] Stillingfleet adduces many arguments in support of this opinion, but they are unconvincing. The latter part of this Sonnet refers to a favourite notion of Roman Catholic writers, that Joseph of Arimathea and his companions brought Christianity into Britain, and built a rude church at Glastonbury; alluded to hereafter, in a passage upon the dissolution of monasteries.—W. W. 1822.

[15] St. Peter.—Ed.


Screams round the Arch-druid's brow the seamew[16]—white
As Menai's foam; and toward the mystic ring
Where Augurs stand, the Future questioning,
Slowly the cormorant aims her heavy flight,
Portending ruin to each baleful rite, 5
That, in the lapse, of ages,[17] hath crept o'er
Diluvian truths, and patriarchal lore.
Haughty the Bard: can these meek doctrines blight
His transports? wither his heroic strains?
But all shall be fulfilled;—the Julian spear 10
A way first opened;[18] and, with Roman chains,
The tidings come of Jesus crucified;
They come—they spread—the weak, the suffering, hear;
Receive the faith, and in the hope abide.

[Pg 7]


[16] This water-fowl was, among the Druids, an emblem of those traditions connected with the deluge that made an important part of their mysteries. The Cormorant was a bird of bad omen.—W. W. 1822.

[17] 1827.

... seasons ... 1822.

[18] The reference is to the conquest of Britain by Julius Cæsar.—Ed.


Mercy and Love have met thee on thy road,
Thou wretched Outcast, from the gift of fire
And food cut off by sacerdotal ire,
From every sympathy that Man bestowed!
Yet shall it claim our reverence, that to God, 5
Ancient of days! that to the eternal Sire,
These jealous Ministers of law aspire,
As to the one sole fount whence wisdom flowed,
Justice, and order. Tremblingly escaped,
As if with prescience of the coming storm, 10
That intimation when the stars were shaped;
And still, 'mid yon thick woods, the primal truth
Glimmers through many a superstitious form[19]
That fills the Soul with unavailing ruth.


[19] 1827.

And yon thick woods maintain the primal truth,
Debased by many a superstitious form, 1822.


Darkness surrounds us: seeking, we are lost
On Snowdon's wilds, amid Brigantian coves,[20]
Or where the solitary shepherd roves
Along the plain of Sarum, by the ghost
Of Time and shadows of Tradition, crost;[21] 5
[Pg 8]
And where the boatman of the Western Isles
Slackens his course—to mark those holy piles
Which yet survive on bleak Iona's coast.[22]
Nor these, nor monuments of eldest name,[23]
Nor Taliesin's unforgotten lays,[24] 10
Nor characters of Greek or Roman fame,
To an unquestionable Source have led;
Enough—if eyes, that sought the fountain-head
In vain, upon the growing Rill may gaze.


[20] The reference is to Yorkshire. The Brigantes inhabited England from sea to sea, from Cumberland to Durham, but more especially Yorkshire. See Tacitus, Annals, book xii. 32; Ptolemy, Geographia, 27, 1; Camden, Britannia, 556-648.—Ed.

[21] 1827.

Of silently departed ages crossed; 1822.

[22] Compare the four sonnets on Iona, in the "Poems composed or suggested during a Tour in the Summer of 1833."—Ed.

[23] 1841.

... fame, 1822.

[24] See note [40], p. 13.—Ed.


Lament! for Diocletian's fiery sword
Works busy as the lightning; but instinct
With malice ne'er to deadliest weapon linked,
Which God's ethereal store-houses afford:
Against the Followers of the incarnate Lord 5
It rages;—some are smitten in the field—
Some pierced to the heart through the ineffectual shield[25]
Of sacred home;—with pomp are others gored
And dreadful respite. Thus was Alban tried,[26]
[Pg 9]
England's first Martyr, whom no threats could shake;
Self-offered victim, for his friend he died, 11
And for the faith; nor shall his name forsake
That Hill, whose flowery platform seems to rise
By Nature decked for holiest sacrifice.[27]


[25] 1840.

Some pierced beneath the unavailing shield 1822.

... ineffectual 1827.

[26] "The first man who laid down his life in Britain for the Christian faith was Saint Alban.... During the tenth, and most rigorous of the persecutions, a Christian priest, flying from his persecutors, came to the City of Verulamium, and took shelter in Alban's house: he, not being of the faith himself, concealed him for pure compassion; but when he observed the devotion of his guest, how fervent it was, and how firm, his heart was touched.... When the persecutors came to search the house, Alban, putting on the hair-cassock of his teacher, delivered himself into their hands, as if he had been the fugitive, and was carried before the heathen governor.... Because he refused to betray his guest or offer sacrifices to the Roman gods, he was scourged, and then led to execution upon the spot where the abbey now stands, which in after times was erected to his memory, and still bears his name. That spot was then a beautiful meadow upon a little rising ground, 'seeming,' says the venerable Bede, 'a fit theatre for the martyr's triumph.'" (Southey's Book of the Church, vol. i.—pp. 13-14.)—Ed.

[27] This hill at St. Albans must have been an object of great interest to the imagination of the venerable Bede, who thus describes it, with a delicate feeling, delightful to meet with in that rude age, traces of which are frequent in his works:—"Variis herbarum floribus depictus imo usquequaque vestitus, in quo nihil repente arduum, nihil præceps, nihil abruptum, quem lateribus longe lateque deductum in modum æquoris natura complanat, dignum videlicet eum pro insita sibi specie venustatis jam olim reddens, qui beati martyris cruore dicaretur."—W. W. 1822.


As, when a storm hath ceased, the birds regain
Their cheerfulness, and busily retrim
Their nests, or chant a gratulating hymn
To the blue ether and bespangled plain;
Even so, in many a re-constructed fane, 5
Have the survivors of this Storm renewed
Their holy rites with vocal gratitude:
And solemn ceremonials they ordain
To celebrate their great deliverance;
Most feelingly instructed 'mid their fear— 10
That persecution, blind with rage extreme,
May not the less, through Heaven's mild countenance,
Even in her own despite, both feed and cheer;
For all things are less dreadful than they seem.

[Pg 10]


Watch, and be firm! for, soul-subduing vice,
Heart-killing luxury, on your steps await.
Fair houses, baths, and banquets delicate,
And temples flashing, bright as polar ice,
Their radiance through the woods—may yet suffice 5
To sap your hardy virtue, and abate
Your love of Him upon whose forehead sate
The crown of thorns; whose life-blood flowed, the price
Of your redemption. Shun the insidious arts
That Rome provides, less dreading from her frown 10
Than from her wily praise, her peaceful gown,
Language, and letters;—these, though fondly viewed
As humanising graces, are but parts
And instruments of deadliest servitude!


That heresies should strike (if truth be scanned
Presumptuously) their roots both wide and deep,
Is natural as dreams to feverish sleep.
Lo! Discord at the altar dares to stand[28]
Uplifting toward[29] high Heaven her fiery brand, 5
A cherished Priestess of the new-baptized!
But chastisement shall follow peace despised.
The Pictish cloud darkens the enervate land
[Pg 11] By Rome abandoned; vain are suppliant cries,
And prayers that would undo her forced farewell; 10
For she returns not.—Awed by her own knell,
She casts the Britons upon strange Allies,
Soon to become more dreaded enemies
Than heartless misery called them to repel.


[28] Arianism had spread into Britain, and British Bishops were summoned to councils held concerning it, at Sardica, A.D. 347, and at Ariminum, A.D. 360. See Fuller's Church History, p. 25; and Churton's Early English Church, p. 9.—Ed.

[29] 1827.

Lifting towards ... 1822.


Rise!—they have risen: of brave Aneurin ask[30]
How they have scourged old foes, perfidious friends:
The Spirit of Caractacus descends
Upon the Patriots, animates their task;[31]
Amazement runs before the towering casque 5
Of Arthur, bearing through the stormy field
The Virgin sculptured on his Christian shield:—
Stretched in the sunny light of victory bask
The Host that followed Urien[32] as he strode
O'er heaps of slain;—from Cambrian wood and moss 10
Druids descend, auxiliars of the Cross;
Bards, nursed on blue Plinlimmon's still abode,[33]
Rush on the fight, to harps preferring swords,
And everlasting deeds to burning words!

[Pg 12]


[30] Aneurin was the bard who—in the poem named the Gododin—celebrated the struggle between the Cymri and the Teutons in the middle of the sixth century, which ended in the great battle of Catterick, or Cattreath, in Yorkshire. Aneurin was himself chieftain as well as bard.—Ed.

[31] 1837.

The spirit of Caractacus defends
The Patriots, animates their glorious task;— 1822.

[32] Urien was chief of the Cymri, and led them in the great conflict of the sixth century against the Angles.—Ed.

[33] Such as Aneurin, Taliesin, Llywarch Hen, and Merlin.—Ed.


Nor wants the cause the panic-striking aid
Of hallelujahs[34] tost from hill to hill—
For instant victory. But Heaven's high will
Permits a second and a darker shade
Of Pagan night. Afflicted and dismayed, 5
The Relics of the sword flee to the mountains:
O wretched Land! whose tears have flowed like fountains;
Whose arts and honours in the dust are laid
By men yet scarcely conscious of a care
For other monuments than those of Earth;[35] 10
Who, as the fields[36] and woods have given them birth,
Will[37] build their savage fortunes only there;
Content, if foss, and barrow, and the girth
Of long-drawn rampart, witness what they were.[38]

[Pg 13]


[34] Alluding to the victory gained under Germanus. See Bede.—W. W. 1822.

The Saxons and Picts threatening the Britons, the latter asked the assistance of Germanus. The following is Bede's account:—"Germanus bearing in his hands the standard, instructed his men all in a loud voice to repeat his words, and the enemy advancing securely, as thinking to take them by surprise, the priests three times cried Hallelujah. A universal shout of the same word followed, and the hills resounding the echo on all sides, the enemy was struck with dread.... They fled in disorder, casting away their arms." (Bede, Ecclesiastica Historia gentis Anglorum, book i. chap. xx.)—Ed.

[35] The last six lines of this Sonnet are chiefly from the prose of Daniel; and here I will state (though to the Readers whom this Poem will chiefly interest it is unnecessary) that my obligations to other prose writers are frequent,—obligations which, even if I had not a pleasure in courting, it would have been presumptuous to shun, in treating an historical subject. I must, however, particularise Fuller, to whom I am indebted in the Sonnet upon Wicliffe and in other instances. And upon the acquittal of the Seven Bishops I have done little more than versify a lively description of that event in the MS. Memoirs of the first Lord Lonsdale.—W. W. 1822.

[36] 1827.

Intent, as fields ... 1822.

[37] 1827.

To ... 1822.

[38] 1827.

Witness the foss, the barrow, and the girth
Of many a long-drawn rampart, green and bare! 1822.


The oppression of the tumult—wrath and scorn—
The tribulation—and the gleaming blades
Such is the impetuous spirit that pervades
The song of Taliesin;[40]—Ours shall mourn
The unarmed Host who by their prayers would turn 5
The sword from Bangor's walls, and guard the store
Of Aboriginal and Roman lore,
And Christian monuments, that now must burn
To senseless ashes. Mark! how all things swerve
From their known course, or vanish like a dream;[41] 10
Another language spreads from coast to coast;
Only perchance some melancholy Stream[42]
And some indignant Hills old names preserve,[43]
When laws, and creeds, and people all are lost!

[Pg 14]


[39] "Ethelforth reached the convent of Bangor, he perceived the Monks, twelve hundred in number, offering prayers for the success of their countrymen: 'If they are praying against us,' he exclaimed, 'they are fighting against us'; and he ordered them to be first attacked: they were destroyed; and, appalled by their fate, the courage of Brocmail wavered, and he fled from the field in dismay. Thus abandoned by their leader, his army soon gave way, and Ethelforth obtained a decisive conquest. Ancient Bangor itself soon fell into his hands, and was demolished; the noble monastery was levelled to the ground; its library, which is mentioned as a large one, the collection of ages, the repository of the most precious monuments of the ancient Britons, was consumed; half ruined walls, gates, and rubbish were all that remained of the magnificent edifice." (See Turner's valuable history of the Anglo-Saxons.)

The account Bede gives of this remarkable event, suggests a most striking warning against National and Religious prejudices.—W. W. 1822. Appendix note.

[40] Taliesin was present at the battle which preceded this desolation.—W. W. 1822.

Taliesin was chief bard and retainer in the Hall of Urien, the great North England Cymric chief. He sang of Urien's and his son Owain's victories, in the middle of the sixth century. See Pitseus, Relationes Historicae de rebus Anglicis, 1619, vol. i. p. 95, De Thelesino. See also Sharon Turner's History of the Anglo-Saxons (vol. i. book iii. chap, iv.).—Ed.

[41] 1827.

... or pass away like steam; 1822.

[42] e.g. in the Lake District, the Greta, Derwent, etc.—Ed.

[43] e.g. in the Lake District, Stone Arthur, Blencathara, and Catbells.—Ed.


A bright-haired company of youthful slaves,
Beautiful strangers, stand within the pale
Of a sad market, ranged for public sale,
Where Tiber's stream the immortal[44] City laves:
Angli by name; and not an Angel waves 5
His wing who could seem lovelier to man's eye[45]
Than they appear to holy Gregory;
Who, having learnt that name, salvation craves
For Them, and for their Land. The earnest Sire,
His questions urging, feels, in slender ties 10
Of chiming sound, commanding sympathies;
De-irians—he would save them from God's Ire;
Subjects of Saxon Ælla—they shall sing
Glad Halle-lujahs to the eternal King![46]

[Pg 15]


[44] 1827.

... glorious ... 1822.

[45] 1837.

His wing who seemeth lovelier in Heaven's eye 1822.

[46] The story is told of Gregory who was afterwards Pope, and is known as Gregory the Great, that "he was one day led into the market-place at Rome to look at a large importation from, abroad. Among other things there were some boys exposed for sale like cattle. He was struck by the appearance of the boys, their fine clear skins, their flaxen or golden hair, and their ingenuous countenances; so that he asked from what country they came; and when he was told from the island of Britain, ... and were Angles, he played upon the word and said, 'Well may they be so called, for they are like Angels.' ... Then demanding from what province they were brought, the answer was 'from Deira'; and in the same humour he observed that rightly might this also be said, for de Dei ira, from the wrath of God were they to be delivered. And when he was told that their King was Ælla, he replied that Hallelujahs ought to be sung in his dominions. This trifling sprung from serious thought. From that day the conversion of the Anglo-Saxons became a favourite object with Gregory." (Southey's Book of the Church, vol. i. pp. 22, 23.)—Ed.


For ever hallowed be this morning fair,
Blest be the unconscious shore on which ye tread,
And blest the silver Cross, which ye, instead
Of martial banner, in procession bear;
The Cross preceding Him who floats in air, 5
The pictured Saviour!—By Augustin led,
They come—and onward travel without dread,
Chanting in barbarous ears a tuneful prayer—
Sung for themselves, and those whom they would free!
Rich conquest waits them:—the tempestuous sea 10
Of Ignorance, that ran so rough and high
And heeded not the voice of clashing swords,
These good men humble by a few bare words,
And calm with fear of God's divinity.[47]


[47] Augustin was prior of St. Gregory's Monastery, dedicated to St. Andrew in Rome, and was sent by Gregory in the year 597 with several other monks into Britain. Ethelbert was then king of Kent, and, as they landed on the Isle of Thanet, he ordered them to stay there. According to Bede, "Some days after, the king came into the island and ordered Augustin and his companions to be brought into his presence.... They came ... bearing a silver cross for their banner, and an image of our Lord and Saviour painted on a board; and singing the litany they offered up their prayers to the Lord for the eternal salvation both of themselves and of those to whom they were come." (Ecclesiastica Historia gentis Anglorum, book i. chap, xxv.)—Ed.


But, to remote Northumbria's royal Hall,
Where thoughtful Edwin, tutored in the school
Of sorrow, still maintains a heathen rule,
Who comes with functions apostolical?
Mark him,[48] of shoulders curved, and stature tall, 5
[Pg 16] Black hair, and vivid eye, and meagre cheek,
His prominent feature like an eagle's beak;
A Man whose aspect doth at once appal
And strike with reverence. The Monarch leans
Toward the pure truths[49] this Delegate propounds, 10
Repeatedly his own deep mind he sounds
With careful hesitation,—then convenes
A synod of his Councillors:—give ear,
And what a pensive Sage doth utter, hear![50]


[48] The person of Paulinus is thus described by Bede, from the memory of an eye-witness:—"Longæ staturæ, paululum incurvus, nigro capillo, facie macilenta, naso adunco, pertenui, venerabilis simul et terribilis aspectu."—W. W. 1822.

[49] 1832.

Towards the Truths.... 1822.

[50] Paulinus won over Edwin, king of the Northumbrians, to the Christian faith, and baptized him "with his people," A.D. 627. (See The Anglo-Saxon Chronicle.)—Ed.


"Man's life is like a Sparrow,[51] mighty King!
"That—while at banquet with your Chiefs you sit
"Housed near a blazing fire—is seen to flit
[Pg 17] "Safe from the wintry tempest. Fluttering,[52]
"Here did it enter; there, on hasty wing, 5
"Flies out, and passes on from cold to cold;
"But whence it came we know not, nor behold
"Whither it goes. Even such, that transient Thing,
"The human Soul; not utterly unknown
"While in the Body lodged, her warm abode; 10
"But from what world She came, what woe or weal
"On her departure waits, no tongue hath shown;
"This mystery if the Stranger can reveal,
"His be a welcome cordially bestowed!"


[51] See the original of this speech in Bede.—The Conversion of Edwin, as related by him, is highly interesting—and the breaking up of this Council accompanied with an event so striking and characteristic, that I am tempted to give it at length in a translation. "Who, exclaimed the King, when the Council was ended, shall first desecrate the altars and the temples? I, answered the Chief Priest: for who more fit than myself, through the wisdom which the true God hath given me, to destroy, for the good example of others, what in foolishness I worshipped? Immediately, casting away vain superstition, he besought the King to grant him what the laws did not allow to a priest, arms and a courser (equum emissarium); which mounting, and furnished with a sword and lance, he proceeded to destroy the Idols. The crowd, seeing this, thought him mad—he however, halted not, but, approaching, he profaned the temple, casting it against the lance which he had held in his hand, and, exulting in acknowledgement of the worship of the true God, he ordered his companions to pull down the temple, with all its enclosures. The place is shown where those idols formerly stood, not far from York, at the source of the river Derwent, and is at this day called Gormund Gaham [W. W. 1822], ubi pontifex ille, inspirante Deo vero, polluit ac destruxit eas, quas ipse sacraverat aras." The last expression is a pleasing proof that the venerable monk of Wearmouth was familiar with the poetry of Virgil.—W. W. 1832.

The following is Bede's account of the speech of "another of the king's chief men":—"The present life of man, O king, seems to me in comparison of that time which is unknown to us, like to the swift flight of a sparrow through the room wherein you sit, at supper in winter, with your commanders and ministers, and a good fire in the midst, whilst the storms of rain and snow prevail abroad. The sparrow, I say—flying in at one door, and immediately out at another—whilst he is within, is safe from the misty storm; but, after a short space of fair weather, he immediately vanishes out of your sight into the dark winter from which he had emerged. So this life of man appears for a short space, but of what went before, and of what is to follow, we are utterly ignorant. If therefore this new doctrine contains something more certain, it seems justly to deserve to be followed."—Ed.

[52] 1837.

"That, stealing in while by the fire you sit
"Housed with rejoicing Friends, is seen to flit
"Safe from the storm, in comfort tarrying." 1822.


Prompt transformation works the novel Lore;
The Council closed, the Priest in full career
Rides forth, an armèd man, and hurls a spear
To desecrate the Fane which heretofore
[Pg 18] He served in folly. Woden falls, and Thor 5
Is overturned: the mace, in battle heaved
(So might they dream) till victory was achieved,
Drops, and the God himself is seen no more.
Temple and Altar sink, to hide their shame
Amid oblivious weeds, "O come to me, 10
Ye heavy laden!" such the inviting voice
Heard near fresh streams;[54] and thousands, who rejoice
In the new Rite—the pledge of sanctity,
Shall, by regenerate life, the promise claim.


[53] See Wordsworth's note to Sonnet XVI.Ed.

[54] The early propagators of Christianity were accustomed to preach near rivers, for the convenience of baptism.—W. W. 1822.


Nor scorn the aid which Fancy oft doth lend
The Soul's eternal interests to promote:
Death, darkness, danger, are our natural lot;
And evil Spirits may our walk attend
For aught the wisest know or comprehend; 5
Then be good Spirits free[55] to breathe a note
Of elevation; let their odours float
Around these Converts; and their glories blend,
The midnight stars outshining,[56] or the blaze
Of the noon-day. Nor doubt that golden cords 10
Of good works, mingling with the visions, raise
The Soul to purer worlds: and who the line
Shall draw, the limits of the power define,
That even imperfect faith to man affords?

[Pg 19]


[55] 1827.

Then let the good be free ... 1822.

[56] 1837.

Outshining nightly tapers, ... 1822.


How beautiful your presence, how benign,
Servants of God! who not a thought will share
With the vain world; who, outwardly as bare
As winter trees, yield no fallacious sign
That the firm soul is clothed with fruit divine! 5
Such Priest, when service worthy of his care
Has called him forth to breathe the common air,
Might seem a saintly Image from its shrine
Descended:—happy are the eyes that meet
The Apparition; evil thoughts are stayed 10
At his approach, and low-bowed necks entreat
A benediction from his voice or hand;
Whence grace, through which the heart can understand,
And vows, that bind the will, in silence made.


Ah, when the Body,[58] round which in love we clung,
Is chilled by death, does mutual service fail?
Is tender pity then of no avail?
Are intercessions of the fervent tongue
A waste of hope?—From this sad source have sprung
[Pg 20] Rites that console the Spirit, under grief 6
Which ill can brook more rational relief:
Hence, prayers are shaped amiss, and dirges sung
For Souls[59] whose doom is fixed! The way is smooth
For Power that travels with the human heart: 10
Confession ministers the pang to soothe
In him who at the ghost of guilt doth start.
Ye holy Men, so earnest in your care,
Of your own mighty instruments beware!


[57] Having spoken of the zeal, disinterestedness, and temperance of the clergy of those times, Bede thus proceeds:—"Unde et in magna erat veneratione tempore illo religionis habitus, ita ut ubicunque clericus aliquis aut monachus adveniret, gaudenter ab omnibus tanquam Dei famulus exciperetur. Etiam si in itinere pergens inveniretur, accurrebant, et flexa cervice, vel manu signari, vel ore illius se benedici, gaudebant. Verbis quoque horum exhortatonis diligenter auditum praebebant" (Lib. iii. cap. 26.)—W. W. 1822.

[58] 1837.

... Frame,.... 1822

[59] 1832.

For those ... 1822.


Lance, shield, and sword relinquished—at his side
A bead-roll, in his hand a claspèd book,
Or staff more harmless than a shepherd's crook,
The war-worn Chieftain quits the world—to hide
His thin autumnal locks where Monks abide 5
In cloistered privacy. But not to dwell
In soft repose he comes. Within his cell,
Round the decaying trunk of human pride,
At morn, and eve, and midnight's silent hour,
Do penitential cogitations cling; 10
Like ivy, round some ancient elm, they twine
In grisly folds and strictures serpentine;[61]
Yet, while they strangle, a fair growth they bring,[62]
For recompense—their own perennial bower.

[Pg 21]


[60] This, and the two following sonnets, were published in Time's Telescope, July 2, 1823.—Ed.

[61] The "ancient elm," with ivy twisting round it "in grisly folds and strictures serpentine," which suggested these lines, grew in Rydal Park, near the path to the upper waterfall.—Ed.

[62] 1837.

... strangle without mercy, bring 1822.


Methinks that to some vacant hermitage
My feet would rather turn—to some dry nook
Scooped out of living rock, and near a brook
Hurled down a mountain-cove from stage to stage,
Yet tempering, for my sight, its bustling rage 5
In the soft heaven of a translucent pool;
Thence creeping under sylvan[63] arches cool,
Fit haunt of shapes whose glorious equipage
Would elevate[64] my dreams.[65] A beechen bowl,
A maple dish, my furniture should be; 10
Crisp, yellow leaves my bed; the hooting owl
My night-watch: nor should e'er the crested fowl
From thorp or vill his matins sound for me,
Tired of the world and all its industry.


[63] 1837.

... forest ... 1822.

[64] 1827.

Perchance would throng ... 1822.

[65] There are several natural "hermitages," such as this, near the Rydal beck.—Ed.


But what if One, through grove or flowery meed,
Indulging thus at will the creeping feet
Of a voluptuous indolence, should meet
Thy hovering Shade, O[66] venerable Bede!
The saint, the scholar, from a circle freed 5
[Pg 22] Of toil stupendous, in a hallowed seat
Of learning, where thou heard'st[67] the billows beat
On a wild coast, rough monitors to feed
Perpetual industry.[68] Sublime Recluse!
The recreant soul, that dares to shun the debt 10
Imposed on human kind, must first forget
Thy diligence, thy unrelaxing use
Of a long life; and, in the hour of death,
The last dear service of thy passing breath![69]


[66] 1827.

The hovering Shade of ... 1822.

[67] 1827.

... he heard ... 1822.

[68] Bede spent the most of his life in the seclusion of the monastery of Jarrow, near the mouth of the Tyne; the wild coast referred to in the Sonnet being the coast of Northumberland.—Ed.

[69] He expired in the act of concluding a translation of St. John's Gospel.—W. W. 1822.

He expired dictating the last words of a translation of St. John's Gospel.—W. W. 1827.


By such examples moved to unbought pains,
The people work like congregated bees;[70]
Eager to build the quiet Fortresses
Where Piety, as they believe, obtains
From Heaven a general blessing; timely rains 5
[Pg 23] Or needful sunshine; prosperous enterprise,
Justice and peace:—bold faith! yet also rise
The sacred Structures for less doubtful gains.[71]
The Sensual think with reverence of the palms
Which the chaste Votaries seek, beyond the grave;
If penance be redeemable, thence alms 11
Flow to the poor, and freedom to the slave;
And if full oft the Sanctuary save
Lives black with guilt, ferocity it calms.


[70] See, in Turner's History, vol. iii. p. 528, the account of the erection of Ramsey Monastery. Penances were removable by the performance of acts of charity and benevolence.—W. W. 1822.

"Wherever monasteries were founded, marshes were drained, or woods cleared, and wastes brought into cultivation; the means of subsistence were increased by improved agriculture, and by improved horticulture new comforts were added to life. The humblest as well as the highest pursuits were followed in these great and most beneficial establishments. While part of the members were studying the most inscrutable points of theology, ... others were employed in teaching babes and children the rudiments of useful knowledge; others as copyists, limners, carvers, workers in wood, and in stone, and in metal, and in trades and manufactures of every kind which the community required." (Southey's Book of the Church, vol. i. chap. iv. pp. 61, 62.)—Ed.

[71] 1832.

And peace, and equity.—Bold faith! yet rise
The sacred Towers for universal gains. 1822.

And peace, and equity.—Bold faith! yet rise
The sacred Structures for less doubtful gains. 1827.


Not sedentary all: there are who roam
To scatter seeds of life on barbarous shores;
Or quit with zealous step their knee-worn floors
To seek the general mart of Christendom;
Whence they, like richly-laden merchants, come 5
To their belovèd cells:—or shall we say
That, like the Red-cross Knight, they urge their way,
To lead in memorable triumph home
Truth, their immortal Una? Babylon,
Learned and wise, hath perished utterly, 10
Nor leaves her Speech one word to aid the sigh[72]
That would lament her;—Memphis, Tyre, are gone
With all their Arts,—but classic lore glides on
By these Religious saved for all posterity.

[Pg 24]


[72] 1827.

... speech wherewith to clothe a sigh 1822.


Behold a pupil of the monkish gown,
The pious Alfred, King to Justice dear!
Lord of the harp and liberating spear;[73]
Mirror of Princes![74] Indigent Renown
Might range the starry ether for a crown 5
Equal to his deserts, who, like the year,
Pours forth his bounty, like the day doth cheer,
And awes like night with mercy-tempered frown.
Ease from this noble miser of his time
No moment steals; pain narrows not his cares.[75] 10
Though small his kingdom as a spark or gem,
Of Alfred boasts remote Jerusalem,[76]
And Christian India, through her wide-spread clime,
[Pg 25] In sacred converse gifts with Alfred shares.[77][78]


[73] "The memory of the life and doings of the noblest of English rulers has come down to us living and distinct through the mist of exaggeration and legend that gathered round it.... He lived solely for the good of his people. He is the first instance in the history of Christendom of the Christian king, of a ruler who put aside every personal aim or ambition to devote himself to the welfare of those whom he ruled. So long as he lived he strove 'to live worthily'; but in his mouth a life of worthiness meant a life of justice, temperance, and self-sacrifice. Ardent warrior as he was, with a disorganised England before him, he set aside at thirty-one the dream of conquest to leave behind him the memory, not of victories, but of 'good works,' of daily toils by which he secured peace, good government, education for his people.... The spirit of adventure that made him in youth the first huntsman of his day took later and graver form in an activity that found time amidst the cares of state for the daily duties of religion, for converse with strangers, for study and translation, for learning poems by heart, for planning buildings and instructing craftsmen in gold work, for teaching even falconers and dog-keepers their business.... He himself superintended a school for the young nobles of the court." (Green's Short History of the English People, chap. i. sec. 5.)—Ed.

[74] Compare Voltaire, Essai sur les Mœurs, chap. xxvi.; and Herder's Ideen zur Philosophie der Geschichte der Menschheit. Werke (1820), vol. vi. p. 153.—Ed.

[75] Through the whole of his life, Alfred was subject to grievous maladies.—W. W. 1822.

"Although disease succeeded disease, and haunted him with tormenting agony, nothing could suppress his unwearied and inextinguishable genius." (Sharon Turner's History of the Anglo-Saxons, vol. i. book iv. chap. v. p. 503.)—Ed.

[76] "His mind was far from being prisoned within his own island. He sent a Norwegian shipmaster to explore the White Sea.... Envoys bore his presents to the Christians of India and Jerusalem, and an annual mission carried Peter's-pence to Rome." (Green's Short History of the English People, i. 5.)—Ed.

[77] 1827.

And Christian India gifts with Alfred shares
By sacred converse link'd with India's clime. 1822

[78] "With Alfred" is in all the editions. The late Bishop of St. Andrews, Charles Wordsworth, suggested that "of Alfred" or "from Alfred" would be a better reading.—Ed.


When thy great soul was freed from mortal chains,
Darling of England! many a bitter shower
Fell on thy tomb; but emulative power
Flowed in thy line through undegenerate veins.[79]
The Race of Alfred covet[80] glorious pains[81] 5
When dangers threaten, dangers ever new!
Black tempests bursting, blacker still in view!
But manly sovereignty its hold retains;
The root sincere, the branches bold to strive
With the fierce tempest, while,[82] within the round 10
Of their protection, gentle virtues thrive;
As oft, 'mid some green plot of open ground,
[Pg 26] Wide as the oak extends its dewy gloom,
The fostered hyacinths spread their purple bloom.[83]


[79] 1837.

Can aught survive to linger in the veins
Of kindred bodies—an essential power
That may not vanish in one fatal hour,
And wholly cast away terrestrial chains? 1822.

[80] 1832.

... covets ... 1822.

[81] In Eadward the elder, his son; Eadmund I., his grandson; Eadward (the Martyr), grandson of Eadmund I.; and Eadward (the Confessor), nephew to the Martyr.—Ed.

[82] 1827.

... to thrive
With the fierce storm; meanwhile, ... 1822.

[83] As, pre-eminently, in the wood by the road, half-way from Rydal to Ambleside.—Ed.


Urged by Ambition, who with subtlest skill
Changes her means, the Enthusiast as a dupe
Shall soar, and as a hypocrite can stoop,
And turn the instruments of good to ill,
Moulding the credulous people to his will. 5
Such Dunstan:—from its Benedictine coop
Issues the master Mind,[84] at whose fell swoop
The chaste affections tremble to fulfil
Their purposes. Behold, pre-signified,
The Might of spiritual sway! his thoughts, his dreams,
Do in the supernatural world abide: 11
So vaunt a throng of Followers, filled with pride
In what they see of virtues pushed to extremes,[85]
And sorceries of talent misapplied.

[Pg 27]


[84] Dunstan was made Abbot of Glastonbury by Eadmund, and there he introduced the Benedictine rule, being the first Benedictine Abbot in England. His aim was a remodelling of the Anglo-Saxon Church, "for which," says Southey, "he was qualified by his rank, his connections, his influence at court, his great and versatile talents, and more than all, it must be added, by his daring ambition, which scrupled at nothing for the furtherance of its purpose." (Book of the Church, i. 6.) "Dunstan stands first in the line of ecclesiastical statesmen, who counted among them Lanfranc and Wolsey, and ended in Laud." "Raised to the See of Canterbury, he wielded for sixteen years, as the minister of Eadgar, the secular and ecclesiastical powers of the realm." (Green, i. 6.) In the effort to retain the ascendency he had won, he lent himself, however, to superstition and to fraud, to craft and mean device. He was a type of the ecclesiastical sorcerer.—Ed.

[85] 1837.

In shows of virtue pushed to its extremes, 1822.


Woe to the Crown that doth the Cowl obey![86]
Dissension, checking[87] arms that would restrain
The incessant Rovers of the northern main,[88]
Helps to restore and spread a Pagan sway:[89]
But Gospel-truth is potent to allay 5
Fierceness and rage; and soon the cruel Dane
Feels, through the influence of her gentle reign,
His native superstitions melt away.
Thus, often, when thick gloom the east o'ershrouds,
The full-orbed Moon, slow-climbing, doth appear 10
Silently to consume the heavy clouds;
How no one can resolve; but every eye
Around her sees, while air is hushed, a clear
And widening circuit of ethereal sky.


[86] The violent measures carried on under the influence of Dunstan, for strengthening the Benedictine Order, were a leading cause of the second series of Danish invasions. See Turner.—W. W. 1822.

[87] 1837.

Dissention checks the ... 1822.

[88] e.g. Anlaef, Haco, Svein. (See Turner's History of the Anglo-Saxons, book ii. chaps. iii., viii., ix.)—Ed.

[89] 1837.

And widely spreads once more a Pagan sway; 1822.


A pleasant music floats along the Mere,
From Monks in Ely chanting service high,
While-as Canùte the King is rowing by:
"My Oarsmen," quoth the mighty King, "draw near,
[Pg 28] "That we the sweet song of the Monks may hear!"[90]
He listens (all past conquests and all schemes 6
Of future vanishing like empty dreams)
Heart-touched, and haply not without a tear.
The Royal Minstrel, ere the choir is still,[91]
While his free Barge skims the smooth flood along,
Gives to that rapture an accordant Rhyme.[92][93] 11
O suffering Earth! be thankful; sternest clime
And rudest age are subject to the thrill
Of heaven-descended Piety and Song.


[90] A monk of Ely, who wrote a History of the Church (circa 1166), records a fragment of song, said to have been composed by Canute when on his way to a church festival. He told his rowers to proceed slowly, and near the shore, that he might hear the chanting of the Psalter by the monks, and he then composed a song himself.

Merie sangen the Muneches binnen Ely,
Tha Cnut ching reu therby:
Roweth cnites ner the land
And here ye thes Muneches sang.—Ed.

[91] 1827.

... was still, 1822.

[92] 1827.

... a memorial Rhyme. 1822.

[93] Which is still extant.—W. W. 1822. See last note.—Ed.


The woman-hearted Confessor prepares[94]
The evanescence of the Saxon line.
Hark! 'tis the tolling Curfew!—the stars shine;[95]
[Pg 29] But of the lights that cherish household cares
And festive gladness, burns not one that dares 5
To twinkle after that dull stroke of thine,
Emblem and instrument, from Thames to Tyne,
Of force that daunts, and cunning that ensnares!
Yet as the terrors of the lordly bell,
That quench, from hut to palace, lamps and fires,[96] 10
Touch not the tapers of the sacred quires;
Even so a thraldom, studious to expel
Old laws, and ancient customs to derange,
To Creed or Ritual brings no fatal change.[97]


[94] Edward the Confessor (1042-1066).—"There was something shadowlike in the thin form, the delicate complexion, the transparent womanly hands, that contrasted with the blue eyes and golden hair of his race; and it is almost as a shadow that he glides over the political stage. The work of government was done by sterner hands." (Green's Short History of the English People, chap. ii. sec. 2.)—Ed.


Published 1837

Coldly we spake. The Saxons, overpowered
By wrong triumphant through its own excess,
From fields laid waste, from house and home devoured
By flames, look up to heaven and crave redress
From God's eternal justice. Pitiless 5
Though men be, there are angels that can feel
For wounds that death alone has power to heal,
For penitent guilt, and innocent distress.
And has a Champion risen in arms to try
[Pg 30] His Country's virtue, fought, and breathes no more; 10
Him in their hearts the people canonize;
And far above the mine's most precious ore
The least small pittance of bare mould they prize
Scooped from the sacred earth where his dear relics lie.


[95] 1827.

Hark! 'tis the Curfew's knell! the stars may shine; 1822.

[96] The introduction of the curfew-bell (couvre-feu, cover fire) into England is ascribed to the Conqueror, but the custom was common in Europe long before his time.—Ed.

[97] 1837.

Brings to Religion no injurious change. 1822.


"And shall," the Pontiff asks, "profaneness flow
From Nazareth—source of Christian piety,
From Bethlehem, from the Mounts of Agony
And glorified Ascension? Warriors, go,
With prayers and blessings we your path will sow; 5
Like Moses hold our hands erect, till ye
Have chased far off by righteous victory
These sons of Amalek, or laid them low!"—
"God willeth it," the whole assembly cry;
Shout which the enraptured multitude astounds![98] 10
The Council-roof and Clermont's towers reply;—
"God willeth it," from hill to hill rebounds,
And, in awe-stricken[99] Countries far and nigh,
Through "Nature's hollow arch"[100] that voice resounds.[101][102]

[Pg 31]


[98] 1827.

... astounded. 1822.

[99] 1827.

... rebounded;
Sacred resolve, in ... 1822.

[100] Compare Fuller's Holy War, I. 8.—Ed.

[101] 1837.

... that night, resounded! 1822.

... the voice resounds. 1827.

[102] The decision of this Council was believed to be instantly known in remote parts of Europe.—W. W. 1822.

There were several Councils of Clermont, the chief of them being that of 1095, at which the Crusade was definitely planned. Pope Urban II. addressed the Council in such a way that at the close the whole multitude exclaimed simultaneously Deus Vult; and this phrase became the war-cry of the Crusade.—Ed.


The turbaned Race are poured in thickening swarms
Along the west; though driven from Aquitaine,
The Crescent glitters on the towers of Spain;
And soft Italia feels renewed alarms;
The scimitar, that yields not to the charms 5
Of ease, the narrow Bosphorus will disdain;
Nor long (that crossed) would Grecian hills detain
Their tents, and check the current of their arms.
Then blame not those who, by the mightiest lever
Known to the moral world, Imagination, 10
Upheave, so seems it, from her natural station
All Christendom:—they sweep along (was never
So huge a host!)[103]—to tear from the Unbeliever
The precious Tomb, their haven of salvation.


[103] Ten successive armies, amounting to nearly 950,000 men, took part in the first Crusade. "The most distant islands and savage countries," says William of Malmesbury, "were inspired with this ardent passion"—Ed.


Redoubted King, of courage leonine,
I mark thee, Richard! urgent to equip
Thy warlike person with the staff and scrip;
I watch thee sailing o'er the midland brine;
In conquered Cyprus see thy Bride decline 5
Her blushing cheek, love-vows[104] upon her lip,
And see love-emblems streaming from thy ship,
[Pg 32] As thence she holds her way to Palestine.[105]
My Song, a fearless homager, would attend
Thy thundering battle-axe as it cleaves the press 10
Of war, but duty summons her away
To tell—how, finding in the rash distress
Of those Enthusiasts a subservient friend,
To[106] giddier heights hath clomb the Papal sway.


[104] 1827.

... Love's vow ... 1822.

[105] Richard I. (Cœur de Lion), one of the two leaders in the third Crusade, after conquering Cyprus—on his way to Palestine—while in that island married Berengaria, daughter of Sanchez, King of Navarre.—Ed.

[106] 1837.

Of those enthusiast powers a constant Friend,
Through ... 1822.


Realms quake by turns: proud Arbitress of grace,
The Church, by mandate shadowing forth the power
She arrogates o'er heaven's eternal door,
Closes the gates of every sacred place.
Straight from the sun and tainted air's embrace 5
All sacred things are covered: cheerful morn
Grows sad as night—no seemly garb is worn,
Nor is a face allowed to meet a face
With natural smiles[108] of greeting. Bells are dumb;
[Pg 33] Ditches are graves—funereal rites denied; 10
And in the church-yard he must take his bride
Who dares be wedded! Fancies thickly come
Into the pensive heart ill fortified,
And comfortless despairs the soul benumb.


[107] At the command of Pope Innocent III., the Bishops of London, Ely, and Worcester were charged to lay England under an interdict. They did so, in defiance of King John, and left England. Southey's description of the result maybe compared with this sonnet. "All the rites of a Church whose policy it was to blend its institutions with the whole business of private life were suddenly suspended: no bell heard, no taper lighted, no service performed, no church open; only baptism was permitted, and confession and sacrament for the dying. The dead were either interred in unhallowed ground, without the presence of a priest, or any religious ceremony, ... or they were kept unburied.... Some little mitigation was allowed, lest human nature should have rebelled against so intolerable a tyranny. The people, therefore, were called to prayers and sermon on the Sunday, in the churchyards, and marriages were performed at the church door." (Southey's Book of the Church, vol. i. chap. ix. pp. 261, 262.)—Ed.

[108] 1845.

... smile ... 1822.


As with the Stream our voyage we pursue,
The gross materials of this world present
A marvellous study of wild accident;[109]
Uncouth proximities of old and new;
And bold transfigurations, more untrue 5
(As might be deemed) to disciplined intent
Than aught the sky's fantastic element,
When most fantastic, offers to the view.
Saw we not Henry scourged at Becket's shrine?[110]
Lo! John self-stripped of his insignia:—crown, 10
Sceptre and mantle, sword and ring, laid down
At a proud Legate's feet![111] The spears that line
Baronial halls, the opprobrious insult feel;
[Pg 34] And angry Ocean roars a vain appeal.


[109] Compare Aubrey de Vere's Thomas à Becket.—Ed.

[110] After Becket's murder and canonisation Henry II., from political motives, did penance publicly at his shrine. Clad in a coarse garment, he walked three miles barefoot to Canterbury, and at the shrine submitted to the discipline of the Church. Four bishops, abbots, and eighty clergy were present, each with a knotted cord, and inflicted 380 lashes. Bleeding he threw sackcloth over his shoulders, and continued till midnight kneeling at prayer, then visited all the altars, and returned fainting to Becket's shrine, where he remained till morning.—Ed.

[111] On the festival of the Ascension, John "laid his crown at Pandulph's feet, and signed an instrument by which, for the remission of his sins, and those of his family, he surrendered the kingdoms of England and Ireland to the Pope, to hold them thenceforth under him, and the Roman see." Pandulph "kept the crown five days before he restored it to John." (Southey, Book of the Church, vol. i. p. 218.)—Ed.


Black Demons hovering o'er his mitred head,
To Cæsar's Successor the Pontiff spake;[112]
"Ere I absolve thee, stoop! that on thy neck
Levelled with earth this foot of mine may tread."
Then he, who to the altar had been led, 5
He, whose strong arm the Orient could not check,
He, who had held the Soldan[113] at his beck,
Stooped, of all glory disinherited,
And even the common dignity of man!—
Amazement strikes the crowd: while many turn 10
Their eyes away in sorrow, others burn
With scorn, invoking a vindictive ban
From outraged Nature; but the sense of most
In abject sympathy with power is lost.


[112] The reference is to the legend of Pope Alexander III. and Frederick Barbarossa. See the Fenwick note prefixed to these sonnets.—Ed.

[113] Soldan, or Sultan, "Soldanus quasi solus dominus."—Ed.


Unless to Peter's Chair the viewless wind[114]
Must come and ask permission when to blow,
What further empire would it have? for now
A ghostly Domination, unconfined
As that by dreaming Bards to Love assigned, 5
[Pg 35] Sits there in sober truth—to raise the low,
Perplex the wise, the strong to overthrow;
Through earth and heaven to bind and to unbind!—
Resist—the thunder quails thee!—crouch—rebuff
Shall be thy recompense! from land to land 10
The ancient thrones of Christendom are stuff
For occupation of a magic wand,
And 'tis the Pope that wields it:—whether rough
Or smooth his front, our world is in his hand![115]


[114] Compare Measure for Measure, act III. scene i. l. 124.—Ed.

[115] According to the canons of the Church, the Pope was above all kings, "He was king of kings and lord of lords, although he subscribed himself the servant of servants." He might dethrone kings, and tax nations, or destroy empires, as he pleased. All power had been committed to him, and any secular law that was opposed to a papal decree was, ipso facto, null and void.—Ed.



Published 1845

How soon—alas! did Man, created pure—
By Angels guarded, deviate from the line
Prescribed to duty:—woeful forfeiture[116]
He made by wilful breach of law divine.
[Pg 36] With like perverseness did the Church abjure 5
Obedience to her Lord, and haste to twine,[117]
'Mid Heaven-born flowers that shall for aye endure,
Weeds on whose front the world had fixed her sign.
O Man,—if with thy trials thus it fares,
If good can smooth the way to evil choice, 10
From all rash censure be the mind kept free;
He only judges right who weighs, compares,
And, in the sternest sentence which his voice
Pronounces, ne'er abandons Charity.[118]


[116] 1845.

Even when the state of man seems most secure
And tempted least to deviate from the line
Of simple duty, woeful forfeiture C.

How difficult for man to keep the line
Prescribed by duty! Happy once and pure C.

[117] 1845.

Though Angels watched lest man should from the line
Of duty sever, blest though he was, and pure
In thought and deed, a woeful forfeiture
He made by wilful breach of law divine,
The church of Christ how prompt was she to abjure
Allegiance to her Lord how prone to twine C.

[118] 1845.

{The visible church how prone was she to abjure}
{Allegiance to Christ's Kingdom and entwine}
With glorious flowers that shall for aye endure
Weeds on whose front the world had fixed her sign.
False man—if with thy trials thus it fared—
If good can smooth the way to evil choice,
From hasty answer be our minds kept free;
He only judges right who weighs, compares,
And, in the sternest sentence that his voice
May utter, ne'er abandons charity. C.


Published 1845

From false assumption rose, and fondly hail'd
By superstition, spread the Papal power;
Yet do not deem the Autocracy prevail'd
[Pg 37] Thus only, even in error's darkest hour.
She daunts, forth-thundering from her spiritual tower
Brute rapine, or with gentle lure she tames. 6
Justice and Peace through Her uphold their claims;
And Chastity finds many a sheltering bower.
Realm there is none that if controul'd or sway'd
By her commands partakes not, in degree, 10
Of good, o'er manners arts and arms, diffused:
Yes, to thy domination, Roman See,
Tho' miserably, oft monstrously, abused
By blind ambition, be this tribute paid.[119]


[119] The following version of this sonnet is from a MS. copy of it in Wordsworth's own handwriting.—Ed.

On false assumption, though the Papal Power
Rests, and spreads wide, beduped, by ignorance hailed,
A darker empire must have else prevailed,
For deeds of mischief strengthening every hour.
Behold how thundering from her spiritual tower
She daunts brute rapine, cruelty she tames.
Justice and charity through her assert their claims,
And chastity finds many a sheltering bower.
Realm is there none that, if controlled or swayed
By her commands, partakes not in degree
Of good, on manners arts and arms diffused:
To mock thy exaltation, Roman See,
And to the Autocracy, howe'er abused
Through blind ambition, be this tribute paid.


"Here Man more purely lives, less oft doth fall,
More promptly rises, walks with stricter heed,[121]
More safely rests, dies happier, is freed
Earlier from cleansing fires, and gains withal
[Pg 38] A brighter crown."[122]—On yon Cistertian wall 5
That confident assurance may be read;
And, to like shelter, from the world have fled
Increasing multitudes. The potent call
Doubtless shall cheat full oft the heart's desires:[123]
Yet, while the rugged Age on pliant knee 10
Vows to rapt Fancy humble fealty,
A gentler life spreads round the holy spires;
Where'er they rise, the sylvan waste retires,
And aëry harvests crown the fertile lea.


[120] The Cistertian order was named after the monastery of Citéaux or Cistercium, near Dijon, founded in 1098 by the Benedictine abbot, Robert of Molême.—Ed.

[121] 1837.

... with nicer heed, 1822.

[122] "Bonum est nos hic esse, quia homo vivit purius, cadit rarius, surgit velocius, incedit cautius, quiescit securius, moritur felicius, purgatur citius, praemiatur copiosius."—Bernard. "This sentence," says Dr. Whitaker, "is usually inscribed on some conspicuous part of the Cistertian houses."—W. W. 1822.

[123] 1827.

... desire; 1822.


Published 1835

Deplorable his lot who tills the ground,
His whole life long tills it, with heartless toil
Of villain-service, passing with the soil
To each new Master, like a steer or hound,
Or like a rooted tree, or stone earth-bound; 5
But mark how gladly, through their own domains,
[Pg 39] The Monks relax or break these iron chains;
While Mercy, uttering, through their voice, a sound
Echoed in Heaven, cries out, "Ye Chiefs, abate
These legalized oppressions! Man—whose name 10
And nature God disdained not; Man—whose soul
Christ died for—cannot forfeit his high claim
To live and move exempt from all controul
Which fellow-feeling doth not mitigate!"


[124] The following note, referring to Sonnets IV., XII., and XIII., appears in the volume of 1835—entitled Yarrow Revisited, and other Poems—immediately after the poem St. Bees

"The three following Sonnets are an intended addition to the 'Ecclesiastical Sketches,' the first to stand second; and the two that succeed, seventh and eighth, in the second part of the Series. (See the Author's Poems.) They are placed here as having some connection with the foregoing Poem."—Ed.


Record we too, with just and faithful pen,
That many hooded Cenobites[125] there are,
Who in their private cells have yet a care
Of public quiet; unambitious Men,
Counsellors for the world, of piercing ken; 5
Whose fervent exhortations from afar
Move Princes to their duty, peace or war;[126]
And oft-times in the most forbidding den
Of solitude, with love of science strong,
How patiently the yoke of thought they bear! 10
How subtly glide its finest threads along!
Spirits that crowd the intellectual sphere[127]
With mazy boundaries, as the astronomer
With orb and cycle girds the starry throng.

[Pg 40]


[125] Cenobites ([Greek: koinobioi]κοινόβιοι), monks who live in common, as distinguished from hermits or anchorites, who live alone.—Ed.

[126] "Counts, kings, bishops," says F.D. Maurice, "in the fulness of their wealth and barbaric splendour, may be bowing before a monk, who writes them letters from a cell in which he is living upon vegetables and water." (Moral and Metaphysical Philosophy (Edition 1873), vol. i., Mediæval Philosophy, chap. iv. p. 534.)—Ed.

[127] e.g. Anselm (1033-1109); Albertus Magnus (1193-1280); Thomas Aquinas (1226-1274); Duns Scotus (1265-1308).—Ed.


And, not in vain embodied to the sight,
Religion finds even in the stern retreat
Of feudal sway her own appropriate seat;[128]
From the collegiate pomps on Windsor's height
Down to the humbler[129] altar, which the Knight 5
And his Retainers of the embattled hall
Seek in domestic oratory small,
For prayer in stillness, or the chanted rite;
Then chiefly dear, when foes are planted round,
Who teach the intrepid guardians of the place— 10
Hourly exposed to death, with famine worn,
And suffering under many a perilous wound—[130]
How sad would be their durance, if forlorn
Of offices dispensing heavenly grace!


[128] St. George's Chapel, Windsor, begun by Henry III. and finished by Edward III., rebuilt by Henry VII., and enlarged by Cardinal Wolsey.—Ed.

[129] 1837.

... humble ... 1822.

[130] 1827.

... doubtful wound, 1822.


And what melodious sounds at times prevail!
And, ever and anon, how bright a gleam
Pours on the surface of the turbid Stream!
What heartfelt fragrance mingles with the gale
That swells the bosom of our passing sail! 5
[Pg 41] For where, but on this River's margin, blow
Those flowers of chivalry, to bind the brow
Of hardihood with wreaths that shall not fail?—
Fair Court of Edward! wonder of the world![131]
I see a matchless blazonry unfurled 10
Of wisdom, magnanimity, and love;
And meekness tempering honourable pride;
The lamb is couching by the lion's side,
And near the flame-eyed eagle sits the dove.


[131] Edward the Third (1336-1360). See The Wonderful Deeds of Edward the Third, by Robert of Avesbury; and Longman's History of Edward the Third.—Ed.


Furl we the sails, and pass with tardy oars
Through these bright regions, casting many a glance
Upon the dream-like issues—the romance[132]
Of many-coloured life that[133] Fortune pours
Round the Crusaders, till on distant shores 5
Their labours end; or they return to lie,
The vow performed, in cross-legged effigy,
Devoutly stretched upon their chancel floors.
Am I deceived? Or is their requiem chanted
By voices never mute when Heaven unties 10
[Pg 42] Her inmost, softest, tenderest harmonies;
Requiem which Earth takes up with voice undaunted,
When she would tell how Brave, and Good, and Wise,[134]
For their high guerdon not in vain have panted!


[132] 1845.

Nor can Imagination quit the shores
Of these bright scenes without a farewell glance
Given to those dream-like Issues—that Romance 1822.

Given to the dream-like Issues—that Romance 1837.

[133] 1837.

... which ... 1822.

[134] 1837.

... Good, and Brave, and Wise, 1822


Composed 1842.—Published 1845

As faith thus sanctified the warrior's crest
While from the Papal Unity there came,
What feebler means had fail'd to give, one aim
Diffused thro' all the regions of the West;
So does her Unity its power attest 5
By works of Art, that shed, on the outward frame
Of worship, glory and grace, which who shall blame
That ever looked to heaven for final rest?
Hail countless Temples! that so well befit
Your ministry; that, as ye rise and take 10
Form spirit and character from holy writ,
Give to devotion, wheresoe'er awake,
Pinions of high and higher sweep, and make
The unconverted soul with awe submit.[135]

[Pg 43]


[135] In a letter to Professor Henry Reed, Philadelphia, September 4, 1842, Wordsworth writes: "To the second part of the Series" (the "Ecclesiastical Sonnets") "I have also added two, in order to do more justice to the Papal Church for the services which she did actually render to Christianity and humanity in the Middle Ages."—Ed.


Composed 1842.—Published 1845

Where long and deeply hath been fixed the root
In the blest soil of gospel truth, the Tree,
(Blighted or scathed tho' many branches be,
Put forth to wither, many a hopeful shoot)
Can never cease to bear celestial fruit. 5
Witness the Church that oft-times, with effect
Dear to the saints, strives earnestly to eject[136]
Her bane, her vital energies recruit.
Lamenting, do not hopelessly repine
When such good work is doomed to be undone,[137] 10
The conquests lost that were so hardly won:—
All promises vouchsafed by Heaven will shine[138]
In light confirmed while years their course shall run,
Confirmed alike in[139] progress and decline.

[Pg 44]


[136] 1845.

Blighted and scathed tho' many branches be,
Can never cease to bear and ripen fruit
Worthy of Heaven. This law is absolute.
Behold the Church that often with effect
Dear to the Saints doth labouring to eject C.

[137] 1845.

{The Church not seldom surely with effect}
{Dear to the Saints doth labour to eject}
Her bane, her vital energy recruit.
So Providence ordains and why repine
If this good work is doomed to be undone, C.

[138] 1845.

Trust that the promises vouchsafed will shine C.

[139] 1845.

... thro' ... C.


Enough! for see, with dim association
The tapers burn; the odorous incense feeds
A greedy flame; the pompous mass proceeds;
The Priest bestows the appointed consecration;
And, while the Host is raised, its elevation 5
An awe and supernatural horror breeds;
And all the people bow their heads, like reeds
To a soft breeze, in lowly adoration.
This Valdo brooks[140] not.[141] On the banks of Rhone
He taught, till persecution chased him thence, 10
To adore the Invisible, and Him alone.
Nor are[142] his Followers loth to seek defence,
'Mid woods and wilds, on Nature's craggy throne,
From rites that trample upon soul and sense.


[140] 1837.

... brook'd ... 1822.

[141] Peter Waldo (or Valdo), a rich merchant of Lyons (1160 or 1170), becoming religious, dedicated himself to poverty and almsgiving. Disciples gathered round him; and they were called the poor men of Lyons—a modest, frugal, and industrious order. They were reformers before the Reformation. Peter Waldo exposed the corruption of the clergy, had the four gospels translated for the people, and maintained the rights of the laity to read them to the masses. He was condemned by the Lateran Council in 1179.—Ed.

[142] 1837.

... were ... 1822.


Published 1835

But whence came they who for the Saviour Lord
Have long borne witness as the Scriptures teach?—
Ages ere Valdo raised his voice to preach
[Pg 45] In Gallic ears the unadulterate Word,
Their fugitive Progenitors explored 5
Subalpine vales, in quest of safe retreats
Where that pure Church survives, though summer heats
Open a passage to the Romish sword,
Far as it dares to follow. Herbs self-sown,
And fruitage gathered from the chesnut wood, 10
Nourish the sufferers then; and mists, that brood
O'er chasms with new-fallen obstacles bestrown,
Protect them; and the eternal snow that daunts
Aliens, is God's good winter for their haunts.


Published 1835

Praised be the Rivers, from their mountain springs
Shouting to Freedom, "Plant thy banners here!"[143]
To harassed Piety, "Dismiss thy fear,
"And in our caverns smooth thy ruffled wings!"
Nor be unthanked their final lingerings— 5
Silent, but not to high-souled Passion's ear—
'Mid reedy fens wide-spread and marshes drear,
Their own creation. Such glad welcomings
As Po was heard to give where Venice rose
Hailed from aloft those Heirs of truth divine[144] 10
Who near his fountains sought obscure repose,
[Pg 46] Yet came[145] prepared as glorious lights to shine,
Should that be needed for their sacred Charge;
Blest Prisoners They, whose spirits were[146] at large!


[143] See the story of the rebuilding of Rome after its plunder by the Gauls.—Ed.

[144] 1837.

... their tardiest lingerings
'Mid reedy fens wide-spread and marshes drear,
Their own creation, till their long career
End in the sea engulphed. Such welcomings
As came from mighty Po when Venice rose,
Greeted those simple Heirs of truth divine 1835.

[145] 1837.

Yet were ... 1835.

[146] 1840.

... are ... 1835.


Those had given[148] earliest notice, as the lark
Springs from the ground the morn to gratulate;
Or[149] rather rose the day to antedate,
By striking out a solitary spark, 4
When all the world with midnight gloom was dark.—
Then followed the Waldensian bands, whom Hate[150]
In vain endeavours[151] to exterminate,
[Pg 47] Whom[152] Obloquy pursues with hideous bark:[153]
But they desist not;—and the sacred fire,[154]
Rekindled thus, from dens and savage woods 10
Moves, handed on with never-ceasing care,
Through courts, through camps, o'er limitary floods;
Nor lacks this sea-girt Isle a timely share
Of the new Flame, not suffered to expire.


[147] The followers of Peter Waldo afterwards became a separate community, and multiplied in the valleys of Dauphiné and Piedmont. They suffered persecutions in 1332, 1400, and 1478, but these only drove them into fresh districts in Europe. Francis I. of France ordered them to be extirpated from Piedmont in 1541, and many were massacred. In 1560 the Duke of Savoy renewed the persecution at the instance of the Papal See. Charles Emmanuel II., in 1655, continued it.—Ed.

[148] 1845.

These who gave ... 1822.

These had given ... 1840.

[149] 1840.

Who ... 1822.

[150] 1845.

These Harbingers of good, whom bitter hate 1822.

At length come those Waldensian bands, whom Hate 1840.

[151] 1840.

... endeavoured ... 1822

[152] 1840.

Fell ... 1822

[153] The list of foul names bestowed upon those poor creatures is long and curious:—and, as is, alas! too natural, most of the opprobrious appellations are drawn from circumstances into which they were forced by their persecutors, who even consolidated their miseries into one reproachful term, calling them Patarenians, or Paturins, from pati, to suffer.

Dwellers with wolves, she names them, for the pine
And green oak are their covert; as the gloom
Of night oft foils their enemy's design,
She calls them Riders on the flying broom;
Sorcerers, whose frame and aspect have become
One and the same through practices malign.—W. W. 1822.

[154] 1827.

Meanwhile the unextinguishable fire, 1822


"What beast in wilderness or cultured field
"The lively beauty of the leopard shows?
"What flower in meadow-ground or garden grows
"That to the towering lily doth not yield?
"Let both meet only on thy royal shield! 5
"Go forth, great King! claim what thy birth bestows;
"Conquer the Gallic lily which thy foes
"Dare to usurp;—thou hast a sword to wield,
"And Heaven will crown the right."—The mitred Sire
[Pg 48] Thus spake—and lo! a Fleet, for Gaul addrest, 10
Ploughs her bold course across the wondering seas;[155]
For, sooth to say, ambition, in the breast
Of youthful heroes, is no sullen fire,
But one that leaps to meet the fanning breeze.


[155] Henry Chichele, Archbishop of Canterbury in 1414, persuaded Henry V. to carry on war with France, and helped to raise money for the purpose. Henry crossed to Harfleur, Chichele accompanying him, with an army of 30,000, and won the battle of Agincourt.—Ed.


Thus is the storm abated by the craft
Of a shrewd Counsellor, eager to protect
The Church, whose power hath recently been checked,
Whose monstrous riches threatened. So the shaft
Of victory mounts high, and blood is quaffed 5
In fields that rival Cressy and Poictiers—[156]
Pride to be washed away by bitter tears!
For deep as Hell itself, the avenging draught[157]
Of civil slaughter. Yet, while temporal power
Is by these shocks exhausted, spiritual truth 10
Maintains the else endangered gift of life;
Proceeds from infancy to lusty youth;
And, under cover of this[158] woeful strife,
Gathers unblighted strength from hour to hour.

[Pg 49]


[156] e.g. the battles of St. Albans, Wakefield, Mortimer's Cross, Towton, Barnet, Tewkesbury, Bosworth.—Ed.

[157] 1827.

But mark the dire effect in coming years!
Deep, deep as hell itself, the future draught 1822.

[158] 1827.

... that ... 1822.


Once more the Church is seized with sudden fear,
And at her call is Wicliffe disinhumed:
Yea, his dry bones to ashes are consumed
And flung into the brook that travels near; 4
Forthwith, that ancient Voice which Streams can hear
Thus speaks (that Voice which walks upon the wind,
Though seldom heard by busy human kind)—
"As thou these ashes, little Brook! wilt bear
"Into the Avon, Avon to the tide
"Of Severn, Severn to the narrow seas, 10
"Into main Ocean they, this deed accurst
"An emblem yields to friends and enemies
"How the bold Teacher's Doctrine, sanctified
"By truth, shall spread, throughout the world dispersed."[159]


[159] The Council of Constance condemned Wicliffe as a heretic, and issued an order that his remains should be exhumed, and burnt. "Accordingly, by order of the Bishop of Lincoln, as Diocesan of Lutterworth, his grave, which was in the chancel of the church, was opened, forty years after his death; the bones were taken out and burnt to ashes, and the ashes thrown into a neighbouring brook called the Swift." (Southey's Book of the Church, vol. i. p. 384.) "Thus this brook," says Fuller, "hath conveyed his ashes into Avon, Avon into Severn, Severn into the narrow seas, they into the main ocean; and thus the ashes of Wicliffe are the emblem of his doctrine, which now is dispersed all the world over." (The Church History of Britain from the Birth of Christ until the year MDCXLVIII. endeavoured, book iv. p. 424.) In the note to the 11th Sonnet of Part I., Wordsworth acknowledges his obligations to Fuller in connection with this Sonnet on Wicliffe.

See Charles Lamb's comment on this passage of Fuller's, Prose Works (1876), vol. iv. p. 277.—Ed.


"Woe to you, Prelates! rioting in ease
"And cumbrous wealth—the shame of your estate;
"You, on whose progress dazzling trains await
[Pg 50] "Of pompous horses; whom vain titles please;
"Who will be served by others on their knees, 5
"Yet will yourselves to God no service pay;
"Pastors who neither take nor point the way
"To Heaven; for, either lost in vanities
"Ye have no skill to teach, or if ye know
"And speak the word ——" Alas! of fearful things
'Tis the most fearful when the people's eye 11
Abuse hath cleared from vain imaginings;
And taught the general voice to prophesy
Of Justice armed, and Pride to be laid low.


And what is Penance with her knotted thong;
Mortification with the shirt of hair,
Wan cheek, and knees indúrated with prayer,
Vigils, and fastings rigorous as long;
If cloistered Avarice scruple not to wrong 5
The pious, humble, useful Secular,[160]
And rob[161] the people of his daily care,
Scorning that world whose blindness makes her strong?
Inversion strange! that, unto One who lives[162]
For self, and struggles with himself alone, 10
[Pg 51] The amplest share of heavenly favour gives;
That to a Monk allots, both in the esteem
Of God and man, place higher than to him[163]
Who on the good of others builds his own!


[160] The secular clergy are the priests of the Roman church, who belong to no special religious order, but have the charge of parishes, and so live in the world (seculum). The regular clergy are the monks belonging to one or other of the monastic orders, and are subject to its rules (regulæ).—Ed.

[161] 1827.

And robs ... 1822.

[162] 1827.

Scorning their wants because her arm is strong?
Inversion strange! that to a Monk, who lives 1822.

[163] 1845.

And hath allotted, in the world's esteem,
To such a higher station than to him 1822.

That to a Monk allots, in the esteem
Of God and Man, place higher than to him 1827.


Yet more,—round many a Convent's blazing fire
Unhallowed threads of revelry are spun;
There Venus sits disguisèd like a Nun,—
While Bacchus, clothed in semblance of a Friar,
Pours out his choicest beverage high and higher 5
Sparkling, until it cannot choose but run
Over the bowl, whose silver lip hath won
An instant kiss of masterful desire—
To stay the precious waste. Through every brain
The domination of the sprightly juice 10
Spreads high conceits to madding Fancy dear,[164]
Till the arched roof, with resolute abuse
Of its grave echoes, swells a choral strain,
Whose votive burthen is—"Our kingdom 's here!"[165]

[Pg 52]


[164] 1832.

In every brain
Spreads the dominion of the sprightly juice,
Through the wide world to madding Fancy dear, 1822.

[165] See Wordsworth's note to the next Sonnet.—Ed.


Threats come which no submission may assuage,
No sacrifice avert, no power dispute;
The tapers shall be quenched, the belfries mute,
And,'mid their choirs unroofed by selfish rage,
The warbling wren shall find a leafy cage; 5
The gadding bramble hang her purple fruit;
And the green lizard and the gilded newt
Lead unmolested lives, and die of age.[166]
The owl of evening and the woodland fox
For their abode the shrines of Waltham choose:[167] 10
Proud Glastonbury can no more refuse
To stoop her head before these desperate shocks—
She whose high pomp displaced, as story tells,
Arimathean Joseph's wattled cells.[168]


[166] These two lines are adopted from a MS., written about the year 1770, which accidentally fell into my possession. The close of the preceding Sonnet on monastic voluptuousness is taken from the same source, as is the verse, "Where Venus sits," etc. [W. W. 1822], and the line, "Once ye were holy, ye are holy still," in a subsequent Sonnet.—W. W. 1837.

[167] Waltham Abbey is in Essex, on the Lea.—Ed.

[168] Alluding to the Roman legend that Joseph of Arimathea brought Christianity into Britain, and built Glastonbury Church. See Part I. Sonnet II. (p. 5) and note [14].—Ed.


The lovely Nun (submissive, but more meek
Through saintly habit than from effort due
To unrelenting mandates that pursue
With equal wrath the steps of strong and weak)
Goes forth—unveiling timidly a cheek[169] 5
[Pg 53] Suffused with blushes of celestial hue,
While through the Convent's[170] gate to open view
Softly she glides, another home to seek.
Not Iris, issuing from her cloudy shrine,
An Apparition more divinely bright! 10
Not more attractive to the dazzled sight
Those watery glories, on the stormy brine
Poured forth, while summer suns at distance shine,
And the green vales lie hushed in sober light!


[169] 1837.

... her cheek 1822.

[170] 1837.

... Convent ... 1822.


Yet many a Novice of the cloistral shade,
And many chained by vows, with eager glee[171]
The warrant hail, exulting to be free;
Like ships before whose keels, full long embayed
In polar ice, propitious winds have made 5
Unlooked-for outlet to an open sea,
Their liquid world, for bold discovery,
In all her quarters temptingly displayed!
Hope guides the young; but when the old must pass
The threshold, whither shall they turn to find 10
The hospitality—the alms (alas!
Alms may be needed) which that House bestowed?
Can they, in faith and worship, train the mind
To keep this new and questionable road?

[Pg 54]


[171] 1840.

Yet some, Noviciates of the cloistral shade,
Or chained by vows, with undissembled glee 1822.


Ye, too, must fly before a chasing hand,
Angels and Saints, in every hamlet mourned!
Ah! if the old idolatry be spurned,
Let not your radiant Shapes desert the Land:
Her adoration was not your demand, 5
The fond heart proffered it—the servile heart;
And therefore are ye summoned to depart,
Michael, and thou, St. George, whose flaming brand[172]
The Dragon quelled; and valiant Margaret[173]
Whose rival sword a like Opponent slew: 10
And rapt Cecilia, seraph-haunted Queen[174]
Of harmony; and weeping Magdalene,
Who in the penitential desert met
Gales sweet as those that over Eden blew!


[172] St. George, patron Saint of England, supposed to have suffered A.D. 284. The Greek Church honours him as "the great martyr."—Ed.

[173] St. Margaret, supposed to have suffered martyrdom at Antioch, A.D. 275.—Ed.

[174] St. Cecilia, patron Saint of Music, has been enrolled as a martyr by the Latin Church from the fifth century.—Ed.


Mother! whose virgin bosom was uncrost
With the least shade of thought to sin allied;
Woman! above all women glorified,
Our tainted nature's solitary boast;
Purer than foam on central ocean tost; 5
Brighter than eastern skies at daybreak strewn
With fancied roses, than the unblemished moon
Before her wane begins on heaven's blue coast;
Thy Image falls to earth. Yet some, I ween,
Not unforgiven the suppliant knee might bend, 10
As to a visible Power, in which did blend
All that was mixed and reconciled in Thee
Of mother's love with maiden purity,
[Pg 55] Of high with low, celestial with terrene![176]


[175] Compare the Stanzas suggested in a Steam-boat off Saint Bees' Head, (l. 114); also the following sonnet by the late John Nichol, Professor of English Literature in the University of Glasgow. (See The Death of Themistocles, and other Poems, p. 189.)


Ave Maria! on a thousand thrones
Raised by the weary hearts that beat to thee,
As 'neath the softer light the throbbing sea,
Thy name a spell of peace, in lingering tones
Is whispered through the world: thy truth condones
The feebler faith of worshippers that flee,
Lost in the sovereign awe, to bend the knee
By pictured holiness or breathing stones.
Mother of Christ! whom ages old adorn,
And hundred climes, by gentle thought and deed,
Forgive the sacrilege, the brandished scorn
Of the grim guardians of a narrow creed,
Who fence their folds from Love's serener law,
And "grate on scrannel pipes of wretched straw."—Ed.

[176] This sonnet was published in Time's Telescope, July 2, 1823, p. 136.—Ed.


Not utterly unworthy to endure
Was the supremacy of crafty Rome;[177]
Age after age to the arch of Christendom
Aërial keystone haughtily secure;
Supremacy from Heaven transmitted pure, 5
As many hold; and, therefore, to the tomb
Pass, some through fire—and by the scaffold some—
[Pg 56] Like saintly Fisher,[178] and unbending More.[179]
"Lightly for both the bosom's lord did sit
Upon his throne;"[180] unsoftened, undismayed 10
By aught that mingled with the tragic scene
Of pity or fear; and More's gay genius played
With the inoffensive sword of native wit,
Than the bare axe more luminous and keen.


[177] "To the second part of the same series" (the "Ecclesiastical Sonnets") "I have added two, in order to do more justice to the Papal Church for the services which she did actually render to Christianity and Humanity in the Middle Ages."—W. W. (in a letter to Professor Reed, Sept. 4, 1842).—Ed.

[178] John Fisher, born in 1469, became Bishop of Rochester in 1504, was one of the first in England to write against Luther, opposed the divorce of Henry VIII., was sent to the Tower in 1534, and his see declared void, was made a Cardinal by the Pope while in prison, and beheaded on Tower Hill, 1535.—Ed.

[179] Sir Thomas More, the author of Utopia, born in 1478, was Speaker of the House of Commons in 1523, and succeeded Wolsey as Lord Chancellor in 1529. Disapproving of the king's divorce, he resigned office, was committed to the Tower for refusing to take the oath of supremacy, found guilty of treason, and beheaded in 1535.—Ed.

[180] See Romeo and Juliet, act V. scene i. l. 3—

My bosom's lord sits lightly on his throne.—Ed.


Deep is the lamentation! Not alone
From Sages justly honoured by mankind;
But from the ghostly tenants of the wind,
Demons and Spirits, many a dolorous groan
Issues for that dominion overthrown: 5
Proud Tiber grieves, and far-off Ganges, blind
As his own worshippers: and Nile, reclined
Upon his monstrous urn, the farewell moan
Renews.[181] Through every forest, cave, and den,
Where frauds were hatched of old, hath sorrow past—
Hangs o'er the Arabian Prophet's native Waste,[182] 11
Where once his airy helpers[183] schemed and planned
[Pg 57] 'Mid spectral[184] lakes bemocking thirsty men,[185]
And stalking pillars built of fiery sand.[186]


[181] Compare the echo of the Lady's voice in the lines To Joanna, in the "Poems on the Naming of Places" (vol. ii. p. 157).—Ed.

[182] The desert around Mecca.—Ed.

[183] Mahomet affirmed that he had constant visits from angels; and that the angel Gabriel dictated to him the Koran.—Ed.

[184] 1837.

'Mid phantom ... 1822.

[185] The mirage.—Ed.

[186] Pillars of sand raised by whirlwinds in the desert, which correspond to waterspouts at sea.—Ed.


Grant, that by this unsparing hurricane
Green leaves with yellow mixed are torn away,
And goodly fruitage with the mother spray;
'Twere madness—wished we, therefore, to detain,
With hands stretched forth in[187] mollified disdain, 5
The "trumpery" that ascends in bare display—
Bulls, pardons, relics, cowls black, white, and grey—[188]
Upwhirled, and flying o'er the ethereal plain
Fast bound for Limbo Lake.[189] And yet not choice
But habit rules the unreflecting herd, 10
And airy bonds are hardest to disown;
Hence, with the spiritual sovereignty transferred
Unto itself, the Crown assumes a voice
Of reckless mastery, hitherto unknown.

[Pg 58]


[187] 1827.

With farewell sighs of 1822.

[188] See Paradise Lost, book iii. ll. 474, 475—

Eremites and Friars,
White, black, and grey, with all their trumperie.—Ed.

[189] Hades.—Ed.


But, to outweigh all harm, the sacred Book,
In dusty sequestration wrapt too long,
Assumes the accents of our native tongue;
And he who guides the plough, or wields the crook,
With understanding spirit now may look 5
Upon her records, listen to her song,
And sift her laws—much wondering that the wrong,
Which Faith has suffered, Heaven could calmly brook
Transcendent Boon! noblest that earthly King
Ever bestowed to equalize and bless 10
Under the weight of mortal wretchedness!
But passions spread like plagues, and thousands wild
With bigotry shall tread the Offering
Beneath their feet, detested and defiled.[190]


[190] As was the case during the French Revolution.—Ed.


Published 1827

For what contend the wise?—for nothing less
Than that the Soul, freed from the bonds of Sense,
And to her God restored by evidence[191]
Of things not seen, drawn forth from their recess,
Root there, and not in forms, her holiness;— 5
For[192] Faith, which to the Patriarchs did dispense
[Pg 59] Sure guidance, ere a ceremonial fence
Was needful round men thirsting to transgress;—
For[193] Faith, more perfect still, with which the Lord
Of all, himself a Spirit, in the youth 10
Of Christian aspiration, deigned to fill
The temples of their hearts who, with his word
Informed, were resolute to do his will,
And worship him in spirit and in truth.


[191] 1832.

Than that pure Faith dissolve the bonds of Sense;
The Soul restored to God by evidence 1827.

[192] 1832.

That ... 1827.

[193] 1832.

That ... 1827.


"Sweet is the holiness of Youth"—so felt
Time-honoured Chaucer speaking through that Lay[194]
By which the Prioress beguiled the way,[195]
And many a Pilgrim's rugged heart did melt.
Hadst thou, loved Bard! whose spirit often dwelt 5
In the clear land of vision, but foreseen
King, child, and seraph,[196] blended in the mien
Of pious Edward kneeling as he knelt
In meek and simple infancy, what joy
For universal Christendom had thrilled 10
[Pg 60] Thy heart! what hopes inspired thy genius, skilled
(O great Precursor, genuine morning Star)
The lucid shafts of reason to employ,
Piercing the Papal darkness from afar!


[194] 1845.

... Chaucer when he framed the lay 1822.

... Chaucer when he framed that Lay 1837.

[195] The quotation is not from The Prioress's Tale of Chaucer, but from Wordsworth's own Selections from Chaucer modernized, stanza ix. Wordsworth adds an idea, not found in the original, and to make room for it, he extends the stanza from seven to eight lines.—Ed.

[196] King Edward VI. ascended the throne in 1547, at the age of ten, and reigned for six years.—Ed.


The tears of man in various measure gush
From various sources; gently overflow
From blissful transport some—from clefts of woe
Some with ungovernable impulse rush;
And some, coëval with the earliest blush 5
Of infant passion, scarcely dare to show
Their pearly lustre—coming but to go;
And some break forth when others' sorrows crush
The sympathising heart. Nor these, nor yet
The noblest drops to admiration known, 10
To gratitude, to injuries forgiven—
Claim Heaven's regard like waters that have wet
The innocent eyes of youthful Monarchs driven
To pen the mandates, nature doth disown.[197]

[Pg 61]


[197] Joan Bocher, of Kent, a woman of good birth, friend of Ann Askew at Court, was accused, and condemned to die for maintaining that Christ was human only in appearance. Cranmer, by order of the Council, obtained from Edward a warrant for her execution. Edward, who was then in his thirteenth year, signed it, telling Cranmer that he must be answerable for the deed.—Ed.


Published 1827

The saintly Youth has ceased to rule, discrowned[198]
By unrelenting Death.[199] O People keen
For change, to whom the new looks always green!
Rejoicing did they cast upon the ground[200]
Their Gods of wood and stone; and, at the sound 5
Of counter-proclamation, now are seen,
(Proud triumph is it for a sullen Queen!)
Lifting them up, the worship to confound
Of the Most High. Again do they invoke
The Creature, to the Creature glory give; 10
Again with frankincense the altars smoke
Like those the Heathen served; and mass is sung;
And prayer, man's rational prerogative,
Runs through blind channels of an unknown tongue.[201]


[198] 1832.

Melts into silent shades the Youth, discrowned 1827.

[199] Edward died in 1553, aged sixteen.—Ed.

[200] 1832.

They cast, they cast with joy upon the ground 1827.

[201] On the death of Edward and the accession of Mary Tudor, the Roman Catholic worship was restored, all the statutes of Edward VI. with regard to religion being repealed by Parliament.—Ed.


Published 1827

How fast the Marian death-list is unrolled!
See Latimer and Ridley in the might
Of Faith stand coupled for a common flight![202]
[Pg 62] One (like those prophets whom God sent of old)
Transfigured,[203] from this kindling hath foretold 5
A torch of inextinguishable light;
The Other gains a confidence as bold;
And thus they foil their enemy's despite.
The penal instruments, the shows of crime,
Are glorified while this once-mitred pair 10
Of saintly Friends the "murtherer's chain partake,
Corded, and burning at the social stake:"
Earth never witnessed object more sublime
In constancy, in fellowship more fair!


[202] Hugh Latimer, Bishop of Worcester, and Nicholas Ridley, Bishop of Winchester, were sent to the Tower, and subsequently burnt together at Oxford in the front of Balliol College, October 16, 1555.—Ed.

[203] M. Latimer suffered his keeper very quietly to pull off his hose, and his other array, which to looke unto was very simple: and being stripped into his shrowd, he seemed as comely a person to them that were present, as one should lightly see: and whereas in his clothes hee appeared a withered and crooked sillie (weak) olde man, he now stood bolt upright, as comely a father as one might lightly behold.... Then they brought a faggotte, kindled with fire, and laid the same downe at doctor Ridley's feete. To whome M. Latimer spake in this manner, "Bee of good comfort, master Ridley, and play the man: wee shall this day light such a candle by God's grace in England, as I trust shall never bee put out." (Fox's Acts, etc.)

Similar alterations in the outward figure and deportment of persons brought to like trial were not uncommon. See note to the above passage in Dr. Wordsworth's Ecclesiastical Biography, for an example in an humble Welsh fisherman.—W. W. 1827. (Ecclesiastical Biography, vol. iii. pp. 287, 288.)—Ed.


Outstretching flame-ward his upbraided hand[205]
(O God of mercy, may no earthly Seat
Of judgment such presumptuous doom repeat!)
[Pg 63] Amid the shuddering throng doth Cranmer stand;
Firm as the stake to which with iron band 5
His frame is tied; firm from the naked feet
To the bare head. The victory is complete;[206]
The shrouded Body to the Soul's command
Answers[207] with more than Indian fortitude,
Through all her nerves with finer sense endued, 10
Till breath departs in blissful aspiration:
Then, 'mid the ghastly ruins of the fire,
Behold the unalterable heart entire,
Emblem of faith untouched, miraculous attestation![208][209]

[Pg 64]


[204] Cranmer, Archbishop of Canterbury, and leader in the ecclesiastical affairs of England during the latter part of Henry VIII. and Edward VI.'s reign, was, on the accession of Mary Tudor, committed to the Tower, tried on charges of heresy, and condemned. He recanted his opinions, but was nevertheless condemned to die. He then recanted his recantation. "They brought him to the spot where Latimer and Ridley had suffered. After a short prayer, he put off his clothes with a cheerful countenance and a willing mind. His feet were bare; his head appeared perfectly bald. Called to abide by his recantation, he stretched forth his right arm, and replied, 'This is the hand that wrote it, and therefore it shall suffer punishment first.' Firm to his purpose, as soon as the flame rose, he held his hand out to meet it, and retained it there steadfastly, so that all the people saw it sensibly burning before the fire reached any other part of his body; and after he repeated with a loud and firm voice, 'This hand hath offended, this unworthy right hand.' Never did martyr endure the fire with more invincible resolution; no cry was heard from him, save the exclamation of the protomartyr Stephen, 'Lord Jesus, receive my spirit!' The fire did its work soon—and his heart was found unconsumed amid the ashes." (Southey's Book of the Church, vol. ii. pp. 240, 241.)—Ed.

[205] 1827.

... upbraiding ... 1822.

[206] 1837.

... head, the victory complete; 1822.

[207] 1837.

Answering ... 1822.

[208] 1827.

Now wrapt in flames—and now in smoke embowered—
'Till self-reproach and panting aspirations
Are, with the heart that held them, all devoured;
The Spirit set free, and crown'd with joyful acclamations! 1822.

[209] For the belief in this fact, see the contemporary Historians.—W. W. 1827.


Aid, glorious Martyrs, from your fields of light,
Our mortal ken! Inspire a perfect trust
(While we look round) that Heaven's decrees are just:
Which few can hold committed to a fight
That shows, ev'n on its better side, the might 5
Of proud Self-will, Rapacity, and Lust,
'Mid clouds enveloped of polemic dust,
Which showers of blood seem rather to incite
Than to allay. Anathemas are hurled
From both sides; veteran thunders (the brute test 10
Of truth) are met by fulminations new—
Tartarean flags are caught at, and unfurled—
Friends strike at friends—the flying shall pursue—
And Victory sickens, ignorant where to rest!


Scattering, like birds escaped the fowler's net,
Some seek with timely flight a foreign strand;
Most happy, re-assembled in a land
By dauntless Luther freed, could they forget
[Pg 65] Their Country's woes. But scarcely have they met, 5
Partners in faith, and brothers in distress,
Free to pour forth their common thankfulness,
Ere hope declines:—their union is beset
With speculative notions[211] rashly sown, 9
Whence thickly-sprouting growth of poisonous weeds;
Their forms are broken staves; their passions, steeds
That master them. How enviably blest
Is he who can, by help of grace, enthrone
The peace of God within his single breast!


[210] During Mary's reign, fully 800 of the English clergy and laity sought refuge on the Continent, and they were hospitably received in Switzerland, the Low Countries, and along the Rhine. Some of the best known were Coverdale, Sandys, Jewel, Knox, Whittingham, and Foxe. They lived in Basle, Zurich, Geneva, Strasburg, Worms, and Frankfort; and it was in the latter town that the dissensions prevailed, referred to in the sonnet. These were unfolded in a Tract entitled The Troubles of Frankfort. The chief point in dispute was the use of the English Book of Common Prayer. Knox and Whittingham, under the guidance of Calvin, wished a modification of this book. The dispute ended in the Frankfort magistrates requesting Knox to leave the city. He retired to Geneva. On the accession of Elizabeth, the Frankfort exiles returned to England.—Ed.

[211] 1827.

With prurient speculations ... 1822.


Hail, Virgin Queen! o'er many an envious bar
Triumphant, snatched from many a treacherous wile!
All hail, sage Lady, whom a grateful Isle
Hath blest, respiring from that dismal war
Stilled by thy voice! But quickly from afar 5
Defiance breathes with more malignant aim;
And alien storms with home-bred ferments claim
Portentous fellowship.[212] Her silver car,
By sleepless prudence[213] ruled, glides slowly on;
Unhurt by violence, from menaced taint 10
Emerging pure, and seemingly more bright:
Ah! wherefore yields it to a foul constraint[214]
[Pg 66] Black as the clouds its beams dispersed, while shone,
By men and angels blest, the glorious light?[215]


[212] Alluding doubtless to the foreign conspiracies against Elizabeth, the intrigues of Mary Queen of Scots, the Pope's excommunication, and conspiracies in the North of England, etc. See The White Doe of Rylstone.—Ed.

[213] 1827.

Meanwhile, by prudence ... 1822.

[214] An allusion probably to the Court of High Commission, and perhaps also to the execution of the Scottish Queen.—Ed.

[215] 1845.

For, wheresoe'er she moves, the clouds anon
Disperse; or—under a Divine constraint—
Reflect some portion of her glorious light! 1822.


Methinks that I could trip o'er heaviest soil,
Light as a buoyant bark from wave to wave,
Were mine the trusty staff that Jewel gave
To youthful Hooker, in familiar style
The gift exalting, and with playful smile:[216] 5
For thus equipped, and bearing on his head
The Donor's farewell blessing, can[217] he dread
Tempest, or length of way, or weight of toil?—
[Pg 67] More sweet than odours caught by him who sails
Near spicy shores of Araby the blest, 10
A thousand times more exquisitely sweet,
The freight of holy feeling which we meet,
In thoughtful moments, wafted by the gales
From fields where good men walk, or bowers wherein they rest.


[216] "On foot they[218] went, and took Salisbury in their way, purposely to see the good Bishop, who made Mr. Hooker sit at his own table; which Mr. Hooker boasted of with much joy and gratitude when he saw his mother and friends; and at the Bishop's parting with him, the Bishop gave him good counsel and his benediction, but forgot to give him money; which when the Bishop had considered, he sent a servant in all haste to call Richard back to him, and at Richard's return, the Bishop said to him, 'Richard, I sent for you back to lend you a horse which hath carried me many a mile, and I thank God with much ease,' and presently delivered into his hand a walking-staff, with which he professed he had travelled through many parts of Germany; and he said, 'Richard, I do not give, but lend you my horse; be sure you be honest, and bring my horse back to me, at your return this way to Oxford. And I do now give you ten groats to bear your charges to Exeter; and here is ten groats more, which I charge you to deliver to your mother, and tell her I send her a Bishop's benediction with it, and beg the continuance of her prayers for me. And if you bring my horse back to me, I will give you ten groats more to carry you on foot to the college; and so God bless you, good Richard.'" (See Walton's Life of Richard Hooker.)—W. W. 1822.

[217] 1827.

... could ... 1822.

[218] i.e. Richard Hooker and a College companion.—Ed.


Holy and heavenly Spirits as they are,
Spotless in life, and eloquent as wise,
With what entire affection do they prize[219]
Their Church reformed![220] labouring with earnest care
To baffle all that may[221] her strength impair; 5
That Church, the unperverted Gospel's seat;
In their afflictions a divine retreat;
Source of their liveliest hope, and tenderest prayer!—
The truth exploring with an equal mind,
In doctrine and communion they have sought[222] 10
[Pg 68] Firmly between the two extremes to steer;
But theirs the wise man's ordinary lot,
To trace right courses for the stubborn blind,
And prophesy to ears that will not hear.


[219] The reading, "Their new-born Church," printed in all editions of the poems from 1822 till 1842, had been objected to by several correspondents; and out of deference to their suggestions it was altered to "Their Church reformed": but Wordsworth wrote to his nephew and biographer, November 12, 1846, "I don't like the term reformed; if taken in its literal sense as a transformation, it is very objectionable" (see Memoirs, vol. ii. p. 113), and in the "postscript" to Yarrow Revisited, etc., he says, "The great Religious Reformation of the sixteenth century did not profess to be a new construction, but a restoration of something fallen into decay, or put out of sight."—Ed.

[220] 1845.

... did they prize
Their new-born Church!... 1822.

... do they prize
Their new-born Church!... 1827.

[221] 1827.

... might ... 1822.

[222] 1827.

In polity and discipline they sought 1822.


Men, who have ceased to reverence, soon defy
Their forefathers; lo! sects are formed, and split
With morbid restlessness;[223]—the ecstatic fit
Spreads wide; though special mysteries multiply,
The Saints must govern is their common cry; 5
And so they labour, deeming Holy Writ
Disgraced by aught that seems content to sit
Beneath the roof of settled Modesty.
The Romanist exults; fresh hope he draws
From the confusion, craftily incites 10
The overweening, personates the mad—[224]
To heap disgust upon the worthier Cause:
[Pg 69] Totters the Throne;[225] the new-born Church[226] is sad
For every wave against her peace unites.


[223] The first nonconforming sect in England originated in 1556. It broke off from the Church, on a question of vestments. The chief divisions of English Nonconformity in the latter half of the sixteenth century were (1) the Brunists, or Barronists. The disciples of Brun quarrelled and divided amongst themselves. (2) The Familists, an offshoot of the Dutch Anabaptists, a mystic sect which quarrelled with the Puritans. (3) The Anabaptists, who were not only religious sectaries, but who differed with the Church on sundry social and civil matters. "They denied the sanctity of an oath, the binding power of laws, the right of the magistrate to punish, and the rights of property." (Perry's History of the English Church, p. 315.) See also Hooker's Preface to his Ecclesiastical Polity, c. viii. 6-12; and the "Life of Sir Matthew Hale," Eccl. Biog. iv. 533, on the "indigested enthusiastical scheme called The Kingdom of Christ, or of his Saints."—Ed.

[224] A common device in religious and political conflicts. See Strype, in support of this instance.—W. W. 1822.

Probably the reference is to the case of Cussin, a Dominican Friar. He pretended to be a Puritan minister; and, in his devotions, assumed the airs of madness. See in Strype's The Life and Acts of Matthew Parker, Archbishop of Canterbury, vol. i. chaps, xiii. and xvi.—Ed.

[225] 1827.

The Throne is plagued; ... 1822.

[226] See the note to the previous sonnet, No. XL.Ed.


Fear hath a hundred eyes that all agree
To plague her beating heart; and there is one
(Nor idlest that!) which holds communion
With things that were not, yet were meant to be.
Aghast within its gloomy cavity 5
That eye (which sees as if fulfilled and done
Crimes that might stop the motion of the sun)
Beholds the horrible catastrophe
Of an assembled Senate unredeemed
From subterraneous Treason's darkling power: 10
Merciless act of sorrow infinite!
Worse than the product of that dismal night,
When gushing, copious as a thunder-shower,
The blood of Huguenots through Paris streamed.[228]

[Pg 70]


[227] Originated by Robert Catesby, the intention being to destroy King, Lords, and Commons, by an explosion at Westminster, when James I. went in person to open Parliament on the 5th November 1605.—Ed.

[228] The massacre of St. Bartholomew, which occurred on August 24, 1572.—Ed.


The Jung-frau and the Fall of the Rhine near Schaffhausen

The Virgin Mountain,[229] wearing like a Queen
A brilliant crown of everlasting snow,
Sheds ruin from her sides; and men below
Wonder that aught of aspect so serene
Can link with desolation. Smooth and green,
And seeming, at a little distance, slow,
The waters of the Rhine; but on they go
Fretting and whitening, keener and more keen;
Till madness seizes on the whole wide Flood,
Turned to a fearful Thing whose nostrils breathe 10
Blasts of tempestuous smoke—wherewith he tries
To hide himself, but only magnifies;
And doth in more conspicuous torment writhe,
Deafening the region in his ireful mood.[230]

[Pg 71]


[229] The Jung-frau.—W. W. 1822.

[230] This Sonnet was included among the "Memorials of a Tour on the Continent" (1822), and the following note was added:—"This Sonnet belongs to another publication, but from its fitness for this place is inserted here also, 'Voilà un énfer d'eau,' cried out a German Friend of Ramond, falling on his knees on the scaffold in front of this Waterfall. See Ramond's Translation of Coxe."—W. W.

The following extracts from Mrs. Wordsworth's Journal of the Continental Tour in 1820 illustrate it. "Aug. 9.—I am seated before Jung-frau, in the green vale of Interlaken, 'green to the very door,' with rich shade of walnut trees, the river behind the house.... Mountains and that majestic Virgin closing up all.... By looking across into a nook at the entrance of the Vale of Lauterbrunnen, Jung-frau presses forward and seems to preside over and give a character to the whole of the vale that belongs only to this one spot," ... "Aug. 10th.— ... Reached Grindelwald, by the pass close to Jung-frau (at least separated from it by a deep cleft only), which sent forth its avalanches,—one grand beyond all description. It was an awful and a solemn sound." ... "Aug. 1st.— ... Nothing could exceed my delight when, through an opening between buildings at the skirts of the town, we unexpectedly hailed our old and side-by-side companion, the Rhine, now roaring like a lion, along his rocky channel. Never beheld so soft, so lovely a green, as is here given to the waters of this lordly river; and then, how they glittered and heaved to meet the sunshine."—Ed.


Even such the contrast that, where'er we move,[231]
To the mind's eye[232] Religion doth present;
Now with her own deep quietness content;
Then, like the mountain, thundering from above
Against the ancient pine-trees of the grove 5
And the Land's humblest comforts. Now her mood
Recals the transformation of the flood,
Whose rage the gentle skies in vain reprove,
Earth cannot check. O terrible excess
Of headstrong will! Can this be Piety? 10
No—some fierce Maniac hath usurped her name;
And scourges England struggling to be free:
Her peace destroyed! her hopes a wilderness!
Her blessings cursed—her glory turned to shame!


[231] 1832.

Such contrast, in whatever track we move, 1822.

Such is the contrast, which, where'er we move, 1827.

[232] Compare Hamlet, act I. scene i. l. 112.—Ed.


Prejudged by foes determined not to spare,[234]
An old weak Man for vengeance thrown aside,
Laud,[235] "in the painful art of dying" tried,
[Pg 72] (Like a poor bird entangled in a snare
Whose heart still flutters, though his wings forbear 5
To stir in useless struggle) hath relied
On hope that conscious innocence supplied,[236]
And in his prison breathes[237] celestial air.
Why tarries then thy chariot?[238] Wherefore stay,
O Death! the ensanguined yet triumphant wheels, 10
Which thou prepar'st, full often, to convey
(What time a State with madding faction reels)
The Saint or Patriot to the world that heals
All wounds, all perturbations doth allay?


[233] See the Fenwick note preceding the Series.—Ed.

In this age a word cannot be said in praise of Laud, or even in compassion for his fate, without incurring a charge of bigotry; but fearless of such imputation, I concur with Hume, "that it is sufficient for his vindication to observe that his errors were the most excusable of all those which prevailed during that zealous period." A key to the right understanding of those parts of his conduct that brought the most odium upon him in his own time, may be found in the following passage of his speech before the bar of the House of Peers:—"Ever since I came in place, I have laboured nothing more than that the external publick worship of God, so much slighted in divers parts of this kingdom, might be preserved, and that with as much decency and uniformity as might be. For I evidently saw that the public neglect of God's service in the outward face of it, and the nasty lying of many places dedicated to that service, had almost cast a damp upon the true and inward worship of God, which while we live in the body, needs external helps, and all little enough to keep it in any vigour."—W. W. 1827.

[234] 1827.

Pursued by Hate, debarred from friendly care; 1822.

[235] 1827.

Long ... 1822.

[236] 1827.

... Laud relied
Upon the strength which Innocence supplied, 1822.

[237] 1827.

... breathed ... 1822.

[238] In his address, before his execution, Archbishop Laud said, "I am not in love with this passage through the Red Sea, and I have prayed ut transiret calix iste, but if not, God's will be done."—Ed.


Harp! could'st thou venture, on thy boldest string,
The faintest note to echo which the blast
Caught from the hand of Moses as it pass'd
[Pg 73] O'er Sinai's top, or from the Shepherd-king,
Early awake, by Siloa's brook, to sing 5
Of dread Jehovah; then, should wood and waste
Hear also of that name, and mercy cast
Off to the mountains, like a covering
Of which the Lord was weary. Weep, oh! weep,
Weep with the good,[239] beholding King and Priest 10
Despised by that stern God to whom they raise
Their suppliant hands; but holy is the feast
He keepeth; like the firmament his ways:
His statutes like the chambers of the deep.[240]


[239] 1827.

As good men wept, ... 1822.

[240] See Psalm xxxvi. 5, 6.—Ed.


[When I came to this part of the series I had the dream described in this Sonnet.[241] The figure was that of my daughter, and the whole passed exactly as here represented. The Sonnet was composed on the middle road leading from Grasmere to Ambleside: it was begun as I left the last house of the vale, and finished, word for word as it now stands, before I came in view of Rydal. I wish I could say the same of the five or six hundred I have written: most of them were frequently retouched in the course of composition, and, not a few, laboriously.

I have only further to observe that the intended Church which prompted these Sonnets was erected on Coleorton Moor towards the centre of a very populous parish between three and four miles from Ashby-de-la-Zouch, on the road to Loughborough, and has proved, I believe, a great benefit to the neighbourhood.—I.F.]

[Pg 74]


[241] The first of Part III. p. 74.—Ed.


I saw the figure of a lovely Maid
Seated alone beneath a darksome tree,
Whose fondly-overhanging canopy
Set off her brightness with a pleasing shade.
No Spirit was she; that[242] my heart betrayed, 5
For she was one I loved exceedingly;
But while I gazed in tender reverie
(Or was it sleep that with my Fancy played?)
The bright corporeal presence—form and face—
Remaining still distinct grew thin and rare, 10
Like sunny mist;—at length the golden hair,
Shape, limbs, and heavenly features, keeping pace
Each with the other in a lingering race
Of dissolution, melted into air.


[242] 1837.

Substance she seem'd (and that ... 1822.


Last night, without a voice, that Vision spake
Fear to my Soul, and sadness which might seem[243]
Wholly[244] dissevered from our present theme;
Yet, my belovèd Country! I partake[245]
[Pg 75] Of kindred agitations for thy sake; 5
Thou, too, dost visit oft[246] my midnight dream;
Thy[247] glory meets me with the earliest beam
Of light, which tells that Morning is awake.
If aught impair thy[248] beauty or destroy,
Or but forebode destruction, I deplore 10
With filial love the sad vicissitude;
If thou hast[249] fallen, and righteous Heaven restore
The prostrate, then my spring-time is renewed,
And sorrow bartered for exceeding joy.


[243] 1845.

... this Vision spake
Fear to my Spirit—passion that might seem 1822.

... this Vision spake
Fear to my Soul, and sadness that might seem 1837.

[244] 1827.

To lie ... 1822.

[245] 1832.

Yet do I love my Country—and partake 1822.

[246] 1832.

... for her sake;
She visits oftentimes ... 1822.

[247] 1832.

Her ... 1822.

[248] 1832.

... her ... 1822.

[249] 1832.

If she hath ... 1822.


Who comes—with rapture greeted, and caress'd
With frantic love—his kingdom to regain?[250]
Him Virtue's Nurse, Adversity, in vain
Received, and fostered in her iron breast:
For all she taught of hardiest and of best, 5
Or would have taught, by discipline of pain
[Pg 76] And long privation, now dissolves amain,
Or is remembered only to give zest
To wantonness—Away, Circean revels![251]
But for what gain? if England soon must sink 10
Into a gulf which all distinction levels—
That bigotry may swallow the good name,[252][253]
And, with that draught, the life-blood: misery, shame,
By Poets loathed; from which Historians shrink!


[250] "No event ever marked a deeper or a more lasting change in the temper of the English people, than the entry of Charles the Second into Whitehall. With it modern England begins." (Green's Short History of the English People, chap. ix. sec. 1.)—Ed.

[251] "The Restoration brought Charles to Whitehall; and in an instant the whole face of England was changed. All that was noblest and best in Puritanism was whirled away." (Green, chap. ix. sec. I.) The excesses of every kind that came in with the Restoration were notorious.—Ed.

[252] 1837.

Already stands our Country on the brink
Of bigot rage, that all distinction levels
Of truth and falsehood, swallowing the good name, 1822.

[253] In 1672 the Duke of York was publicly received into the Church of Rome.—Ed.


Yet Truth is keenly sought for, and the wind
Charged with rich words poured out in thought's defence;
Whether the Church inspire that eloquence,[254]
Or a Platonic Piety confined
To the sole temple of the inward mind;[255] 5
And One there is who builds immortal lays,
Though doomed to tread in solitary ways,[256]
Darkness before and danger's voice behind;
Yet not alone, nor helpless to repel
[Pg 77] Sad thoughts; for from above the starry sphere 10
Come secrets, whispered nightly to his ear;
And the pure spirit of celestial light
Shines through his soul—"that he may see and tell
Of things invisible to mortal sight."[257]


[254] As in the case of John Hales of Eton, William Chillingworth, who wrote The Religion of Protestants, and Jeremy Taylor, author of The Liberty of Prophesying.—Ed.

[255] The Cambridge Platonists, Ralph Cudworth, John Smith, and Henry More, are referred to.—Ed.

[256] Milton.—Ed.

[257] Compare Paradise Lost, book iii. ll. 54, 55.—Ed.


There are no colours in the fairest sky
So fair as these. The feather, whence the pen
Was shaped that traced the lives of these good men,
Dropped from an Angel's wing.[259] With moistened eye
We read of faith and purest charity 5
In Statesman, Priest, and humble Citizen:
O could we copy their mild virtues, then
What joy to live, what blessedness to die!
Methinks their very names shine still and bright;
Apart—like glow-worms on a summer night; 10
Or lonely tapers when from far they fling
A guiding ray;[260] or seen—like stars on high,
[Pg 78] Satellites burning in a lucid ring
Around meek Walton's heavenly memory.


[258] Izaak Walton, author of The Complete Angler, wrote also The Lives of John Donne, Sir Henry Wotton, Richard Hooker, George Herbert, and Robert Sanderson.—Ed.

[259] With those lines of Wordsworth compare the following: a Sonnet addressed "to the King of Scots," in Henry Constable's Diana, published in 1594—

The pen wherewith thou dost so heavenly singe,
Made of a quill pluck't from an Angell's winge.

A sonnet by Dorothy Berry, prefixed to Diana Primrose's Chain of Pearl, a memorial of the peerless graces, etc., of Queen Elizabeth, London, 1639—

Whose noble praise
Deserves a quill pluck't from an angel's wing.

Also John Evelyn, in his Life of Mrs. Godolphin, "It would become the pen of an angel's wing to describe the life of a saint," etc.—Ed.

[260] 1827.

... glow-worms in the woods of spring,
Or lonely tapers shooting far a light
That guides and cheers,— ... 1822.


Nor shall the eternal roll of praise reject
Those Unconforming; whom one rigorous day
Drives from their Cures, a voluntary prey
To poverty, and grief, and disrespect,[261]
And some to want—as if by tempests wrecked[262] 5
On a wild coast; how destitute! did They
Feel not that Conscience never can betray,
That peace of mind is Virtue's sure effect.
Their altars they forego, their homes they quit,
Fields which they love, and paths they daily trod, 10
And cast the future upon Providence;
As men the dictate of whose inward sense
Outweighs the world; whom self-deceiving wit
Lures not from what they deem the cause of God.

[Pg 79]


[261] By the Act of Uniformity (1662), nearly 2000 Presbyterian and Independent Ministers, who had been admitted to benefices in the Church of England during the Puritan Ascendency, were ejected from their livings.—Ed.

[262] 1827.

... tempest wreck'd 1822.


Published 1827

When Alpine Vales threw forth a suppliant cry,
The majesty of England interposed[263]
And the sword stopped; the bleeding wounds were closed;
And Faith preserved her ancient purity.
How little boots that precedent of good, 5
Scorned or forgotten, Thou canst testify,
For England's shame, O Sister Realm! from wood,
Mountain, and moor, and crowded street, where lie[264]
The headless martyrs of the Covenant,
Slain by Compatriot-protestants that draw 10
From councils senseless as intolerant
Their warrant. Bodies fall by wild sword-law;
But who would force the Soul, tilts with a straw
Against a Champion cased in adamant.


[263] See Milton's Sonnet XVIII., On the late Massacre in Piedmont, beginning—

Avenge, O Lord, thy slaughtered saints, ...

This was in 1655. In the following year Cromwell, to whom the persecuted Vaudois subjects of the Duke of Savoy had appealed, interposed in their behalf. Nearly £40,000 were collected in England for their relief.—Ed.

[264] Compare The Excursion, book i. 11. 175, 176.—Ed.


A voice, from long-expecting[266] thousands sent,
Shatters the air, and troubles tower and spire;
For Justice hath absolved the innocent,
[Pg 80] And Tyranny is balked of her desire:
Up, down, the busy Thames—rapid as fire 5
Coursing a train of gunpowder—it went,
And transport finds in every street a vent,
Till the whole City rings like one vast quire.
The Fathers urge the People to be still, 9
With outstretched hands and earnest speech[267]—in vain!
Yea, many, haply wont to entertain
Small reverence for the mitre's offices,
And to Religion's self no friendly will,
A Prelate's blessing ask on bended knees.


[265] The Bishops who protested against James II.'s Declaration of Indulgence and refused to read it. He ordered the Ecclesiastical Commissioners, to deprive them of their Sees, and the Bishops were sent to the Tower. "They passed to their prison amidst the shouts of a great multitude, the sentinels knelt for their blessing as they entered the gates, and the soldiers of the garrison drank their healths.... The Bishops appeared as criminals at the bar of the King's Bench. The jury had been packed, the judges were mere tools of the Crown, but judges and jury were alike overawed by the indignation of the people at large. No sooner had the foreman of the jury uttered the words 'Not guilty,' than a roar of applause burst from the crowd, and horsemen spurred along every road to carry over the country the news of the acquittal." (Green.) See Wordsworth's note to the eleventh sonnet in Part I. (p. 12.)—Ed.

[266] 1827.

... long-expectant ... 1822.

[267] 1827.

... voice ... 1822.


Calm as an under-current, strong to draw
Millions of waves into itself, and run,
From sea to sea, impervious to the sun
And ploughing storm, the spirit of Nassau[268]
(Swerves not, how blest if by religious awe[269] 5
Swayed, and thereby enabled to contend
[Pg 81] With the wide world's commotions) from its end
Swerves not—diverted by a casual law.
Had mortal action e'er a nobler scope?
The Hero comes to liberate, not defy; 10
And, while he marches on with stedfast hope,[270]
Conqueror beloved! expected anxiously!
The vacillating Bondman of the Pope[271]
Shrinks from the verdict of his stedfast eye.


[268] William III. of Nassau, Prince of Orange, was invited over to England by the nobles and commons who were disaffected towards James II., and landed at Torbay in November 1688.—Ed.

[269] 1845.

(By constant impulse of religious awe 1822.

[270] 1845.

... righteous hope, 1822.

[271] King James II., who fled to France in December 1688.—Ed.


Ungrateful Country, if thou e'er forget
The sons who for thy civil rights have bled!
How, like a Roman, Sidney bowed his head,[272]
And Russell's milder blood the scaffold wet;[273]
But these had fallen for profitless regret 5
Had not thy holy Church her champions bred,
And claims from other worlds inspirited
The star of Liberty to rise. Nor yet
(Grave this within thy heart!) if spiritual things
Be lost, through apathy, or scorn, or fear, 10
Shalt thou thy humbler franchises support,
However hardly won or justly dear:
[Pg 82] What came from heaven to heaven by nature clings,
And, if dissevered thence, its course is short.


[272] Algernon Sidney, second son of the Earl of Leicester, equally opposed to the tyranny of Charles and of Cromwell, was implicated in the Rye House Plot, arraigned before the chief-justice Jeffries, condemned illegally, and executed at Tower Hill in December 1683.—Ed.

[273] Lord William Russell, third son of the Duke of Bedford, member of the House of Commons like Sidney, and like him implicated in the Rye House Plot, condemned at the Old Bailey, and beheaded at Lincoln's-Inn-Fields in July 1683.—Ed.


Published 1827

A sudden conflict rises from the swell
Of a proud slavery met by tenets strained
In Liberty's behalf. Fears, true or feigned,
Spread through all ranks; and lo! the Sentinel
Who loudest rang his pulpit 'larum bell 5
Stands at the Bar, absolved by female eyes
Mingling their glances with grave flatteries[275]
Lavished on Him—that England may rebel
Against her ancient virtue. High and Low,
Watch-words of Party, on all tongues are rife; 10
As if a Church, though sprung from heaven, must owe
To opposites and fierce extremes her life,—
Not to the golden mean, and quiet flow
Of truths that soften hatred, temper strife.

[Pg 83]


[274] Henry Sacheverel, a high-church clergyman, preached two sermons in 1709, one at Derby, and the other in St. Paul's, London, in which he attacked the principles of the Revolution Settlement, taught the doctrine of non-resistance, and decried the Act of Toleration. He was impeached by the Commons, and tried before the House of Lords in 1710, was found guilty, and suspended from office for three years. This made him for the time the most popular man in England; and the general election which followed was fatal to the Government which condemned him. He was a weak and a vain man, who attained to notoriety without fame.—Ed.

[275] 1832.

... Light with graver flatteries, 1827.


Published 1827

Down a swift Stream, thus far, a bold design
Have we pursued, with livelier stir of heart
Than his who sees, borne forward by the Rhine,
The living landscapes greet him, and depart;
Sees spires fast sinking—up again to start! 5
And strives the towers to number, that recline
O'er the dark steeps, or on the horizon line
Striding with shattered crests his[277] eye athwart.
So have we hurried on with troubled pleasure:
Henceforth, as on the bosom of a stream 10
That slackens, and spreads wide a watery gleam,
We, nothing loth a lingering course to measure,
May gather up our thoughts, and mark at leisure
How widely spread the interests of our theme.[278]

[Pg 84]


[276] Compare the extracts from Mary and Dorothy Wordsworth's Journals in the "Memorials of a Tour on the Continent" (vol. vi. p. 300).—Ed.

[277] 1845.

... the ... 1827.

[278] 1845.

Features that else had vanished like a dream. 1827.

... sound at leisure
The depths, and mark the compass of our theme. C.

I. The Pilgrim Fathers[280]

Published 1845

Well worthy to be magnified are they
Who, with sad hearts, of friends and country took
A last farewell, their loved abodes forsook,
And hallowed ground in which their fathers lay;
Then to the new-found World explored their way, 5
That so a Church, unforced, uncalled to brook
Ritual restraints, within some sheltering nook
Her Lord might worship and his word obey
In freedom. Men they were who could not bend;
Blest Pilgrims, surely, as they took for guide 10
A will by sovereign Conscience sanctified;
Blest while their Spirits from the woods ascend
Along a Galaxy that knows no end,
But in His glory who for Sinners died.

[Pg 85]


[279] In a letter to Professor Henry Reed, dated March 1, 1842, Wordsworth wrote:—"I have sent you three sonnets upon certain 'Aspects of Christianity in America,' having, as you will see, a reference to the subject upon which you wished me to write. I wish they had been more worthy of the subject: I hope, however, you will not disapprove of the connection which I have thought myself warranted in tracing between the Puritan fugitives and Episcopacy."—Ed.

[280] American episcopacy, in union with the church in England, strictly belongs to the general subject; and I here make my acknowledgments to my American friends, Bishop Doane, and Mr. Henry Reed of Philadelphia, for having suggested to me the propriety of adverting to it, and pointed out the virtues and intellectual qualities of Bishop White, which so eminently fitted him for the great work he undertook. Bishop White was consecrated at Lambeth, Feb. 4, 1787, by Archbishop Moore; and before his long life was closed, twenty-six bishops had been consecrated in America, by himself. For his character and opinions, see his own numerous Works, and a "Sermon in commemoration of him, by George Washington Doane, Bishop of New Jersey."—W. W. 1845.

II. Continued

Published 1845

From Rite and Ordinance abused they fled
To Wilds where both were utterly unknown;
But not to them had Providence foreshown
What benefits are missed, what evils bred,
In worship neither raised nor limited 5
Save by Self-will. Lo! from that distant shore,
For Rite and Ordinance, Piety is led
Back to the Land those Pilgrims left of yore,
Led by her own free choice.[281] So Truth and Love
By Conscience governed do their steps retrace.— 10
Fathers! your Virtues, such the power of grace,
Their spirit, in your Children, thus approve.
Transcendent over time, unbound by place,
Concord and Charity in circles move.


[281] The Book of Common Prayer of the American Episcopal Church was avowedly derived from that of England, and substantially agrees with it.—Ed.

III. Concluded.—American Episcopacy

Published 1845

Patriots informed with Apostolic light
Were they, who, when their Country had been freed,
Bowing with reverence to the ancient creed,
Fixed on the frame of England's Church their sight,[282]
And strove in filial love to reunite 5
[Pg 86] What force had severed. Thence they fetched the seed
Of Christian unity, and won a meed
Of praise from Heaven. To Thee, O saintly White,[283]
Patriarch of a wide-spreading family,
Remotest lands and unborn times shall turn, 10
Whether they would restore or build—to Thee,
As one who rightly taught how zeal should burn,
As one who drew from out Faith's holiest urn
The purest stream of patient Energy.


[282] "I hope you will not disapprove of the connection which I have thought myself warranted in tracing between the Puritan fugitives and Episcopacy." (Wordsworth to Henry Reed, March 1, 1842.)—Ed.

[283] Dr. Seabury was consecrated Bishop of Connecticut by Scottish Bishops at Aberdeen, in November 1784. Dr. White was consecrated Bishop of Pennsylvania, and Dr. Provoost, Bishop of New York, at Lambeth, in February 1787. It was Wordsworth's intention, in 1841, to add a sonnet to his "Ecclesiastical Series" "On the union of the two Episcopal Churches of England and America."—Ed.


Published 1845

Bishops and Priests, blessèd are ye, if deep
(As yours above all offices is high)
Deep in your hearts the sense of duty lie;
Charged as ye are by Christ to feed and keep
From wolves your portion of his chosen sheep:
Labouring as ever in your Master's sight,
Making your hardest task your best delight,
What perfect glory ye in Heaven shall reap!—
But, in the solemn Office which ye sought
And undertook premonished, if unsound 10
Your practice prove, faithless though but in thought,
Bishops and Priests, think what a gulf profound
Awaits you then, if they were rightly taught
Who framed the Ordinance by your lives disowned!

[Pg 87]


As star that shines dependent upon star
Is to the sky while we look up in love;
As to the deep fair ships which though they move
Seem fixed, to eyes that watch them from afar;
As to the sandy desert fountains are, 5
With palm-groves shaded at wide intervals,
Whose fruit around the sun-burnt Native falls
Of roving tired or desultory war—
Such to this British Isle her christian Fanes,
Each linked to each for kindred services; 10
Her Spires, her Steeple-towers with glittering vanes[284]
Far-kenned, her Chapels lurking among trees,
Where a few villagers on bended knees
Find solace which a busy world disdains.


[284] Compare The Excursion, book vi. ll. 17-29 (vol. v. p. 236).—Ed.


A genial hearth, a hospitable board,
And a refined rusticity, belong[285]
To the neat mansion, where, his flock among,
[Pg 88] The learned Pastor dwells, their watchful Lord.[286]
Though meek and patient as a sheathèd sword; 5
Though pride's least lurking thought appear a wrong
To human kind; though peace be on his tongue,
Gentleness in his heart—can earth afford
Such genuine state, pre-eminence so free,
As when, arrayed in Christ's authority, 10
He from the pulpit lifts his awful hand;
Conjures, implores, and labours all he can
For re-subjecting to divine command
The stubborn spirit of rebellious man?


[285] Among the benefits arising, as Mr. Coleridge has well observed, from a Church establishment of endowments corresponding with the wealth of the country to which it belongs, may be reckoned as eminently important, the examples of civility and refinement which the Clergy stationed at intervals, afford to the whole people. The established clergy in many parts of England have long been, as they continue to be, the principal bulwark against barbarism, and the link which unites the sequestered peasantry with the intellectual advancement of the age. Nor is it below the dignity of the subject to observe, that their taste, as acting upon rural residences and scenery, often furnishes models which country gentlemen, who are more at liberty to follow the caprices of fashion, might profit by. The precincts of an old residence must be treated by ecclesiastics with respect, both from prudence and necessity. I remember being much pleased, some years ago, at Rose Castle, the rural seat of the See of Carlisle, with a style of garden and architecture which, if the place had belonged to a wealthy layman, would no doubt have been swept away. A parsonage-house generally stands not far from the church; this proximity imposes favourable restraints, and sometimes suggests an affecting union of the accommodations and elegancies of life with the outward signs of piety and mortality. With pleasure I recall to mind a happy instance of this in the residence of an old and much-valued Friend in Oxfordshire. The house and church stand parallel to each other, at a small distance; a circular lawn or rather grass-plot, spreads between them; shrubs and trees curve from each side of the dwelling, veiling, but not hiding, the church. From the front of this dwelling, no part of the burial-ground is seen; but as you wind by the side of the shrubs towards the steeple-end of the church, the eye catches a single, small, low, monumental headstone, moss-grown, sinking into, and gently inclining towards the earth. Advance, and the churchyard, populous and gay with glittering tombstones, opens upon the view. This humble, and beautiful parsonage called forth a tribute which will not be out of its place here.—W. W. 1822.

He then quotes the seventh of the "Miscellaneous Sonnets," Part III. (see vol. vi. p. 217).—Ed.

[286] Compare the sonnet, On the sight of a Manse in the South of Scotland, belonging to the Tour in the year 1831.—Ed.


Yes, if the intensities of hope and fear
Attract us still, and passionate exercise
Of lofty thoughts, the way before us lies
Distinct with signs, through which in set career,[287]
As through a zodiac, moves the ritual year[288] 5
[Pg 89] Of England's Church; stupendous mysteries!
Which whoso travels in her bosom eyes,
As he approaches them, with solemn cheer.
Upon that circle traced from sacred story
We only dare to cast a transient glance, 10
Trusting in hope that Others may advance
With mind intent upon the King of Glory,[289]
From his mild advent till his countenance
Shall dissipate the seas and mountains hoary.[290]


[287] 1837

... fixed career, 1822.

[288] Compare The Christian Year, by Keble, passim.—Ed.

[289] 1845.

Enough for us to cast a transient glance
The circle through; relinquishing its story
For those whom Heaven hath fitted to advance
And, harp in hand, rehearse the King of Glory— 1822.

Enough for us to cast no careless glance
Upon that circle, leaving Christian story
To those ... has ... C.


Here let us cast a more than Transient glance,
And harp in hand endeavour to advance,
With mind intent ... C.

[290] See The Revelation of St. John, chapter xx. v. II.—Ed.


Published 1827

Dear[291] be the Church, that, watching o'er the needs
Of Infancy, provides a timely shower
Whose virtue changes to a Christian Flower
A Growth from sinful Nature's bed of weeds!—[292]
[Pg 90] Fitliest beneath the sacred roof proceeds 5
The ministration; while parental Love
Looks on, and Grace descendeth from above
As the high service pledges now, now pleads.
There, should vain thoughts outspread their wings and fly
To meet the coming hours of festal mirth, 10
The tombs—which hear and answer that brief cry,
The Infant's notice of his second birth—
Recal the wandering Soul to sympathy
With what man hopes from Heaven, yet fears from Earth.


[291] 1845.

Blest ... 1827.

[292] 1832.

The sinful product of a bed of Weeds! 1827.


Published 1832

Father! to God himself we cannot give
A holier name! then lightly do not bear
Both names conjoined, but of thy spiritual care
Be duly mindful: still more sensitive
Do Thou, in truth a second Mother, strive[293] 5
Against disheartening custom, that by Thee
Watched, and with love and pious industry[294]
Tended at need, the adopted Plant may thrive
[Pg 91] For everlasting bloom. Benign and pure[295]
This Ordinance, whether loss it would supply, 10
Prevent omission, help deficiency,
Or seek to make assurance doubly sure.[296][297]
Shame if the consecrated Vow be found
An idle form, the Word an empty sound![298][299]


[293] 1832.

... yet more sensitive,
More faithful, thou, a second Mother, MS.

W. W., Dec. 7, 1827.

[294] 1832.

Watched at all seasons, and with industry MS.

W. W., Dec. 7, 1827.

[295] 1832.

... Benign must be. MS.

W. W., Dec. 7, 1827.

[296] Compare Macbeth, act IV. scene i. l. 83.—Ed.

[297] 1832.

... "Assurance doubly sure." MS.

W. W., Dec. 7, 1827.

[298] 1832.

... the Name an empty sound. MS.

W. W., Dec. 7, 1827.

[299] This Sonnet was sent by Wordsworth in holograph MS. to Orton Hall in the form indicated in the footnotes, dated Dec. 7, 1827.—Ed.


From Little down to Least, in due degree,
Around the Pastor, each in new-wrought vest,
Each with a vernal posy at his breast,
We stood, a trembling, earnest Company!
With low soft murmur, like a distant bee, 5
Some spake, by thought-perplexing fears betrayed;
And some a bold unerring answer made:
How fluttered then thy anxious heart for me,
Belovèd Mother! Thou whose happy hand
Had bound the flowers I wore, with faithful tie:[300] 10
Sweet flowers! at whose inaudible command
Her countenance, phantom-like, doth re-appear:
[Pg 92] O lost too early for the frequent tear,
And ill requited by this heartfelt sigh!


[300] See Wordsworth's reference to his Mother in his Autobiographical Memoranda.—Ed.


Published 1827

The Young-ones gathered in from hill and dale,
With holiday delight on every brow:
'Tis passed away; far other thoughts prevail;
For they are taking the baptismal Vow
Upon their conscious selves; their own lips speak 5
The solemn promise. Strongest sinews fail,
And many a blooming, many a lovely, cheek
Under the holy fear of God turns pale;
While on each head his lawn-robed servant lays
An apostolic hand, and with prayer seals 10
The Covenant. The Omnipotent will raise
Their feeble Souls; and bear with his regrets,
Who, looking round the fair assemblage, feels
That ere the Sun goes down their childhood sets.


[Pg 93]

I saw a Mother's eye intensely bent
Upon a Maiden trembling as she knelt;
In and for whom the pious Mother felt
Things that we judge of by a light too faint:
Tell, if ye may, some star-crowned Muse, or Saint! 5
Tell what rushed in, from what she was relieved—
Then, when her Child the hallowing touch received,
And such vibration through[301] the Mother went
That tears burst forth amain. Did gleams appear?
Opened a vision of that blissful place 10
Where dwells a Sister-child? And was power given
Part of her lost One's glory back to trace
Even to this Rite? For thus She knelt, and, ere
The summer-leaf had faded, passed to Heaven.[302]


[301] 1837.

... to ... 1827.

[302] Compare the tribute to a Daughter, who died within the year after her confirmation, in A Presbyterian Clergyman looking for the Church, by the Rev. Flavel S. Mines, p. 95.—Ed.


Published 1827

By chain yet stronger must the Soul be tied:
One duty more, last stage of[303] this ascent,
Brings to thy food, mysterious[304] Sacrament!
The Offspring, haply at the Parent's side;
But not till They, with all that do abide 5
In Heaven, have lifted up their hearts to laud
And magnify the glorious name of God,
Fountain of Grace, whose Son for sinners died.
Ye, who have duly weighed the summons, pause
No longer; ye,[305] whom to the saving rite 10
[Pg 94] The Altar calls; come early under laws
That can secure for you a path of light
Through gloomiest shade; put on (nor dread its weight)
Armour divine, and conquer in your cause!


[303] 1827.

... to ... Coleorton MS.

[304] 1845.

... memorial ... 1827.

[305] 1845.

Here must my Song in timid reverence pause:
But shrink not ye ... 1827.


Composed 1842.—Published 1845

The Vested Priest before the Altar stands;
Approach, come gladly, ye prepared, in sight
Of God and chosen friends, your troth to plight
With the symbolic ring, and willing hands[307]
Solemnly joined. Now sanctify the bands, 5
O Father!—to the Espoused thy blessing give,
That mutually assisted they may live
Obedient, as here taught, to thy commands.
So prays the Church, to consecrate a Vow
"The which would endless matrimony make";[308] 10
[Pg 95] Union that shadows forth and doth partake
A mystery potent human love to endow
With heavenly, each more prized for the other's sake;
Weep not, meek Bride! uplift thy timid brow.


[306] In a letter to Professor Henry Reed, dated "Rydal Mount, Sept. 4, 1842," Wordsworth says: "A few days ago, after a very long interval, I returned to poetical composition; and my first employment was to write a couple of Sonnets upon subjects recommended by you to take place in the Ecclesiastical Series. They are upon the Marriage Ceremony and the Funeral Service. I have, about the same time, added two others, both upon subjects taken from the Services of our Liturgy."—Ed.

[307] 1842.

Together they kneel down who come in sight
Of God and chosen friends their troth to plight.
This have they done, by words, and prayers, and hands c.


Composed 1842.—Published 1845

Woman! the Power who left his throne on high,
And deigned to wear the robe of flesh we wear,
The Power that thro' the straits of Infancy
Did pass dependent on maternal care,
His own humanity with Thee will share, 5
Pleased with the thanks that in his People's eye
Thou offerest up for safe Delivery
From Childbirth's perilous throes. And should the Heir
Of thy fond hopes hereafter walk inclined
To courses fit to make a mother rue 10
That ever he was born, a glance of mind
Cast upon this observance may renew
A better will; and, in the imagined view
Of thee thus kneeling, safety he may find.

[Pg 96]


[308] Compare Spenser's Epithalamion, stanza xl. ll. 216, 217—

The sacred ceremonies these partake,
The which do endlesse matrimony make;

Also, Southey's All for Love, or a sinner well saved, Part IV. stanza 46—

While they the sacred rites partake
Which endless matrimony make.—Ed.


Composed 1842.—Published 1845

The Sabbath bells renew the inviting peal;
Glad music! yet there be that, worn with pain
And sickness, listen where they long have lain,
In sadness listen. With maternal zeal
Inspired, the Church sends ministers to kneel 5
Beside the afflicted; to sustain with prayer,
And soothe the heart confession hath laid bare—
That pardon, from God's throne, may set its seal
On a true Penitent. When breath departs
From one disburthened so, so comforted, 10
His Spirit Angels greet; and ours be hope
That, if the Sufferer rise from his sick-bed,
Hence he will gain a firmer mind, to cope
With a bad world, and foil the Tempter's arts.


Published 1845

Shun not this rite, neglected, yea abhorred,
By some of unreflecting mind, as calling
Man to curse man, (thought monstrous and appalling.)
Go thou and hear the threatenings of the Lord;[309]
Listening within his Temple see his sword 5
Unsheathed in wrath to strike the offender's head,
Thy own, if sorrow for thy sin be dead,
[Pg 97] Guilt unrepented, pardon unimplored.
Two aspects bears Truth needful for salvation;
Who knows not that?—yet would this delicate age 10
Look only on the Gospel's brighter page:
Let light and dark duly our thoughts employ;
So shall the fearful words of Commination
Yield timely fruit of peace and love and joy.


[309] 1845.

... as dealing
With human curses, banish the false feeling.
Go thou ... terrors ... C.


Published 1845

To kneeling Worshippers no earthly floor
Gives holier invitation than the deck
Of a storm-shattered Vessel saved from Wreck
(When all that Man could do avail'd no more)
By him who raised the Tempest and restrains: 5
Happy the crew who this have felt, and pour
Forth for his mercy, as the Church ordains,
Solemn thanksgiving. Nor will they implore
In vain who, for a rightful cause, give breath
To words the Church prescribes aiding the lip 10
For the heart's sake, ere ship with hostile ship
Encounters, armed for work of pain and death.
Suppliants! the God to whom your cause ye trust
Will listen, and ye know that He is just.


[Pg 98]

Composed 1842.—Published 1845

From the Baptismal hour, thro' weal and woe,
The Church extends her care to thought and deed;
Nor quits the Body when the Soul is freed,
The mortal weight cast off to be laid low.
Blest Rite for him who hears in faith, "I know 5
That my Redeemer liveth,"—hears each word
That follows—striking on some kindred chord
Deep in the thankful heart;—yet tears will flow.
Man is as grass that springeth up at morn,
Grows green, and is cut down and withereth 10
Ere nightfall—truth that well may claim a sigh,
Its natural echo; but hope comes reborn
At JESU'S bidding. We rejoice: "O Death
Where is thy Sting?—O Grave where is thy Victory?"


Closing the sacred Book[311] which long has fed
Our meditations,[312] give we to a day
Of annual[313] joy one tributary lay;
This[314] day, when, forth by rustic music led,
The village Children, while the sky is red 5
[Pg 99] With evening lights, advance in long array
Through the still church-yard, each with garland gay,
That, carried sceptre-like, o'ertops the head
Of the proud Bearer. To the wide church-door,
Charged with these offerings which their fathers bore 10
For decoration in the Papal time,
The innocent Procession softly moves:—
The spirit of Laud is pleased in heaven's pure clime,
And Hooker's voice the spectacle approves!


[310] This is still continued in many churches in Westmoreland. It takes place in the month of July, when the floor of the stalls is strewn with fresh rushes; and hence it is called the "Rush-bearing."—W. W. 1822.

[311] 1822.

... precious Book ... C.

[312] 1845.

With smiles each happy face was overspread,
That trial ended ... 1822.

Content with calmer scenes around us spread
And humbler objects, ... 1827.

[313] 1827.

Of festal ... 1822.

[314] 1827.

That ... 1822.


Would that our scrupulous Sires had dared to leave
Less scanty measure of those graceful rites
And usages, whose due return invites
A stir of mind too natural to deceive;
Giving to[315] Memory help when she would weave 5
A crown for Hope!—I dread the boasted lights
That all too often are but fiery blights,
Killing the bud o'er which in vain we grieve.
Go, seek, when Christmas snows discomfort bring,
The counter Spirit found in some gay church 10
Green with fresh holly, every pew a perch
In which the linnet or the thrush might sing,
Merry and loud and safe from prying search,
Strains offered only to the genial Spring.

[Pg 100]


[315] 1845.

Giving the ... 1822.


From low to high doth dissolution climb,
And sink[316] from high to low, along a scale
Of awful notes, whose concord shall not fail;
A musical but melancholy chime,
Which they can hear who meddle not with crime, 5
Nor avarice, nor over-anxious care.
Truth fails not; but her outward forms that bear
The longest date do melt like frosty rime,
That in the morning whitened hill and plain
And is no more; drop like the tower sublime 10
Of yesterday, which royally did wear
His[317] crown of weeds, but could not even sustain
Some casual shout that broke the silent air,
Or the unimaginable touch of Time.


[316] 1840.

And sinks ... 1822.

[317] 1837.

Its ... 1822.


Monastic Domes! following my downward way,
Untouched by due regret I marked your fall!
Now, ruin, beauty, ancient stillness, all
Dispose to judgments temperate as we lay
On our past selves in life's declining day: 5
For as, by discipline of Time made wise,
We learn to tolerate the infirmities
And faults of others—gently as he may,[318]
[Pg 101] So with[319] our own the mild Instructor deals
Teaching us to forget them or forgive.[320] 10
Perversely curious, then, for hidden ill
Why should we break Time's charitable seals?
Once ye were holy, ye are holy still;
Your spirit freely let me drink, and live!


[318] 1822.

...—so, where'er he may 1837.

The edition of 1845 returns to the text of 1822.

[319] 1837.

Towards ... 1822.

[320] This is borrowed from an affecting passage in Mr. George Dyer's History of Cambridge.—W. W. 1822.


Published 1827

Even while I speak, the sacred roofs of France
Are shattered into dust; and self-exiled
From altars threatened, levelled, or defiled,
Wander the Ministers of God, as chance
Opens a way for life, or consonance 5
Of faith invites. More welcome to no land
The fugitives than to the British strand,
Where priest and layman with the vigilance
Of true compassion greet them. Creed and test
Vanish before the unreserved embrace 10
Of catholic humanity:—distrest
They came,—and, while the moral tempest roars
Throughout the Country they have left, our shores
Give to their Faith a fearless[321] resting-place.

[Pg 102]


[321] 1837.

... dreadless ... 1827.


Thus all things lead to Charity, secured
By THEM who blessed the soft and happy gale
That landward urged the great Deliverer's sail,[322]
Till in the sunny bay his fleet was moored!
Propitious hour! had we, like them, endured 5
Sore stress of apprehension,[323] with a mind
Sickened by injuries, dreading worse designed,
From month to month trembling and unassured,
How had we then rejoiced! But we have felt,
As a loved substance, their futurity: 10
Good, which they dared not hope for, we have seen;
A State whose generous will through earth is dealt;
A State—which, balancing herself between
Licence and slavish order, dares be free.


[322] The Statesmen of the Revolution, who hailed the arrival of William of Orange from Holland.—Ed.

[323] See Burnet, who is unusually animated on this subject; the east wind, so anxiously expected and prayed for, was called the "Protestant wind."—W. W. 1822.


But liberty, and triumphs on the Main,
And laurelled armies, not to be withstood—
What serve they? if, on transitory good
Intent, and sedulous of abject gain,
The State (ah, surely not preserved in vain!) 5
Forbear to shape due channels which the Flood
Of sacred truth may enter—till it brood
O'er the wide realm, as o'er the Egyptian plain
[Pg 103] The all-sustaining Nile. No more—the time
Is conscious of her want; through England's bounds,
In rival haste, the wished-for Temples rise![324] 11
I hear their sabbath bells' harmonious chime
Float on the breeze—the heavenliest of all sounds
That vale or hill[325] prolongs or multiplies!


[324] In 1818, under the ministry of Lord Liverpool, £1,000,000 was voted by Parliament to build new churches in England.—Ed.

[325] 1837.

That hill or vale ... 1822.


Be this the chosen site; the virgin sod,
Moistened from age to age by dewy eve,
Shall disappear, and grateful earth receive
The corner-stone from hands that build to God.
Yon reverend hawthorns, hardened to the rod 5
Of winter storms, yet budding cheerfully;
Those forest oaks of Druid memory,
Shall long survive, to shelter the Abode
Of genuine Faith. Where, haply, 'mid this band
Of daisies, shepherds sate of yore and wove 10
May-garlands, there let[327] the holy altar stand
For kneeling adoration;—while—above,
Broods, visibly portrayed, the mystic Dove,
That shall protect from blasphemy the Land.

[Pg 104]


[326] This, and the two following sonnets, were probably the first composed of these "Ecclesiastical Sketches." The "church to be erected" was a new one built on Coleorton Moor by Sir George Beaumont. (See Prefatory note to the series, p. 1.)—Ed.

[327] 1840.

May-garlands, let ... 1822.


Mine ear has rung, my spirit[328] sunk subdued,
Sharing the strong emotion of the crowd,
When each pale brow to dread hosannas bowed
While clouds of incense mounting veiled the rood,
That glimmered like a pine-tree dimly viewed 5
Through Alpine vapours. Such appalling rite
Our Church prepares not, trusting to the might
Of simple truth with grace divine imbued;
Yet will we not conceal the precious Cross,
Like men ashamed:[329] the Sun with his first smile
Shall greet that symbol crowning the low Pile: 11
And the fresh air of incense-breathing morn[330]
Shall wooingly embrace it; and green moss
Creep round its arms through centuries unborn.


[328] 1827.

... spirits ... 1822.

[329] The Lutherans have retained the Cross within their churches: it is to be regretted that we have not done the same.—W. W. 1822.

It has always been retained without, and is now scarcely less common within the churches of England. Did the poet confound the Cross with the Crucifix?—Ed.

[330] Compare Gray's Elegy, stanza v.—

The breezy call of incense-breathing morn.—Ed.


The encircling ground, in native turf arrayed,
Is now by solemn consecration given
To social interests, and to favouring Heaven,
And where the rugged colts their gambols played,
And wild deer bounded through the forest glade, 5
[Pg 105] Unchecked as when by merry Outlaw driven,
Shall hymns of praise resound at morn and even;
And soon, full soon, the lonely Sexton's spade
Shall wound the tender sod. Encincture small,
But infinite its grasp of weal and woe![331] 10
Hopes, fears, in never-ending ebb and flow;—
The spousal trembling, and the "dust to dust,"
The prayers, the contrite struggle, and the trust
That to the Almighty Father looks through all.


[331] 1837.

... its grasp of joy and woe! 1822.
... in grasp of weal and woe! 1832.


Open your gates, ye everlasting Piles!
Types of the spiritual Church which God hath reared;
Not loth we quit the newly-hallowed sward
And humble altar, 'mid your sumptuous aisles
To kneel, or thrid your intricate defiles, 5
Or down the nave to pace in motion slow;
Watching, with upward eye,[332] the tall tower grow
And mount, at every step, with living wiles
Instinct—to rouse the heart and lead the will
By a bright ladder to the world above. 10
Open your gates, ye Monuments of love
Divine! thou Lincoln, on thy sovereign hill!
Thou, stately York! and Ye, whose splendours cheer
Isis and Cam, to patient Science dear![333]

[Pg 106]


[332] 1827.

... eyes, ... 1822.

[333] This Sonnet was published in Time's Telescope, September 1823, p. 260.—Ed.


Tax not the royal Saint[334] with vain expense,
With ill-matched aims the Architect who planned—
Albeit labouring for a scanty band
Of white-robed Scholars only—this immense
And glorious Work of fine intelligence! 5
Give all thou canst; high Heaven rejects the lore
Of nicely-calculated less or more;
So deemed the man who fashioned for the sense
These lofty pillars, spread that branching roof
Self-poised, and scooped into ten thousand cells, 10
Where light and shade repose, where music dwells
Lingering—and wandering on as loth to die;
Like thoughts whose very sweetness yieldeth proof
That they were born for immortality.


[334] King Henry VI., who founded King's College, Cambridge.—Ed.


What awful pérspective! while from our sight
With gradual stealth the lateral windows hide
Their Portraitures, their stone-work glimmers, dyed
In[335] the soft chequerings of a sleepy light.
Martyr, or King, or sainted Eremite, 5
Whoe'er ye be, that thus, yourselves unseen,
Imbue your prison-bars with solemn sheen,
Shine on, until ye fade with coming Night!—
[Pg 107] But, from the arms of silence—list! O list!
The music bursteth into second life; 5
The notes luxuriate, every stone is kissed
By sound, or ghost of sound, in mazy strife;
Heart-thrilling strains, that cast, before the eye
Of the devout, a veil of ecstasy!


[335] 1827.

Their portraiture the lateral windows hide,
Glimmers their corresponding stone-work, dyed
With ... 1822.


They dreamt not of a perishable home
Who thus could build.[336] Be mine, in hours of fear
Or grovelling thought, to seek a refuge here;
Or through the aisles of Westminster to roam;
Where bubbles burst, and folly's dancing foam 5
Melts, if it cross the threshold; where the wreath
Of awe-struck wisdom droops: or let my path
Lead to that younger Pile, whose sky-like dome[337]
Hath typified by reach of daring art
Infinity's embrace; whose guardian crest, 10
The silent Cross, among the stars shall spread
As now, when She hath also seen her breast
Filled with mementos, satiate with its part
Of grateful England's overflowing Dead.


[336] Compare The Excursion, book v. l. 145—

Not raised in nice proportions was the pile;
But large and massy; for duration built.

[337] St. Paul's Cathedral, designed by Sir Christopher Wren (1675-1710).—Ed.


Glory to God! and to the Power who came
In filial duty, clothed with love divine,
That made his human tabernacle shine
[Pg 108] Like Ocean burning with purpureal flame;
Or like the Alpine Mount, that takes its name 5
From roseate hues,[338] far kenned at morn and even,
In hours of peace, or when the storm is driven
Along the nether region's rugged frame!
Earth prompts—Heaven urges; let us seek the light,
Studious of that pure intercourse begun 10
When first our infant brows their lustre won;
So, like the Mountain, may we grow more bright
From unimpeded commerce with the Sun,
At the approach of all-involving night.


[338] Some say that Monte Rosa takes its name from a belt of rock at its summit—a very unpoetical and scarcely a probable supposition.—W. W. 1822.


Why sleeps the future, as a snake enrolled,
Coil within coil, at noon-tide? For the Word
Yields, if with unpresumptuous faith explored,
Power at whose touch the sluggard shall unfold
His drowsy rings. Look forth!—that Stream behold,
That Stream upon whose bosom we have passed 6
Floating at ease while nations have effaced
Nations, and Death has gathered to his fold
Long lines of mighty Kings—look forth, my Soul!
(Nor in this[339] vision be thou slow to trust) 10
The living Waters, less and less by guilt
Stained and polluted, brighten as they roll,
Till they have reached the eternal City—built
For the perfected Spirits of the just!

[Pg 109]


[339] 1827.

... that ... 1822.

On seeing the Foundation preparing for the Erection of Rydal Chapel,[341] Westmoreland

Composed 1822.—Published 1827

[After thanking Lady Fleming in prose for the service she had done to her neighbourhood by erecting this Chapel, I have nothing to say beyond the expression of regret that the architect did not furnish an elevation better suited to the site in a narrow mountain-pass, and, what is of more consequence, better constructed in the interior for the purposes of worship. It has no chancel; the altar is unbecomingly confined; the pews are so narrow as to preclude the possibility of kneeling with comfort; there is no vestry; and what ought to have been first mentioned, the font, instead of standing at its proper place at the entrance, is thrust into the farther end of a pew. When these defects shall be pointed out to the munificent Patroness, they will, it is hoped, be corrected.—I. F.[342]]

One of the "Poems of Sentiment and Reflection," from the edition of 1827 to that of 1843; but transferred, in 1845, to the "Miscellaneous Poems." From 1827 to 1836 the title was "To the Lady ——, on seeing the foundation preparing for the erection of —— Chapel, Westmoreland."—Ed.


Blest is this Isle—our native Land;
Where battlement and moated gate
Are objects only for the hand
Of hoary Time to decorate;
Where shady hamlet, town that breathes 5
[Pg 110] Its busy smoke in social wreaths,
No rampart's stern defence require,
Nought but the heaven-directed spire,
And[343] steeple tower (with pealing bells
Far-heard)—our only citadels. 10


O Lady! from a noble line
Of chieftains sprung,[344] who stoutly bore
The spear, yet gave to works divine
A bounteous help in days of yore,
(As records mouldering in the Dell 15
Of Nightshade[345] haply yet may tell;)
Thee kindred aspirations moved
To build, within a vale beloved,
For Him upon whose high behests
All peace depends, all safety rests. 20


How fondly will the woods embrace
This daughter of thy pious care,
Lifting her[347] front with modest grace
To make a fair recess more fair;
[Pg 111] And to exalt the passing hour; 25
Or soothe it with a healing power
Drawn from the Sacrifice fulfilled,
Before this rugged soil was tilled,
Or human habitation rose
To interrupt the deep repose![348] 30


Well may the villagers rejoice!
Nor heat, nor cold, nor weary ways,
Will be[349] a hindrance to the voice
That would unite in prayer and praise;
More duly shall wild wandering Youth 35
Receive the curb of sacred truth,
Shall tottering Age, bent earthward, hear
The Promise, with uplifted ear;[350]
And all shall welcome the new ray
Imparted to their sabbath-day. 40


Nor deem the Poet's hope misplaced,
His fancy cheated—that can see
A shade upon the future cast,
Of time's pathetic sanctity;
Can hear the monitory clock 45
[Pg 112] Sound o'er the lake with gentle shock[351]
At evening,[352] when the ground beneath
Is ruffled o'er with cells of death;
Where happy generations lie,
Here tutored for eternity. 50


Lives there a man whose sole delights
Are trivial pomp and city noise,
Hardening a heart that loathes or slights
What every natural heart enjoys?
Who never caught a noon-tide dream 55
From murmur of a running stream;
Could strip, for aught the prospect yields
To him, their verdure from the fields;
And take the radiance from the clouds
In which the sun his setting shrouds.[353] 60


A soul so pitiably forlorn,
If such do on this earth abide,
May season apathy with scorn,
May turn indifference to pride;
And still be not unblest—compared 65
With him who grovels, self-debarred[354]
From all that lies within the scope
[Pg 113] Of holy faith and christian hope;
Or, shipwreck'd, kindles on the coast
False fires, that others may be lost.[355] 70


Alas! that such perverted zeal
Should spread on Britain's favoured ground![356]
That public order, private weal,
Should e'er have felt or feared a wound
From champions of the desperate law 75
Which from their own blind hearts they draw;[357]
Who tempt their reason to deny
God, whom their passions dare defy,[358]
And boast that they alone are free
Who reach this dire extremity! 80


But turn we from these "bold bad" men;[359]
The way, mild Lady! that hath led
Down to their "dark opprobrious den,"[360]
Is all too rough for Thee to tread.
Softly as morning vapours glide 85
Down Rydal-cove from Fairfield's side,[361]
[Pg 114] Should move the tenor of his song
Who means to charity no wrong;
Whose offering gladly would accord
With this day's work, in thought and word. 90


Heaven prosper it! may peace, and love,
And hope, and consolation, fall,
Through its meek influence, from above,
And penetrate the hearts of all;
All who, around the hallowed Fane, 95
Shall sojourn in this fair domain;
Grateful to Thee, while service pure,
And ancient ordinance, shall endure,
For opportunity bestowed
To kneel together, and adore their God![362] 100


[340] 1840.

To the Lady —— ... 1827.

[341] 1840.

Of —— Chapel ... 1827.

[342] Rydal Chapel remained in the state mentioned in the Fenwick note till the year 1884.—Ed.

[343] 1827.

Or ... MS. sent to Lady Beaumont.

[344] The Fleming family is descended from Sir Michael le Fleming, a relative of Baldwin, Earl of Flanders, brother-in-law to William the Conqueror. This Sir Michael le Fleming, who came over with the Conqueror, was sent into Cumberland against the Scots, and was rewarded for his services by the gift of several manors in Copeland, Cumberland.—Ed.

[345] Bekangs Ghyll—or the dell of Nightshade—in which stands St. Mary's Abbey in Low Furness.—W. W. 1827.

[346] In the edition of 1827, stanzas iii. and iv. are numbered iv. and iii. respectively.—Ed.

[347] 1832.

Even Strangers, slackening here their pace,
Shall hail this work of pious care,
Lifting its ... 1827.

[348] Compare Glen-Almain (vol. ii. p. 394)—

A convent, even a hermit's cell,
Would break the silence of this Dell.—Ed.

[349] 1827.

Nor storms henceforth, nor weary ways,
Shall be ...

MS. sent to Lord Lonsdale.

[350] 1827.

The Aged shall be free to hear
The Promise, caught with steadfast ear.

MS. sent to Lord Lonsdale.

[351] 1832.

Not yet the corner stone is laid
With solemn rite; but Fancy sees
The tower time-stricken, and in shade
Embosomed of coeval trees;
Hears, o'er the lake, the warning clock
As it shall sound with gentle shock 1827.

[352] Compare the last stanza of The Wishing Gate.—Ed.

[353] Compare the Ode, Intimations of Immortality, stanza xi.—Ed.

[354] 1827.

With one who fosters disregard

MS. sent to Lady Beaumont.

[355] 1827.

Yea, strives for others to bedim
The glorious Light too pure for him. 1832.

The text of 1845 returns to that of 1827.

[356] 1827.

... happy ground.

MS. to Lady Beaumont.

[357] 1827.

From Scoffers leagued in desperate plot
To make their own the general lot;

MS. to Lady Beaumont.

[358] 1827.

... do defy,

MS. to Lady Beaumont.

[359] See The Faërie Queene, book I. canto i. stanza 37. Also Shakespeare's Henry VIII., act II. scene ii. l. 44.—Ed.

[360] See Paradise Lost, book ii. l. 58.—Ed.

[361] 1832.

Through Rydal Cove from Fairfield's side,

MS. to Lady Beaumont.

Through Mosedale-Cove from Carrock's side, 1827.

[362] Dorothy Wordsworth wrote to Henry Crabb Robinson (December 21, 1822), "William has just written a poem upon the Foundation of a Church, which Lady Fleming is about to erect at Rydal. It is about 80 lines. I like it much." This letter was obviously written before the poem reached its final form.—Ed.


Composed 1822.—Published 1827

One of the "Poems of Sentiment and Reflection" from the edition of 1827 to that of 1843. In 1835 transferred to the "Miscellaneous Poems."—Ed.

Oh! gather whencesoe'er ye safely may
The help which slackening Piety requires;
Nor deem that he perforce must go astray
Who treads upon the footmarks of his sires.

[Pg 115]

Our churches, invariably perhaps, stand east and west, but why is by few persons exactly known; nor, that the degree of deviation from due east often noticeable in the ancient ones was determined, in each particular case, by the point in the horizon, at which the sun rose upon the day of the saint to whom the church was dedicated.[363] These observances of our ancestors, and the causes of them, are the subject of the following stanzas.

When in the antique age of bow and spear
And feudal rapine clothed with iron mail,
Came ministers of peace, intent to rear
The Mother Church in yon sequestered vale;[364]
Then, to her Patron Saint a previous rite 5
Resounded with deep swell and solemn close,
Through unremitting vigils of the night,
Till from his couch the wished-for Sun uprose.
He rose, and straight—as by divine command,
They, who had waited for that sign to trace 10
Their work's foundation, gave with careful hand
To the high altar its determined place;
Mindful of Him who in the Orient born
There lived, and on the cross his life resigned,
And who, from out the regions of the morn, 15
Issuing in pomp, shall come to judge mankind.
So taught their creed;—nor failed the eastern sky,
'Mid these more awful feelings, to infuse
The sweet and natural hopes that shall not die,
Long as the sun his gladsome course renews. 20
[Pg 116]
For us hath such prelusive vigil ceased;
Yet still we plant, like men of elder days,
Our christian altar faithful to the east,
Whence the tall window drinks the morning rays;
That obvious emblem giving to the eye 25
Of meek devotion, which erewhile it gave,
That symbol of the day-spring from on high,
Triumphant o'er the darkness of the grave.[365]

[Pg 117]


[363] St. Oswald's Day is the 8th of August in the Calendar.—Ed.

[364] Doubtless Grasmere Church (itself originally a chapelry under Kendal), the advowson of which was sold in 1573 to the Le Flemings of Rydal. The date of the foundation is prehistoric. There is a thirteenth century window in it, but the tower is older. The church is dedicated to St. Oswald, King of Northumbria.—Ed.

[365] Compare Ode, Intimations of Immortality, l. 117—

In darkness lost, the darkness of the grave.—Ed.


Only one poem and two sonnets were written in 1823.—Ed.


Composed 1823.—Published 1827

One of the "Poems of Sentiment and Reflection." See the Fenwick note to the lines Written in a Blank Leaf of Macpherson's Ossian (p. 373 of this volume), where Wordsworth says that the poem was "suggested from apprehensions of the fate of his friend, H. C." (Hartley Coleridge).—Ed.

A pen—to register; a key—
That winds through secret wards;
Are well assigned to Memory
By allegoric Bards.
As aptly, also, might be given 5
A Pencil to her hand;
That, softening objects, sometimes even
Outstrips the heart's demand;
[Pg 118]
That smooths foregone distress, the lines
Of lingering care subdues, 10
Long-vanished happiness refines,
And clothes in brighter hues;
Yet, like a tool of Fancy, works
Those Spectres to dilate
That startle Conscience, as she lurks 15
Within her lonely seat.
O! that our lives, which flee so fast,
In purity were such,
That not an image of the past
Should fear that pencil's touch! 20
Retirement then might hourly look
Upon a soothing scene,
Age steal to his allotted nook
Contented and serene;
With heart as calm as lakes that sleep, 25
In frosty moonlight glistening;
Or mountain rivers, where they creep
Along a channel smooth and deep,
To their own far-off murmurs listening.


Composed 1823.—Published 1827

One of the "Miscellaneous Sonnets."—Ed.

Not Love, not[366] War, nor the tumultuous swell
Of civil conflict, nor the wrecks of change,
Nor[367] Duty struggling with afflictions strange—
Not these alone inspire the tuneful shell;
[Pg 119] But where untroubled peace and concord dwell, 5
There also is the Muse not loth to range,
Watching the twilight smoke of cot or grange,[368]
Skyward ascending from a woody dell.[369][370]
Meek aspirations please her, lone endeavour,
And sage content, and placid melancholy; 10
She loves to gaze upon a crystal river—
Diaphanous because it travels slowly;[371]
Soft is the music that would charm for ever;[372]
The flower of sweetest smell is shy and lowly.


[366] 1832.

... nor ... 1823.

[367] 1827.

And ... 1823.[373]

[368] 1837.

Watching the blue smoke of the elmy grange, 1823.

[369] 1837.

... from the twilight dell, 1823.

[370] Compare Tintern Abbey, II. 17, 18.—Ed.

[371] e. g. The Rothay, or the Duddon.—Ed.

[372] 1827.

... please for ever, 1823.

[373] See the same reading in The Poetical Album, 1829, vol. i. p. 43, edited by Alaric Watts.—Ed.


Composed 1823.—Published 1827

One of the "Miscellaneous Sonnets."—Ed.

A volant Tribe of Bards on earth are found,
Who, while the flattering Zephyrs round them play,
On "coignes of vantage"[374] hang their nests of clay;
How quickly from that aery hold unbound,
Dust for oblivion! To the solid ground 5
Of nature trusts the Mind that builds for aye;
Convinced that there, there only, she can lay
Secure foundations. As the year runs round,
[Pg 120] Apart she toils within the chosen ring;
While the stars shine,[375] or while day's purple eye 10
Is gently closing with the flowers of spring;
Where even the motion of an Angel's wing
Would interrupt the intense tranquillity
Of silent hills, and more than silent sky.[376]

[Pg 121]


[374] Macbeth, act I. scene vi. l. 7.—Ed.

[375] 1827.

... nests of clay,
Work cunningly devised, and seeming sound;
But quickly from its airy hold unbound
By its own weight, or washed, or blown away
With silent imperceptible decay.
If man must build, admit him to thy ground,
O Truth! to work within the eternal ring,
Where the stars shine, ... 1823.

[376] Compare Alexander Hume's Day's Estival (1599). This and the preceding sonnet were first published in 1823 in A Collection of Poems, chiefly manuscript, and from living authors, edited for the benefit of a Friend, by Joanna Baillie. The collection includes Sir Walter Scott's Macduff's Cross, and Southey's The Cataract of Lodore.—Ed.


The poems written in 1824 were few. They include two addressed to Mrs. Wordsworth, two or three composed at Coleorton, and a couple of memorial sonnets suggested during a tour in North Wales.—Ed.

TO ——

Composed 1824.—Published 1827

[Written at Rydal Mount. On Mrs. Wordsworth.—I.F.]

One of the "Poems founded on the Affections."—Ed.

Let other bards of angels sing,
Bright suns without a spot;
But thou art no such perfect thing:
Rejoice that thou art not!
Heed not tho' none should call thee fair;[378] 5
So, Mary, let it be
If nought in loveliness compare
With what thou art to me.
[Pg 122]
True beauty dwells in deep retreats,
Whose veil is unremoved 10
Till heart with heart in concord beats,
And the lover is beloved.



Such if thou wert in all men's view,
A universal show,
What would my Fancy have to do,
My Feelings to bestow?

A second (additional) stanza in the editions of 1827-43.

[378] 1832.

The world denies that Thou art fair; 1827.

TO ——

Composed 1824.—Published 1827

[Written at Rydal Mount. To Mrs. W.—I. F.]

One of the "Poems founded on the Affections."—Ed.

O dearer far than light and life are dear,
Full oft our human foresight I deplore;
Trembling, through my unworthiness, with fear
That friends, by death disjoined, may meet no more!
Misgivings, hard to vanquish or control, 5
Mix with the day, and cross the hour of rest;
While all the future, for thy purer soul,
With "sober certainties" of love is blest.[379]
That sigh of thine,[380] not meant for human ear,
Tells[381] that these words thy humbleness offend; 10
Yet bear me up[382]—else faltering in the rear
Of a steep march: support[383] me to the end.
[Pg 123]
Peace settles where the intellect is meek,
And Love is dutiful in thought and deed;
Through Thee communion with that Love I seek: 15
The faith Heaven strengthens where he moulds the Creed.


[379] See Comus, l. 263.—Ed.

[380] 1836.

If a faint sigh, ... 1827.

[381] 1836.

Tell ... 1827.

[382] 1836.

Cherish me still— ... 1827.

[383] 1836.

... uphold ... 1827.


Composed 1824.—Published 1827

[Written at Rydal Mount. Mrs. Wordsworth's impression is that the Poem was written at Coleorton: it was certainly suggested by a Print at Coleorton Hall.—I. F.]

One of the "Poems founded on the Affections."—Ed.

How rich that forehead's calm expanse!
How bright that heaven-directed glance!
—Waft her to glory, wingèd Powers,
Ere sorrow be renewed,
And intercourse with mortal hours 5
Bring back a humbler mood!
So looked Cecilia when she drew
An Angel from his station;[384]
So looked; not ceasing to pursue
Her tuneful adoration! 10
But hand and voice alike are still;
No sound here sweeps away the will
That gave it birth: in service meek
One upright arm sustains the cheek,
And one across the bosom lies— 15
That rose, and now forgets to rise,
Subdued by breathless harmonies
[Pg 124] Of meditative feeling;
Mute strains from worlds beyond the skies,
Through the pure light of female eyes, 20
Their sanctity revealing!


[384] Compare Dryden's Alexander's Feast, an Ode in honour of St. Cecilia's Day—

Timotheus. He raised a mortal to the skies.

Cecilia. She drew an angel down.—Ed.

TO ——

Composed 1824.—Published 1827

[Written at Rydal Mount. Prompted by the undue importance attached to personal beauty by some dear friends of mine.—I. F.]

One of the "Poems founded on the Affections."—Ed.

Look at the fate of summer flowers,
Which blow at daybreak, droop ere even-song;[385]
And, grieved for their brief date, confess that ours,
Measured by what we are and ought to be,
Measured by all that, trembling, we foresee, 5
Is not so long!
If human Life do pass away,
Perishing yet more swiftly than the flower,
If we are creatures of a winter's day;[386]
What space hath Virgin's beauty to disclose 10
[Pg 125] Her sweets, and triumph o'er the breathing rose?
Not even an hour!
The deepest grove whose foliage hid
The happiest lovers Arcady might boast
Could not the entrance of this thought forbid: 15
O be thou wise as they, soul-gifted Maid!
Nor rate too high what must so quickly fade,
So soon be lost.
Then shall love teach some virtuous Youth
"To draw, out of the object of his eyes,"[387] 20
The while[388] on thee they gaze in simple truth,
Hues more exalted, "a refinèd Form,"
That dreads not age, nor suffers from the worm,
And never dies.


[385] Compare Robert Herrick's poem To Daffodils

Fair daffodils, we weep to see
You haste away so soon;
As yet the early rising sun
Has not attain'd his noon.
Stay, stay,
Until the hasting day
Has run
But to the even-song, etc.

See also his poem To Blossoms.—Ed.

[386] 1836.

Whose frail existence is but of a day; 1827.

[387] Compare Lyly's Endymion, v. 3—

To have him in the object of mine eyes.—Ed.

[388] 1836.

The whilst ... 1827.

At Coleorton Hall, Leicestershire[389]

Composed 1824.—Published 1827

[Planned by my friend, Lady Beaumont, in connection with the garden at Coleorton.—I. F.]

One of the "Poems of the Fancy."—Ed.

Tell me, ye Zephyrs! that unfold,
While fluttering o'er this gay Recess,[390]
Pinions that fanned the teeming mould
[Pg 126] Of Eden's blissful wilderness,
Did only softly-stealing hours 5
There close the peaceful lives of flowers?
Say, when the moving creatures saw
All kinds commingled without fear,
Prevailed a like indulgent law
For the still growths that prosper here? 10
Did wanton fawn and kid forbear
The half-blown rose, the lily spare?
Or peeped they often from their beds
And prematurely disappeared,
Devoured like pleasure ere it spreads 15
A bosom to the sun endeared?
If such their harsh untimely doom,
It falls not here on bud or bloom.
All summer-long the happy Eve
Of this fair Spot her flowers may bind, 20
Nor e'er, with ruffled fancy, grieve,
From the next glance she casts, to find
That love for little things by Fate
Is rendered vain as love for great.
Yet, where the guardian fence is wound, 25
So subtly are our eyes beguiled
We see not nor suspect a bound,[391]
No more than in some forest wild;
The sight is free as air—or crost[392]
Only by art in nature lost. 30
[Pg 127]
And, though[393] the jealous turf refuse
By random footsteps to be prest,
And feed[394] on never-sullied dews,
Ye, gentle breezes from the west,
With all the ministers of hope 35
Are tempted to this sunny slope!
And hither throngs of birds resort;
Some, inmates lodged in shady nests,
Some, perched on stems of stately port
That nod to welcome transient guests; 40
While hare and leveret, seen at play,
Appear not more shut out than they.
Apt emblem (for reproof of pride)
This delicate Enclosure shows
Of modest kindness, that would hide 45
The firm protection she bestows;
Of manners, like its viewless fence,
Ensuring peace to innocence.
Thus spake the moral Muse—her wing
Abruptly spreading to depart, 50
She left that[395] farewell offering,
Memento for some docile heart;
That may respect the good old age
When Fancy was Truth's willing Page;
And Truth would skim the flowery glade, 55
Though entering but as Fancy's Shade.

In a letter from Mrs. Wordsworth to Lady Beaumont, dated "Rydal Mount, Feb. 28" (1824), the following occurs:—

[Pg 128]

"This garden is made out of Lady Caroline Price's, and your own, combining the recommendations of both. Like you, I enjoy the beauty of flowers, but do not carry my admiration so far as my sister, not to feel how very troublesome they are. I have more pleasure in clearing away thickets, and making such arrangements as produced the Winter Garden, and those sweet glades behind Coleorton Church."—Ed.


[389] 1836.

A Flower Garden. 1827.

[390] The flower garden was constructed below the terrace to the east of the Hall.—Ed.

[391] 1836.

So subtly is the eye beguiled
It sees not nor suspects a Bound, 1827.

MS. sent by Mrs. Wordsworth to Lady Beaumont.

[392] 1836.

Free as the light in semblance—crost. 1827.

MS. sent by Mrs. Wordsworth to Lady Beaumont.

[393] 1827.

What though ...

MS. sent by Mrs. Wordsworth to Lady Beaumont.

[394] 1836.

And feeds ... 1827.

[395] 1827.

... this ...

MS. sent by Mrs. Wordsworth to Lady Beaumont.


Composed in the Grounds of Plass Newidd,[396] near Llangollen, 1824.

Composed 1824.—Published 1827

[In this Vale of Meditation my friend Jones resided, having been allowed by his diocesan to fix himself there without resigning his Living in Oxfordshire. He was with my wife and daughter and me when we visited these celebrated ladies who had retired, as one may say, into notice in this vale. Their cottage lay directly in the road between London and Dublin, and they were of course visited by their Irish friends as well as innumerable strangers. They took much delight in passing jokes on our friend Jones's plumpness, ruddy cheeks and smiling countenance, as little suited to a hermit living in the Vale of Meditation. We all thought there was ample room for retort on his part, so curious was the appearance of these ladies, so [Pg 129]elaborately sentimental about themselves and their Caro Albergo as they named it in an inscription on a tree that stood opposite, the endearing epithet being preceded by the word Ecco! calling upon the saunterer to look about him. So oddly was one of these ladies attired that we took her, at a little distance, for a Roman Catholic priest, with a crucifix and relics hung at his neck. They were without caps, their hair bushy and white as snow, which contributed to the mistake.—I. F.]

One of the "Miscellaneous Sonnets."—Ed.

A Stream, to mingle with your favourite Dee,
Along the Vale of Meditation[397] flows;
So styled by those fierce Britons, pleased to see
In Nature's face the expression of repose;
Or haply there some pious hermit chose 5
To live and die, the peace of heaven his aim;
To whom the wild sequestered region owes,
At this late day, its sanctifying name.
Glyn Cafaillgaroch, in the Cambrian tongue,
In ours, the Vale of Friendship, let this spot 10
Be named; where, faithful to a low-roofed Cot,
On Deva's banks, ye have abode so long;
Sisters in love, a love allowed to climb,
Even on this earth, above the reach of Time!


[396] Plass Newidd is close to Llangollen, a small cottage a quarter of a mile to the south of the town. The ladies referred to in the Fenwick note, Lady Eleanor Butler and the Hon. Miss Ponsonby, formed a romantic attachment; and, having an extreme love of independence, they withdrew from society, and settled in this remote and secluded cottage. Lady Butler died in 1829, aged ninety, and Miss Ponsonby in 1831, aged seventy-six, their faithful servant, Mary Caroll, having predeceased them. The three are buried in the same grave in Llangollen Churchyard, and an inscription to the memory of each is carved on a triangular pillar beside their tomb.

In a letter to Sir George Beaumont from Hindwell, Radnorshire, Wordsworth gives an account of this tour in North Wales.... "We turned from the high-road three or four miles to visit the 'Valley of Meditation' (Glyn Myvyr), where Mr. Jones has, at present, a curacy with a comfortable parsonage. We slept at Corwen, and went down the Dee to Llangollen, which you and dear Lady B. know well. Called upon the celebrated Recluses, who hoped that you and Lady B. had not forgotten them.... Next day I sent them the following sonnet from Ruthin, which was conceived, and in a great measure composed, in their grounds." Compare Sir Walter Scott's account of his visit to these Ladies in 1825 (Lockhart's Life of Scott, vol. viii. pp. 48, 49).—Ed.

[397] Glyn Myvyr.—W. W. The word is misspelt in most of the editions.—Ed.


Composed 1824.—Published 1827

One of the "Miscellaneous Sonnets."—Ed.

How art thou named? In search of what strange land,
From what huge height, descending? Can such force
Of waters issue from a British source,[399]
[Pg 130] Or hath not Pindus fed thee,[400] where the band
Of Patriots scoop their freedom out, with hand 5
Desperate as thine? Or come the incessant shocks
From that young Stream,[401] that smites the throbbing rocks
Of Viamala? There I seem to stand,
As in life's morn; permitted to behold,
From the dread chasm, woods climbing above woods, 10
In pomp that fades not; everlasting snows;
And skies that ne'er relinquish their repose;
Such power possess the family of floods
Over the minds of Poets, young or old!

[Pg 131]


[398] The Devil's Bridge in North Wales is at Hafod, near Aberystwyth, in Cardiganshire. Like the Teufelsbrücke, on the road from Göschenen to Airola, over the St. Gotthard in Switzerland, which spans the Reuss, the Devil's Bridge in Wales is double; i.e. an upper and an under bridge span the river Mynach. This Pont-y-Mynach was built either by the monks of Strata Florida, or by the Knights Hospitallers.

In the letter to Sir George Beaumont, referred to in a previous note, Wordsworth writes: "We went up the Rhydiol to the Devil's Bridge, where we passed the following day in exploring these two rivers, and Hafod in the neighbourhood. I had seen these things long ago, but either my memory or my powers of observation had not done them justice. It rained heavily in the night, and we saw the waterfalls in perfection. While Dora was attempting to make a sketch from the chasm in the rain, I composed by her side the following address to the torrent,

How art thou named? etc."—Ed.

[399] There are several consecutive falls on the river Mynach, at the Devil's Bridge, the longest being one of 114 feet, and the whole taken together amounting to 314 feet.—Ed.

[400] The lofty ridge of mountains in northern Greece between Thessaly and Epirus, which, like the Apennines in Italy, form the back-bone of the country.—Ed.

[401] The Rhine. The Via Mala is the gorge between Thusis and Zillis, near the source of the Rhine. Compare Descriptive Sketches (vol. i. p. 46)—

Or, led where Via Mala's chasms confine
The indignant waters of the infant Rhine.—Ed.


Composed 1824.—Published 1827

One of the "Miscellaneous Sonnets."—Ed.

Through shattered galleries, 'mid roofless halls,
Wandering with timid footsteps[402] oft betrayed,
The Stranger sighs, nor scruples to upbraid
Old Time, though he, gentlest among the Thralls
Of Destiny, upon these wounds hath laid 5
His lenient touches, soft as light that falls,
From the wan Moon, upon the towers and walls,
Light deepening the profoundest sleep of shade.
Relic of Kings! Wreck of forgotten wars,
To winds abandoned and the prying stars, 10
Time loves Thee! at his call the Seasons twine
Luxuriant wreaths around thy forehead hoar;
And, though past pomp no changes can restore,
A soothing recompense, his gift, is thine![403]

[Pg 132]


[402] 1837.

... footstep ... 1827.

[403] Compare The White Doe of Rylstone, canto i. ll. 118, 119 (vol. iv. p. 110)—

Nature, softening and concealing,
And busy with a hand of healing.

This was doubtless Carnarvon Castle, which Wordsworth visited in September 1824, at the close of his three weeks' ramble in North Wales, of which he wrote to Sir George Beaumont, "We employed several hours in exploring the interior of the noble castle, and looking at it from different points of view in the neighbourhood."—Ed.




Composed 1824.—Published 1827

[On Mrs. Fermor. This lady had been a widow long before I knew her. Her husband was of the family of the lady celebrated in the Rape of the Lock, and was, I believe, a Roman Catholic. The sorrow which his death caused her was fearful in its character as described in this poem, but was subdued in course of time by the strength of her religious faith. I have been for many weeks at a time, an inmate with her at Coleorton Hall, as were also Mrs. Wordsworth and my sister. The truth in the sketch of her character here given was acknowledged with gratitude by her nearest relatives. She was eloquent in conversation, energetic upon public matters, open in respect to those, but slow to communicate her personal feelings; upon these she never touched in her intercourse with me, so that I could not regard myself as her confidential friend, and was accordingly surprised when I learnt she had left me a legacy of £100, as a token of her esteem. See in further illustration the second stanza inscribed upon her cenotaph in Coleorton church.—I.F.]

One of the "Epitaphs and Elegiac Pieces." In 1827 the title was simply, Elegiac Stanzas, 1824, and the title of the group was then, and in 1832, "Epitaphs and Elegiac Poems."—Ed.

O for a dirge! But why complain?
Ask rather a triumphal strain
When Fermor's race is run;
A garland of immortal boughs
To twine[405] around the Christian's brows, 5
[Pg 133] Whose glorious work is done.
We pay a high and holy debt;
No tears of passionate regret
Shall stain this votive lay;
Ill-worthy, Beaumont! were the grief 10
That flings itself on wild relief
When Saints have passed away.
Sad doom, at Sorrow's shrine to kneel,
For ever covetous to feel,
And impotent to bear! 15
Such once was hers—to think and think
On severed love, and only sink
From anguish to despair!
But nature to its inmost part
Faith had[406] refined; and to her heart 20
A peaceful cradle given:
Calm as the dew-drop's, free to rest
Within a breeze-fanned rose's breast
Till it exhales to Heaven.
Was ever Spirit that could bend: 25
So graciously?[407]—that could descend,
Another's need to suit,
So promptly from her lofty throne?—
In works of love, in these alone,
How restless, how minute! 30
[Pg 134]
Pale was her hue; yet mortal cheek[408]
Ne'er kindled with a livelier streak
When aught had suffered wrong,—
When aught that breathes had felt a wound;
Such look the Oppressor might confound, 35
However proud and strong.
But hushed be every thought that springs
From out the bitterness of things;
Her quiet is secure;
No thorns can pierce her tender feet, 40
Whose life was, like the violet, sweet,
As climbing jasmine, pure—
As snowdrop on an infant's grave,
Or lily heaving with the wave
That feeds it and defends; 45
As Vesper, ere the star hath kissed
The mountain top, or breathed the mist
That from the vale ascends.
Thou takest not away, O Death!
Thou strikest[409]—absence perisheth, 50
Indifference is no more;
The future brightens on our sight;
For on the past hath fallen a light
That tempts us to adore.

In a letter from Mrs. Wordsworth to Lady Beaumont, dated "Rydal Mount, Feb. 25, 1825," she says:—

"We are all much moved by the manner in which Miss Willes has received the verses,—particularly Wm., who feels [Pg 135]himself more than rewarded for the labour I cannot call it of the composition—for the tribute was poured forth with a deep stream of fervour that was something beyond labour, and it has required very little correction. In one instance a single word in the 'Address to Sir George' is changed since we sent the copy, viz.: 'graciously' for 'courteously,' as being a word of more dignity."

The following inscription was "copied from the Churchyard of Claines, Sept. 14, 1826," by Dorothy Wordsworth, in a MS. book, containing numerous epitaphs on tombstones, and inscriptions on rural monuments in Cathedrals and Churches, in various parts of the country.

To the memory of Frances Fermor,
Relict of Henry Fermor, Esqre.,
Of Fritwell, in the County of Oxford,
And eldest Daughter of the late
John Willes, Esqre., of Astrop, in the county
Of Northamptonshire, who departed this life,
Dec. 5th, 1824, aged 68 years.
I am the way, the truth, and
The life. Whoso cometh to me
I will in no wise cast out.—Ed.


[404] 1837.

Elegiac Stanzas, 1824. 1827.

[405] 1845.

To bind ... 1827.

[406] 1837.

Had Faith ... 1827.

[407] 1827.

So courteously ...

In a MS. copy sent to Coleorton.

[408] 1827.

Pale was her hue, but mortal cheek

In MS. from Mrs. Wordsworth to Lady Beaumont.

[409] 1840.

Thou strik'st—and ... 1827.


In affectionate remembrance of Frances Fermor, whose remains are deposited in the church of Claines, near Worcester, this stone is erected by her sister, Dame Margaret, wife of Sir George Beaumont, Bart., who, feeling not less than the love of a brother for the deceased, commends this memorial to the care of his heirs and successors in the possession of this place.

Composed 1824.—Published 1842

[See "Elegiac Stanzas. (Addressed to Sir G.H.B., upon the death of his sister-in-law.)"—I.F.]

[Pg 136]

One of the "Epitaphs and Elegiac Pieces."—Ed.

By vain affections unenthralled,
Though resolute when duty called
To meet the world's broad eye,
Pure as the holiest cloistered nun
That ever feared the tempting sun, 5
Did Fermor live and die.
This Tablet, hallowed by her name,[410]
One heart-relieving tear may claim;
But if the pensive gloom
Of fond regret be still thy choice, 10
Exalt thy spirit, hear the voice
Of Jesus from her tomb!

"I am the way, the truth, and the life."

In the letter to Lady Beaumont, referred to in the notes, the title of this poem is "Inscription in the Church of Coleorton," and a footnote is added, "Say, to the left of the vista, within the thicket, below the churchyard wall.—M. W."

Mrs. Wordsworth also says, "To fit the lines, intended for an urn, for a Monument, W. has altered the closing stanza, which (though they are not what he would have produced had he first cast them with a view to the Church) he hopes you will not disapprove."—Ed.

[Pg 137]


[410] 1842.

This cenotaph that bears her name,

MS. Mrs. Wordsworth to Lady Beaumont.

This sacred stone that bears her name,

MS. Mrs. Wordsworth to Lady Beaumont.


Three Poems were written in 1825, The Pillar of Trajan, The Contrast: The Parrot and the Wren, and the lines To a Skylark.—Ed.


Composed 1825.—Published 1827

[These verses perhaps had better be transferred to the class of "Italian Poems." I had observed in the newspaper, that the Pillar of Trajan was given as a subject for a prize-poem in English verse. I had a wish perhaps that my son, who was then an undergraduate at Oxford, should try his fortune, and I told him so; but he, not having been accustomed to write verse, wisely declined to enter on the task; whereupon I showed him these lines as a proof of what might, without difficulty, be done on such a subject.—I.F.]

From 1827 to 1842 one of the "Poems of Sentiment and Reflection"; in 1845 one of the "Memorials of a Tour in Italy."—Ed.

[Pg 138]

Where towers are crushed, and unforbidden weeds
O'er mutilated arches shed their seeds;
And temples, doomed to milder change, unfold
A new magnificence that vies with old;
Firm in its pristine majesty hath stood 5
A votive Column, spared by fire and flood:—
And, though the passions of man's fretful race
Have never ceased to eddy round its base,
Not injured more by touch of meddling hands
Than a lone obelisk, 'mid Nubian sands, 10
Or aught in Syrian deserts left to save
From death the memory of the good and brave.
Historic figures round the shaft embost
Ascend, with lineaments in air not lost:
Still as he turns, the charmed spectator sees 15
Group winding after group with dream-like ease;
Triumphs in sunbright gratitude displayed,[411]
Or softly stealing into modest shade.
—So, pleased with purple clusters to entwine
Some lofty elm-tree, mounts the daring vine; 20
The woodbine so, with spiral grace, and breathes
Wide-spreading odours from her flowery wreaths.
Borne by the Muse from rills in shepherds' ears
Murmuring but one smooth story for all years,
I gladly commune with the mind and heart 25
Of him who thus survives by classic art,
His actions witness, venerate his mien,
And study Trajan as by Pliny seen;
Behold how fought the Chief whose conquering sword
Stretched far as earth might own a single lord; 30
In the delight of moral prudence schooled,
How feelingly at home the Sovereign ruled;
Best of the good—in pagan faith allied
To more than Man, by virtue deified.
[Pg 139]
Memorial Pillar! 'mid the wrecks of Time 35
Preserve thy charge with confidence sublime—
The exultations, pomps, and cares of Rome,
Whence half the breathing world received its doom;
Things that recoil from language; that, if shown
By apter pencil, from the light had flown. 40
A Pontiff, Trajan here the Gods implores,
There greets an Embassy from Indian shores;
Lo! he harangues his cohorts—there the storm
Of battle meets him in authentic form!
Unharnessed, naked, troops of Moorish horse 45
Sweep to the charge;[412] more high, the Dacian force,
To hoof and finger mailed;[413]—yet, high or low,
None bleed, and none lie prostrate but the foe;[414]
In every Roman, through all turns of fate,
Is Roman dignity inviolate; 50
Spirit in him pre-eminent, who guides,[415]
Supports, adorns, and over all presides;
Distinguished only by inherent state
From honoured Instruments that round him wait;[416]
Rise as he may, his grandeur scorns the test 55
Of outward symbol, nor will deign to rest
On aught by which another is deprest.
[Pg 140] —Alas! that One thus disciplined could toil
To enslave whole nations on their native soil;
So emulous of Macedonian fame, 60
That, when his age was measured with his aim,
He drooped, 'mid else unclouded victories,
And turned his eagles back with deep-drawn sighs.
O weakness of the Great! O folly of the Wise!
Where now the haughty Empire that was spread 65
With such fond hope? her very speech is dead;
Yet glorious Art the power of Time defies,
And Trajan still, through various enterprise,
Mounts, in this fine illusion, toward the skies:
Still are we present with the imperial Chief, 70
Nor cease to gaze upon the bold Relief
Till Rome, to silent marble unconfined,
Becomes with all her years a vision of the Mind.

Trajan's Column was set up by the Senate and people of Rome, in honour of the Emperor, about A.D. 114. It is one of the most remarkable pillars in the world; and still stands, little injured by time, in the centre of the Forum Trajanum (now a ruin); its height—132 feet—marking the height of the earth removed when the Forum was made. On the pedestal bas-reliefs were carved in series showing the arms and armour of the Romans; and round the shaft of the column similar reliefs, exhibiting pictorially the whole story of the Decian campaign of the Emperor. These are of great value as illustrating the history of the period, the costume of the Roman soldiers and the barbarians. A colossal statue of Trajan crowned the column; and, when it fell, Pope Sixtus V. replaced it by a figure of St. Peter. It is referred to by Pausanias (v. 12. 6), and by all the ancient topographers. See a minute account of it, with excellent illustrations, in Hertzberg's Geschichte des Römischen Kaiserreiches, pp. 330-345 (Berlin: 1880); a[Pg 141]lso Müller's Denkmäler der alten Kunst, p. 51. The book, however, from which Wordsworth gained his information of this pillar was evidently Joseph Forsyth's Remarks on Antiquities, Arts, and Letters, during an Excursion in Italy in 1802-3 (London: 1813). It is thus that Dean Merivale speaks of it:—

"Amid this profusion of splendour" (i.e. in the Forum Trajanum) "the great object to which the eye was principally directed was the column, which rose majestically in the centre of the forum to the height of 126 feet, sculptured from the base of the shaft to the summit with the story of the Decian wars, shining in every volute and moulding, with gold and pigments, and crowned with the colossal effigy of the august conqueror.... The proportions of the Trajan column are peculiarly graceful; the compact masses of stone, nineteen in number, of which the whole shaft is composed, may lead us to admire the skill employed in its construction; but the most interesting feature of this historic monument is the spiral band of figures which throughout enriches it. To the subjects of Trajan himself, this record of his exploits in bold relief must have given a vivid and sufficient idea of the people, the places, and the actions indicated; even to us, after so many centuries, they furnish a correct type of the arms, the arts, and the costume both of the Romans and barbarians which we should vainly seek for elsewhere. The Trajan column forms a notable chapter in the pictorial history of Rome." (History of the Romans under the Empire, vol. viii. pp. 46, 47.)

In the Fenwick note, Wordsworth mentions that, what gave rise to this poem was, his observing in the newspapers that "the Pillar of Trajan" was prescribed as a subject for a prize poem at Oxford. This determines the date of composition. The Pillar of Trajan was the Newdigate prize poem, won by W. W. Tireman, Wadham Coll., in 1826. We may therefore assume that the subject was proposed about the summer of 1825.—Ed.


[411] As Wordsworth says, in his note of 1827, "See Forsyth," it may be interesting to add Forsyth's account of the Pillar, in footnotes. "Trajan's Column, considered as a long historical record to be read round and round a long convex surface, made perspective impossible. Every perspective has one fixed point of view, but here are ten thousand. The eye, like the relievos of the column, must describe a spiral round them, widening over the whole piazza. Hence, to be legible the figures must be lengthened as they rise. This licence is necessary here; but in architecture it may be contested against Vitruvius himself." (Forsyth's Remarks on Antiquities, Arts, and Letters, during an Excursion in Italy in 1802-3, pp. 250, 251.)—Ed.

[412] "In detailing the two wars, this column sets each nation in contrast: here the Moorish horse, all naked and unharnessed" (Forsyth's Remarks, etc., p. 251.)—Ed.

[413] See Forsyth.—W. W. 1827.

"There the Taranatians, in complete mail down to the fingers and the hoofs. It exhibits without embellishment all the tactics of that age, and forms grand commentary on Vegetius and Frontinus." (Remarks, etc., p. 252.)—Ed.

[414] "How unlike the modern relievos, where dress appears in all its distinctions, and prostration in all its angles! none kneel here but priests and captives; no Roman appears in a fallen state: none are wounded or slain but the foe.

"No monument gives the complete and real costume of its kind so correctly as this column.... On this column we can see parts of the subarmalia; we can see real drawers falling down to the officers' legs; and some figures have focalia, like invalids, round the neck." (Remarks, etc., p. 251-2.)—Ed.

[415] "This column is an immense field of antiquities, where the emperor appears in a hundred different points, as sovereign, as general, as priest." (Remarks, etc., p. 251.)—Ed.

[416] "His dignity he derives from himself or his duties; not from the trappings of power, for he is dressed like any of his officers, not from the debasement of others, for the Romans stand bold and erect before him." (Remarks, etc., p. 251.)—Ed.

The Parrot and the Wren[417]

Composed 1825.—Published 1827

[The Parrot belonged to Mrs. Luff while living at Fox-Ghyll. The Wren was one that haunted for many years the summerhouse between the two terraces at Rydal Mount.—I. F.]

One of the "Poems of the Fancy."—Ed.

[Pg 142]


Within her gilded cage confined,
I saw a dazzling Belle,
A Parrot of that famous kind
Whose name is Non-pareil.
Like beads of glossy jet her eyes; 5
And, smoothed by Nature's skill,
With pearl or gleaming agate vies
Her finely-curvèd bill.
Her plumy mantle's living hues
In mass opposed to mass, 10
Outshine the splendour that imbues
The robes of pictured glass.
And, sooth to say, an apter Mate
Did never tempt the choice
Of feathered Thing most delicate 15
In figure and in voice.
But, exiled from Australian bowers,
And singleness her lot,
She trills her song with tutored powers,
Or mocks each casual note. 20
No more of pity for regrets
With which she may have striven!
Now but in wantonness she frets,
Or spite, if cause be given;
Arch, volatile, a sportive bird 25
By social glee inspired;
Ambitious to be seen or heard
And pleased to be admired!


[Pg 143]

This Moss-Lined shed, green, soft, and dry,
Harbours a self-contented Wren, 30
Not shunning man's abode, though shy,
Almost as thought itself, of human ken.
Strange places, coverts unendeared,
She never tried; the very nest
In which this Child of Spring was reared, 35
Is warmed, thro' winter, by her feathery breast.
To the bleak winds she sometimes gives
A slender unexpected strain;
Proof that[418] the hermitess still lives,
Though she appear not, and be sought in vain. 40
Say, Dora! tell me, by yon placid moon,
If called to choose between the favoured pair,
Which would you be,—the bird of the saloon,
By lady-fingers tended with nice care,
Caressed, applauded, upon dainties fed, 45
Or Nature's Darkling of this mossy shed?

The "moss-lined shed, green, soft, and dry," still remains at Rydal Mount, as it was in the poet's time.—Ed.


[417] 1832.

The Contrast. 1827.

[418] 1836.

That tells ... 1827.


Composed 1825.—Published 1827

[Written at Rydal Mount, where there are no skylarks, but the Poet is everywhere.—I. F.]

One of the "Poems of the Imagination."—Ed.

Ethereal minstrel! pilgrim of the sky!
Dost thou despise the earth where cares abound?
Or, while the[419] wings aspire, are heart and eye
[Pg 144] Both with thy nest upon the dewy ground?
Thy nest which thou canst drop into at will, 5
Those quivering wings composed, that music still!


Leave to the nightingale her[421] shady wood;
A privacy of glorious light is thine;
Whence thou dost pour upon the world a flood
Of harmony, with instinct[422] more divine; 10
Type of the wise who soar, but never roam;
True to the kindred points of Heaven and Home!

Compare this with the earlier poem To a Skylark, written in 1805, and both poems with Shelley's still finer lyric to the same bird, written in 1820. See also the Morning Exercise (1828), stanzas v.-x. The eighth stanza of that poem was, from 1827 to 1842, the second stanza of this one. The poem was published in the Poetical Album, for 1829, edited by Alaric Watts, vol. ii. p. 30.—Ed.

[Pg 145]


[419] 1827.

... thy ...

Poetical Album, 1829.

[420] The following second stanza occurs only in the editions 1827-43—

To the last point of vision, and beyond,
Mount, daring Warbler! that love-prompted strain,
('Twixt thee and thine a never-failing bond)
Thrills not the less the bosom of the plain:
Yet might'st thou seem, proud privilege! to sing
All independent of the leafy spring.

[421] 1827.

... the ...

Poetical Album, 1829.

[422] 1832.

... rapture ... 1827.


The poems composed in 1826 were six. They include two referring to the month of May, and two descriptive of places near Rydal Mount.—Ed.


Composed 1826.—Published 1827

[Written at Rydal Mount. Suggested by the condition of a friend.—I. F.]

One of the "Poems founded on the Affections."—Ed.

Ere with cold beads of midnight dew
Had mingled tears of thine,
I grieved, fond Youth! that thou shouldst sue
To haughty Geraldine.
Immoveable by generous sighs, 5
She glories in a train
Who drag, beneath our native skies,
An oriental chain.
[Pg 146]
Pine not like them with arms across,
Forgetting in thy care 10
How the fast-rooted trees can toss
Their branches in mid air.
The humblest rivulet will take
Its own wild liberties;
And, every day, the imprisoned lake 15
Is flowing in the breeze.
Then, crouch no more on suppliant knee,
But scorn with scorn outbrave;
A Briton, even in love, should be
A subject, not a slave! 20

Composed on May Morning

Composed 1826.—Published 1835

[This and the following poem originated in the lines, "How delicate the leafy veil," etc. My daughter and I left Rydal Mount upon a tour through our mountains, with Mr. and Mrs. Carr,[423] in the month of May, 1826, and as we were going up the Vale of Newlands I was struck with the appearance of the little chapel gleaming through the veil of half-opened leaves; and the feeling which was then conveyed to my mind was expressed in the stanza referred to above. As in the case of Liberty and Humanity, my first intention was to write only one poem, but subsequently I broke it into two, making additions to each part so as to produce a consistent and appropriate whole.—I. F.]

In 1835, included in the Poems on Yarrow Revisited, etc. In 1837, one of the "Poems of Sentiment and Reflection."—Ed.

While from the purpling east departs
The star that led the dawn,
Blithe Flora from her couch upstarts,
For May is on the lawn,[424]
A quickening hope, a freshening glee, 5
Foreran the expected Power,
[Pg 147] Whose first-drawn breath, from bush and tree,
Shakes off that pearly shower.
All Nature welcomes Her whose sway
Tempers the year's extremes; 10
Who scattereth lustres o'er noon-day,
Like morning's dewy gleams;
While mellow warble, sprightly trill,
The tremulous heart excite;
And hums the balmy air to still 15
The balance of delight.
Time was, blest Power! when youths and maids
At peep of dawn would rise,
And wander forth in forest glades
Thy birth to solemnize. 20
Though mute the song—to grace the rite
Untouched the hawthorn bough,
Thy Spirit triumphs o'er the slight;
Man changes, but not Thou!
Thy feathered Lieges bill and wings 25
In love's disport employ;
Warmed by thy influence, creeping things
Awake to silent joy:
Queen art thou still for each gay plant
Where the slim wild deer roves; 30
And served in depths where fishes haunt
Their own mysterious groves.
Cloud-piercing peak, and trackless heath,
Instinctive homage pay;
Nor wants the dim-lit cave a wreath 35
[Pg 148] To honour thee, sweet May!
Where cities fanned by thy brisk airs
Behold a smokeless sky,
Their puniest flower-pot-nursling dares
To open a bright eye. 40
And if, on this thy natal morn,
The pole, from which thy name
Hath not departed, stands forlorn
Of song and dance and game;
Still from the village-green a vow 45
Aspires to thee addrest,
Wherever peace is on the brow,
Or love within the breast.
Yes! where Love nestles thou canst teach
The soul to love the more; 50
Hearts also shall thy lessons reach
That never loved before.
Stript is the haughty one of pride,
The bashful freed from fear,
While rising, like the ocean-tide, 55
In flows the joyous year.
Hush, feeble lyre! weak words refuse
The service to prolong!
To yon exulting thrush the Muse
Entrusts the imperfect song; 60
His voice shall chant, in accents clear,
Throughout the live-long day,
Till the first silver star appear,
The sovereignty of May.


[423] Doubtless the Rev. Mr. Carr, of Bolton Abbey, and his wife.—Ed.

[424] Compare Thoughts on the Seasons, written in 1829.—Ed.

TO MAY[425]

Composed 1826-34.—Published 1835

One of the "Poems of Sentiment and Reflection."—Ed.

Though many suns have risen and set
Since thou, blithe May, wert born,
[Pg 149] And Bards, who hailed thee, may forget
Thy gifts, thy beauty scorn;
There are who to a birthday strain 5
Confine not harp and voice,
But evermore throughout thy reign
Are grateful and rejoice!
Delicious odours! music sweet,
Too sweet to pass away! 10
Oh for a deathless song to meet
The soul's desire—a lay
That, when a thousand years are told,
Should praise thee, genial Power!
Through summer heat, autumnal cold, 15
And winter's dreariest hour.
Earth, sea, thy presence feel—nor less,
If yon ethereal blue
With its soft smile the truth express,
The heavens have felt it too. 20
The inmost heart of man if glad
Partakes a livelier cheer;
And eyes that cannot but be sad
Let fall a brightened tear.
Since thy return, through days and weeks 25
Of hope that grew by stealth,
How many wan and faded cheeks
Have kindled into health!
The Old, by thee revived, have said,
"Another year is ours;" 30
And wayworn Wanderers, poorly fed,
Have smiled upon thy flowers.
[Pg 150]
Who tripping lisps a merry song
Amid his playful peers?
The tender Infant who was long 35
A prisoner of fond fears;
But now, when every sharp-edged blast
Is quiet in its sheath,
His Mother leaves him free to taste
Earth's sweetness in thy breath. 40
Thy help is with the weed that creeps
Along the humblest ground;
No cliff so bare but on its steeps
Thy favours may be found;
But most on some peculiar nook 45
That our own hands have drest,
Thou and thy train are proud to look,
And seem to love it best.
And yet how pleased we wander forth
When May is whispering, "Come! 50
"Choose from the bowers of virgin earth
"The happiest for your home;
"Heaven's bounteous love through me is spread
"From sunshine, clouds, winds, waves,
"Drops on the mouldering turret's head, 55
"And on your turf-clad graves!"
Such greeting heard, away with sighs
For lilies that must fade,
Or "the rathe primrose as it dies
Forsaken"[426] in the shade! 60
Vernal fruitions and desires
Are linked in endless chase;
While, as one kindly growth retires,
Another takes its place.
And what if thou, sweet May, hast known 65
Mishap by worm and blight;
[Pg 151] If expectations newly blown
Have perished in thy sight;
If loves and joys, while up they sprung,
Were caught as in a snare; 70
Such is the lot of all the young,
However bright and fair.
Lo! Streams that April could not check
Are patient of thy rule;
Gurgling in foamy water-break, 75
Loitering in glassy pool:
By thee, thee only, could be sent
Such gentle mists as glide,
Curling with unconfirmed intent,
On that green mountain's side. 80
How delicate the leafy veil
Through which yon house of God
Gleams 'mid the peace of this deep dale[427]
By few but shepherds trod!
And lowly huts, near beaten ways, 85
No sooner stand attired
In thy fresh wreaths, than they for praise
Peep forth, and are admired.
Season of fancy and of hope,
Permit not for one hour, 90
A blossom from thy crown to drop,
Nor add to it a flower!
Keep, lovely May, as if by touch
Of self-restraining art,
[Pg 152] This modest charm of not too much, 95
Part seen, imagined part!


[425] Some of the stanzas of this poem were composed in Nov. 1830, on the way from Rydal to Cambridge. See Wordsworth's letter to W. R. Hamilton, Nov. 26, 1830.—Ed.

[426] Compare Lycidas, l. 142.—Ed.

[427] Newlands. See the Fenwick note, p. 146.—Ed.


Composed 1826.—Published 1827

"Late, late yestreen I saw the new moone
Wi' the auld moone in hir arme."

Ballad of Sir Patrick Spence, Percy's Reliques.—W. W.

["No faculty yet given me to espy
The dusky Shape within her arms imbound."

Afterwards, when I could not avoid seeing it, I wondered at this, and the more so because, like most children, I had been in the habit of watching the moon through all her changes, and had often continued to gaze at it when at the full till half blinded.—I. F.]

From 1827 to 1842, one of the "Epitaphs and Elegiac Poems." In 1845 transferred to the "Miscellaneous Poems."—Ed.

Once I could hail (howe'er serene the sky)
The Moon re-entering her monthly round,
No faculty yet given me to espy
The dusky Shape within her arms imbound,
That thin memento of effulgence lost 5
Which some have named her Predecessor's ghost.
Young, like the Crescent that above me shone,
Nought I perceived within it dull or dim;
All that appeared was suitable to One
Whose fancy had a thousand fields to skim; 10
To expectations spreading with wild growth,
And hope that kept with me her plighted troth.
[Pg 153]
I saw (ambition quickening at the view)
A silver boat launched on a boundless flood;
A pearly crest, like Dian's when it threw 15
Its brightest splendour round a leafy wood;
But not a hint from under-ground, no sign
Fit for the glimmering brow of Proserpine.[428]
Or was it Dian's self[428] that seemed to move
Before me?—nothing blemished the fair sight; 20
On her I looked whom jocund Fairies love,
Cynthia,[428] who puts the little stars to flight,
And by that thinning magnifies the great,
For exaltation of her sovereign state.
And when I learned to mark the spectral Shape 25
As each new Moon obeyed the call of Time,
If gloom fell on me, swift was my escape;
Such happy privilege hath life's gay Prime,
To see or not to see, as best may please
A buoyant Spirit, and a heart at ease. 30
Now, dazzling Stranger! when thou meet'st my glance,
Thy dark Associate ever I discern;
Emblem of thoughts too eager to advance
While I salute my joys, thoughts sad or stern;
Shades of past bliss, or phantoms that, to gain 35
Their fill of promised lustre, wait in vain.
So changes mortal Life with fleeting years;
A mournful change, should Reason fail to bring
The timely insight that can temper fears,
And from vicissitude remove its sting; 40
While Faith aspires to seats in that domain
Where joys are perfect—neither wax nor wane.

[Pg 154]



Terret, lustrat, agit, Proserpina, Luna, Diana;
Ima, suprema, feras, sceptro, fulgore, sagitta.—Ed.


Composed 1826.—Published 1835[429]

[The walk is what we call the Far-terrace, beyond the summerhouse at Rydal Mount. The lines were written when we were afraid of being obliged to quit the place to which we were so much attached.—I.F.]

One of the "Inscriptions."—Ed.

The massy Ways, carried across these heights[430]
By Roman perseverance,[431] are destroyed,
Or hidden under ground, like sleeping worms.
How venture then to hope that Time will spare[432]
This humble Walk? Yet on the mountain's side 5
A Poet's hand first shaped it; and the steps
Of that same Bard—repeated to and fro
At morn, at noon,[433] and under moonlight skies
Through the vicissitudes of many a year—
[Pg 155] Forbade the weeds to creep o'er its grey line. 10
No longer, scattering to the heedless winds
The vocal raptures of fresh poesy,
Shall he frequent these precincts; locked no more
In earnest converse with beloved Friends,
Here will he gather stores of ready bliss, 15
As from the beds and borders of a garden
Choice flowers are gathered! But, if Power may spring
Out of a farewell yearning—favoured more
Than kindred wishes mated suitably
With vain regrets—the Exile would consign 20
This Walk, his loved possession, to the care
Of those pure Minds that reverence the Muse.[434]


[429] The title of these lines in the edition of 1835 was Inscription.—Ed.

[430] 1835.

... once carried o'er these hills MS.

[431] Referring to the Roman Way, fragments of which are to be seen on High Street. Ambleside was a Roman station. "At the upper corner of Windermere lieth the dead carcase of an ancient city, with great ruins of walls, and many heaps of rubbish, one from another, remaining of building without the walls, yet to be seen. The fortress thereof was somewhat long, fenced with a ditch and rampire, took up in length 132 ells, and breadth 80. That it had been the Romans' work is evident by the British bricks, by the mortar tempered with little pieces of brick among it, by small earthen pots or pitchers, by small cruets or phials of glass, by pieces of Roman money oftentimes found, and by round stones as big as millstones or quernstones, of which laid and couched together they framed in old times their columns, and by the paved ways leading to it. Now the ancient name is gone, unless a man would guess at it, and think it were that Amboglana, whereof the book of notices maketh mention, seeing at this day it is called Ambleside."—See Camden's Britannia, 645 (edition 1590).—Ed.

[432] 1835.

... to hope that private claims
Will from the injuries of time protect MS.

[433] 1835.

... and the foot
Of that same Bard, by pacing to and fro
At morn, and noon, ... MS.

[434] 1835.

... its gray line.
Murmuring his unambitious verse alone,
Or in sweet converse with beloved Friends.
No more must he frequent it. Yet might power
Follow the yearnings of the spirit, he
Reluctantly departing, would consign
This walk, his heart's possession, to the care
Of those pure Minds that reverence the Muse. MS.


Composed 1826.—Published 1842

[These lines were designed as a farewell to Charles Lamb and his sister, who had retired from the throngs of London to comparative solitude in the village of Enfield—I.F.]

One of the "Poems founded on the Affections."—Ed.

[Pg 156]

"High bliss is only for a higher state,"[436]
But, surely, if severe afflictions borne
With patience merit the reward of peace,
Peace ye deserve; and may the solid good,
Sought by a wise though late exchange, and here 5
With bounteous hand beneath a cottage-roof
To you accorded, never be withdrawn,
Nor for the world's best promises renounced.
Most soothing was it for a welcome Friend,
Fresh from the crowded city, to behold 10
That lonely union, privacy so deep,
Such calm employments, such entire content.
So when the rain is over, the storm laid,
A pair of herons oft-times have I seen,
Upon a rocky islet, side by side, 15
Drying their feathers in the sun, at ease;
And so, when night with grateful gloom had fallen,
Two glow-worms in such nearness that they shared,
As seemed, their soft self-satisfying light,
Each with the other, on the dewy ground, 20
Where He that made them blesses their repose.—
When wandering among lakes and hills I note,
Once more, those creatures thus by nature paired,
And guarded in their tranquil state of life,
Even, as your happy presence to my mind 25
Their union brought, will they repay the debt,
And send a thankful spirit back to you,
With hope that we, dear Friends! shall meet again.

[Pg 157]


[435] As Charles Lamb retired to Enfield in 1826, these lines cannot have been composed much later than that year, although they were not published till 1842. Lamb wrote thus to Wordsworth on the 6th of April 1825: "I came home FOR EVER on Tuesday in last week. The incomprehensibleness of my condition overwhelmed me. It was like passing from life into eternity. ... I wandered about, thinking I was happy, but feeling I was not. But that tumultuousness is passing off, and I begin to understand the nature of the gift. Holidays, even the annual month, were always uneasy joys: their conscious fugitiveness; the craving after making the most of them. Now, when all is holiday, there are no holidays. I can sit at home, in rain or shine, without a restless impulse for walkings. I am daily steadying, and shall soon find it as natural to me to be my own master, as it has been irksome to have had a master. Mary wakes every morning with an obscure feeling that some good has happened to us."—Ed.

[436] See Thomson's lines To the Reverend Patrick Murdoch, Rector of Stradishall, in Suffolk, 1738, l. 10.—Ed.


The poems composed in 1827 were for the most part sonnets. But several of those first published in 1827 evidently belong to an earlier year, the date of which it is impossible to discover.—Ed.


THE WORK OF E. M. S.[437]

Composed 1827.—Published 1827

One of the "Poems of the Fancy."—Ed.

Frowns are on every Muse's face,
Reproaches from their lips are sent,
That mimicry should thus disgrace
The noble Instrument.
A very Harp in all but size! 5
Needles for strings in apt gradation!
Minerva's self would stigmatize
The unclassic profanation.
Even her own needle that subdued
Arachne's rival spirit,[438] 10
Though wrought in Vulcan's happiest mood,
[Pg 158] Such honour[439] could not merit.
And this, too, from the Laureate's Child,
A living lord of melody!
How will her Sire be reconciled 15
To the refined indignity?
I spake, when whispered a low voice,
"Bard! moderate your ire;
Spirits of all degrees rejoice
In presence of the lyre. 20
The Minstrels of Pygmean bands,[440]
Dwarf Genii, moonlight-loving Fays,
Have shells to fit their tiny hands
And suit their slender lays.
Some, still more delicate of ear, 25
Have lutes (believe my words)
Whose framework is of gossamer,
While sunbeams are the chords.
Gay Sylphs[B] this miniature will court,
Made vocal by their brushing wings, 30
And sullen Gnomes[441] will learn to sport
Around its polished strings;
Whence strains to love-sick maiden dear,
While in her lonely bower she tries
To cheat the thought she cannot cheer, 35
By fanciful embroideries.
[Pg 159]
Trust, angry Bard! a knowing Sprite,
Nor think the Harp her lot deplores;
Though 'mid the stars the Lyre shine[442] bright,
Love stoops as fondly as he soars."[443] 40


[437] Edith May Southey.—Ed.

[438] Arachne, daughter of a dyer of Colophon, skilful with her needle, challenged Minerva to a trial of skill. Minerva defeated her, and committing suicide, she was changed by the goddess into a spider.—Ed.

[439] 1845.

Like station ... 1827.

[440] Pygmæi, the nation of Lilliputian dwarfs, fabled to dwell in India, or Ethiopia. (See Ovid, Metamorphoses, vi. 90; Aristotle, De Anima, viii. 12.)—Ed.

[441] According to mediæval belief, the Sylphs were elemental spirits of the air; the Gnomes the elemental spirits of the earth. "The Gnomes or Dæmons of Earth delight in mischief; but the Sylphs, whose habitation is in the Air, are the best-condition'd creatures imaginable."—(See Pope, Rape of the Lock, Preface.)—Ed.

[442] 1832.

... shines ... 1827.

[443] 1827.

... as she soars." MS.



Composed 1827.—Published 1827

[In the cottage, Town-end, Grasmere, one afternoon in 1801, my Sister read to me the Sonnets of Milton. I had long been well acquainted with them, but I was particularly struck on that occasion by the dignified simplicity and majestic harmony that runs through most of them,—in character so totally different from the Italian, and still more so from Shakespeare's fine Sonnets. I took fire, if I may be allowed to say so, and produced three Sonnets the same afternoon, the first I ever wrote except an irregular one at school. Of these three, the only one I distinctly remember is "I grieved for Buonaparté." One was never written down: the third, which was, I believe, preserved, I cannot particularise.—I. F.]

One of the "Miscellaneous Sonnets."—Ed.

TO ——[444]

Happy the feeling from the bosom thrown
In perfect shape (whose beauty Time shall spare
Though a breath made it) like a bubble blown
[Pg 160] For summer pastime into wanton air;
Happy the thought best likened to a stone 5
Of the sea-beach, when, polished with nice care,
Veins it discovers exquisite and rare,
Which for the loss of that moist gleam atone
That tempted first to gather it. That here,
O chief of Friends![445] such feelings I present, 10
To thy regard, with thoughts so fortunate,
Were a vain notion; but the hope is dear,[446]
That thou, if not with partial joy elate,
Wilt smile upon this gift with[447] more than mild content![448]


[444] This dedicatory sonnet may possibly have been inscribed to his sister, whose reading of Milton's sonnets in 1801 first led him (as the Fenwick note tells us) to write sonnets.—Ed.

[445] See the note on the previous page.—Ed.

[446] 1837.

... gather it. O chief
Of Friends! such feelings if I here present,
Such thoughts, with others mixed less fortunate;
Then smile into my heart a fond belief
That Thou, ... 1827.

[447] 1837.

Receiv'st the gift for ... 1827.


"Something less than joy, but more than dull content."

Countess of Winchelsea.—W. W. 1837.


Composed 1827.—Published 1827

One of the "Miscellaneous Sonnets."—Ed.

Her only pilot the soft breeze, the boat
Lingers, but Fancy is well satisfied;
With keen-eyed Hope, with Memory, at her side,
And the glad Muse at liberty to note
All that to each is precious, as we float 5
Gently along; regardless who shall chide
If the heavens smile, and leave us free to glide,
Happy Associates breathing air remote
[Pg 161] From trivial cares. But, Fancy and the Muse,
Why have I crowded this small bark with you 10
And others of your kind, ideal crew!
While here sits One whose brightness owes its hues
To flesh and blood; no Goddess from above,
No fleeting Spirit, but my own true Love?[449]


[449] The reminiscence of a day spent on Grasmere Lake with Mrs. Wordsworth.

Compare Robert Browning's lines—

No angel, but a dearer being
All dipt in angel instincts.—Ed.


Composed 1827.—Published 1827

One of the "Miscellaneous Sonnets."—Ed.

"Why, Minstrel, these untuneful murmurings—
Dull, flagging notes that with each other jar?"
"Think, gentle Lady, of a Harp so far
From its own country, and forgive the strings."
A simple answer! but even so forth springs, 5
From the Castalian fountain of the heart,[450]
The Poetry of Life, and all that Art
Divine of words quickening insensate things.
From the submissive necks of guiltless men
Stretched on the block, the glittering axe recoils; 10
Sun, moon, and stars, all struggle in the toils
Of mortal sympathy; what wonder then
That[451] the poor Harp distempered music yields
To its sad Lord, far from his native fields?

[Pg 162]


[450] Castaly (Castalius fons), a fountain near Parnassus sacred to the Muses. See Virgil, Georgics, iii. 293.—Ed.

[451] 1837.

If ... 1827.

TO S. H.[452]

Composed 1827.—Published 1827

One of the "Miscellaneous Sonnets."—Ed.

Excuse is needless when with love sincere
Of occupation, not by fashion led,
Thou turn'st the Wheel that slept with dust o'erspread;
My nerves from no such murmur shrink,—tho' near,
Soft as the Dorhawk's to a distant ear, 5
When twilight shades darken[453] the mountain's head.[454]
Even She who toils to spin[455] our vital thread[456]
Might smile on work, O Lady, once so dear[457]
To household virtues. Venerable Art,
Torn from the Poor![458] yet shall kind Heaven protect 10
Its own; though Rulers, with undue respect,
Trusting to crowded factory and mart[459]
And[460] proud discoveries of the intellect,
Heed not[461] the pillage of man's ancient heart.

[Pg 163]


[452] Sarah Hutchinson, Mrs. Wordsworth's sister.—Ed.

[453] 1837.

... bedim ... 1827.

[454] Either Wansfell, or Loughrigg.—Ed.

[455] 1840.

She who was feigned to spin ... 1827.

She who even toils to spin ... C.

[456] Lachesis, the second of the three Parcæ, who was supposed to spin out the actions of our life.

Clotho colum retinet, Lachesis net, et Atropos occat.—Ed.

[457] 1837.

Might smile, O Lady! on a task once dear 1827.

[458] Referring to the introduction of steam-looms, which displaced the hand-loom spinning of a previous generation.—Ed.

[459] Compare The Excursion, book viii. ll. 165-185.—Ed.

[460] 1837.

... yet will kind Heaven protect
Its own, not left without a guiding chart,
If Rulers, trusting with undue respect
To ... 1827.

[461] 1837.

Sanction ... 1827.


Composed 1827.—Published 1827

[Attendance at church on prayer-days, Wednesdays and Fridays and Holidays, received a shock at the Revolution. It is now, however, happily reviving. The ancient people described in this Sonnet were among the last of that pious class. May we hope that the practice, now in some degree renewed, will continue to spread.—I. F.]

One of the "Miscellaneous Sonnets."—Ed.

Oft have I seen, ere Time had ploughed my cheek,
Matrons and Sires—who, punctual to the call
Of their loved Church, on fast or festival
Through the long year the House of Prayer would seek:
By Christmas snows, by visitation bleak 5
Of Easter winds, unscared, from hut or hall
They came to lowly bench or sculptured stall,
But with one fervour of devotion meek.
I see the places where they once were known,
And ask, surrounded even by kneeling crowds, 10
Is ancient Piety for ever flown?
Alas! even then they seemed like fleecy clouds
That, struggling through the western sky, have won
Their pensive light from a departed sun!


Composed 1827.—Published 1827

[Composed, almost extempore, in a short walk on the western side of Rydal Lake.—I. F.]

[Pg 164]

One of the "Miscellaneous Sonnets."—Ed.

Scorn not the Sonnet; Critic, you have frowned,
Mindless of its just honours; with this key
Shakspeare unlocked his heart;[462] the melody
Of this small lute gave ease to Petrarch's wound;[463]
A thousand times this pipe did Tasso sound;[464] 5
With it Camöens soothed[465] an exile's grief;[466]
The Sonnet glittered a gay myrtle leaf
Amid the cypress with which Dante[467] crowned
His visionary brow: a glow-worm lamp,
It cheered mild Spenser, called from Faery-land 10
To struggle through dark ways;[468] and, when a damp
Fell round the path of Milton, in his hand
The Thing became a trumpet;[469] whence he blew
Soul-animating strains—alas, too few![470]


[462] Shakespeare's sonnets are autobiographical: compare Nos. 24, 30, 39, 105, 116.—Ed.

[463] Petrarch's were all inspired by his devotion to Laura.—Ed.

[464] Tasso's works include two volumes of sonnets, first published in 1581 and 1592.—Ed.

[465] 1837.

Camöens soothed with it ... 1827.

[466] For his satire Disparates na India, Camöens was banished to Macao in 1556, where he wrote the Os Lusiadas, also many sonnets and lyric poems.—Ed.

[467] Compare the Vita Nuova, passim.—Ed.

[468] Spenser wrote ninety-two sonnets. From the eightieth sonnet it would seem that the writing of them was a relaxation, after the labour spent upon the Faërie Queene. It is to this sonnet that Wordsworth alludes.

After so long a race as I have run
Through Faery land, which these six books compile,
Give leave to rest me, being half foredone,
And gather to myself new breath awhile.—Ed.

[469] Milton's twenty-three sonnets were written partly in English, partly in Italian. Compare Wordsworth's sonnet, addressed to him in 1802, beginning:—

Milton, thou should'st be living at this hour.—Ed.

[470] Compare the sonnet beginning—

Nuns fret not at their convent's narrow room.—Ed.


Composed 1827.—Published 1827

[Suggested by observation of the way in which a young friend, whom I do not choose to name, misspent his time and [Pg 165]misapplied his talents. He took afterwards a better course, and became a useful member of society, respected, I believe, wherever he has been known.—I. F.]

One of the "Miscellaneous Sonnets."—Ed.

Fair Prime of life! were it enough to gild
With ready sunbeams every straggling shower;
And, if an unexpected cloud should lower,
Swiftly thereon a rainbow arch to build
For Fancy's errands,—then, from fields half-tilled 5
Gathering green weeds to mix with poppy flower,
Thee might thy Minions crown, and chant thy power,
Unpitied by the wise, all censure stilled.
Ah! show that worthier honours are thy due;
Fair Prime of life! arouse the deeper heart; 10
Confirm the Spirit glorying to pursue
Some path of steep ascent and lofty aim;
And, if there be a joy that slights the claim
Of grateful memory, bid that joy depart.


Composed 1827.—Published 1827

One of the "Miscellaneous Sonnets."—Ed.

If the whole weight of what we think and feel,
Save only far as thought and feeling blend
With action, were as nothing, patriot Friend!
From thy remonstrance would be no appeal;
But to promote and fortify the weal 5
Of our own Being is her paramount end;
[Pg 166] A truth which they alone shall comprehend
Who shun the mischief which they cannot heal.
Peace in these feverish times is sovereign bliss:
Here, with no thirst but what the stream can slake, 10
And startled only by the rustling brake,
Cool air I breathe; while the unincumbered Mind,
By some weak aims at services assigned
To gentle Natures, thanks not Heaven amiss.


Composed 1827.—Published 1827

One of the "Miscellaneous Sonnets."—Ed.

There is a pleasure in poetic pains
Which only Poets know;[471]—'twas rightly said;
Whom could the Muses else allure to tread
Their smoothest paths, to wear their lightest chains?
When happiest Fancy has inspired the strains, 5
How oft the malice of one luckless word
Pursues the Enthusiast to the social board,
Haunts him belated on the silent plains!
Yet he repines not, if his thought stand clear,
At last, of hindrance and obscurity, 10
Fresh as the star that crowns the brow of morn;
Bright, speckless, as a softly-moulded tear
The moment it has left the virgin's eye,
Or rain-drop lingering on the pointed thorn.


[471] See Cowper's Task, book ii. l. 285.—Ed.


Composed 1827.—Published 1827

One of the "Miscellaneous Sonnets."—Ed.

The imperial Stature, the colossal stride,
Are yet before me; yet do I behold
The broad full visage, chest of amplest mould,
[Pg 167] The vestments 'broidered with barbaric pride:
And lo! a poniard, at the Monarch's side, 5
Hangs ready to be grasped in sympathy
With the keen threatenings of that fulgent eye,
Below the white-rimmed bonnet, far-descried.
Who trembles now at thy capricious mood?
'Mid those surrounding Worthies, haughty King, 10
We rather think, with grateful mind sedate,
How Providence educeth, from the spring
Of lawless will, unlooked-for streams of good,
Which neither force shall check nor time abate!


[472] Trinity College, Cambridge, was founded by King Henry VIII. in 1546, on the site of King's Hall, founded by Edward III. in 1337. Two of the gateways of the latter remain, as parts of the great court of Trinity. Over one of these—the King's or entrance gate way—the statue of Henry VIII. is erected. The portrait, described in the sonnet, is in the Hall of the College.—Ed.


Composed 1827.—Published 1827

One of the "Miscellaneous Sonnets."—Ed.

When Philoctetes in the Lemnian isle[473]
Like a Form sculptured on a monument
Lay couched; on him or his dread bow unbent[474]
[Pg 168] Some wild Bird oft might settle and beguile
The rigid features of a transient smile, 5
Disperse the tear, or to the sigh give vent,
Slackening the pains of ruthless banishment
From his lov'd home, and from heroic toil.
And trust[475] that spiritual Creatures round us move,
Griefs to allay which[476] Reason cannot heal; 10
Yea, veriest[477] reptiles have sufficed to prove
To fettered wretchedness, that no Bastile[478]
Is deep enough to exclude the light of love,
Though man for brother man has ceased to feel.


[473] The original title of this sonnet in MS. was Suggested by the same Incident (referring to the previous sonnet); and its original form, with one line awanting, was as follows:—

When Philoctetes, in the Lemnian Isle
Reclined with shaggy forehead earthward bent,
Lay silent like a weed-grown Monument,
Such Friend, for such brief moment as a smile
Asks to be born and die in, might beguile
The wounded Chief of pining discontent
From home affections, and heroic toil.
Seen, or unseen, beneath us, or above,
Are Powers that soften anguish, if not heal;
And toads and spiders have sufficed to prove
To fettered wretchedness that no Bastile
Is deep enough to exclude the light of Love,
Though man for Brother man have ceased to feel.

Philoctetes, one of the Argonauts, received from the dying Hercules his arrows. Called by Menelaus to go with the Greeks to the Trojan war, he was sent to the island of Lemnos, owing to a wound in his foot. There he remained for ten years, till the oracle informed the Greeks that Troy could not be taken without the arrows of Hercules. The sonnet refers to the legend of his life in Lemnos.—Ed.

[474] 1837.

... isle
Lay couched; upon that breathless Monument,
On him, or on his fearful bow unbent, 1827.

[475] 1837.

From home affections, and heroic toil.
Nor doubt ... 1827.

[476] 1837.

... that ... 1827.

[477] 1837.

And very ... 1827.

[478] Compare the sonnet To Toussaint l'Ouverture (vol. ii. p. 339).—Ed.


Composed 1827.—Published 1827

[This is taken from the account given by Miss Jewsbu̇ry of the pleasure she derived, when long confined to her bed by [Pg 169]sickness, from the inanimate object on which this sonnet turns.—I.F.]

One of the "Miscellaneous Sonnets."—Ed.

While Anna's peers[479] and early playmates tread,
In freedom, mountain-turf and river's marge;[480]
Or float with music in the festal barge;
Rein the proud steed, or through the dance are led;
Her doom it is[481] to press a weary bed— 5
Till oft her guardian Angel, to some charge
More urgent called, will stretch his wings at large,
And friends too rarely prop the languid head.
Yet, helped by Genius—untired comforter,[482]
The presence even of a stuffed Owl for her 10
Can cheat the time; sending her fancy out
To ivied castles and to moonlight skies,
Though he can neither stir a plume, nor shout;
Nor veil, with restless film, his staring eyes.


[479] Anna Jewsbury, afterwards Mrs. William Fletcher. Compare Liberty, in this volume, stanza 1, and the note (p. 222).—Ed.

[480] 1837.

While they, her Playmates once, light-hearted tread
The mountain turf and river's flowery marge; 1827.

While they, who once were Anna's Playmates, tread
The mountain turf and river's flowery marge; 1832.

[481] 1832.

Is Anna doomed ... 1827.

[482] 1837.

Yet Genius is no feeble comforter: 1827.


Composed 1827.—Published 1827

One of the "Miscellaneous Sonnets."—Ed.

Not the whole warbling grove in concert heard
When sunshine follows shower, the breast can thrill
Like the first summons, Cuckoo! of thy bill,
[Pg 170] With its twin notes inseparably paired.[483]
The captive 'mid damp vaults unsunned, unaired, 5
Measuring the periods of his lonely doom,
That cry can reach; and to the sick man's room
Sends gladness, by no languid smile declared.
The lordly eagle-race through hostile search
May perish; time may come when never more 10
The wilderness shall hear the lion roar;
But, long as cock shall crow from household perch
To rouse the dawn, soft gales shall speed thy wing,
And thy erratic voice[484] be faithful to the Spring!


[483] Compare To the Cuckoo—1802 (vol. ii. p. 290)—

Thy twofold shout I hear.

Also Robert Browning's A Lovers' Quarrel, stanza 18—

... that minor third
There is none but the cuckoo knows.—Ed.

[484] Compare (vol. ii. p. 289)—

O Cuckoo! shall I call thee Bird,
Or but a wandering Voice?—Ed.


Composed 1827.—Published 1827

[The infant was Mary Monkhouse,[485] the only daughter of my friend and cousin, Thomas Monkhouse.—I. F.]

One of the "Miscellaneous Sonnets."—Ed.

Unquiet Childhood here by special grace
Forgets her nature, opening like a flower
That neither feeds nor wastes its vital power
In painful struggles. Months each other chase,
And nought untunes that Infant's voice; no trace[486] 5
[Pg 171] Of fretful temper sullies her pure cheek;[487]
Prompt, lively, self-sufficing, yet so meek
That one enrapt with gazing on her face
(Which even the placid innocence of death
Could scarcely make more placid, heaven more bright)
Might learn to picture, for the eye of faith, 11
The Virgin, as she shone with kindred light;
A nursling couched upon her mother's knee,
Beneath some shady palm of Galilee.


[485] Afterwards Mrs. Henry Dew of Whitney Rectory, Herefordshire.—Ed.

[486] 1837.

... a trace 1827.

[487] 1837.

... sullies not her cheek; 1827.


Composed 1827.—Published 1827

[Rotha, the daughter of my son-in-law, Mr. Quillinan.—I. F.]

Rotha, my Spiritual Child! this head was grey
When at the sacred font for thee I stood;
Pledged till thou reach the verge of womanhood,
And shalt become thy own sufficient stay:
Too late, I feel, sweet Orphan, was the day 5
For stedfast hope the contract to fulfil;
Yet shall my blessing hover o'er thee still,
Embodied in the music of this Lay,
Breathed forth beside the peaceful mountain Stream[488]
Whose murmur soothed thy languid Mother's ear 10
[Pg 172] After her throes, this Stream of name more dear
Since thou dost bear it,—a memorial theme[489]
For others; for thy future self, a spell
To summon fancies out of Time's dark cell.[490]


[488] The river Rotha, which flows into Windermere from the lakes of Grasmere and Rydal.—Ed.

[489] 1827.

... whose name is thine to bear
Hanging around thee a memorial theme MS.

[490] Compare the poem on the Borrowdale Yew Trees.—Ed.


Composed 1827.—Published 1827

[Lady Fitzgerald, as described to me by Lady Beaumont.—I.F.]

One of the "Miscellaneous Sonnets."—Ed.

Such age how beautiful! O Lady bright,
Whose mortal lineaments seem all refined
By favouring Nature and a saintly Mind
To something purer and more exquisite
Than flesh and blood; whene'er thou meet'st my sight,
When I behold thy blanched unwithered cheek, 6
Thy temples fringed with locks of gleaming white,
And head that droops because the soul is meek,
Thee with the welcome Snowdrop I compare;
That child of winter, prompting thoughts that climb 10
From desolation toward[492] the genial prime;
Or with the Moon conquering earth's misty air,
And filling more and more with crystal light
[Pg 173] As pensive Evening deepens into night.[493]


[491] 1832.

To ——, 1827.

[492] 1832.

... tow'rds ... 1827.

[493] Another version of this sonnet is given in a letter from Mrs. Wordsworth to Lady Beaumont:—

Lady, what delicate graces may unite
In age—so often comfortless and bleak!
Though from thy unenfeebled eye-balls break
Those saintly emanations of delight,
A snow-drop let me name thee; pure, chaste, white,
Too pure for flesh and blood; with smooth, blanch'd cheek,
And head that droops because the soul is meek,
And not that Time presses with weary weight.
Hope, Love, and Joy are with thee fresh as fair;
A Child of Winter prompting thoughts that climb
From desolation towards the genial prime:
Or, like the moon, conquering the misty air
And filling more and more with chrystal light,
As pensive evening deepens into night.—Ed.


Composed 1827.—Published 1827

One of the "Miscellaneous Sonnets."—Ed.

In my mind's eye a Temple, like a cloud
Slowly surmounting some invidious hill,
Rose out of darkness: the bright Work stood still;
And might of its own beauty have been proud,
But it was fashioned and to God was vowed 5
By Virtues that diffused, in every part,
Spirit divine through forms of human art:
Faith had her arch—her arch, when winds blow loud,
Into the consciousness of safety thrilled;
And Love her towers of dread foundation laid 10
Under the grave of things; Hope had her spire
Star-high, and pointing still to something higher;
Trembling I gazed, but heard a voice—it said,
"Hell-gates are powerless Phantoms when we build."

[Pg 174]


Composed 1827.—Published 1827

One of the "Poems dedicated to National Independence and Liberty."—Ed.

Go back to antique ages, if thine eyes
The genuine mien and character would trace
Of the rash Spirit that still holds her place,
Prompting the world's audacious vanities!
Go back, and see[494] the Tower of Babel rise; 5
The pyramid extend its monstrous base,
For some Aspirant of our short-lived race,
Anxious an aery name to immortalize.
There, too, ere wiles and politic dispute
Gave specious colouring to aim and act, 10
See the first mighty Hunter leave the brute—
To chase mankind, with men in armies packed
For his field-pastime high and absolute,
While, to dislodge his game, cities are sacked!


[494] 1837.

See, at her call, ... 1827.


Published 1827

[These verses were written some time after we had become residents at Rydal Mount, and I will take occasion from them to observe upon the beauty of that situation, as being backed and flanked by lofty fells, which bring the heavenly bodies to touch, as it were, the earth upon the mountain-tops, while the [Pg 175]prospect in front lies open to a length of level valley, the extended lake, and a terminating ridge of low hills; so that it gives an opportunity to the inhabitants of the place of noticing the stars in both the positions here alluded to, namely, on the tops of the mountains, and as winter-lamps at a distance among the leafless trees.—I. F.]

If thou indeed derive thy light from Heaven,
Then, to the measure of that heaven-born light,
Shine, Poet![495] in thy place, and be content:—
The stars pre-eminent in magnitude,
And they that from the zenith dart their beams,[496] 5
(Visible though they[497] be to half the earth,
Though half a sphere be conscious of their brightness)
Are[498] yet of no diviner origin,
No purer essence, than the one that burns,
Like an untended watch-fire, on the ridge 10
Of some dark mountain; or than those which seem
Humbly to hang, like twinkling winter lamps,
Among the branches of the leafless trees;
All are the undying offspring of one Sire:
Then, to the measure of the light vouchsafed, 15
Shine, Poet! in thy place, and be content.[499]

These lines, first published in 1827, found a place in the edition of that year, amongst the "Poems of Sentiment and Reflection." In the edition of 1845 they appeared as a Preface to the entire volume of Poems.—Ed.

[Pg 176]


[495] 1837.

... from Heaven,
Shine, Poet, ... 1827.

[496] 1837.

The Star that from the zenith darts its beams, 1827.

[497] 1837.

... it ... 1827.

[498] 1837.

... its brightness,
Is ... 1827.

[499] The last three lines were added in 1837.—Ed.


Composed 1827.—Published 1827

One of the "Miscellaneous Sonnets."—Ed.

Wild Redbreast![501] hadst them at Jemima's lip[502]
Pecked, as at mine, thus boldly, Love might say[503]
A half-blown rose had tempted thee to sip
Its glistening dews: but hallowed is the clay
Which the Muse warms; and I, whose head is grey,[504] 5
Am not unworthy of thy fellowship;
Nor could I let one thought—one motion—slip
That might thy sylvan confidence betray.
For are we not all His without whose care
Vouchsafed no sparrow falleth to the ground?[505] 10
Who gives his Angels wings to speed through air,
And rolls the planets through the blue profound;
[Pg 177] Then peck or perch, fond Flutterer! nor forbear
To trust a Poet in still musings bound.[506]


[500] The original title (in MS.) was "To a Redbreast." In the Woods of Rydal was added in 1836.—Ed.

[501] This Sonnet, as Poetry, explains itself, yet the scene of the incident having been a wild wood, it may be doubted, as a point of natural history, whether the bird was aware that his attentions were bestowed upon a human, or even a living creature. But a Redbreast will perch upon the foot of a gardener at work, and alight on the handle of the spade when his hand is half upon it,—this I have seen. And under my own roof I have witnessed affecting instances of the creature's friendly visits to the chambers of sick persons, as described in the verses to the Redbreast. One of these welcome intruders used frequently to roost upon a nail in the wall, from which a picture had hung, and was ready, as morning came, to pipe his song in the hearing of the Invalid, who had been long confined to her room. These attachments to a particular person, when marked and continued, used to be reckoned ominous; but the superstition is passing away.—W. W. 1827.

[502] Jemima Quillinan.—Ed.

[503] 1837.

Strange visitation! at Jemima's lip
Thus hadst thou pecked, wild Redbreast! Love might say, 1827.

[504] 1827.

That the Muse warms; and I, though old and grey, MS.

[505] Compare The Ancient Mariner, Part vii., stanza 23.—Ed.

[506] 1837.

... vision bound. 1827.

TO ——[507]

Composed 1827.—Published 1827

One of the "Miscellaneous Sonnets."—Ed.

If these brief Records, by the Muses' art
Produced as lonely Nature or the strife
That animates the scenes of public life[508]
Inspired, may in thy leisure claim a part;
And if these Transcripts of the private heart 5
Have gained a sanction from thy falling tears;
Then I repent not. But my soul hath fears
Breathed from eternity; for as a dart
Cleaves the blank air, Life flies: now every day
Is but a glimmering spoke in the swift wheel 10
Of the revolving week. Away, away,
All fitful cares, all transitory zeal!
So timely Grace the immortal wing may heal,
And honour rest upon the senseless clay.

[Pg 178]


[507] I have been unable to discover to whom this Conclusion was addressed. It may have been to his daughter.—Ed.

[508] This line alludes to Sonnets which will be found in another Class.—W. W. 1837.

He refers to the sonnets on Liberty, etc.—Ed.


The poems belonging to 1828 include A Morning Exercise, The Triad, two on The Wishing-Gate, The Gleaner, a sonnet, two short pieces suggested during the fortnight which Wordsworth spent on the Rhine with his daughter and S. T. Coleridge in that year, and the ode on The Power of Sound.—Ed.


Composed 1828.—Published 1832

[Written at Rydal Mount. I could wish the last five stanzas of this to be read with the poem addressed to the skylark.—I.F.]

One of the "Poems of the Fancy."—Ed.

Fancy, who leads the pastimes of the glad,
Full oft is pleased a wayward dart to throw;
Sending sad shadows after things not sad,
Peopling the harmless fields with signs of woe:
Beneath her sway, a simple forest cry 5
Becomes an echo of man's misery.
Blithe ravens croak of death; and when the owl
Tries his two voices for a favourite strain—
[Pg 179] Tu-whit—Tu-whoo! the unsuspecting fowl
Forebodes mishap or seems but to complain; 10
Fancy, intent to harass and annoy,
Can thus pervert the evidence of joy.
Through border wilds where naked Indians stray,
Myriads of notes attest her subtle skill;
A feathered task-master cries, "Work Away!" 15
And, in thy iteration, "Whip poor Will!"[509]
Is heard the spirit of a toil-worn slave,
Lashed out of life, not quiet in the grave.
What wonder? at her bidding, ancient lays
Steeped in dire grief the voice of Philomel; 20
And that fleet messenger of summer days,
The Swallow, twittered subject to like spell;
But ne'er could Fancy bend the buoyant Lark
To melancholy service—hark! O hark!
The daisy sleeps upon the dewy lawn, 25
Not lifting yet the head that evening bowed;
But He is risen, a later star of dawn,
Glittering and twinkling near yon rosy cloud;
Bright gem instinct with music, vocal spark;
The happiest bird that sprang out of the Ark! 30
Hail, blest above all kinds!—Supremely skilled
Restless with fixed to balance, high with low,
Thou leav'st the halcyon free her hopes to build
On such forbearance as the deep may show;
Perpetual flight, unchecked by earthly ties, 35
Leav'st to the wandering bird of paradise.
Faithful, though swift as lightning, the meek dove;
Yet more hath Nature reconciled in thee;
So constant with thy downward eye of love,
Yet, in aërial singleness, so free;[510] 40
So humble, yet so ready to rejoice
[Pg 180] In power of wing and never-wearied voice.[511]
To the last point of vision, and beyond,
Mount, daring warbler!—that love-prompted strain,
('Twixt thee and thine a never-failing bond) 45
Thrills not the less the bosom of the plain:
Yet might'st thou seem, proud privilege! to sing
All independent of the leafy spring.[512]
How would it please old Ocean to partake,
With sailors longing for a breeze in vain, 50
The harmony thy notes most gladly make[513]
Where earth resembles most his own domain![514]
Urania's self[515] might welcome with pleased ear
These matins mounting towards her native sphere.
Chanter by heaven attracted, whom no bars 55
To daylight known deter from that pursuit,
'Tis well that some sage instinct, when the stars
Come forth at evening, keeps Thee still and mute;
For not an eyelid could to sleep incline
Wert thou among them, singing as they shine![516] 60

[Pg 181]


[509] See Waterton's Wanderings in South America.—W. W. 1832.

Compare the reference to the "Melancholy Muccawiss" in The Excursion, book iii. l. 947 (vol. v. p. 140), and the note † in that page, with the appendix note C, p. 393.—Ed.

[510] Compare the two last lines of the poem To a Skylark, 1825—

Type of the wise who soar, but never roam;
True to the kindred points of Heaven and Home!—Ed.

[511] Compare in Shelley's Ode to the Skylark, stanza ii.—

And singing still dost soar, and soaring ever singest.—Ed.

[512] This stanza was included in the Morning Exercise, for the first time, in 1845. It had been previously the second stanza of the poem To a Skylark, composed in 1825, and first published in 1827.—Ed.

[513] 1836.

The harmony that thou best lovest to make 1832.

[514] 1836.

... his blank domain! 1832.

[515] The muse who presided over astronomy.—Ed.

[516] Compare, in Addison's hymn in The Spectator, No. 465 (August 23), stanza iii. l. 7—

For ever singing as they shine.—Ed.


Composed 1828.—Published 1829 (in The Keepsake)

[Written at Rydal Mount. The girls, Edith Southey, my daughter Dora, and Sara Coleridge.—I. F.]

One of the "Poems of the Imagination."—Ed.

Show me the noblest Youth of present time,
Whose trembling fancy would to love give birth;
Some God or Hero, from the Olympian clime
Returned, to seek a Consort upon earth;
Or, in no doubtful prospect, let me see 5
The brightest star of ages yet to be,
And I will mate and match him blissfully.
I will not fetch a Naiad from a flood
Pure as herself—(song lacks not mightier power)
Nor leaf-crowned Dryad from a pathless wood, 10
Nor Sea-nymph glistening from her coral bower;
Mere Mortals bodied forth in vision still,
Shall with Mount Ida's triple lustre fill[518]
The chaster coverts of a British hill.
"Appear!—obey my lyre's command! 15
Come, like the Graces, hand in hand![519]
For ye, though not by birth allied,
Are Sisters in the bond of love;
Nor shall the tongue of envious pride
Presume those interweavings to reprove 20
In you, which that fair progeny of Jove,
Learned[520] from the tuneful spheres that glide
[Pg 182] In endless union, earth and sea above."
—I sing[521] in vain;—the pines have hushed their waving:
A peerless Youth expectant at my side, 25
Breathless as they, with unabated craving
Looks to the earth, and to the vacant air;
And, with a wandering eye that seems to chide,
Asks of the clouds what occupants they hide:—
But why solicit more than sight could bear, 30
By casting on a moment all we dare?
Invoke we those bright Beings one by one;
And what was boldly promised, truly shall be done.
"Fear not a constraining measure!
—Yielding to this gentle spell,[522] 35
Lucida![523] from domes of pleasure,
Or from cottage-sprinkled dell,
Come to regions solitary,
Where the eagle builds her aery,
Above the hermit's long-forsaken cell!" 40
—She comes!—behold
That Figure, like a ship with snow-white sail![524]
Nearer she draws; a breeze uplifts her veil;
Upon her coming wait
[Pg 183] As pure a sunshine and as soft a gale 45
As e'er, on herbage covering earthly mold,
Tempted the bird of Juno[525] to unfold
His richest splendour—when his veering gait
And every motion of his starry train
Seem governed by a strain 50
Of music, audible to him alone.
"O Lady, worthy of earth's proudest throne!
Nor less, by excellence of nature, fit
Beside an unambitious hearth to sit
Domestic queen, where grandeur is unknown; 55
What living man could fear
The worst of Fortune's malice, wert Thou near,
Humbling that lily-stem, thy sceptre meek,
That its fair flowers may from his cheek
Brush the too happy tear?[526] 60
---- Queen, and handmaid lowly!
Whose skill can speed the day with lively cares,
And banish melancholy
By all that mind invents or hand prepares;
O Thou, against whose lip, without its smile 65
And in its silence even, no heart is proof;
Whose goodness, sinking deep, would reconcile
The softest Nursling of a gorgeous palace
To the bare life beneath the hawthorn-roof
Of Sherwood's Archer,[527] or in caves of Wallace—
Who that hath seen thy beauty could content 71
His soul with but a glimpse of heavenly day?
Who that hath loved thee, but would lay
His strong hand on the wind, if it were bent
To take thee in thy majesty away? 75
—Pass onward (even the glancing deer
[Pg 184] Till we depart intrude not here;)
That mossy slope, o'er which the woodbine throws
A canopy, is smoothed for thy repose!"
Glad moment is it[528] when the throng 80
Of warblers in full concert strong
Strive, and not vainly strive, to rout
The lagging shower, and force coy Phœbus out,
Met by the rainbow's form divine,
Issuing from her cloudy shrine;— 85
So may the thrillings of the lyre
Prevail to further our desire,
While to these shades a sister Nymph I call.
"Come, if the notes thine ear may pierce,
Come, youngest of the lovely Three,[529] 90
Submissive to the might of verse
And the dear voice of harmony,
By none[530] more deeply felt than Thee!"
—I sang; and lo! from pastimes virginal
[Pg 185] She hastens to the tents 95
Of nature, and the lonely elements.
Air sparkles round her with a dazzling sheen;
But[531] mark her glowing cheek, her vesture green!
And, as if wishful to disarm
Or to repay the potent Charm, 100
She bears the stringèd lute of old romance,
That cheered the trellised arbour's privacy,
And soothed war-wearied knights in raftered hall.
How vivid, yet[532] how delicate, her glee!
So tripped the Muse, inventress of the dance; 105
So, truant in waste woods, the blithe Euphrosyne![533]
But the ringlets of that head
Why are they ungarlanded?
Why bedeck her temples less
Than the simplest shepherdess? 110
Is it not a brow inviting
Choicest flowers[534] that ever breathed,
Which the myrtle would delight in
With Idalian rose enwreathed?
But her humility is well content 115
With one wild floweret (call it not forlorn)
Flower of the winds,[535] beneath her bosom worn—
Yet[536] more for love than ornament.
[Pg 186]
Open, ye thickets! let her fly,
Swift as a Thracian Nymph o'er field and height! 120
For She, to all but those who love her, shy,
Would gladly vanish from a Stranger's sight;
Though where she is beloved and loves,
Light as the wheeling butterfly she moves;
Her happy spirit as a bird is free, 125
That rifles blossoms on a tree,[537]
Turning them inside out with arch audacity.
Alas! how little can a moment show
Of an eye where feeling plays
In ten thousand dewy rays; 130
A face o'er which a thousand shadows go!
—She stops—is fastened to that rivulet's side;
And there (while, with sedater mien,
O'er timid waters that have scarcely left
Their birth-place in the rocky cleft 135
She bends) at leisure may be seen
Features to old ideal grace allied,[538]
Amid their smiles and dimples dignified—
Fit countenance for the soul of primal truth;
The bland composure of eternal youth! 140
What more changeful than the sea?
But over his great tides
Fidelity presides;
And this light-hearted Maiden constant is as he.
High is her aim as heaven above, 145
And wide as ether her good-will;
And, like the lowly reed, her love
Can drink its nurture from the scantiest rill:
Insight as keen as frosty star
[Pg 187] Is to her charity no bar, 150
Nor interrupts her frolic graces
When she is, far from these wild places,
Encircled by familiar faces.
O the charm that manners draw,
Nature, from thy genuine law![539] 155
If from what her hand would do,
Her voice would utter, aught ensue
Untoward[540] or unfit;
She, in benign affections pure,
In self-forgetfulness secure, 160
Sheds round the transient harm or vague mischance
A light unknown to tutored elegance:[541]
Her's is not a cheek shame-stricken,
But her blushes are joy-flushes;
And the fault (if fault it be) 165
Only ministers to quicken
Laughter-loving gaiety,
And kindle sportive wit—-
Leaving this Daughter of the mountains free[542]
As if she knew that Oberon king of Faery[543] 170
[Pg 188] Had crossed her purpose with some quaint vagary,
And heard his viewless bands
Over their mirthful triumph clapping hands.
"Last of the Three, though eldest born,[544]
Reveal thyself, like pensive Morn 175
Touched by the skylark's earliest note,
Ere humbler gladness be afloat.
But whether in the semblance drest
Of Dawn—or Eve, fair vision of the west,
Come with each anxious hope subdued 180
By woman's gentle fortitude,
Each grief, through meekness, settling into rest.
—Or I would hail thee when some high-wrought page
Of a closed volume lingering in thy hand
Has raised thy spirit to a peaceful stand 185
Among the glories of a happier age."
Her brow hath opened on me—see it there,
Brightening the umbrage of her hair;
So gleams the crescent moon, that loves
To be descried through shady groves. 190
Tenderest bloom is on her cheek;
Wish not for a richer streak;
Nor dread the depth of meditative eye;
But let thy love, upon that azure field
Of thoughtfulness and beauty, yield 195
Its homage offered up in purity.
What would'st thou more? In sunny glade,
Or under leaves of thickest shade,
Was such a stillness e'er diffused
Since earth grew calm while angels mused? 200
Softly she treads, as if her foot were loth
[Pg 189] To crush the mountain dew-drops—soon to melt
On the flower's breast; as if she felt
That flowers themselves, whate'er their hue,
With all their fragrance, all their glistening, 205
Call to the heart for inward listening—
And though for bridal wreaths and tokens true
Welcomed wisely; though a growth
Which the careless shepherd sleeps on,
As fitly spring from turf the mourner weeps on—
And without wrong are cropped the marble tomb to strew. 211
The Charm is over;[545] the mute Phantoms gone,
Nor will return—but droop not, favoured Youth;
The apparition that before thee shone
Obeyed a summons covetous of truth. 215
From these wild rocks thy footsteps I will guide
To bowers in which thy fortune may be tried,
And one of the bright Three become thy happy Bride.

The Triad was first published in The Keepsake, in 1829, and next in the 1832 edition of the Poems. See the criticism passed upon it by one of the three described, viz., Sara Coleridge, in her Memoirs, vol. ii. pp. 409-10. Of this poem Mr. Aubrey de Vere writes, "perhaps the most accomplished of Wordsworth's works, and the most unlike his earlier manner."—Ed.


[517] This poem is called The Promise, in a letter written upon its publication in The Keepsake.—Ed.

[518] The Phrygian Ida was a many-branched range of mountains; two subordinate ranges, parting from the principal summit, enclosed Troy as with a crescent. The Cretan Ida terminated in three snowy peaks. There may be a reference to Skiddaw's triple summit in the "British hill."—Ed.

[519] The Charites—Aglaia, Thalia, and Euphrosyne—were usually represented with hands joined, as a token of graciousness and friendship.—Ed.

[520] 1836.

And not the boldest tongue of envious pride
In you those interweavings could reprove
Which They, the progeny of Jove,
Learnt ... 1829.

[521] 1836.

—I speak ... 1829.

[522] 1836.

... this constraining measure!
Drawn by a poetic spell, 1829.

[523] Edith Southey.—Ed.

[524] 1845.

... with silver sail! 1832.

[525] The peacock.—Ed.

[526] 1845.

... may brush from off his cheek
The too, too happy tear! 1832.

[527] Robin Hood.—Ed.

[528] The following version of ll. 80-101, is given in a MS. letter:—

Like notes of birds that after showers
In April concert try their powers,
And with a tumult and a rout
Of warbling, force coy Phœbus out;
Or bid some dark cloud's bosom show
That form divine, the many-coloured Bow.
E'en so the thrillings of the Lyre
Prevail to further our desire,
While to these shades a Nymph I call.
The youngest of the lovely three;
With glowing cheeks from pastimes virginal
Behold her hastening to the tents
Of Nature, and the lonely elements!
And as if wishful to disarm
Or to repay the tuneful charm
She bears the stringed lute of old Romance,—Ed.

[529] Dora Wordsworth.—Ed.

[530] 1836.

... a Nymph I call,
The youngest of the lovely Three.—
"Come, if the notes thine ear may pierce,
Submissive to the might of verse,
By none ... 1820.

[531] 1836.

And ... 1829.

[532] 1836.

How light her air!... 1829.

[533] Compare L'Allegro, ll. 11-13—

Thou Goddess fair and free
In heaven yclept Euphrosyne,
And by men heart-easing Mirth.—Ed.

[534] 1832.

Choicest flower ... 1829.

[535] The wild anemone.—Ed.

[536] 1836.

Yet is it ... 1829.

[537] 1836.

Though where she is beloved and loves, as free
As bird that rifles blossoms on a tree, 1829.

[538] According to Sara Coleridge this was an allusion to a likeness supposed to have been found in the poet's daughter's countenance to the Memnon Head in the British Museum. See Sara Coleridge's Memoirs, vol. ii. p. 410.—Ed.

[539] 1840.

... the genuine law. 1836.

[540] 1845.

... there ensue
Aught untoward ... 1832.

[541] 1832.

Nature, from thy perfect law!
Through benign affections pure
In the light of self secure,
If from what her hand would do
Or tongue utter, there ensue
Aught untoward or unfit,
Transient mischief, vague mischance
Shunned by guarded elegance. 1829.

[542] 1829.

Only minister to quicken
Sallies of instinctive wit;
Unchecked in laughter-loving gaiety
In all the motions of her spirit free. MS.

[543] 1832.

... that Oberon the fairy 1829.

[544] Sara Coleridge.—Ed.

[545] Compare in The Wishing-Gate Destroyed, stanza 4—

... the charm is fled.—Ed.


Composed 1828.—Published 1829

[Written at Rydal Mount. See also Wishing-gate Destroyed.—I. F.]

In the vale of Grasmere, by the side of the old high-way [Pg 190]leading to Ambleside, is a gate, which, time out of mind, has been called the Wishing-gate, from a belief that wishes formed or indulged there have a favourable issue.—W. W. 1828.[546]

One of the "Poems of the Imagination."—Ed.

Hope rules a land for ever green:
All powers that serve the bright-eyed Queen
Are confident and gay;
Clouds at her bidding disappear;
Points she to aught?—the bliss draws near, 5
And Fancy smooths the way.
Not such the land of Wishes—there
Dwell fruitless day-dreams, lawless prayer,
And thoughts with things at strife;
Yet how forlorn, should ye depart, 10
Ye superstitions of the heart,
How poor, were human life!
When magic lore abjured its might,
Ye did not forfeit one dear right,
One tender claim abate; 15
Witness this symbol of your sway,
Surviving near the public way,
The rustic Wishing-gate!
Inquire not if the faery race
Shed kindly influence on the place, 20
Ere northward they retired;
If here a warrior left a spell,
Panting for glory as he fell;
Or here a saint expired.
[Pg 191]
Enough that all around is fair, 25
Composed with Nature's finest care,
And in her fondest love—
Peace to embosom and content—
To overawe the turbulent,
The selfish to reprove. 30
Yea![547] even the Stranger from afar,
Reclining on this moss-grown bar,
Unknowing, and unknown,
The infection of the ground partakes,
Longing for his Belov'd—who makes 35
All happiness her own.
Then why should conscious Spirits fear
The mystic stirrings that are here,
The ancient faith disclaim?
The local Genius ne'er befriends 40
Desires whose course in folly ends,
Whose just reward is shame.
Smile if thou wilt, but not in scorn,
If some, by ceaseless pains outworn,
Here crave an easier lot; 45
If some have thirsted to renew
A broken vow, or bind a true,
With firmer, holier knot.
And not in vain, when thoughts are cast
Upon the irrevocable past, 50
Some Penitent sincere
May for a worthier future sigh,
While trickles from his downcast eye
No unavailing tear.
[Pg 192]
The Worldling, pining to be freed 55
From turmoil, who would turn or speed
The current of his fate,
Might stop before this favoured scene,
At Nature's call, nor blush to lean
Upon the Wishing-gate. 60
The Sage, who feels how blind, how weak
Is man, though loth such help to seek,
Yet, passing, here might pause,
And thirst[548] for insight to allay
Misgiving, while the crimson day 65
In quietness withdraws;
Or when the church-clock's knell profound[549]
To Time's first step across the bound
Of midnight makes reply;
Time pressing on with starry crest, 70
To filial sleep upon the breast
Of dread eternity.

The Wishing-gate was first published in The Keepsake in 1829, and next in the 1832 edition of the Poems.—Ed.


[546] Having been told, upon what I thought good authority, that this gate had been destroyed, and the opening where it hung walled up, I gave vent immediately to my feelings in these stanzas. But going to the place some time after, I found, with much delight, my old favourite unmolested.—W. W. 1832.

"The same triumphant power attributed to the Wishing-gate is fancifully attributed to an image of St. Bridget in the ruined Franciscan convent at Adare." (Mr. Aubrey de Vere.)

[547] 1832.

Yes! even ... 1829.

[548] 1836.

And yearn ... 1829.

[549] Grasmere Church.—Ed.


Composed 1828.—Published 1842

One of the "Poems of the Imagination."—Ed.

'Tis gone—with old belief and dream
That round it clung, and tempting scheme
Released from fear and doubt;
And the bright landscape too must lie,
[Pg 193] By this blank wall, from every eye, 5
Relentlessly shut out.
Bear witness ye who seldom passed
That opening—but a look ye cast
Upon the lake below,
What spirit-stirring power it gained 10
From faith which here was entertained,
Though reason might say no.
Blest is that ground, where, o'er the springs
Of history, Glory claps her wings,
Fame sheds the exulting tear; 15
Yet earth is wide, and many a nook
Unheard of is, like this, a book
For modest meanings dear.
It was in sooth a happy thought
That grafted, on so fair a spot, 20
So confident a token
Of coming good;—the charm is fled;
Indulgent centuries spun a thread,
Which one harsh day has broken.
Alas! for him who gave the word; 25
Could he no sympathy afford,
Derived from earth or heaven,
To hearts so oft by hope betrayed;
Their very wishes wanted aid
Which here was freely given? 30
Where, for the love-lorn maiden's wound,
[Pg 194] Will now so readily be found
A balm of expectation?
Anxious for far-off children, where
Shall mothers breathe a like sweet air 35
Of home-felt consolation?
And not unfelt will prove the loss
'Mid trivial care and petty cross
And each day's shallow grief;
Though the most easily beguiled 40
Were oft among the first that smiled
At their own fond belief.
If still the reckless change we mourn,
A reconciling thought may turn
To harm that might lurk here, 45
Ere judgment prompted from within
Fit aims, with courage to begin,
And strength to persevere.
Not Fortune's slave is Man: our state
Enjoins, while firm resolves await 50
On wishes just and wise,
That strenuous action follow both,
And life be one perpetual growth
Of heaven-ward enterprise.
So taught, so trained, we boldly face 55
All accidents of time and place;
Whatever props may fail,
Trust in that sovereign law can spread
New glory o'er the mountain's head,
Fresh beauty through the vale. 60
That truth informing mind and heart,
The simplest cottager may part,
Ungrieved, with charm and spell;
And yet, lost Wishing-gate, to thee
The voice of grateful memory 65
Shall bid a kind farewell!

[Pg 195]

A gate—though not the "moss-grown bar" of 1828—still stands at the old place, where Wordsworth tells us one had stood "time out of mind;" so that a "blank wall" does not now shut out the "bright landscape," at the old, and classic, spot. Long may this gate stand, defying wind and weather!—Ed.



Composed 1828.—Published 1835

[Coleridge, my daughter, and I, in 1828, passed a fortnight upon the banks of the Rhine, principally under the hospitable roof of Mr. Aders of Gotesburg, but two days of the time we spent at St. Goar in rambles among the neighbouring valleys. It was at St. Goar that I saw the Jewish family here described. Though exceedingly poor, and in rags, they were not less beautiful than I have endeavoured to make them appear. We had taken a little dinner with us in a basket, and invited them to partake of it, which the mother refused to do, both for herself and children, saying it was with them a fast-day; adding, diffidently, that whether such observances were right or wrong, she felt it her duty to keep them strictly. The Jews, who are numerous on this part of the Rhine, greatly surpass the German peasantry in the beauty of their features and in the intelligence of their countenances. But the lower classes of the German peasantry have, here at least, the air of people grievously opprest. Nursing mothers, at the age of seven or eight-and-twenty, often look haggard and far more decayed and withered than women of Cumberland and Westmoreland twice their age. This comes from being under-fed and over-worked in their vineyards in a hot and glaring sun.—I. F.]

One of the "Poems of the Imagination."—Ed.

Genius of Raphael! if thy wings
Might bear thee to this glen,
With faithful memory left of things[550]
To pencil dear and pen,
Thou would'st forego the neighbouring Rhine, 5
And all his majesty—
A studious forehead to incline
[Pg 196] O'er[551] this poor family.
The Mother—her thou must have seen,
In spirit, ere she came 10
To dwell these rifted rocks between,
Or found on earth a name;
An image, too, of that sweet Boy,[552]
Thy inspirations give—
Of playfulness,[553] and love, and joy, 15
Predestined here to live.
Downcast, or shooting glances far,
How beautiful his eyes,
That blend the nature of the star
With that of summer skies! 20
I speak as if of sense beguiled;
Uncounted months are gone,
Yet am I with the Jewish Child,
That exquisite Saint John.
I see the dark-brown curls, the brow, 25
The smooth transparent skin,
Refined, as with intent to show
The holiness within;[554]
The grace of parting Infancy
By blushes yet untamed; 30
Age faithful to the mother's knee,
Nor of her arms ashamed.
[Pg 197]
Two lovely Sisters, still and sweet
As flowers, stand side by side;
Their soul-subduing looks[555] might cheat 35
The Christian of his pride:
Such beauty hath the Eternal poured
Upon them not forlorn,[556]
Though of a lineage once abhorred,
Nor yet redeemed from scorn. 40
Mysterious safeguard, that, in spite
Of poverty and wrong,
Doth here preserve a living light,
From Hebrew fountains sprung;
That gives this ragged group to cast 45
Around the dell a gleam
Of Palestine, of glory past,
And proud Jerusalem!

The title given to this poem by Dorothy Wordsworth, in the letter to Lady Beaumont in which the different MS. readings occur, is "A Jewish Family, met with in a Dingle near the Rhine." During the Continental Tour of 1820,—in which Wordsworth was accompanied by his wife and sister and other friends,—they went up the Rhine (see the notes to the poems recording that Tour). An extract from Mrs. Wordsworth's Journal, referring to the road from St. Goar to Bingen, may illustrate this poem, written in 1828. "From St. Goar to Bingen, castles commanding innumerable small fortified villages. Nothing could exceed the delightful variety, and at first the postilions whisked us too fast through these scenes; and afterwards, the same variety so often repeated, we became quite exhausted, at least D. and I were; and, beautiful as the road continued to be, we could scarcely keep our eyes open; but, on [Pg 198]my being roused from one of these slumbers, no eye wide-awake ever beheld such celestial pictures as gleamed before mine, like visions belonging to dreams. The castles seemed now almost stationary, a continued succession always in sight, rarely without two or three before us at once. There they rose from the craggy cliffs, out of the centre of the stately river, from a green island, or a craggy rock, etc., etc."

In Dorothy Wordsworth's record of the same Tour, the following occurs:—"July 24.—We looked down into one of the vales tributary to the Rhine, which, in memory of the mountain recesses of Ullswater, I named Deep-dale, a green quiet place, spotted with villages and single houses, and enlivened by a sinuous brook." ... "A lovely dell runs behind one of these hills. At its opening, where it pours out its stream into the Rhine, we espied a one-arched Borrowdale bridge; and, behind the bridge, a village almost buried between the abruptly rising steeps."—Ed.


[550] 1835.

With memory left of shapes and things

MS. written by Dorothy Wordsworth.

[551] 1835.

On ...

MS. by Dorothy Wordsworth.

[552] 1835.

... this sweet Boy,

MS. by Dorothy Wordsworth.

[553] 1835.

In playfulness, ...

MS. by Dorothy Wordsworth.

[554] Compare The Russian Fugitive, ll. 1-4.—Ed.

[555] 1835.

Fair Creatures, in this lone retreat
By happy chance espied,
Your soul-subduing looks ...

MS. by Dorothy Wordsworth.

[556] 1835.

Upon you—not forlorn,

MS. by Dorothy Wordsworth.


Composed 1828.—Published 1835

[This occurred at Brugès in 1828. Mr. Coleridge, my daughter, and I made a tour together in Flanders, upon the Rhine, and returned by Holland. Dora and I, while taking a walk along a retired part of the town, heard the voice as here described, and were afterwards informed it was a convent in which were many English. We were both much touched, I might say affected, and Dora moved as appears in the verses.—I. F.]

One of the "Memorials of a Tour on the Continent."—Ed.

In Brugès town is many a street
Whence busy life hath fled;[557]
Where, without hurry, noiseless feet,
The grass-grown pavement tread.
There heard we, halting in the shade 5
[Pg 199] Flung from a Convent-tower,
A harp that tuneful prelude made
To a voice of thrilling power.[558]
The measure, simple truth to tell,
Was fit for some gay throng; 10
Though from the same grim turret fell
The shadow and the song.
When silent were both voice and chords,
The strain seemed doubly dear,
Yet sad as sweet,—for English words 15
Had fallen upon the ear.[559]
It was a breezy hour of eve;
And[560] pinnacle and spire
Quivered and seemed almost to heave,
Clothed with innocuous fire; 20
But, where we stood, the setting sun
Showed little of his state;
And, if the glory reached the Nun,
'Twas through an iron grate.[561]
[Pg 200]
Not always is the heart unwise,[562] 25
Nor pity idly born,
If even[563] a passing Stranger sighs
For them who do not mourn.
Sad is thy doom, self-solaced dove,
Captive, whoe'er thou be![564] 30
Oh! what is beauty, what is love,
And opening life to thee?
Such feeling pressed upon my soul,
A feeling sanctified
By one soft trickling tear that stole 35
From the Maiden at my side;
Less tribute could she pay than this,
Borne gaily o'er the sea,
Fresh from the beauty and the bliss
Of English liberty? 40

In the final arrangement of the poems, this one was published amongst the Memorials of a Tour on the Continent (1820), where it followed the two sonnets on Brugès. The poems suggested by the shorter Tour of 1828 are here published together, in their chronological order.

In an undated letter of Dorothy Wordsworth's to Lady Beaumont, before copying out this poem and A Jewish Family, she says, "The two following poems were taken from incidents recorded in Dora's journal of her tour with her father and S. T. Coleridge. As I well recollect, she has related the incidents very pleasingly, and I hope you will agree with me in thinking that the poet has made good use of them."—Ed.

[Pg 201]


[557] 1835.

... is fled,

MS. written by Dorothy Wordsworth.

[558] 1835.

To a voice like bird in bower.

MS. by Dorothy Wordsworth.

... birds ...

MS. by Mrs. Wordsworth.

[559] 1835.

Like them who think they hear,
We listened still; for English words
Had dropped upon the ear.

MS. by Mrs. Wordsworth.

The strain seemed doubly dear,
Yea passing sweet—for English words
Had dropt upon the ear.

MS. by Dorothy Wordsworth.

[560] 1835.

When ...

MS. by Dorothy Wordsworth.

[561] Compare the Sonnet—

It is a beauteous evening, calm and free,
The holy time is quiet as a Nun.—Ed.

[562] 1835.

The restless heart is not unwise,

MS. by Dorothy Wordsworth.

[563] 1835.

When even ...

MS. by Dorothy Wordsworth.

[564] 1835.

Sad is thy doom, imprisoned dove,
Whoe'er thou mayest be.

MS. by Dorothy Wordsworth.


Composed 1828.[565]—Published 1829 (in The Keepsake)

["Miserrimus." Many conjectures have been formed as to the person who lies under this stone. Nothing appears to be known for a certainty. Query—The Rev. Mr. Morris, a non-conformist, a sufferer for conscience-sake; a worthy man who, having been deprived of his benefice after the accession of William III., lived to an old age in extreme destitution, on the alms of charitable Jacobites.—I.F.]

One of the "Miscellaneous Sonnets."—Ed.

"Miserrimus!" and neither name nor date,
Prayer, text, or symbol, graven upon the stone;[566]
Nought but that word assigned to the unknown,
That solitary word—to separate
From all, and cast a cloud around the fate 5
Of him who lies beneath. Most wretched one,
Who chose his epitaph?—Himself alone
Could thus have dared the grave to agitate,
And claim, among the dead, this awful crown;
Nor doubt that He marked also for his own 10
Close to these cloistral steps a burial-place,
That every foot might fall with heavier tread,
Trampling upon his vileness. Stranger, pass
Softly!—To save the contrite, Jesus bled.

[Pg 202]


[565] This, and the following sonnet on the tradition of Oker Hill, first published in The Keepsake of 1829, appeared in the 1832 edition of the Poetical Works.—Ed.

[566] The stone is in the cloisters of Worcester Cathedral, at the north-west corner of the quadrangle, just below the doorway leading into the nave of the cathedral. It is a small stone, two feet, by one and a half. The Reverend Thomas Maurice (or Morris)—a minor canon of Worcester, and vicar of Clains—refused to take the oath of allegiance at the Revolution Settlement, and was accordingly deprived of his benefice. He lived to the age of 88, on the generosity of the richer non-jurors, and died 1748. (See Murray's Guide to Warwickshire, and Richard King's Handbook to the Cathedral of Worcester.)—Ed.



Composed 1828.—Published 1829

[This poem was first printed in the annual called The Keepsake. The painter's name I am not sure of, but I think it was Holmes.[567]—I.F.]

In 1832 one of the "Poems of Sentiment and Reflection." Transferred in 1845 to "Miscellaneous Poems."—Ed.

That happy gleam of vernal eyes,
Those locks from summer's golden skies,
That o'er thy brow are shed;
That cheek—a kindling of the morn,
That lip—a rose-bud from the thorn, 5
I saw; and Fancy sped
To scenes Arcadian, whispering, through soft air,
Of bliss that grows without a care,
And[568] happiness that never flies—
(How can it where love never dies?) 10
Whispering of promise,[569] where no blight
Can reach the innocent delight;
Where pity, to the mind conveyed
In pleasure, is the darkest shade
That Time, unwrinkled grandsire, flings 15
From his smoothly gliding wings.
What mortal form, what earthly face
Inspired the pencil, lines to trace,
And mingle colours, that should breed
[Pg 203] Such rapture, nor want power to feed; 20
For had thy charge been idle flowers,
Fair Damsel! o'er my captive mind,
To truth and sober reason blind,
'Mid that soft air, those long-lost bowers,
The sweet illusion might have hung, for hours. 25
Thanks to this tell-tale sheaf of corn,
That touchingly bespeaks thee born
Life's daily tasks with them to share
Who, whether from their lowly bed
They rise, or rest the weary head, 30
Ponder the blessing[570] they entreat
From Heaven, and feel what they repeat,
While they give utterance to the prayer
That asks for daily bread.

The year of the publication of this poem in The Keepsake was 1829. It then appeared under the title of The Country Girl, and it was afterwards included in the 1832 edition of the poems.—Ed.


[567] The painter was J. Holmes, and his picture was engraved by C. Heath.—Ed.

[568] 1837.

Of ... 1829.

[569] 1837.

Of promise whispering, ... 1832.

[570] 1832.

Do weigh the blessing ... 1829.


Composed December 1828.—Published 1835

[Written at Rydal Mount. I have often regretted that my tour in Ireland, chiefly performed in the short days of October in a carriage-and-four (I was with Mr. Marshall), supplied my memory with so few images that were new, and with so little motive to write. The lines however in this poem, "Thou too be heard, lone eagle!" were suggested near the Giants' Causeway, [Pg 204]or rather at the promontory of Fairhead, where a pair of eagles wheeled above our heads and darted off as if to hide themselves in a blaze of sky made by the setting sun.—I.F.]

One of the "Poems of the Imagination."-Ed.


The Ear addressed, as occupied by a spiritual functionary, in communion with sounds, individual, or combined in studied harmony.—Sources and effects of those sounds (to the close of 6th Stanza).—The power of music, whence proceeding, exemplified in the idiot.—Origin of music, and its effect in early ages—how produced (to the middle of 10th Stanza).—The mind recalled to sounds acting casually and severally.—Wish uttered (11th Stanza) that these could be united into a scheme or system for moral interests and intellectual contemplation.—(Stanza 12th.) The Pythagorean theory of numbers and music, with their supposed power over the motions of the universe—imaginations consonant with such a theory.—Wish expressed (in 11th Stanza) realised, in some degree, by the representation of all sounds under the form of thanksgiving to the Creator.—(Last Stanza) the destruction of earth and the planetary system—the survival of audible harmony, and its support in the Divine Nature, as revealed in Holy Writ.


Thy functions are ethereal,
As if within thee dwelt a glancing mind,
Organ of vision! And a Spirit aërial
Informs the cell of Hearing, dark and blind;
Intricate labyrinth, more dread for thought 5
To enter than oracular cave;
Strict passage, through which sighs are brought,
And whispers for the heart, their slave;
[Pg 205] And shrieks, that revel in abuse
Of shivering flesh; and warbled air, 10
Whose piercing sweetness can unloose
The chains of frenzy, or entice a smile
Into the ambush of despair;
Hosannas pealing down the long-drawn aisle,[572]
And requiems answered by the pulse that beats 15
Devoutly, in life's last retreats!


The headlong streams and fountains
Serve Thee, invisible Spirit, with untired powers;
Cheering the wakeful tent on Syrian mountains,
They lull perchance ten thousand thousand flowers. 20
That roar, the prowling lion's Here I am,
How fearful to the desert wide!
That bleat, how tender! of the dam
Calling a straggler to her side.
Shout, cuckoo!—let the vernal soul 25
Go with thee to the frozen zone;
Toll from thy loftiest perch, lone bell-bird, toll!
At the still hour to Mercy dear,
Mercy from her twilight throne
Listening to nun's faint throb of holy fear, 30
To sailor's prayer breathed from a darkening sea,
Or widow's cottage-lullaby.


Ye Voices, and ye Shadows
And Images of voice—to hound and horn
From rocky steep and rock-bestudded meadows 35
Flung back, and, in the sky's blue caves, reborn—
On with your pastime! till the church-tower bells
A greeting give of measured glee;
And milder echoes from their cells
Repeat the bridal symphony. 40
Then, or far earlier, let us rove
Where mists are breaking up or gone,
[Pg 206] And from aloft look down into a cove
Besprinkled with a careless quire,
Happy milk-maids, one by one 45
Scattering a ditty each to her desire,
A liquid concert matchless by nice Art,
A stream as if from one full heart.


Blest be the song that brightens
The blind man's gloom, exalts the veteran's mirth; 50
Unscorned the peasant's whistling breath, that lightens
His duteous toil of furrowing the green earth.
For the tired slave, Song lifts the languid oar,
And bids it aptly fall, with chime
That beautifies the fairest shore, 55
And mitigates the harshest clime.
Yon pilgrims see—in lagging file
They move; but soon the appointed way
A choral Ave Marie shall beguile,
And to their hope the distant shrine 60
Glisten with a livelier ray:
Nor friendless he, the prisoner of the mine,
Who from the well-spring of his own clear breast
Can draw, and sing his griefs to rest.


When civic renovation 65
Dawns on a kingdom, and for needful haste
Best eloquence avails not, Inspiration
Mounts with a tune, that travels like a blast
Piping through cave and battlemented tower;
Then starts the sluggard, pleased to meet 70
[Pg 207] That voice of Freedom, in its power
Of promises, shrill, wild, and sweet!
Who, from a martial pageant, spreads
Incitements of a battle-day, 74
Thrilling the unweaponed crowd with plumeless heads?—
Even She whose Lydian airs inspire[573]
Peaceful striving, gentle play
Of timid hope and innocent desire
Shot from the dancing Graces, as they move
Fanned by the plausive wings of Love. 80


How oft along thy mazes,
Regent of sound, have dangerous Passions trod!
O Thou, through whom the temple rings with praises,
And blackening clouds in thunder speak of God,
Betray not by the cozenage of sense[574] 85
Thy votaries, wooingly resigned
To a voluptuous influence
That taints the purer, better, mind;
But lead sick Fancy to a harp
That hath in noble tasks been tried; 90
And, if the virtuous feel a pang too sharp,
Soothe it into patience,—stay
The uplifted arm of Suicide;
And let some mood of thine in firm array
Knit every thought the impending issue needs, 95
Ere martyr burns, or patriot bleeds!


As Conscience, to the centre
Of being, smites with irresistible pain
So shall a solemn cadence, if it enter
The mouldy vaults of the dull idiot's brain, 100
Transmute him to a wretch from quiet hurled—
Convulsed as by a jarring din;
And then aghast, as at the world
Of reason partially let in
[Pg 208] By concords winding with a sway 105
Terrible for sense and soul!
Or, awed he weeps, struggling to quell dismay.
Point not these mysteries to an Art
Lodged above the starry pole;
Pure modulations flowing from the heart 110
Of divine Love, where Wisdom, Beauty, Truth
With Order dwell, in endless youth?


Oblivion may not cover
All treasures hoarded by the miser, Time.
Orphean Insight! truth's undaunted lover, 115
To the first leagues of tutored passion climb,
When Music deigned within this grosser sphere
Her subtle essence to enfold,
And voice and shell drew forth a tear
Softer than Nature's self could mould. 120
Yet strenuous was the infant Age:
Art, daring because souls could feel,
Stirred nowhere but an urgent equipage
Of rapt imagination sped her march
Through the realms of woe and weal: 125
Hell to the lyre bowed low; the upper arch
Rejoiced that clamorous spell and magic verse
Her wan disasters could disperse.[575]


The Gift to king Amphion
That walled a city with its melody 130
Was for belief no dream:[576]—thy skill, Arion!
[Pg 209] Could humanise the creatures of the sea,
Where men were monsters.[577] A last grace he craves,
Leave for one chant;—the dulcet sound
Steals from the deck o'er willing waves, 135
And listening dolphins gather round.[578]
Self-cast, as with a desperate course,
'Mid that strange audience, he bestrides
A proud One docile as a managed horse;
And singing, while the accordant hand 140
Sweeps his harp, the Master rides;
So shall he touch at length a friendly strand,
And he, with his preserver, shine star-bright
In memory, through silent night.


The pipe of Pan, to shepherds 145
Couched in the shadow of Mænalian pines,[579]
Was passing sweet; the eyeballs of the leopards,
That in high triumph drew the Lord of vines,
How did they sparkle to the cymbal's clang!
While Fauns and Satyrs beat the ground 150
In cadence,[580]—and Silenus swang
This way and that, with wild-flowers crowned.[581]
To life, to life give back thine ear:
[Pg 210] Ye who are longing to be rid
Of fable, though to truth subservient, hear 155
The little sprinkling of cold earth that fell
Echoed from the coffin-lid;
The convict's summons in the steeple's knell;
"The vain distress-gun,"[582] from a leeward shore,
Repeated-heard, and heard no more! 160


For terror, joy, or pity,
Vast is the compass and the swell of notes:
From the babe's first cry to voice of regal city,
Rolling a solemn sea-like bass, that floats
Far as the woodlands—with the trill to blend 165
Of that shy songstress,[583] whose love-tale
Might tempt an angel to descend,
While hovering o'er the moonlight vale.
Ye wandering Utterances,[584] has earth no scheme,
No scale of moral music—to unite 170
Powers that survive but in the faintest dream[585]
Of memory?-O that ye[586] might stoop to bear
Chains, such precious chains of sight
As laboured minstrelsies through ages wear!
O for a balance fit the truth to tell 175
Of the Unsubstantial, pondered well!

[Pg 211]


By one pervading spirit
Of tones and numbers all things are controlled,
As sages taught, where faith was found to merit
Initiation in that mystery old.[587][588] 180
The heavens, whose aspect makes our minds as still
As they themselves appear to be,
Innumerable voices fill
With everlasting harmony;
The towering headlands, crowned with mist, 185
Their feet among the billows, know
That Ocean is a mighty harmonist;[589]
Thy pinions, universal Air,
Ever waving to and fro,
Are delegates of harmony, and bear 190
Strains that support the Seasons in their round;
Stern Winter loves a dirge-like sound.


Break forth into thanksgiving,
Ye banded instruments of wind and chords;
Unite, to magnify the Ever-living,[590] 195
[Pg 212] Your inarticulate notes with the voice of words!
Nor hushed be service from the lowing mead,
Nor mute the forest hum of noon;
Thou too be heard, lone eagle![591] freed
From snowy peak and cloud, attune 200
Thy hungry barkings to the hymn
Of joy, that from her utmost walls
The six-days' Work,[592] by flaming Seraphim
Transmits to Heaven! As Deep to Deep
Shouting through one valley calls, 205
All worlds, all natures, mood and measure keep
For praise and ceaseless gratulation, poured
Into the ear of God, their Lord!


A Voice to Light gave Being;[593]
To Time, and Man his earth-born chronicler; 210
A Voice shall finish doubt and dim foreseeing,
And sweep away life's visionary stir;
The trumpet (we, intoxicate with pride,
Arm at its blast for deadly wars)
To archangelic lips applied, 215
The grave shall open, quench the stars.[594]
O Silence! are Man's noisy years
No more than moments of thy life?[595]
Is Harmony, blest queen of smiles and tears,
[Pg 213] With her smooth tones and discords just, 220
Tempered into rapturous strife,
Thy destined bond-slave? No! though earth be dust
[Pg 214] And vanish, though the heavens dissolve, her stay
Is in the Word, that shall not pass away.[596]


[571] 1836.

Stanzas on ... 1835.

[572] Compare Gray's Elegy, l. 39.—Ed.

[573] Compare L'Allegro, II. 135-37—

And ever, against eating cares,
Lap me in soft Lydian airs,
Married to immortal verse.


[574] The deception of the senses.—Ed.

[575] Orpheus, is search of his lost Eurydice, gained admittance with his lyre to the infernal regions. Pluto was charmed with his music, the wheel of Ixion stopped, the stone of Sisyphus stood still, Tantalus forgot his thirst, and the Furies relented, while Pluto and Proserpine consented to restore Eurydice. The sequel is well known.—Ed.

[576] The fable of Amphion moving stones and raising the walls of Thebes by his melody is explained by supposing him gifted with an eloquence and power of persuasion that roused the savage people to rise and build the town of Thebes.—Ed.

[577] The story of Arion, lyric poet and musician of Lesbos, was that having gone into Italy, settled there, and grown rich, he wished to revisit his native country, taking some of his fortune with him. The sailors of the ship determined to murder him, and steal his treasure. He asked, as a last favour, that he might play a tune on his lyre. As soon as he began he attracted the creatures of the deep, and leaping into the sea, one of the dolphins carried him, lyre in hand, to the shore.—Ed.

[578] Compare A Midsummer Night's Dream, act II. scene i. l. 150.—Ed.

[579] Mænalus, a mountain in Arcadia, sacred to Pan, covered with pine trees, a favourite haunt of shepherds.—See Virgil, Eclogues, viii. 24; Georgics, i. 17; Ovid, Metamorphoses, i. 216.—Ed.

[580] Compare Gray's Progress of Poesy, ll. 33-35.—Ed.

[581] In his expedition to the East, Bacchus was clothed in a panther's skin. He was accompanied by all the Satyrs, and by Silenus crowned with flowers and almost always intoxicated.—Ed.

[582] I have been unable to trace this quotation.—Ed.

[583] The nightingale.—Ed.

[584] Compare To the Cuckoo, vol. ii. p. 289—

A wandering Voice.—Ed.

[585] 1836.

O for some soul-affecting scheme
Of moral music, to unite
Wanderers whose portion is the faintest dream 1835.

[586] 1836

... they ... 1835.

[587] 1835.

There is a world of spirit,
By tones and numbers guided and controlled;
And glorious privilege have they who merit
Initiation in that mystery old.

MS. copy by Dorothy Wordsworth.

[588] The fundamental idea, both in the intellectual and moral philosophy of the Pythagoreans, was that of harmony or proportion. Their natural science or cosmology was dominated by the same idea, that as the world and all spheres within the universe were constructed symmetrically, and moved around a central focus, the forms and the proportions of things were best expressed by number. All good was due to the principle of order; all evil to disorder. In accordance with the mathematical conception of the universe which ruled the Pythagoreans, justice was equality ([Greek: isotês]ισότης), that is to say it consisted in each one receiving equally according to his deserts. Friendship too was equality of feeling and relationship; harmony being the radical idea, alike in the ethics and in the cosmology of the school.—Ed.

[589] Compare Keats, in a letter to his friend Bailey, in 1817: "The great elements we know of are no mean comforters; the open sky sits upon our senses like a sapphire crown; the air is our robe of state; the earth is our throne; and the sea a mighty minstrel playing before it."—Ed.

[590] Compare The Excursion, book iv. l. 1163 (vol. v. p. 188)—

... choral song, or burst
Sublime of instrumental harmony,
To glorify the Eternal!—Ed.

[591] See the Fenwick note prefixed to this poem.—Ed.

[592] Genesis i.—Ed.

[593] "And God said, Let there be light, and there was light" (Genesis i. 3).


[594] 1 Corinthians xv. 52.—Ed.

[595] Compare Ode, Intimations of Immortality, in stanza ix.—

Our noisy years seem moments in the being
Of the eternal Silence.—Ed.

[596] St. Luke xxi. 33.—Ed.


The Poems of 1829 were few; and were, for the most part, suggested by incidents or occurrences at Rydal Mount.—Ed.


Composed 1829.—Published 1835

[They were a present from Miss Jewsbury, of whom mention is made in the note at the end of the next poem. The fish were healthy to all appearance in their confinement for a long time, but at last, for some cause we could not make out, they languished, and, one of them being all but dead, they were taken to the pool under the old pollard-oak. The apparently dying one lay on its side unable to move. I used to watch it, and about the tenth day it began to right itself, and in a few days more was able to swim about with its companions. For many months they continued to prosper in their new place of abode; but one night by an unusually great flood they were swept out of the pool, and perished to our great regret.—I. F.]

One of the "Miscellaneous Poems."—Ed.

The soaring lark is blest as proud
When at heaven's gate she sings;[597]
[Pg 215] The roving bee proclaims aloud
Her flight by vocal wings;
While Ye, in lasting durance pent, 5
Your silent lives employ
For something more than dull content,
Though haply less than joy.[598]
Yet might your glassy prison seem
A place where joy is known, 10
Where golden flash and silver gleam
Have meanings of their own;
While, high and low, and all about,
Your motions, glittering Elves!
Ye weave—no danger from without, 15
And peace among yourselves.
Type of a sunny human breast
Is your transparent cell;
Where Fear is but a transient guest,
No sullen Humours dwell; 20
Where, sensitive of every ray
That smites this tiny sea,
Your scaly panoplies repay
The loan with usury.
How beautiful!—Yet none knows why 25
This ever-graceful change,
Renewed—renewed incessantly—
Within your quiet range.
Is it that ye with conscious skill
For mutual pleasure glide; 30
And sometimes, not without your will,
Are dwarfed, or magnified?
Fays, Genii of gigantic size!
And now, in twilight dim,
[Pg 216] Clustering like constellated eyes, 35
In wings of Cherubim,
When the fierce orbs abate their glare;—[599]
Whate'er your forms express,
Whate'er ye seem, whate'er ye are—
All leads to gentleness. 40
Cold though your nature be, 'tis pure;
Your birthright is a fence
From all that haughtier kinds endure
Through tyranny of sense.
Ah! not alone by colours bright 45
Are Ye to heaven allied,
When, like essential Forms of light,
Ye mingle, or divide.
For day-dreams soft as e'er beguiled
Day-thoughts while limbs repose; 50
For moonlight fascinations mild,
Your gift, ere shutters close—
Accept, mute Captives! thanks and praise;
And may this tribute prove
That gentle admirations raise 55
Delight resembling love.


[597] Compare Cymbeline, act II. scene iii. l. 21.—Ed.

[598] See note [448] to p. 160.—Ed.

[599] 1837.

When they abate their fiery glare: 1835.



Composed 1829.—Published 1835

"The liberty of a people consists in being governed by laws which they have made for themselves, under whatever form it be of government. The liberty of a private man, in [Pg 217]being master of his own time and actions, as far as may consist with the laws of God and of his country. Of this latter we are here to discourse."—Cowley.

One of the "Miscellaneous Poems."—Ed.

Those breathing Tokens of your kind regard,
(Suspect not, Anna,[601] that their fate is hard;
Not soon does aught to which mild fancies cling
In lonely spots, become a slighted thing;)
Those silent Inmates now no longer share, 5
Nor do they need, our hospitable care,
Removed in kindness from their glassy Cell
To the fresh waters of a living Well—[602]
An elfin pool so sheltered that its rest
No winds disturb;[603] the mirror of whose breast 10
Is smooth as clear, save where with dimples small[604]
A fly may settle, or a blossom fall.[605]
There swims, of blazing sun and beating shower
Fearless (but how obscured!) the golden Power,
That from his bauble prison used to cast 15
Gleams by the richest jewel unsurpast;
And near him, darkling like a sullen Gnome,
The silver Tenant of the crystal dome;
Dissevered both from all the mysteries
Of hue and altering shape that charmed all eyes. 20
Alas! they pined,[606] they languished while they shone;
[Pg 218] And, if not so, what matters beauty gone
And admiration lost, by change of place
That brings to the inward creature no disgrace?
But if the change restore his birth-right, then, 25
Whate'er the difference, boundless is the gain.
Who can divine what impulses from God
Reach the caged lark, within a town-abode,
From his poor inch or two of daisied sod?
O yield him back his privilege!—No sea 30
Swells like the bosom of a man set free;
A wilderness is rich with liberty.
Roll on, ye spouting whales, who die or keep
Your independence in the fathomless Deep!
Spread, tiny nautilus, the living sail; 35
Dive, at thy choice, or brave the freshening gale!
If unreproved the ambitious eagle mount
Sunward to seek the daylight in its fount,[607]
Bays, gulfs, and ocean's Indian width, shall be,
Till the world perishes, a field for thee! 40
While musing here I sit in shadow cool,
And watch these mute Companions, in the pool,
(Among reflected boughs of leafy trees)
By glimpses caught—disporting at their ease,
Enlivened, braced, by hardy luxuries, 45
I ask what warrant fixed them (like a spell
Of witchcraft fixed them) in the crystal cell;
To wheel with languid motion round and round,
Beautiful, yet in mournful durance bound.
Their peace, perhaps, our lightest footfall marred; 50
On their quick sense our sweetest music jarred;
And whither could they dart, if seized with fear?
No sheltering stone, no tangled root was near.
[Pg 219] When fire or taper ceased to cheer the room,
They wore away the night in starless gloom; 55
And, when the sun first dawned upon the streams,
How faint their portion of his vital beams!
Thus, and unable to complain, they fared,
While not one joy of ours by them was shared.
Is there a cherished bird (I venture now 60
To snatch a sprig from Chaucer's reverend brow)—[608]
Is there a brilliant fondling of the cage,
Though sure of plaudits on his costly stage,
Though fed with dainties from the snow-white hand
Of a kind mistress, fairest of the land, 65
But gladly would escape; and, if need were,
Scatter the colours from the plumes that bear
The emancipated captive through blithe air
Into strange woods, where he at large may live
On best or worst which they and Nature give? 70
The beetle loves his unpretending track,
The snail the house he carries on his back;
The far-fetched worm with pleasure would disown
The bed we give him, though of softest down;
A noble instinct; in all kinds the same, 75
All ranks! What Sovereign, worthy of the name,
If doomed to breathe against his lawful will
An element that flatters him—to kill,
But would rejoice to barter outward show
For the least boon that freedom can bestow? 80
But most the Bard is true to inborn right,
Lark of the dawn, and Philomel of night,
Exults in freedom, can with rapture vouch
For the dear blessings of a lowly couch, 84
A natural meal—days, months, from Nature's hand;
[Pg 220] Time, place, and business, all at his command!—
Who bends to happier duties, who more wise
Than the industrious Poet, taught to prize,
Above all grandeur, a pure life uncrossed
By cares in which simplicity is lost? 90
That life—the flowery path that[609] winds by stealth—
Which Horace needed for his spirit's health;[610]
Sighed for, in heart and genius, overcome
By noise and strife, and questions wearisome,
And the vain splendours of Imperial Rome?—[611] 95
Let easy mirth his social hours inspire,
And fiction animate his sportive lyre,
Attuned to verse that, crowning light Distress
With garlands, cheats her into happiness;
Give me the humblest note of those sad strains 100
Drawn forth by pressure of his gilded chains,
As a chance-sunbeam from his memory fell
Upon the Sabine farm he loved so well;[612]
Or when the prattle of Blandusia's spring[613]
Haunted his ear—he only listening— 105
He proud to please, above all rivals, fit
To win the palm of gaiety and wit;
He, doubt not, with involuntary dread,
Shrinking from each new favour to be shed,
[Pg 221] By the world's Ruler, on his honoured head! 110
In a deep vision's intellectual scene,
Such earnest longings and regrets as keen
Depressed the melancholy Cowley, laid
Under a fancied yew-tree's luckless shade;
A doleful bower for penitential song, 115
Where Man and Muse complained of mutual wrong;
While Cam's ideal current glided by,
And antique towers nodded their foreheads high,
Citadels dear to studious privacy.
But Fortune, who had long been used to sport 120
With this tried Servant of a thankless Court,
Relenting met his wishes; and to you
The remnant of his days at least was true;
You, whom, though long deserted, he loved best;
You, Muses, books, fields, liberty, and rest![614] 125
Far[615] happier they who, fixing hope and aim
On the humanities of peaceful fame,
Enter betimes with more than martial fire
The generous course, aspire, and still aspire;
Upheld by warnings heeded not too late 130
Stifle the contradictions of their fate,
And to one purpose cleave, their Being's godlike mate!
Thus, gifted Friend, but with the placid brow
That woman ne'er should forfeit, keep thy vow;
With modest scorn reject whate'er would blind 135
The ethereal eyesight, cramp the wingèd mind!
Then, with a blessing granted from above
To every act, word, thought, and look of love,
[Pg 222] Life's book for Thee may lie unclosed, till age
Shall with a thankful tear bedrop its latest page.[616] 140


[600] 1835.

Sequel to the preceding 1837.

The text of 1857 returns to that of 1835.

[601] See the Sonnet (p. 168) beginning—

While Anna's peers and early playmates tread.


[602] See The Faërie Queene, book i. canto 2, stanza 43—

Till we be bathed in a living well.


[603] This "elfin pool," to which the gold and silver fishes were removed, still exists beneath the pollard oak tree in "Dora's Field," at Rydal Mount. The field is now the property of Mr. Gordon Wordsworth.—Ed.

[604] 1845.

... Well;
That spreads into an elfin pool opaque
Of which close boughs a glimmering mirror make,
On whose smooth breast with dimples light and small 1835.

[605] 1845.

The fly may settle, leaf or blossom fall. 1835.
The fly may settle, or the blossom fall. 1837.

[606] 1845.

They pined, perhaps, ... 1835.

[607] See the reference to the Eagle in The Power of Sound (p. 212), and in the "Poems composed or suggested during a Tour in the Summer of 1833," The Dunolly Eagle.—Ed.

[608] See, in "The Canterbury Tales," The Squire's Tale, ll. 598-611.—Ed.

[609] 1837.

... which ... 1835.

[610] These last five lines are amongst the best instances of Wordsworth's appreciation of one of his great predecessors. Compare the second of the two poems September 1819.—Ed.

[611] "The Sabine farm was situated in the valley of Ustica, thirty miles from Rome and twelve miles from Tivoli. It possessed the attraction, no small one to Horace, of being very secluded: yet, at the same time, within an easy distance of Rome. When his spirits wanted the stimulus of society or the bustle of the capital, which they often did, his ambling mule would speedily convey him thither; and when jaded, on the other hand, by the noise and racket and dissipations of Rome, he could, in the same homely way, bury himself in a few hours among the hills, and there, under the shadow of his favourite Lucretilis, or by the banks of the clear-flowing and ice-cold Digentia, either stretch himself to dream upon the grass, lulled by the murmurs of the stream, or do a little farming in the way of clearing his fields of stones, or turning over a furrow here and there with the hoe." (See Sir Theodore Martin's Horace, p. 68.)—Ed.

[612] See Horace, Odes, II. 18—

Satis beatus unicis Sabinis.
With what I have completely blest,
My happy little Sabine nest.—Ed.

[613] See Odes, III. 13.—Ed.

[614] Abraham Cowley (born 1618), educated at Westminster and Trinity College, Cambridge, a Royalist, and therefore expelled from Cambridge, settled in St. John's College, Oxford, crossed over with the Queen Mother to France for twelve years, returned at the Restoration, but was neglected at Court, and retired to a farm at Chertsey, on the Thames, where he lived for some years, "the melancholy Cowley."—Ed.

[615] 1837.

But ... 1835.

[616] There is now, alas! no possibility of the anticipation, with which the above Epistle concludes, being realised: nor were the verses ever seen by the Individual for whom they were intended. She accompanied her husband, the Rev. Wm. Fletcher, to India, and died of cholera, at the age of thirty-two or thirty-three years, on her way from Shalapore to Bombay, deeply lamented by all who knew her.

Her enthusiasm was ardent, her piety steadfast; and her great talents would have enabled her to be eminently useful in the difficult path of life to which she had been called. The opinion she entertained of her own performances, given to the world under her maiden name, Jewsbury, was modest and humble, and, indeed, far below their merits; as is often the case with those who are making trial of their powers, with a hope to discover what they are best fitted for. In one quality, viz., quickness in the motions of her mind, she had,[617] within the range of the Author's acquaintance, no equal.—W. W. 1835.

[617] 1837.

She was in the author's estimation unequalled.—W. W. 1835.


Composed 1829.—Published 1835

Not from his fellows only man may learn
Rights to compare and duties to discern:
All creatures and all objects, in degree,
Are friends and patrons of humanity.—MS. 1835.

The Rocking-stones, alluded to in the beginning of the following verses, are supposed to have been used, by our British ancestors, both for judicial and religious purposes. Such stones are not uncommonly found, at this day, both in Great Britain and in Ireland.—W. W. 1835.

[These verses and those entitled "Liberty" were composed as one piece, which Mrs. Wordsworth complained of as unwieldy and ill-proportioned; and accordingly it was divided into two, on her judicious recommendation.—I. F.]

One of the "Poems of Sentiment and Reflection."—Ed.

[Pg 223]

What though the Accused, upon his own appeal
To righteous Gods when man has ceased to feel,
Or at a doubting Judge's stern command,
Before the Stone of Power no longer stand—
To take his sentence from the balanced Block, 5
As, at his touch, it rocks, or seems to rock;[619]
Though, in the depths of sunless groves, no more
The Druid-priest the hallowed Oak adore;
Yet, for the Initiate, rocks and whispering trees
Do still perform mysterious offices! 10
And functions dwell in beast and bird that sway
The reasoning mind, or with the fancy play,
Inviting, at all seasons, ears and eyes
To watch for undelusive auguries:—[620]
Not uninspired appear their simplest ways; 15
Their voices mount symbolical of praise—
To mix with hymns that Spirits make and hear;
And to fallen man their innocence is dear.
Enraptured Art draws from those sacred springs
Streams that reflect the poetry of things! 20
Where christian Martyrs stand in hues portrayed,
That, might a wish avail, would never fade,
Borne in their hands the lily and the palm
Shed round the altar a celestial calm;
There, too, behold the lamb and guileless dove 25
Prest in the tenderness of virgin love
To saintly bosoms!—Glorious in the blending
Of right affections climbing or descending
Along a scale of light and life, with cares
[Pg 224] Alternate; carrying holy thoughts and prayers 30
Up to the sovereign seat of the Most High;
Descending to the worm in charity;[621]
Like those good Angels whom a dream of night
Gave, in the field of Luz, to Jacob's sight[622]
All, while he slept, treading the pendent stairs 35
Earthward or heavenward, radiant messengers,
That, with a perfect will in one accord
Of strict obedience, serve[623] the Almighty Lord;
And with untired humility forbore
To speed their errand by[624] the wings they wore. 40
What a fair world were ours for verse to paint,
If Power could live at ease with self-restraint!
Opinion bow before the naked sense
Of the great Vision,—faith in Providence;
Merciful over all his creatures, just[625] 45
To the least particle of sentient dust;[626]
But,[627] fixing by immutable decrees,
Seedtime and harvest for his purposes!
Then would be closed the restless oblique eye
That looks for evil like a treacherous spy; 50
Disputes would then relax, like stormy winds
That into breezes sink; impetuous minds
[Pg 225] By discipline endeavour to grow meek
As Truth herself, whom they profess to seek.
Then Genius, shunning fellowship with Pride, 55
Would braid his golden locks at Wisdom's side;
Love ebb and flow untroubled by caprice;
And not alone harsh tyranny would cease,
But unoffending creatures find release
From qualified oppression, whose defence 60
Rests on a hollow plea of recompense;
Thought-tempered wrongs, for each humane respect
Oft worse to bear, or deadlier in effect.
Witness those glances of indignant scorn
From some high-minded Slave, impelled to spurn 65
The kindness that would make him less forlorn;
Or, if the soul to bondage be subdued,
His look of pitiable gratitude!
Alas for thee, bright Galaxy of Isles,
Whose[628] day departs in pomp, returns with smiles—
To greet the flowers and fruitage of a land, 71
As the sun mounts, by sea-born breezes fanned;
A land whose azure mountain-tops are seats
For Gods in council, whose green vales, retreats
Fit for the shades of heroes, mingling there 75
To breathe Elysian peace in upper air.
Though cold as winter, gloomy as the grave,
Stone-walls a prisoner make, but not a slave.[629]
Shall man assume a property in man?
Lay on the moral will a withering ban? 80
[Pg 226] Shame that our laws at distance still protect[630]
Enormities, which they at home reject!
"Slaves cannot breathe in England"[631]—yet that boast
Is but a mockery! when[632] from coast to coast,
Though fettered slave be none, her floors and soil 85
Groan underneath a weight of slavish toil,
For the poor Many, measured out by rules
Fetched with cupidity from heartless schools,
That to an Idol, falsely called[633] "the Wealth
Of Nations,"[634] sacrifice a People's health, 90
Body and mind and soul; a thirst so keen[635]
Is ever urging on the vast machine
Of sleepless Labour, 'mid whose dizzy wheels
The Power least prized is that which thinks and feels.
Then, for the pastimes of this delicate age, 95
And all the heavy or light vassalage
Which for their sakes we fasten, as may suit
Our varying moods, on human kind or brute,
'Twere well in little, as in great, to pause,
Lest Fancy trifle with eternal laws. 100
Not from his fellows only man may learn
Rights to compare and duties to discern!
All creatures and all objects, in degree,
Are friends and patrons of humanity.
There are to whom the[636] garden, grove, and field, 105
[Pg 227] Perpetual lessons of forbearance yield;
Who would not lightly violate the grace
The lowliest flower possesses in its place;
Nor shorten the sweet life, too fugitive, 109
Which nothing less than Infinite Power could give.[637]


[618] 1837.


(Written in the Year 1829.) 1835.

[619] There are several, so-called, "rocking-stones" in Yorkshire and Lancashire, in Derbyshire, in Cornwall, and in Wales. There are one or two in Scotland, and there used to be several in the Lake District. Some are natural; others artificial.—Ed.

[620] 1837.

... offices!
And still in beast and bird a function dwells,
That, while we look and listen, sometimes tells
Upon the heart, in more authentic guise
Than Oracles, or winged Auguries,
Spake to the Science of the ancient wise. 1835.

[621] The author is indebted, here, to a passage in one of Mr. Digby's valuable works.—W. W. 1835.

See his Of Bodies, and of man's Soul.—Ed.

[622] Genesis xxviii. 12.—Ed.

[623] 1845.

... served ... 1835.

[624] 1837.

The ready service of ... 1835.

[625] 1840.

Merciful over all existence, just 1835.

[626] 1837.

Compassionate to all that suffer, just
In the end to every creature born of dust. C.

[627] 1840.

And, ... 1835.

[628] 1837.

Where ... 1835.

[629] Compare Richard Lovelace, To Althea, from Prison

Stone walls do not a prison make,
Nor iron bars a cage.
Minds innocent and quiet take
That for a hermitage.—Ed.

[630] 1837.

... should protect 1835.

[631] Compare Cowper's Task, book ii. l. 40.—Ed.

[632] 1837.

...—a proud boast!
And yet a mockery! if, ... 1835.


That to a monstrous idol, called ... C.

[634] Compare The Prelude, book xiii. ll. 77, 78—

... that idol proudly named
"The Wealth of Nations."—Ed.


The weal of body and soul; so keen a thirst C.

The weal of body, mind, and soul; so keen
A thirst urging ... C.

[636] 1837.

... eternal laws.
There are to whom even ... 1835.

[637] Compare the closing lines of the Ode, Intimations of Immortality

To me the meanest flower that blows can give
Thoughts that do often lie too deep for tears.—Ed.


Composed 1829.—Published 1835

[This Lawn is the sloping one approaching the kitchen-garden, and was made out of it. Hundreds of times have I watched the dancing of shadows amid a press of sunshine, and other beautiful appearances of light and shade, flowers and shrubs. What a contrast between this and the cabbages and onions and carrots that used to grow there on a piece of ugly-shaped unsightly ground! No reflection, however, either upon cabbages or onions; the latter we know were worshipped by the Egyptians, and he must have a poor eye for beauty who has not observed how much of it there is in the form and colour which cabbages and plants of that genus exhibit through the various stages of their growth and decay. A richer display of colour in vegetable nature can scarcely be conceived than Coleridge, my sister, and I saw in a bed of potato-plants in blossom near a hut upon the moor between Inversneyd and Loch Katrine.[638] These blossoms were of such extraordinary beauty and richness that no one could have passed them without [Pg 228]notice. But the sense must be cultivated through the mind before we can perceive these inexhaustible treasures of Nature, for such they really are, without the least necessary reference to the utility of her productions, or even to the laws whereupon, as we learn by research, they are dependent. Some are of opinion that the habit of analysing, decomposing, and anatomising, is inevitably unfavourable to the perception of beauty. People are led into this mistake by overlooking the fact that such processes being to a certain extent within the reach of a limited intellect, we are apt to ascribe to them that insensibility of which they are in truth the effect and not the cause. Admiration and love, to which all knowledge truly vital must tend, are felt by men of real genius in proportion as their discoveries in natural Philosophy are enlarged; and the beauty in form of a plant or an animal is not made less but more apparent as a whole by more accurate insight into its constituent properties and powers. A Savant who is not also a poet in soul and a religionist in heart is a feeble and unhappy creature.—I. F.]

One of the "Poems of Sentiment and Reflection."—Ed.

This Lawn, a carpet all alive
With shadows flung from leaves—to strive
In dance, amid a press
Of sunshine, an apt emblem yields
Of Worldlings revelling in the fields 5
Of strenuous idleness;[639]
Less quick the stir when tide and breeze
Encounter, and to narrow seas
Forbid a moment's rest;
The medley less when boreal Lights 10
Glance to and fro, like aery Sprites
To feats of arms addrest!
Yet, spite of all this eager strife,
This ceaseless play, the genuine life
That serves the stedfast hours, 15
Is in the grass beneath, that grows
[Pg 229] Unheeded, and the mute repose
Of sweetly-breathing flowers.


[638] In 1803, Miss Wordsworth thus records it:—"We passed by one patch of potatoes that a florist might have been proud of; no carnation-bed ever looked more gay than this square plot of ground on the waste common. The flowers were in very large bunches, and of an extraordinary size, and of every conceivable shade of colouring from snow-white to deep purple. It was pleasing in that place, where perhaps was never yet a flower cultivated by man for his own pleasure, to see these blossoms grow more gladly than elsewhere, making a summer garden near the mountain dwellings." (Recollections of a Tour made in Scotland in 1803, p. 85).—Ed.

[639] Compare The Prelude, book iv. l. 378.—Ed.


Composed 1829.—Published 1835

[Written at Rydal Mount.—I. F.]

One of the "Poems of Sentiment and Reflection."—Ed.

Flattered with promise of escape
From every hurtful blast,
Spring takes, O sprightly May! thy shape,
Her loveliest and her last.[641]
Less fair is summer riding high 5
In fierce solstitial power,
Less fair than when a lenient sky
Brings on her parting hour.
When earth repays with golden sheaves
The labours of the plough, 10
And ripening fruits and forest leaves
All brighten on the bough;
What pensive beauty autumn shows,
Before she hears the sound
Of winter rushing in, to close 15
The emblematic round!
Such be our Spring, our Summer such;
So may our Autumn blend
With hoary Winter, and Life touch,
Through heaven-born hope, her end! 20

[Pg 230]


[640] 1850.

Thought ... 1835.

The text of 1857 returns to that of 1835.

[641] Compare Ode, composed on May Morning, 1826 (p. 146); also To May, 1826 (p. 148).—Ed.


Composed 1829.—Published 1829[643]

[This pleasing tradition was told me by the coachman at whose side I sate while he drove down the dale, he pointing to the trees on the hill as he related the story.—I.F.]

One of the "Miscellaneous Sonnets."—Ed.

'Tis said that to the brow of yon fair hill
Two Brothers clomb, and, turning face from face,
Nor one look more exchanging, grief to still
Or feed, each planted on that lofty place
A chosen Tree;[644] then, eager to fulfil 5
Their courses, like two new-born rivers, they
In opposite directions urged their way
Down from the far-seen mount. No blast might kill
Or blight that fond memorial;—the trees grew,
And now entwine their arms; but ne'er again 10
Embraced those Brothers upon earth's wide plain;
Nor aught of mutual joy or sorrow knew
Until their spirits mingled in the sea
That to itself takes all, Eternity.

[Pg 231]


[642] 1837.

A Tradition of Darley Dale, Derbyshire. 1832.

[643] In The Keepsake.—Ed.

[644] Mr. T. W. Shore (Southampton), writes to me: "The two trees referred to by the poet are still on the hill, and called the Shore Trees. The family of Shore is an ancient one in Derbyshire, extending back to the reign of Richard II. In the time of Charles I, several members of the family impoverished themselves in support of the Royalist cause.... The trees on Oker Hill are supposed to have been planted by those who remembered the family misfortunes, or who succeeded the family which took part in the 17th century struggle."—Ed.



Composed 1829 (probably).—Published 1832

[This was also communicated to me by a coachman in the same way.[645] In the course of my many coach rambles and journeys, which, during the day-time always, and often in the night, were taken on the outside of the coach, I had good and frequent opportunities of learning the characteristics of this class of men. One remark I made that is worth recording; that whenever I had occasion especially to notice their well-ordered, respectful and kind behaviour to women, of whatever age, I found them, I may say almost always, to be married men.—I.F.]

This happened near Ormskirk. Thomas Scarisbrick was killed by a flash of lightning, whilst building a turf-stack in 1799. His son James completed the work, and kept it intact during his life-time. James was buried April 21st, 1824. Wordsworth was therefore wrong as to the "fifty winters."—Ed.

One of the "Miscellaneous Sonnets."—Ed.

Untouched through all severity of cold;
Inviolate, whate'er the cottage hearth
Might need for comfort, or for festal mirth;
That Pile of Turf is half a century old:
Yes, Traveller! fifty winters have been told 5
Since suddenly the dart of death went forth
'Gainst him who raised it,—his last work on earth:
Thence has it, with the Son, so strong a hold
Upon his Father's memory, that his hands,
Through reverence, touch it only to repair[646] 10
Its waste.—Though crumbling with each breath of air,
In annual renovation thus it stands—
Rude Mausoleum! but wrens nestle there,
And red-breasts warble when sweet sounds are rare.

[Pg 232]


[645] Compare the Fenwick note to A Tradition of Oker Hill in Darley Dale, Derbyshire, p. 230.—Ed.

[646] 1837.

Thence by his Son more prized than aught which gold
Could purchase—watched, preserved by his own hands,
That, faithful to the Structure, still repair 1832.


The Poems written in 1830 include, The Armenian Lady's Love, The Russian Fugitive, The Egyptian Maid, the Elegiac Stanzas on Sir George Beaumont, and several minor pieces.—Ed.


Composed 1830.—Published 1835

The subject of the following poem is from the Orlandus of the author's friend, Kenelm Henry Digby: and the liberty is taken of inscribing it to him as an acknowledgment, however unworthy, of pleasure and instruction derived from his numerous and valuable writings, illustrative of the piety and chivalry of the olden time.—W. W.

[Written at Rydal Mount.—I. F.]

One of the "Poems founded on the Affections."—Ed.


You have heard "a Spanish Lady
How she wooed an English man;"[647]
Hear now of a fair Armenian,
Daughter of the proud Soldàn;
How she loved a Christian Slave, and told her pain 5
By word, look, deed, with hope that he might love again.
[Pg 233]


"Pluck that rose, it moves my liking,"
Said she, lifting up her veil;
"Pluck it for me, gentle gardener,
Ere it wither and grow pale." 10
"Princess fair, I till the ground, but may not take
From twig or bed an humbler flower, even for your sake!"


"Grieved am I, submissive Christian!
To behold thy captive state;
Women, in your land, may pity 15
(May they not?) the unfortunate."
"Yes, kind Lady! otherwise man could not bear
Life, which to every one that breathes is full of care."


"Worse than idle is compassion
If it end in tears and sighs; 20
Thee from bondage would I rescue
And from vile indignities;
Nurtured, as thy mien bespeaks, in high degree,
Look up—and help a hand that longs to set thee free."


"Lady! dread the wish, nor venture 25
In such peril to engage;
Think how it would stir against you
Your most loving father's rage:
Sad deliverance would it be, and yoked with shame,
Should troubles overflow on her from whom it came." 30


[Pg 234]

"Generous Frank! the just in effort
Are of inward peace secure:
Hardships for the brave encountered,
Even the feeblest may endure:
If almighty grace through me thy chains unbind 35
My father for slave's work may seek a slave in mind."


"Princess, at this burst of goodness,
My long-frozen heart grows warm!"
"Yet you make all courage fruitless,
Me to save from chance of harm: 40
Leading such companion I that gilded dome,
Yon minarets, would gladly leave for his worst home."


"Feeling tunes your voice, fair Princess!
And your brow is free from scorn,
Else these words would come like mockery, 45
Sharper than the pointed thorn."
"Whence the undeserved mistrust? Too wide apart
Our faith hath been,—O would that eyes could see the heart!"


"Tempt me not, I pray; my doom is
These base implements to wield; 50
Rusty lance, I ne'er shall grasp thee,
Ne'er assoil my cobwebb'd shield!
Never see my native land, nor castle towers,
Nor Her who thinking of me there counts widowed hours."


"Prisoner! pardon youthful fancies; 55
Wedded? If you can, say no!
[Pg 235] Blessed is and be your consort;
Hopes I cherished—let them go!
Handmaid's privilege would leave my purpose free,
Without another link to my felicity." 60


"Wedded love with loyal Christians,
Lady, is a mystery rare;
Body, heart, and soul in union,
Make one being of a pair."
"Humble love in me would look for no return, 65
Soft as a guiding star that cheers, but cannot burn."


"Gracious Allah! by such title
Do I dare to thank the God,
Him who thus exalts thy spirit,
Flower of an unchristian sod! 70
Or hast thou put off wings which thou in heaven dost wear?
What have I seen, and heard or dreamt? where am I? where?"


Here broke off the dangerous converse:
Less impassioned words might tell
How the pair escaped together, 75
Tears not wanting, nor a knell
Of sorrow in her heart while through her father's door,
And from her narrow world, she passed for evermore.


But affections higher, holier,
Urged her steps; she shrunk from trust 80
In a sensual creed that trampled
Woman's birthright into dust.
Little be the wonder then, the blame be none,
If she, a timid Maid, hath put such boldness on.


[Pg 236]

Judge both Fugitives with knowledge: 85
In those old romantic days
Mighty were the soul's commandments
To support, restrain, or raise.
Foes might hang upon their path, snakes rustle near,
But nothing from their inward selves had they to fear. 90


Thought infirm ne'er came between them,
Whether printing desert sands
With accordant steps, or gathering
Forest-fruit with social hands; 94
Or whispering like two reeds that in the cold moonbeam
Bend with the breeze their heads, beside a crystal stream.


On a friendly deck reposing
They at length for Venice steer;
There, when they had closed their voyage,
One, who daily on the pier 100
Watched for tidings from the East, beheld his Lord,
Fell down and clasped his knees for joy, not uttering word.


Mutual was the sudden transport;
Breathless questions followed fast,
Years contracting to a moment, 105
Each word greedier than the last;
"Hie thee to the Countess, friend! return with speed,
And of this Stranger speak by whom her lord was freed.


Say that I, who might have languished,
Drooped and pined till life was spent, 110
Now before the gates of Stolberg[648]
[Pg 237] My Deliverer would present
For a crowning recompense, the precious grace
Of her who in my heart still holds her ancient place.


Make it known that my Companion 115
Is of royal eastern blood,
Thirsting after all perfection,
Innocent, and meek, and good,
Though with misbelievers bred; but that dark night
Will holy Church disperse by beams of gospel-light." 120


Swiftly went that grey-haired Servant,
Soon returned a trusty Page
Charged with greetings, benedictions,
Thanks and praises, each a gage
For a sunny thought to cheer the Stranger's way, 125
Her virtuous scruples to remove, her fears allay.


And how blest the Reunited,
While beneath their castle-walls,
Runs a deafening noise of welcome!—
Blest, though every tear that falls 130
Doth in its silence of past sorrow tell,
And makes[649] a meeting seem most like a dear farewell.


Through a haze of human nature,
Glorified by heavenly light,
Looked the beautiful Deliverer 135
[Pg 238] On that overpowering sight,
While across her virgin cheek pure blushes strayed,
For every tender sacrifice her heart had made.


On the ground the weeping Countess
Knelt, and kissed the Stranger's hand; 140
Act of soul-devoted homage,
Pledge of an eternal band:
Nor did aught of future days that kiss belie,
Which, with a generous shout, the crowd did ratify.


Constant to the fair Armenian, 145
Gentle pleasures round her moved,
Like a tutelary spirit
Reverenced, like a sister, loved.
Christian meekness smoothed for all the path of life, 149
Who, loving most, should wiseliest love, their only strife.


Mute memento of that union
In a Saxon church survives,
[Pg 239] Where a cross-legged Knight lies sculptured
As between two wedded Wives—
Figures with armorial signs of race and birth, 155
And the vain rank the pilgrims bore while yet on earth.


[647] See, in Percy's Reliques, that fine old ballad, "The Spanish Lady's Love;" from which Poem the form of stanza, as suitable to dialogue, is adopted.—W. W. 1835.

[648] A small town in Prussian-Saxony, the residence of the Counts of Stolberg-Stolberg.—Ed.

[649] 1836.
Fancy (while, to banners floating
High on Stolberg's Castle walls,
Deafening noise of welcome mounted,
Trumpets, Drums, and Atabals,)
The devout embraces still, while such tears fell
As made ... 1835.


Composed 1830.—Published 1835

[Early in life this story had interested me, and I often thought it would make a pleasing subject for an opera or musical drama.—I. F.]

In 1837 this poem was placed among those grouped as "Yarrow revisited, etc." In 1845 it was transferred to the "Miscellaneous Poems."—Ed.

Part I

Enough of rose-bud lips, and eyes
Like harebells bathed in dew,
Of cheek that with carnation vies,
And veins of violet hue;[651]
Earth wants not beauty that may scorn 5
[Pg 240] A likening to frail flowers;
Yea, to the stars, if they were born[652]
For seasons and for hours.
Through Moscow's gates, with gold unbarred,[653]
Stepped One at dead of night, 10
Whom such high beauty could not guard
From meditated blight;
By stealth she passed, and fled as fast
As doth the hunted fawn,
Nor stopped, till in the dappling east 15
Appeared unwelcome dawn.
Seven days she lurked in brake and field,
Seven nights her course renewed,
Sustained by what her scrip might yield,
Or berries of the wood; 20
At length, in darkness travelling on,
When lowly doors were shut,
The haven of her hope she won,
Her Foster-mother's hut.
"To put your love to dangerous proof 25
I come," said she, "from far;
For I have left my Father's roof,
In terror of the Czar."
No answer did the Matron give,
No second look she cast, 30
But hung upon the Fugitive,[654]
Embracing and embraced.
[Pg 241]
She led the Lady[655] to a seat
Beside the glimmering fire,
Bathed duteously her wayworn feet, 35
Prevented each desire:—
The cricket chirped, the house-dog dozed,
And on that simple bed,
Where she in childhood had reposed,
Now rests her weary head. 40
When she, whose couch had been the sod,
Whose curtain, pine or thorn,
Had breathed a sigh of thanks to God,
Who comforts the forlorn;
While over her the Matron bent 45
Sleep sealed her eyes, and stole
Feeling from limbs with travel spent,
And trouble from the soul.
Refreshed, the Wanderer rose at morn,
And soon again was dight 50
In those unworthy vestments worn
Through long and perilous flight;
And "O beloved Nurse," she said,
"My thanks with silent tears
Have unto Heaven and You been paid: 55
Now listen to my fears!
"Have you forgot"—and here she smiled—
"The babbling flatteries
You lavished on me when a child
Disporting round your knees? 60
I was your lambkin, and your bird,
Your star, your gem, your flower;
Light words, that were more lightly heard
In many a cloudless hour!
[Pg 242]
"The blossom you so fondly praised 65
Is come to bitter fruit;
A mighty One upon me gazed;
I spurned his lawless suit,
And must be hidden from his wrath:[656]
You, Foster-father dear, 70
Will guide me in my forward path;
I may not tarry here!
"I cannot bring to utter woe
Your proved fidelity."——
"Dear Child, sweet Mistress, say not so! 75
For you we both would die."
"Nay, nay, I come with semblance feigned
And cheek embrowned by art;
Yet, being inwardly unstained,
With courage will depart." 80
"But whither would you, could you, flee?
A poor Man's counsel take;
The Holy Virgin gives to me
A thought for your dear sake;
Rest, shielded by our Lady's grace, 85
And soon shall you be led
Forth to a safe abiding-place,
Where never foot doth tread."

Part II

The dwelling of this faithful pair
In a straggling village stood,
For One who breathed unquiet air
A dangerous neighbourhood;
But wide around lay forest ground 5
With thickets rough and blind;
And pine-trees made a heavy shade
[Pg 243] Impervious to the wind.
And there, sequestered from the sight,
Was spread a treacherous swamp, 10
On which the noon-day sun shed light
As from a lonely lamp;
And midway in the unsafe morass,
A single Island rose
Of firm dry ground, with healthful grass 15
Adorned, and shady boughs.
The Woodman knew, for such the craft
This Russian vassal plied,
That never fowler's gun, nor shaft
Of archer, there was tried; 20
A sanctuary seemed the spot
From all intrusion free;
And there he planned an artful Cot
For perfect secrecy.
With earnest pains unchecked by dread 25
Of Power's far-stretching hand,
The bold good Man his labour sped
At nature's pure command;
Heart-soothed, and busy as a wren,
While, in a hollow nook, 30
She moulds her sight-eluding den
Above a murmuring brook.
His task accomplished to his mind,
The twain ere break of day
Creep forth, and through the forest wind 35
[Pg 244] Their solitary way;
Few words they speak, nor dare to slack
Their pace from mile to mile,
Till they have crossed the quaking marsh,
And reached the lonely Isle. 40
The sun above the pine-trees showed
A bright and cheerful face;
And Ina looked for her abode,
The promised hiding-place;
She sought in vain, the Woodman smiled; 45
No threshold could be seen,
Nor roof, nor window;—all seemed wild
As it had ever been.
Advancing, you might guess an hour,
The front with such nice care 50
Is masked, "if house it be or bower,"
But in they entered are;
As shaggy as were wall and roof
With branches intertwined,
So smooth was all within, air-proof, 55
And delicately lined:
And hearth was there, and maple dish,
And cups in seemly rows,
And couch—all ready to a wish
For nurture or repose; 60
And Heaven doth to her virtue grant
That there[657] she may abide
In solitude, with every want
By cautious love supplied.
No queen, before a shouting crowd, 65
Led on in bridal state,
E'er struggled with a heart so proud,
Entering her palace gate;
Rejoiced to bid the world farewell,
No saintly anchoress 70
E'er took possession of her cell
With deeper thankfulness.
[Pg 245]
"Father of all, upon thy care
And mercy am I thrown;
Be thou my safeguard!"—such her prayer 75
When she was left alone,
Kneeling amid the wilderness
When joy had passed away,
And smiles, fond efforts of distress
To hide what they betray![658] 80
The prayer is heard, the Saints have seen,
Diffused through form and face,
Resolves devotedly serene;
That monumental grace
Of Faith, which doth[659] all passions tame 85
That Reason should control;
And shows in the untrembling frame
A statue of the soul.

Part III

Tis sung in ancient minstrelsy
That Phœbus wont to wear
The leaves of any pleasant tree
Around his golden hair;[660]
Till Daphne, desperate with pursuit 5
Of his imperious love,
At her own prayer transformed, took root,
A laurel in the grove.
[Pg 246]
Then did the Penitent adorn
His brow with laurel green; 10
And 'mid his bright locks never shorn
No meaner leaf was seen;
And poets sage, through every age,
About their temples wound
The bay; and conquerors thanked the Gods, 15
With laurel chaplets crowned.
Into the mists of fabling Time
So far runs back the praise
Of Beauty, that disdains to climb
Along forbidden ways; 20
That scorns temptation; power defies
Where mutual love is not;
And to the tomb for rescue flies
When life would be a blot.
To this fair Votaress, a fate 25
More mild doth Heaven ordain
Upon her Island desolate;
And words, not breathed in vain,
Might tell what intercourse she found,
Her silence to endear; 30
What birds she tamed, what flowers the ground
Sent forth her peace to cheer.
To one mute Presence, above all,
Her soothed affections clung,
A picture on the cabin wall 35
By Russian usage hung—
The Mother-maid,[661] whose countenance bright
With love abridged the day;
And, communed with by taper light,
Chased spectral fears away. 40
[Pg 247]
And oft, as either Guardian came,
The joy in that retreat
Might any common friendship shame,
So high their hearts would beat;
And to the lone Recluse, whate'er 45
They brought, each visiting
Was like the crowding of the year
With a new burst of spring.
But, when she of her Parents thought,
The pang was hard to bear; 50
And, if with all things not enwrought,
That trouble still is near.
Before her flight she had not dared
Their constancy to prove,
Too much the heroic Daughter feared 55
The weakness of their love.
Dark is the past to them, and dark
The future still must be,
Till pitying Saints conduct her bark
Into a safer sea— 60
Or gentle Nature close her eyes,
And set her Spirit free
From the altar of this sacrifice,
In vestal purity.
Yet, when above the forest-glooms 65
The white swans southward passed,
High as the pitch of their swift plumes
Her fancy rode the blast;
And bore her toward the fields of France,
Her Father's native land, 70
[Pg 248] To mingle in the rustic dance,
The happiest of the band!
Of those belovèd fields she oft
Had heard her Father tell
In phrase that now with echoes soft 75
Haunted her lonely cell;
She saw the hereditary bowers,
She heard the ancestral stream;
The Kremlin[662] and its haughty towers
Forgotten like a dream! 80

Part IV

The ever-changing Moon had traced
Twelve times her monthly round,
When through the unfrequented Waste
Was heard a startling sound;
A shout thrice sent from one who chased 5
At speed a wounded deer,
Bounding through branches interlaced,
And where the wood was clear.
The fainting creature took the marsh,
And toward the Island fled, 10
While plovers screamed with tumult harsh
Above his antlered head;
This, Ina saw; and, pale with fear,
Shrunk to her citadel;
The desperate deer rushed on, and near 15
The tangled covert fell.
Across the marsh, the game in view,
The Hunter followed fast,
Nor paused, till o'er the stag he blew
A death-proclaiming blast; 20
Then, resting on her upright mind,
Came forth the Maid—"In me
[Pg 249] Behold," she said, "a stricken Hind
Pursued by destiny!
"From your deportment, Sir! I deem 25
That you have worn a sword,
And will not hold in light esteem
A suffering woman's word;
There is my covert, there perchance
I might have lain concealed, 30
My fortunes hid, my countenance
Not even to you revealed.
"Tears might be shed, and I might pray,
Crouching and terrified,
That what has been unveiled to-day, 35
You would in mystery hide;
But I will not defile with dust
The knee that bends to adore
The God in heaven;—attend, be just;
This ask I, and no more! 40
"I speak not of the winter's cold,
For summer's heat exchanged,
While I have lodged in this rough hold,
From social life estranged;
Nor yet of trouble and alarms: 45
High Heaven is my defence;
And every season has soft arms
For injured Innocence.
"From Moscow to the Wilderness
It was my choice to come, 50
Lest virtue should be harbourless,
And honour want a home;
And happy were I, if the Czar
Retain his lawless will,
[Pg 250] To end life here like this poor deer, 55
Or a lamb on a green hill."
"Are you the Maid," the Stranger cried,
"From Gallic parents sprung,
Whose vanishing was rumoured wide,
Sad theme for every tongue; 60
Who foiled an Emperor's eager quest?
You, Lady, forced to wear
These rude habiliments, and rest
Your head in this dark lair!"
But wonder, pity, soon were quelled; 65
And in her face and mien
The soul's pure brightness he beheld
Without a veil between:
He loved, he hoped,—a holy flame
Kindled 'mid rapturous tears; 70
The passion of a moment came
As on the wings of years.
"Such bounty is no gift of chance,"
Exclaimed he; "righteous Heaven,
Preparing your deliverance, 75
To me the charge hath given.
The Czar full oft in words and deeds
Is stormy and self-willed;
But, when the Lady Catherine pleads,
His violence is stilled. 80
"Leave open to my wish the course,
And I to her will go;
From that humane and heavenly source,
Good, only good, can flow."
Faint sanction given, the Cavalier 85
Was eager to depart,
Though question followed question, dear
To the Maiden's filial heart.[663]
[Pg 251]
Light was his step,—his hopes, more light,
Kept pace with his desires; 90
And the fifth[664] morning gave him sight
Of Moscow's glittering spires.
He sued:—heart-smitten by the wrong,
To the lorn Fugitive
The Emperor sent a pledge as strong 95
As sovereign power could give.
O more than mighty change! If e'er
Amazement rose to pain,
And joy's excess[665] produced a fear
Of something void and vain; 100
'Twas when the Parents, who had mourned
So long the lost as dead,
Beheld their only Child returned,
The household floor to tread.
Soon gratitude gave way to love 105
Within the Maiden's breast:
Delivered and Deliverer move
In bridal garments drest;
Meek Catherine had her own reward;
The Czar bestowed a dower; 110
And universal Moscow shared
The triumph of that hour.
Flowers strewed the ground; the nuptial feast
Was held with costly state;
And there, 'mid many a noble guest, 115
The Foster-parents sate;
Encouraged by the imperial eye,
They shrank not into shade;
Great was their bliss, the honour high
To them and nature paid! 120

[Pg 252]


[650] Peter Henry Bruce, having given in his entertaining Memoirs the substance of this Tale,[666] affirms that, besides the concurring reports of others, he had the story from the lady's own mouth.

The Lady Catherine, mentioned towards the close, is[667] the famous Catherine, then bearing that name as the acknowledged Wife of Peter the Great.—W. W. 1835.

The title of this poem in the MS. copy by Mrs. Wordsworth is—



[651] Compare S. T. Coleridge's verses, To a Lady

'Tis not the lily-brow I prize,
Nor roseate cheeks, nor sunny eyes,
Enough of lilies and of roses!
A thousand-fold more dear to me
The gentle look that Love discloses,—
The look that Love alone can see!

And Keats' lines beginning—

Woman! when I behold thee flippant, vain.

Also Wordsworth's Jewish Family, II. 25-28.—Ed.

[652] 1835.

Yea, to the stars themselves, if born C.

[653] 1835.

... by gold unbarred,

MS. copy by Mrs. Wordsworth.

[654] 1837.

She hung upon ... 1835.

[655] 1837.

She led her Lady ... 1835.

[656] 1835.

And I must hide me from his wrath.


[657] 1850.

That here ... 1835.

[658] 1835.

And smiles, the sunshine of distress,
That hide-yet more betray.


[659] 1835.

... serene;
Exalting lowly grace,
A Faith which does ...


[660] In the edition of 1835 the two preceding lines were placed within quotation marks, and the following added "From Golding's Translation of Ovid's Metamorphoses. See also his Dedicatory Epistle prefixed to the same work."-Ed.

[661] "Not a Russian house, Bruce tells us, was, at his time, without a picture of the Virgin." (MS. note to a copy of this poem, in Mrs. Wordsworth's handwriting.)—Ed.

[662] The Royal Palace at Moscow.—Ed.

[663] 1835.

... the Cavalier
Recounted all he knew,
The sufferer's filial heart to cheer;
Then hastily withdrew.


[664] 1837.

... third ... 1835.

[665] 1837.

And over-joy ... 1835.

[666] 1845.

of the following Tale 1835.

[667] 1837.

was 1835.

or, the Romance of the Water Lily

Composed 1830.—Published 1835

For the names and persons in the following poem, see the "History of the renowned Prince Arthur and his Knights of the Round Table"; for the rest the Author is answerable; only it may be proper to add, that the Lotus, with the bust of the Goddess appearing to rise out of the full-blown flower, was suggested by the beautiful work of ancient art, once included among the Townley Marbles, and now in the British Museum.—W. W. 1835.

[In addition to the short notice prefixed to this poem, it may be worth while here to say, that it rose out of a few words casually used in conversation by my nephew, Henry Hutchinson. He was describing with great spirit the appearance and movement of a vessel which he seemed to admire more than any other he had ever seen, and said her name was the Water Lily. This plant has been my delight from my boyhood, as I have seen it floating on the lake; and that conversation put me upon constructing and composing the poem. Had I not heard those words, it would never have been written. The form of the stanza is new, and is nothing but a repetition of the first five lines as they were thrown off, and is not perhaps well suited to narrative, and certainly would not have been trusted to had I thought at the beginning that the poem would have gone to such a length.—I. F.]

In the editions of 1835 and 1837 this poem was assigned a place of its own. In 1845 it was placed among the "Memorials of a Tour in Italy, 1837."—Ed.

While Merlin paced the Cornish sands,
Forth-looking toward the rocks of Scilly,
[Pg 253] The pleased Enchanter was aware
Of a bright Ship that seemed to hang in air,
Yet was she work of mortal hands, 5
And took from men her name—The Water Lily.
Soft was the wind, that landward blew;
And, as the Moon, o'er some dark hill ascendant,
Grows from a little edge of light
To a full orb, this Pinnace bright 10
Became, as nearer to the coast she drew,
More glorious, with spread sail and streaming pendant.
Upon this wingèd Shape so fair
Sage Merlin gazed with admiration:
Her lineaments, thought he, surpass 15
Aught that was ever shown in magic glass;
Was ever built with patient care;
Or, at a touch, produced by happiest transformation.[668]
Now, though a Mechanist, whose skill
Shames the degenerate grasp of modern science, 20
Grave Merlin (and belike the more
For practising occult and perilous lore)
Was subject to a freakish will
That sapped good thoughts, or scared them with defiance.
Provoked to envious spleen, he cast 25
An altered look upon the advancing Stranger
Whom he had hailed with joy, and cried,
"My Art shall help to tame her pride—"
Anon the breeze became a blast,
And the waves rose, and sky portended danger. 30
With thrilling word, and potent sign
Traced on the beach, his work the Sorcerer urges;
The clouds in blacker clouds are lost,
Like spiteful Fiends that vanish, crossed
By Fiends of aspect more malign; 35
And the winds roused the Deep with fiercer scourges.
[Pg 254]
But worthy of the name she bore
Was this Sea-flower, this buoyant Galley:
Supreme in loveliness and grace
Of motion, whether in the embrace 40
Of trusty anchorage, or scudding o'er
The main flood roughened into hill and valley.
Behold, how wantonly she laves
Her sides, the Wizard's craft confounding;
Like something out of Ocean sprung 45
To be for ever fresh and young,
Breasts the sea-flashes, and huge waves
Top-gallant high, rebounding and rebounding!
But Ocean under magic heaves,
And cannot spare the Thing he cherished: 50
Ah! what avails that she was fair,
Luminous, blithe, and debonair?
The storm has stripped her of her leaves;
The Lily floats no longer!—She hath perished.
Grieve for her,—she deserves no less; 55
So like, yet so unlike, a living Creature!
No heart had she, no busy brain;
Though loved, she could not love again;
Though pitied, feel her own distress;
Nor aught that troubles us, the fools of Nature. 60
Yet is there cause for gushing tears;
So richly was this Galley laden,
A fairer than herself she bore,
And, in her struggles, cast ashore;
A lovely One, who nothing hears 65
[Pg 255] Of wind or wave—a meek and guileless Maiden.
Into a cave had Merlin fled
From mischief, caused by spells himself had muttered;
And while, repentant all too late,
In moody posture there he sate, 70
He heard a voice, and saw, with half-raised head,
A Visitant by whom these words were uttered;
"On Christian service this frail Bark
Sailed" (hear me, Merlin!) "under high protection,
Though on her prow a sign of heathen power 75
Was carved—a Goddess with a Lily flower,
The old Egyptian's emblematic mark
Of joy immortal and of pure affection.
"Her course was for the British strand;
Her freight, it was a Damsel peerless; 80
God reigns above, and Spirits strong
May gather to avenge this wrong
Done to the Princess, and her Land
Which she in duty left, sad but not cheerless.[669]
"And to Caerleon's loftiest tower 85
Soon will the Knights of Arthur's Table
A cry of lamentation send;
And all will weep who there attend,
To grace that Stranger's bridal hour,
For whom the sea was made unnavigable. 90
"Shame! should a Child of royal line
Die through the blindness of thy malice?"
Thus to the Necromancer spake
Nina, the Lady of the Lake,
A gentle Sorceress, and benign, 95
Who ne'er embittered any good man's chalice.
"What boots," continued she, "to mourn?
To expiate thy sin endeavour:
From the bleak isle where she is laid,
Fetched by our art, the Egyptian Maid 100
[Pg 256] May yet to Arthur's court be borne
Cold as she is, ere life be fled for ever.
"My pearly Boat, a shining Light,
That brought me down that sunless river,
Will bear me on from wave to wave, 105
And back with her to this sea-cave;—
Then Merlin! for a rapid flight
Through air, to thee my Charge will I deliver.
"The very swiftest of thy cars
Must, when my part is done, be ready; 110
Meanwhile, for further guidance, look
Into thy own prophetic book;
And, if that fail, consult the Stars
To learn thy course; farewell! be prompt and steady."
This scarcely spoken, she again 115
Was seated in her gleaming shallop,
That, o'er the yet-distempered Deep,
Pursued its way with bird-like sweep,
Or like a steed, without a rein,
Urged o'er the wilderness in sportive gallop. 120
Soon did the gentle Nina reach
That Isle without a house or haven;
Landing, she found not what she sought,
Nor saw of wreck or ruin aught
But a carved Lotus cast upon the beach[670] 125
By the fierce waves, a flower in marble graven.
Sad relique, but how fair the while!
For gently each from each retreating
With backward curve, the leaves revealed
The bosom half, and half concealed, 130
[Pg 257] Of a Divinity, that seemed to smile
On Nina, as she passed, with hopeful greeting.
No quest was hers of vague desire,
Of tortured hope and purpose shaken;
Following the margin of a bay, 135
She spied the lonely Cast-away,
Unmarred, unstripped of her attire,
But with closed eyes,—of breath and bloom forsaken.
Then Nina, stooping down, embraced,
With tenderness and mild emotion, 140
The Damsel, in that trance embound;
And, while she raised her from the ground,
And in the pearly shallop placed,
Sleep fell upon the air, and stilled the ocean.
The turmoil hushed, celestial springs 145
Of music opened, and there came a blending
Of fragrance, underived from earth,
With gleams that owed not to the sun their birth,
And that soft rustling of invisible wings[671]
Which Angels make, on works of love descending. 150
And Nina heard a sweeter voice
Than if the Goddess of the flower had spoken:
"Thou hast achieved, fair Dame! what none
Less pure in spirit could have done;
Go, in thy enterprise rejoice! 155
Air, earth, sea, sky, and heaven, success betoken."
So cheered, she left that Island bleak,
A bare rock of the Scilly cluster,
And, as they traversed the smooth brine,
The self-illumined Brigantine 160
[Pg 258] Shed, on the Slumberer's cold wan cheek
And pallid brow, a melancholy lustre.
Fleet was their course, and when they came
To the dim cavern, whence the river
Issued into the salt-sea flood, 165
Merlin, as fixed in thought he stood,
Was thus accosted by the Dame;
"Behold to thee my Charge I now deliver!
But where attends thy chariot—where?"—
Quoth Merlin, "Even as I was bidden, 170
So have I done; as trusty as thy barge
My vehicle shall prove—O precious Charge!
If this be sleep, how soft! if death, how fair!
Much have my books disclosed, but the end is hidden."
He spake; and gliding into view 175
Forth from the grotto's dimmest chamber
Came two mute Swans, whose plumes of dusky white
Changed, as the pair approached the light,
Drawing an ebon car, their hue
(Like clouds of sunset) into lucid amber. 180
Once more did gentle Nina lift
The Princess, passive to all changes:
The car received her:—then up-went
Into the ethereal element
The Birds with progress smooth and swift 185
As thought, when through bright regions memory ranges.
Sage Merlin, at the Slumberer's side,
Instructs the Swans their way to measure;
And soon Caerleon's towers appeared,
And notes of minstrelsy were heard 190
From rich pavilions spreading wide,
[Pg 259] For some high day of long-expected pleasure.
Awe-stricken stood both Knights and Dames
Ere on firm ground the car alighted;
Eftsoons astonishment was past, 195
For in that face they saw the last
Last lingering look of clay, that tames
All pride; by which all happiness is blighted.
Said Merlin, "Mighty King, fair Lords,
Away with feast and tilt and tourney! 200
Ye saw, throughout this royal House,
Ye heard, a rocking marvellous
Of turrets, and a clash of swords
Self-shaken, as I closed my airy journey.
"Lo! by a destiny well known 205
To mortals, joy is turned to sorrow;
This is the wished-for Bride, the Maid
Of Egypt, from a rock conveyed
Where she by shipwreck had been thrown;
Ill sight! but grief may vanish ere the morrow." 210
"Though vast thy power, thy words are weak,"
Exclaimed the King, "a mockery hateful;
Dutiful Child, her lot how hard!
Is this her piety's reward?
Those watery locks, that bloodless cheek! 215
O winds without remorse! O shore ungrateful!
"Rich robes are fretted by the moth;
Towers, temples, fall by stroke of thunder;
Will that, or deeper thoughts, abate
A Father's sorrow for her fate? 220
He will repent him of his troth;
His brain will burn, his stout heart split asunder.
"Alas! and I have caused this woe;
[Pg 260] For, when my prowess from invading Neighbours
Had freed his Realm, he plighted word 225
That he would turn to Christ our Lord,
And his dear Daughter on a Knight bestow
Whom I should choose for love and matchless labours.
"Her birth was heathen; but a fence
Of holy Angels round her hovered: 230
A Lady added to my court
So fair, of such divine report
And worship, seemed a recompense
For fifty kingdoms by my sword recovered.
"Ask not for whom, O Champions true! 235
She was reserved by me her life's betrayer;
She who was meant to be a bride
Is now a corse: then put aside
Vain thoughts, and speed ye, with observance due
Of Christian rites, in Christian ground to lay her." 240
"The tomb," said Merlin, "may not close
Upon her yet, earth hide her beauty;
Not froward to thy sovereign will
Esteem me, Liege! if I, whose skill
Wafted her hither, interpose 245
To check this pious haste of erring duty.
"My books command me to lay bare
The secret thou art bent on keeping:
Here must a high attest be given, 249
What Bridegroom was for her ordained by Heaven:
And in my glass significants there are
Of things that may to gladness turn this weeping.
"For this, approaching, One by One,
Thy Knights must touch the cold hand of the Virgin;
So, for the favoured One, the Flower may bloom 255
Once more: but, if unchangeable her doom,
If life departed be for ever gone,
[Pg 261] Some blest assurance, from this cloud emerging,
"May teach him to bewail his loss;
Not with a grief that, like a vapour, rises 260
And melts; but grief devout that shall endure,
And a perpetual growth secure
Of purposes which no false thought shall cross,
A harvest of high hopes and noble enterprises."
"So be it," said the King;—"anon, 265
Here, where the Princess lies, begin the trial;
Knights each in order as ye stand
Step forth."—To touch the pallid hand
Sir Agravaine advanced; no sign he won
From Heaven or earth;—Sir Kaye had like denial. 270
Abashed, Sir Dinas turned away;
Even for Sir Percival was no disclosure;
Though he, devoutest of all Champions, ere
He reached that ebon car, the bier
Whereon diffused like snow the Damsel lay, 275
Full thrice had crossed himself in meek composure.
Imagine (but ye Saints! who can?)
How in still air the balance trembled—
The wishes, peradventure the despites
That overcame some not ungenerous Knights; 280
And all the thoughts that lengthened out a span
Of time to Lords and Ladies thus assembled.
What patient confidence was here!
And there how many bosoms panted!
While drawing toward the car Sir Gawaine, mailed 285
For tournament, his beaver vailed,
And softly touched; but, to his princely cheer
And high expectancy, no sign was granted.
Next, disencumbered of his harp,
[Pg 262] Sir Tristram, dear to thousands as a brother, 290
Came to the proof, nor grieved that there ensued
No change;—the fair Izonda he had wooed
With love too true, a love with pangs too sharp,
From hope too distant, not to dread another.
Not so Sir Launcelot; from Heaven's grace 295
A sign he craved, tired slave of vain contrition;
The royal Guinever looked passing glad.
When his touch failed.—Next came Sir Galahad;
He paused, and stood entranced by that still face
Whose features he had seen in noontide vision. 300
For late, as near a murmuring stream
He rested 'mid an arbour green and shady,
Nina, the good Enchantress, shed
A light around his mossy bed;
And, at her call, a waking dream 305
Prefigured to his sense the Egyptian Lady.
Now, while his bright-haired front he bowed,
And stood, far-kenned by mantle furred with ermine,
As o'er the insensate Body hung
The enrapt, the beautiful, the young, 310
Belief sank deep into the crowd
That he the solemn issue would determine.
Nor deem it strange; the Youth had worn
That very mantle on a day of glory,
The day when he achieved that matchless feat, 315
The marvel of the Perilous Seat,
Which whosoe'er approached of strength was shorn,
Though King or Knight the most renowned in story.
He touched with hesitating hand—
And lo! those Birds, far-famed through Love's dominions, 320
The Swans, in triumph clap their wings;
[Pg 263] And their necks play, involved in rings,
Like sinless snakes in Eden's happy land;—
"Mine is she," cried the Knight;—again they clapped their pinions.
"Mine was she—mine she is, though dead, 325
And to her name my soul shall cleave in sorrow;"
Whereat, a tender twilight streak
Of colour dawned upon the Damsel's cheek;
And her lips, quickening with uncertain red,
Seemed from each other a faint warmth to borrow. 330
Deep was the awe, the rapture high,
Of love emboldened, hope with dread entwining,
When, to the mouth, relenting Death
Allowed a soft and flower-like breath,
Precursor to a timid sigh, 335
To lifted eyelids, and a doubtful shining.
In silence did King Arthur gaze
Upon the signs that pass away or tarry;
In silence watched the gentle strife
Of Nature leading back to life; 340
Then eased his soul at length by praise
Of God, and Heaven's pure Queen—the blissful Mary.
Then said he, "Take her to thy heart,
Sir Galahad! a treasure, that God giveth,
Bound by indissoluble ties to thee 345
Through mortal change and immortality;
Be happy and unenvied, thou who art
A goodly Knight that hath no peer that liveth!"
Not long the Nuptials were delayed;
And sage tradition still rehearses 350
The pomp, the glory of that hour
When toward the altar from her bower
King Arthur led the Egyptian Maid,
And Angels carolled these far-echoed verses;—
[Pg 264]
Who shrinks not from alliance 355
Of evil with good Powers,
To God proclaims defiance,
And mocks whom he adores.
A Ship to Christ devoted
From the Land of Nile did go; 360
Alas! the bright Ship floated,
An Idol at her prow.
By magic domination,
The Heaven-permitted vent
Of purblind mortal passion, 365
Was wrought her punishment.
The Flower, the Form within it,
What served they in her need?
Her port she could not win it,
Nor from mishap be freed. 370
The tempest overcame her,
And she was seen no more;
But gently, gently blame her—
She cast a Pearl ashore.
The Maid to Jesu hearkened, 375
And kept to him her faith,
Till sense in death was darkened,
Or sleep akin to death.
But Angels round her pillow
Kept watch, a viewless band; 380
And, billow favouring billow,
She reached the destined strand.
[Pg 265]
Blest Pair! whate'er befal you,
Your faith in Him approve
Who from frail earth can call you 385
To bowers of endless love!


[668] 1837.

... set forth with wondrous transformation. 1835.

[669] 1837.

... though sad not cheerless. 1835.

[670] 1837.

... shore 1835.

[671] Compare Paradise Lost, book i. l. 768.—Ed.


Composed 1830.—Published 1835

[Written at Rydal Mount. This dove was one of a pair that had been given to my daughter by our excellent friend, Miss Jewsbury,[673] who went to India with her husband, Mr. Fletcher, where she died of cholera. The dove survived its mate many years, and was killed, to our great sorrow, by a neighbour's cat that got in at the window and dragged it partly out of the cage. These verses were composed extempore, to the letter, in the Terrace Summer-house before spoken of. It was the habit of the bird to begin cooing and murmuring whenever it heard me making my verses.—I.F.]

One of the "Poems of the Fancy."—Ed.

As often as I murmur here
My half-formed melodies,
Straight from her osier mansion near,
The Turtledove replies:
Though silent as a leaf before, 5
The captive promptly coos;
Is it to teach her own soft lore,
Or second my weak Muse?
I rather think, the gentle Dove
Is murmuring a reproof, 10
Displeased that I from lays of love
Have dared to keep aloof;
That I, a Bard of hill and dale,
Have carolled, fancy free,[674]
As if nor dove nor nightingale, 15
Had heart or voice for me.
[Pg 266]
If such thy meaning, O forbear,
Sweet Bird! to do me wrong;
Love, blessed Love, is every where
The spirit of my song: 20
'Mid grove, and by the calm fireside,
Love animates my lyre—
That coo again!—'tis not to chide,
I feel, but to inspire.


[672] In a MS. letter to Sir George Beaumont I find the poem entitled "Twenty minutes Exercise on the Terrace last night, but Scene within doors."—Ed.

[673] Compare the Sonnet beginning—

While Anna's peers and early playmates tread (p. 168.)—Ed.

[674] Compare A Midsummer Night's Dream, act II. scene i. l. 164.—Ed.


Composed 1830.—Published 1835

[Written at Rydal Mount.—I. F.]

One of the "Poems of the Imagination."—Ed.

Presentiments! they judge not right
Who deem that ye from open light
Retire in fear of shame;
All heaven-born Instincts shun the touch
Of vulgar sense,—and, being such, 5
Such privilege ye claim.
The tear whose source I could not guess,
The deep sigh that seemed fatherless,
Were mine in early days;
And now, unforced by time to part 10
With fancy, I obey my heart,
And venture on your praise.
What though some busy foes to good,
[Pg 267] Too potent over nerve and blood,
Lurk near you—and combine 15
To taint the health which ye infuse;
This hides not from the moral Muse
Your origin divine.
How oft from you, derided Powers!
Comes Faith that in auspicious hours 20
Builds castles, not of air:
Bodings unsanctioned by the will
Flow from your visionary skill,
And teach us to beware.
The bosom-weight, your stubborn gift, 25
That no philosophy can lift,
Shall vanish, if ye please,
Like morning mist: and, where it lay,
The spirits at your bidding play
In gaiety and ease. 30
Star-guided contemplations move
Through space, though calm, not raised above
Prognostics that ye rule;
The naked Indian of the wild,
And haply, too, the cradled Child, 35
Are pupils of your school.
But who can fathom your intents,
Number their signs or instruments?
A rainbow, a sunbeam,
A subtle smell that Spring unbinds, 40
Dead pause abrupt of midnight winds,
An echo, or a dream.[675]
The laughter of the Christmas hearth
With sighs of self-exhausted mirth
Ye feelingly reprove; 45
And daily, in the conscious breast,
[Pg 268] Your visitations are a test
And exercise of love.
When some great change gives boundless scope
To an exulting Nation's hope, 50
Oft, startled and made wise
By your low-breathed interpretings,
The simply-meek foretaste the springs
Of bitter contraries.
Ye daunt the proud array of war, 55
Pervade the lonely ocean far
As sail hath been unfurled;
For dancers in the festive hall
What ghastly partners hath your call
Fetched from the shadowy world. 60
'Tis said, that warnings ye dispense,
Emboldened by a keener sense;
That men have lived for whom,
With dread precision, ye made clear
The hour that in a distant year 65
Should knell them to the tomb.
Unwelcome insight! Yet there are
Blest times when mystery is laid bare,
Truth shows a glorious face,
While on that isthmus which commands 70
The councils of both worlds, she stands,
Sage Spirits! by your grace.
God, who instructs the brutes to scent
All changes of the element,
[Pg 269] Whose wisdom fixed the scale 75
Of natures, for our wants provides
By higher, sometimes humbler, guides,
When lights of reason fail.


[675] Compare Robert Browning's Bishop Blougram's Apology, ll. 191-197—

... there's a sunset-touch,
A fancy from a flower-bell, some one's death,
A chorus-ending from Euripides,—.
And that's enough for fifty hopes and fears
As old and new at once as Nature's self,
To rap and knock and enter in our soul,
Take hands and dance there, a fantastic ring, etc.—Ed.


Composed 1830.—Published 1835

[Engraven, during my absence in Italy, upon a brass plate inserted in the Stone.—I. F.]

This poem was classed among the "Inscriptions." In 1835 its title was Inscription intended for a Stone in the grounds of Rydal Mount. In 1845, and afterwards, the first line of the poem was its only title.—Ed.

In these fair vales hath many a Tree
At Wordsworth's suit been spared;
And from the builder's hand this Stone,
For some rude beauty of its own,
Was rescued by the Bard: 5
So let it rest; and time will come
When here the tender-hearted
May heave a gentle sigh for him,
As one of the departed.

The inscription is still preserved on the "brass plate inserted in the stone," within the grounds at Rydal Mount.—Ed.



Composed 1830.—Published 1835

In these grounds stands the Parish Church, wherein is a mural monument bearing an inscription which,[677] in deference to [Pg 270]the earnest request of the deceased, is confined to name, dates, and these words:—"Enter not into judgment with thy servant, O Lord!"—W. W.

[These verses were in part composed on horseback during a storm, while I was on my way from Colcorton to Cambridge: they are alluded to elsewhere.[678]—I.F.]

One of the "Epitaphs and Elegiac Pieces."—Ed.

With copious eulogy in prose or rhyme[679]
Graven on the tomb we struggle against Time,
Alas, how feebly! but our feelings rise
And still we struggle when a good man dies:
Such offering Beaumont dreaded and forbade, 5
A spirit meek in self-abasement clad.
Yet here at least, though few have numbered days
That shunned so modestly the light of praise,
His graceful manners, and the temperate ray
Of that arch fancy which would round him play, 10
Brightening a converse never known to swerve
From courtesy and delicate reserve;
That sense, the bland philosophy of life,
Which checked discussion ere it warmed to strife;
Those rare accomplishments,[680] and varied powers, 15
Might have their record among sylvan bowers.
Oh, fled for ever! vanished like a blast
That shook the leaves in myriads as it passed;—
Gone from this world of earth, air, sea, and sky,
From all its spirit-moving imagery, 20
Intensely studied with a painter's eye,
A poet's heart; and, for congenial view,
Portrayed with happiest pencil, not untrue
To common recognitions while the line
[Pg 271] Flowed in a course of sympathy divine;— 25
Oh! severed, too abruptly, from delights
That all the seasons shared with equal rights;—
Rapt in the grace of undismantled age,
From soul-felt music, and the treasured page
Lit by that evening lamp which loved to shed 30
Its mellow lustre round thy honoured head;
While Friends beheld thee give with eye, voice, mien,
More than theatric force to Shakspeare's scene;—[681]
If thou hast heard me—if thy Spirit know 34
Aught of these powers and whence their pleasures flow;
If things in our remembrance held so dear,
And thoughts and projects fondly cherished here,
To thy exalted nature only seem
Time's vanities, light fragments of earth's dream—
Rebuke us not![682]—The mandate is obeyed 40
That said, "Let praise be mute where I am laid;"
The holier deprecation, given in trust
To the cold marble, waits upon thy dust;
Yet have we found how slowly genuine grief
From silent admiration wins relief. 45
Too long abashed thy Name is like a rose
That doth "within itself its sweetness close;"[683]
A drooping daisy changed into a cup
In which her bright-eyed beauty is shut up.
Within these groves, where still are flitting by 50
Shades of the Past, oft noticed with a sigh,
[Pg 272] Shall stand a votive Tablet,[684] haply free,
When towers and temples fall, to speak of Thee!
If sculptured emblems of our mortal doom
Recal not there the wisdom of the Tomb, 55
Green ivy risen from out the cheerful earth,
Will[685] fringe the lettered stone; and herbs spring forth,
Whose fragrance, by soft dews and rain unbound,
Shall penetrate the heart without a wound;
While truth and love their purposes fulfil, 60
Commemorating genius, talent, skill,
That could not lie concealed where Thou wert known;
Thy virtues He must judge, and He alone,
The God upon whose mercy they are thrown.


[676] Sir George Beaumont died on 7th February 1827.—Ed.

[677] 1837.

upon which, 1835.

[678] See the Fenwick note to the next poem.—Ed.

[679] 1837.

... and rhyme 1835.

[680] 1837.

Those fine accomplishments 1835.

[681] Sir George Beaumont used frequently to read Shakspeare aloud to his household and friends at Coleorton.—Ed.

[682] 1837.

... Shakespeare's scene—
Rebuke us not!— 1835.

[683] See, in Constable's "England's Helicon," Dametus' song to his Diaphenia, stanza 2—

Diaphenia like the spreading roses
That in thy sweets all sweet encloses.

Also in Fairfax's translation of Tasso's Godfrey of Bullogne; or the Recovery of Jerusalem, book ii. stanza 18—

A veil obscured the sunshine of her eyes,
The rose within herself her sweetness closed.—Ed.

[684] This "votive Tablet" may still be seen, with its "green ivy," "fringing the lettered stone." Compare the Sonnet To the Author's Portrait, p. 318.—Ed.

[685] 1827.

Shall ... 1835.


Composed 1830.—Published 1835.

[I have reason to remember the day that gave rise to this Sonnet, the 6th of November, 1830. Having undertaken, a great feat for me, to ride my daughter's pony from Westmoreland to Cambridge, that she might have the use of it while on a visit to her uncle at Trinity Lodge, on my way from Bakewell to Matlock I turned aside to Chatsworth, and had scarcely gratified my curiosity by the sight of that celebrated place before there came on a severe storm of wind and rain which continued till I reached Derby, both man and pony in a pitiable plight. For myself, I went to bed at noon-day. In the course of that journey I had to encounter a storm worse if possible, in which the pony could (or would) only make his way slantwise.

[Pg 273]

I mention this merely to add that notwithstanding this battering I composed, on horseback, the lines to the memory of Sir George Beaumont, suggested during my recent visit to Coleorton.—I.F.]

One of the "Miscellaneous Sonnets."—Ed.

Chatsworth! thy stately mansion, and the pride
Of thy domain, strange contrast do present
To house and home in many a craggy rent
Of the wild Peak; where new-born waters glide
Through fields whose thrifty occupants abide 5
As in a dear and chosen banishment,
With every semblance of entire content;
So kind is simple Nature, fairly tried!
Yet He whose heart in childhood gave her troth
To pastoral dales, thin-set with modest farms, 10
[Pg 274] May learn, if judgment strengthen with his growth,
That, not for Fancy only, pomp hath charms;
And, strenuous to protect from lawless harms
The extremes of favoured life, may honour both.


The Poems of 1831 included The Primrose of the Rock, a few Sonnets, and Yarrow Revisited, and other Poems, composed during a tour in Scotland, and on the English Border, in the Autumn of 1831.—Ed.


Composed 1831.—Published 1835

[Written at Rydal Mount. The Rock stands on the right hand a little way leading up the middle road from Rydal to Grasmere. We have been in the habit of calling it the glow-worm rock from the number of glow-worms we have often seen hanging on it as described. The tuft of primrose has, I fear, been washed away by the heavy rains.—I.F.]

One of the "Poems of the Imagination."—Ed.

A rock there is whose homely front[686]
The passing traveller slights;
Yet there the glow-worms hang their lamps,
Like stars, at various heights;
And one coy Primrose to that Rock 5
The vernal breeze invites.
[Pg 275]
What hideous warfare hath been waged,
What kingdoms overthrown,
Since first I spied that Primrose-tuft
And marked it for my own;[687] 10
A lasting link in Nature's chain
From highest heaven let down!
The flowers, still faithful to the stems,
Their fellowship renew;
The stems are faithful to the root, 15
That worketh out of view;
And to the rock the root adheres
In every fibre true.
Close clings to earth the living rock,
Though threatening still to fall; 20
The earth is constant to her sphere;
And God upholds them all:
So blooms this lonely Plant, nor dreads
Her annual funeral.
      *       *       *       *       *
Here closed the meditative strain; 25
But air breathed soft that day,
The hoary mountain-heights were cheered,
The sunny vale looked gay;
And to the Primrose of the Rock
I gave this after-lay. 30
I sang—Let myriads of bright flowers,
Like Thee, in field and grove
Revive unenvied;—mightier far,
[Pg 276] Than tremblings that reprove
Our vernal tendencies to hope, 35
Is[688] God's redeeming love;
That love which changed—for wan disease,
For sorrow that had bent
O'er hopeless dust, for withered age—
Their moral element, 40
And turned the thistles of a curse
To types beneficent.
Sin-blighted though we are, we too,
The reasoning Sons of Men,
From one oblivious winter called 45
Shall rise, and breathe again;
And in eternal summer lose
Our threescore years and ten.
To humbleness of heart descends
This prescience from on high, 50
The faith that elevates the just,
Before and when they die;
And makes each soul a separate heaven,
A court for Deity.


[686] 1835.

... lonely front 1836.
The edition of 1841 returns to the text of 1835.

[687] In Dorothy Wordsworth's Grasmere Journal the following occurs:—April 24, 1802.—"We walked in the evening to Rydal. Coleridge and I lingered behind. We all stood to look at Glow-worm Rock—a primrose that grew there, and just looked out on the road from its own sheltered bower."

The Primrose had disappeared when the Fenwick note was dictated, and Glow-worms have now almost deserted the district; but the Rock is unmistakable, and it is one of the most interesting spots connected with Wordsworth in the Lake District.—Ed.

[688] 1836.

In ... 1835.


Composed 1831.—Published 1832

[This Sonnet, though said to be written on seeing the Portrait of Napoleon, was, in fact, composed some time after, extempore, in the wood at Rydal Mount.—I.F.]

[Pg 277]

Haydon! let worthier judges praise the skill
Here by thy pencil shown in truth of lines
And charm of colours; I applaud those signs
Of thought, that give the true poetic thrill;
That unencumbered whole of blank and still, 5
Sky without cloud—ocean without a wave;
And the one Man that laboured to enslave
The World, sole-standing high on the bare hill—
Back turned, arms folded, the unapparent face
Tinged, we may fancy, in this dreary place 10
With light reflected from the invisible sun
Set, like his fortunes; but not set for aye
Like them. The unguilty Power pursues his way,
And before him doth dawn perpetual run.[689]

[Pg 278]


[689] Haydon, as he tells us in his Autobiography, received a commission from Sir Robert Peel, in December 1830, "to paint Napoleon musing, the size of life." He finished it in June 1831, and thus described it himself:—

"Napoleon was peculiarly alive to poetical association as produced by scenery or sound; village bells with their echoing ding, dong, dang, now bursting full on the ear, now dying in the wind, affected him as they affect everybody alive to natural impressions, and on the eve of all his great battles you find him stealing away in the dead of the night, between the two hosts, and indulging in every species of poetical reverie. It was impossible to think of such a genius in captivity, without mysterious associations of the sky, the sea, the rock, and the solitude with which he was enveloped. I never imagined him but as if musing at dawn, or melancholy at sunset, listening at midnight to the beating and roaring of the Atlantic, or meditating as the stars gazed and the moon shone on him; in short Napoleon never appeared to me but at those seasons of silence and twilight, when nature seems to sympathise with the fallen, and when if there be moments in this turbulent earth fit for celestial intercourse, one must imagine these would be the times immortal spirits might select to descend within the sphere of mortality, to soothe and comfort, to inspire and support the afflicted.

"Under such impressions the present picture was produced.... I imagined him standing on the brow of an impending cliff, and musing on his past fortunes, ... sea-birds screaming at his feet, ... the sun just down, ... the sails of his guard-ship glittering on the horizon, and the Atlantic, calm, silent, awfully deep, and endlessly extensive."—Life of Benjamin Robert Haydon, vol. ii. pp. 301, 302.

This picture, one of the noblest which Haydon painted, is still at Drayton Manor.—Ed.



Composed 1831.—Published 1835

[In the autumn of 1831, my daughter and I set off from Rydal to visit Sir Walter Scott before his departure for Italy. This journey had been delayed by an inflammation in my eyes till we found that the time appointed for his leaving home would be too near for him to receive us without considerable inconvenience. Nevertheless we proceeded and reached Abbotsford on Monday. I was then scarcely able to lift up my eyes to the light. How sadly changed did I find him from the man I had seen so healthy, gay, and hopeful, a few years before, when he said at the inn at Paterdale, in my presence, his daughter Anne also being there, with Mr. Lockhart, my own wife and daughter, and Mr. Quillinan,—"I mean to live till I am eighty, and I shall write as long as I live." But to return to Abbotsford: the inmates and guests we found there were Sir Walter, Major Scott, Anne Scott, and Mr. and Mrs. Lockhart, Mr. Liddell, his Lady and Brother, and Mr. Allan the painter, and Mr. Laidlaw, a very old friend of Sir Walter's. One of Burns's sons, an officer in the Indian service, had left the house a day or two before, and had kindly expressed his regret that he could not wait my arrival, a regret that I may truly say was mutual. In the evening, Mr. and Mrs. Liddell sang, and Mrs. Lockhart chanted old ballads to her harp; and Mr. Allan, hanging over the back of a chair, told and acted old stories in a humorous way. With this exhibition and his daughter's singing, Sir Walter was much amused, as indeed were we all as far as circumstances would allow. But what is[Pg 279] most worthy of mention is the admirable demeanour of Major Scott during the following evening when the Liddells were gone and only ourselves and Mr. Allan were present. He had much to suffer from the sight of his father's infirmities and from the great change that was about to take place at the residence he had built, and where he had long lived in so much prosperity and happiness. But what struck me most was the patient kindness with which he supported himself under the many fretful expressions that his sister Anne addressed to him or uttered in his hearing. She, poor thing, as mistress of that house, had been subject, after her mother's death, to a heavier load of care and responsibility and greater sacrifices of time than one of such a constitution of body and mind was able to bear. Of this, Dora and I were made so sensible, that, as soon as we had crossed the Tweed on our departure, we gave vent at the same moment to our apprehensions that her brain would fail and she would go out of her mind, or that she would sink under the trials she had passed and those which awaited her. On Tuesday morning Sir Walter Scott accompanied us and most of the party to Newark Castle on the Yarrow. When we alighted from the carriages he walked pretty stoutly, and had great pleasure in revisiting those his favourite haunts. Of that excursion the verses Yarrow Revisited are a memorial. Notwithstanding the romance that pervades Sir Walter's works and attaches to many of his habits, there is too much pressure of fact for these verses to harmonise as much as I could wish with other poems. On our return in the afternoon we had to cross the Tweed directly opposite Abbotsford. The wheels of our carriage grated upon the pebbles in the bed of the stream that there flows somewhat rapidly: a rich but sad light of rather a purple than a golden hue was spread over the Eildon Hills at that moment; and, thinking it probable that it might be the last time Sir Walter would cross the stream, I was not a little moved, and expressed some of my feelings in the Sonnet beginning—"A trouble, not of clouds, or weeping rain." At noon on Thursday we left Abbotsford, and in the morning of that day Sir Walter and I had a serious conversation tête-à-tête, when he spoke with gratitude of the happy life which upon the whole he had led. He had written in my daughter's Album, before he came into the breakfast-room that morning, a few stanzas addressed to her, and, while putting the book into her hand, in his own study, standing by his desk, he said to her in my presence—"I should not have done anything of this kin[Pg 280]d but for your father's sake: they are probably the last verses I shall ever write." They show how much his mind was impaired, not by the strain of thought but by the execution, some of the lines being imperfect, and one stanza wanting corresponding rhymes: one letter, the initial S, had been omitted in the spelling of his own name. In this interview also it was that, upon my expressing a hope of his health being benefited by the climate of the country to which he was going, and by the interest he would take in the classic remembrances of Italy, he made use of the quotation from Yarrow Unvisited as recorded by me in the Musings of Aquapendente six years afterwards. Mr. Lockhart has mentioned in his life of him what I heard from several quarters while abroad, both at Rome and elsewhere, that little seemed to interest him but what he could collect or hear of the fugitive Stuarts and their adherents who had followed them into exile. Both the Yarrow Revisited and the "Sonnet" were sent him before his departure from England. Some further particulars of the conversations which occurred during this visit I should have set down had they not been already accurately recorded by Mr. Lockhart. I first became acquainted with this great and amiable man—Sir Walter Scott—in the year 1803, when my sister and I, making a tour in Scotland, were hospitably received by him in Lasswade upon the banks of the Esk, where he was then living. We saw a good deal of him in the course of the following week; the particulars are given in my sister's Journal of that tour.—I.F.]




Rydal Mount, Dec. 11, 1834.


[The following Stanzas are a memorial of a day passed with Sir Walter Scott, and other Friends visiting the Banks of the Yarrow under his guidance, immediately befo[Pg 281]re his departure from Abbotsford, for Naples.

The title Yarrow Revisited will stand in no need of explanation, for Readers acquainted with the Author's previous poems, suggested by that celebrated Stream.—I.F.]

The gallant Youth, who may have gained,
Or seeks, a "winsome Marrow,"
Was but an Infant in the lap
When first I looked on Yarrow;
Once more, by Newark's Castle-gate 5
Long left without a warder,
I stood, looked, listened, and with Thee,
Great Minstrel of the Border![690]
Grave thoughts ruled wide on that sweet day,
Their dignity installing 10
In gentle bosoms, while sere leaves
Were on the bough, or falling;
But breezes played, and sunshine gleamed—
The forest to embolden;
Reddened the fiery hues, and shot 15
Transparence through the golden.
For busy thoughts the Stream flowed on
In foamy agitation;
And slept in many a crystal pool
For quiet contemplation:[691] 20
No public and no private care
The freeborn mind enthralling,
We made a day of happy hours,
Our happy days recalling.
Brisk Youth appeared, the Morn of youth, 25
With freaks of graceful folly,—
Life's temperate Noon, her sober Eve,
[Pg 282] Her Night not melancholy;
Past, present, future, all appeared
In harmony united, 30
Like guests that meet, and some from far,
By cordial love invited.
And if, as Yarrow, through the woods
And down the meadow ranging,
Did meet us with unaltered face, 35
Though we were changed and changing;
If, then, some natural shadows spread
Our inward prospect over,
The soul's deep valley was not slow
Its brightness to recover. 40
Eternal blessings on the Muse,
And her divine employment!
The blameless Muse, who trains her Sons
For hope and calm enjoyment;
Albeit sickness, lingering yet, 45
Has o'er their pillow brooded;
And Care waylays[692] their steps—a Sprite
Not easily eluded.
For thee, O Scott! compelled to change
Green Eildon-hill and Cheviot 50
For warm Vesuvio's vine-clad slopes;
And leave thy Tweed and Tiviot
For mild Sorento's breezy waves;
May classic Fancy, linking
With native Fancy her fresh aid, 55
Preserve thy heart from sinking!
O! while they minister to thee,
Each vying with the other,
May Health return to mellow Age,
[Pg 283] With Strength, her venturous brother; 60
And Tiber, and each brook and rill
Renowned in song and story,
With unimagined beauty shine,
Nor lose one ray of glory!
For Thou, upon a hundred streams, 65
By tales of love and sorrow,
Of faithful love, undaunted truth,
Hast shed the power of Yarrow;
And streams unknown, hills yet unseen,
Wherever they[693] invite Thee, 70
At parent Nature's grateful call,
With gladness must requite Thee.
A gracious welcome shall be thine,
Such looks of love and honour
As thy own Yarrow gave to me 75
When first I gazed upon her;
Beheld what I had feared to see,
Unwilling to surrender
Dreams treasured up from early days,
The holy and the tender. 80
And what, for this frail world, were all
That mortals do or suffer,
Did no responsive harp, no pen,
Memorial tribute offer?
Yea, what were mighty Nature's self? 85
Her features, could they win us,
Unhelped by the poetic voice
That hourly speaks within us?
Nor deem that localised Romance
Plays false with our affections; 90
Unsanctifies our tears—made sport
[Pg 284] For fanciful dejections:
Ah, no! the visions of the past
Sustain the heart in feeling
Life as she is—our changeful Life, 95
With friends and kindred dealing.
Bear witness, Ye, whose thoughts that day
In Yarrow's groves were centred;
Who through the silent portal arch
Of mouldering Newark enter'd; 100
And clomb the winding stair that once
Too timidly was mounted
By the "last Minstrel," (not the last!)
Ere he his Tale recounted.
Flow on for ever, Yarrow Stream! 105
Fulfil thy pensive duty,
Well pleased that future Bards should chant
For simple hearts thy beauty;
To dream-light dear while yet unseen,
Dear to the common sunshine, 110
And dearer still, as now I feel,
To memory's shadowy moonshine!


[690] Wordsworth arrived at Abbotsford with his daughter to say farewell to Scott on the 21st September 1831. "On the 22nd," says Mr. Lockhart, "these two great poets, who had through life loved each other well, and in spite of very different theories as to art, appreciated each other's genius more justly than infirm spirits ever did either of them, spent the morning together in a visit to Newark. Hence the last of the three poems by which Wordsworth has connected his name to all time with the most romantic of Scottish streams."—Memoirs of the Life of Sir Walter Scott, vol. x. ch. lxxx. p. 104.

Compare the note to Musings near Aquapendente, in the Poems of the Italian Tour of 1837.—Ed.

[691] Compare Tennyson's Brook, and Burns's Epistle to William Simpson, Ochiltree, stanza 15.—Ed.

[692] 1837.

... waylay ... 1835.

[693] 1837.

Where'er thy path ... 1835.


A trouble, not of clouds, or weeping rain,
[Pg 285] Nor of the setting sun's pathetic light
Engendered, hangs o'er Eildon's triple height:
Spirits of Power, assembled there, complain
For kindred Power departing from their sight; 5
While Tweed, best pleased in chanting a blithe strain,
Saddens his voice again, and yet again.
Lift up your hearts, ye Mourners! for the might
Of the whole world's good wishes with him goes;
Blessings and prayers in nobler retinue 10
Than sceptred king or laurelled conqueror knows,
Follow this wondrous Potentate. Be true,
Ye winds of ocean, and the midland sea,
Wafting your Charge to soft Parthenope!

With the closing lines of this sonnet addressed to the "winds of ocean," and Sir Walter's departure for Naples, compare Horace's ode to the Ship carrying Virgil to Athens (Odes, I. 3).

On the 19th October 1833, Henry Crabb Robinson wrote thus to his friend Masquerier—"It is, I think, the most perfect sonnet in the language. Every word is a gem, from the 'pathetic light' in the second to the 'soft Parthenope' in the last line. It is composed with that deep feeling and perfection of style united that bespeak the master." (Diary, Reminiscences, etc., vol. iii. p. 32.)

The sonnet was sent to Alaric Watts for his Souvenir in 1832. Wordsworth wrote, "I enclose a sonnet for your next volume if you choose to insert it. It would have appeared with more advantage in this year's, but was not written in time. It is proper that I should mention it has been sent to Sir Walter Scott, and one or two of my other friends." (See Alaric Watts, a Narrative of his Life, vol. ii. p. 190.)—Ed.


[Similar places for burial are not unfrequent in Scotland. The one that suggested this sonnet lies on the banks of a[Pg 286] small stream called the Wauchope that flows into the Esk near Langholme. Mickle, who, as it appears from his poem on Sir Martin, was not without genuine poetic feelings, was born and passed his boyhood in this neighbourhood, under his father who was a minister of the Scotch Kirk. The Esk, both above and below Langholme, flows through a beautiful country, and the two streams of the Wauchope and the Ewes, which join it near that place, are such as a pastoral poet would delight in.—I.F.]

Part fenced by man, part by a rugged steep
That curbs a foaming brook, a Grave-yard lies;
The hare's best couching-place for fearless sleep;
Which moonlit elves, far seen by credulous eyes,
Enter in dance. Of church, or sabbath ties, 5
No vestige now remains; yet thither creep
Bereft Ones, and in lowly anguish weep
Their prayers out to the wind and naked skies.
Proud tomb is none; but rudely-sculptured knights,
By humble choice of plain old times, are seen 10
Level with earth, among the hillocks green:
Union not sad, when sunny daybreak smites
The spangled turf, and neighbouring thickets ring
With jubilate from the choirs of spring!


[The Manses in Scotland and the gardens and grounds about them have seldom that attractive appearance which is common about our English parsonages, even when the clergyman's income falls below the average of the Scotch minister's. This is not merely owing to the one country being poor in comparison with the other, but arises rather out of the equality of their benefices, so that no one has enough to spare for decorations that might serve as an example for others; [Pg 287]whereas, with us, the taste of the richer incumbent extends its influence more or less to the poorest. After all, in these observations the surface only of the matter is touched. I once heard a conversation in which the Roman Catholic Religion was decried on account of its abuses. "You cannot deny, however," said a lady of the party, repeating an expression used by Charles II., "that it is the religion of a gentleman." It may be left to the Scotch themselves to determine how far this observation applies to their Kirk, while it cannot be denied, if it is wanting in that characteristic quality, the aspect of common life, so far as concerns its beauty, must suffer. Sincere christian piety may be thought not to stand in need of refinement or studied ornament; but assuredly it is ever ready to adopt them, when they fall within its notice, as means allow; and this observation applies not only to manners, but to everything a christian (truly so in spirit) cultivates and gathers round him, however humble his social condition.—I.F.]

Say, ye far-travelled clouds, far-seeing hills—
Among the happiest-looking homes of men
Scatter'd all Britain over, through deep glen,
On airy upland, and by forest rills,
And o'er wide plains cheered by the lark that trills 5
His sky-born warblings[694]—does aught meet your ken
More fit to animate the Poet's pen,
Aught that more surely by its aspect fills
Pure minds with sinless envy, than the Abode
Of the good Priest: who, faithful through all hours 10
To his high charge, and truly serving God,
Has yet a heart and hand for trees and flowers,
Enjoys the walks his predecessors trod,
Nor covets lineal rights in lands and towers.


[694] 1845.

And o'er wide plains whereon the sky distils
Her lark's loved warblings; ... 1835.


[We were detained by incessant rain and storm at the small inn near Roslin Chapel, and I passed a great part of the day [Pg 288]pacing to and fro in this beautiful structure, which, though not used for public service, is not allowed to go to ruin. Here, this sonnet was composed. If it has at all done justice to the feeling which the place and the storm raging without inspired, I was as a prisoner. A painter delineating the interior of the chapel and its minute features under such circumstances would have, no doubt, found his time agreeably shortened. But the movements of the mind must be more free while dealing with words than with lines and colours; such at least was then and has been on many other occasions my belief, and, as it is allotted to few to follow both arts with success, I am grateful to my own calling for this and a thousand other recommendations which are denied to that of the painter.—I. F.]

The wind is now thy organist;—a clank
(We know not whence) ministers for a bell
To mark some change of service. As the swell
Of music reached its height, and even when sank
The notes, in prelude, Roslin! to a blank 5
Of silence, how it thrilled thy sumptuous roof,
Pillars, and arches,—not in vain time-proof,
Though Christian rites be wanting! From what bank
Came those live herbs? by what hand were they sown
Where dew falls not, where rain-drops seem unknown? 10
Yet in the Temple they a friendly niche
Share with their sculptured fellows, that, green-grown,
Copy their beauty more and more, and preach,
Though mute, of all things blending into one.[695]


[695] "I cannot agree with you in admiring the cathedral of Melrose more than the chapel at Roslin. As far as it goes, as a whole, the chapel at Roslin appeared to me to be perfection, most beautiful in form, and of entire simplicity." (Dorothy Wordsworth to Mrs. Marshall, Sept. 1807.)—Ed.


[As recorded in my sister's Journal, I had first seen the Trosachs in her and Coleridge's company. The sentiment that[Pg 289] runs through this Sonnet was natural to the season in which I again saw this beautiful spot; but this and some other Sonnets that follow were coloured by the remembrance of my recent visit to Sir Walter Scott, and the melancholy errand on which he was going.—I. F.]

There's not a nook within this solemn Pass,
But were an apt confessional for One
Taught by his summer spent, his autumn gone,
That Life is but a tale of morning grass
Withered at eve.[696] From scenes of art which chase[697]
That thought away, turn, and with watchful eyes 6
Feed it 'mid Nature's old felicities,
Rocks, rivers, and smooth lakes more clear than glass
Untouched, unbreathed upon. Thrice happy quest,[698]
If from a golden perch of aspen spray 10
(October's workmanship to rival May)
The pensive warbler of the ruddy breast
That[699] moral sweeten by a heaven-taught lay,
Lulling the year, with all its cares, to rest!

[Pg 290]


[696] Compare The Excursion, book iii. 11. 468-474.—Ed.

[697] 1837.

... that chase 1835.

[698] A supposed reading of this line printed, but placed by Wordsworth amongst the errata of the edition of 1835, may be quoted, as it has given rise to some controversy. In that edition the phrase was "Thrice happy Guest." In a copy of the same edition of 1835, which Wordsworth presented to the Rev. T.C. Judkin, he crossed out the G and wrote in Q in pencil. It was a point on which the late Matthew Arnold was much interested; and although he retained, in his Selections, the reading finally sanctioned by the poet, he thought, as many others have done, that a good deal might be said in favour of the other reading.—Ed.

[699] 1837.

This ... 1835.


The pibroch's note, discountenanced or mute;
The Roman kilt, degraded to a toy
Of quaint apparel for a half-spoilt boy;
The target mouldering like ungathered fruit;
The smoking steam-boat eager in pursuit, 5
As eagerly pursued; the umbrella spread
To weather-fend the Celtic herdsman's head—
All speak of manners withering to the root,
And of[700] old honours, too, and passions high:
Then may we ask, though pleased that thought should range 10
Among the conquests of civility,
Survives imagination—to the change
Superior? Help to virtue does she give?[701]
If not, O Mortals, better cease to live!


[700] 1845.

And some ... 1835.

[701] 1845.

... it give? 1835.


"People! your chains are severing link by link;
Soon shall the Rich be levelled down—the Poor
Meet them half-way." Vain boast! for These, the more
[Pg 291] They thus would rise, must low and lower sink
Till, by repentance stung, they fear to think; 5
While all lie prostrate, save the tyrant few
Bent in quick turns each other to undo,
And mix the poison they themselves must drink.
Mistrust thyself, vain Country! cease to cry,
"Knowledge will save me from the threatened woe."
For, if than other rash ones more thou know, 11
Yet on presumptuous wing as far would fly
Above thy knowledge as they dared to go,
Thou wilt provoke a heavier penalty.


[702] This Sonnet ought to have followed No. vii. in the series of 1831, but was omitted by mistake.—W. W. 1835.

As the above note indicates Wordsworth's own wish as to where this sonnet should be placed, and approximately gives the date of composition, it is placed as No. VIII. in the sonnets of 1831. In later editions, Wordsworth placed it as the first in the series of "Sonnets dedicated to Liberty and Order." The original title was Sonnet, composed after reading a Newspaper of the Day.—Ed.


["That make the Patriot spirit." It was mortifying to have frequent occasions to observe the bitter hatred of the lower orders of the Highlanders to their superiors; love of country seemed to have passed into its opposite. Emigration was the only relief looked to with hope.[703]—I. F.]

"This Land of Rainbows spanning glens whose walls,
Rock-built, are hung with rainbow-coloured mists—
Of far-stretched Meres whose salt flood never rests—
Of tuneful Caves and playful Waterfalls—
Of Mountains varying momently their crests— 5
Proud be this Land! whose poorest huts are halls
Where Fancy entertains becoming guests;
While native song the heroic Past recals."
Thus, in the net of her own wishes caught,
[Pg 292] The Muse exclaimed; but Story now must hide 10
Her trophies, Fancy crouch; the course of pride
Has been diverted, other lessons taught,
That make the Patriot-spirit bow her head
Where the all-conquering Roman feared to tread.


[703] This Fenwick note is significant. These things repeat themselves, and are as true in 1896, as they were in 1831.—Ed.



["The last I saw was on the wing," off the promontory of Fairhead, county of Antrim. I mention this because, though my tour in Ireland with Mr. Marshall and his son was made many years ago, this allusion to the eagle is the only image supplied by it to the poetry I have since written. We travelled through that country in October, and to the shortness of the days and the speed with which we travelled (in a carriage and four) may be ascribed this want of notices, in my verse, of a country so interesting. The deficiency I am somewhat ashamed of, and it is the more remarkable as contrasted with my Scotch and Continental tours, of which are to be found in these volumes so many memorials.—I. F.]

Dishonoured Rock and Ruin! that, by law
Tyrannic, keep the Bird of Jove embarred
Like a lone criminal whose life is spared.
Vexed is he, and screams loud. The last I saw
Was on the wing; stooping, he struck with awe 5
Man, bird, and beast; then, with a consort paired,[704]
From a bold headland, their loved aery's guard,
Flew high[705] above Atlantic waves, to draw
[Pg 293] Light from the fountain of the setting sun.
Such was this Prisoner once; and, when his plumes
The sea-blast ruffles as the storm comes on, 11
Then, for a moment, he, in spirit, resumes[706]
His rank 'mong freeborn creatures that live free,
His power, his beauty, and his majesty.


[704] 1835.

Was on the wing, and struck my soul with awe,
Now wheeling low, then with a consort paired,

MS. copy sent to Sir William Rowan Hamilton.

[705] 1835.

Flying ...

MS. to Sir W. R. Hamilton.

[706] 1845.

In spirit, for a moment, he resumes

MS. to Sir W. R. Hamilton, and 1835.


[Touring late in the season in Scotland is an uncertain speculation. We were detained a week by rain at Bunaw on Loch Etive in a vain hope that the weather would clear up and allow me to show my daughter the beauties at Glencoe. Two days we were at the Isle of Mull, on a visit to Major Campbell; but it rained incessantly, and we were obliged to give up our intention of going to Staffa. The rain pursued us to Tyndrum, where the Twelfth Sonnet was composed in a storm.—I. F.]

Tradition, be thou mute! Oblivion, throw
Thy veil in mercy o'er the records, hung
Round strath and mountain, stamped by the ancient tongue
On rock and ruin darkening as we go,—
Spots where a word, ghost-like, survives to show 5
What crimes from hate, or desperate love, have sprung;
From honour misconceived, or fancied wrong,
What feuds, not quenched but fed by mutual woe.
Yet, though a wild vindictive Race, untamed
By civil arts and labours of the pen, 10
[Pg 294] Could gentleness be scorned by those[707] fierce Men,
Who, to spread wide the reverence they claimed[708]
For patriarchal occupations, named
Yon towering Peaks, "Shepherds of Etive Glen?"[709]


[707] 1837.

... these ... 1835.

[708] 1837.

... reverence that they claimed. 1835.

[709] In Gaelic, Buachaill Etive.—W. W. 1835.


Enough of garlands, of the Arcadian crook,
And all that Greece and Italy have sung
Of Swains reposing myrtle groves among!
Ours couch on naked rocks,—will cross a brook
Swoln with chill rains, nor ever cast a look 5
This way or that, or give it even a thought
More than by smoothest pathway may be brought
Into a vacant mind. Can written book
Teach what they learn? Up, hardy Mountaineer!
And guide the Bard, ambitious to be One 10
Of Nature's privy council, as thou art,
On cloud-sequestered heights, that see and hear
To what dread Powers[711] He delegates his part
On earth, who works in the heaven of heavens, alone.

[Pg 295]


[710] 1837.

In 1835 the title was At Tyndrum.

[711] 1837.

... Power ... 1835.


Well sang the Bard who called the grave, in strains
Thoughtful and sad, the "narrow house."[712] No style
Of fond sepulchral flattery can beguile
Grief of her sting; nor cheat, where he detains
The sleeping dust, stern Death. How reconcile 5
With truth, or with each other, decked remains
Of a once warm Abode, and that new Pile,
For the departed, built with curious pains
And mausolean pomp?[713] Yet here they stand
Together,—'mid trim walks and artful bowers, 10
To be looked down upon by ancient hills,
That, for the living and the dead, demand
And prompt a harmony of genuine powers;
Concord that elevates the mind, and stills.


[712] This phrase is used by James Graham, in The Poor Man's Funeral; by Southey, in Joan of Arc (book viii.); by Ossian (frequently); and by Burns, in his Lament of Mary Queen of Scots (l. 53). Wordsworth probably refers to Burns.—Ed.

[713] Finlarig, near Killin, is the burial-place of the Breadalbane family. "The modern mausoleum occupies a solitary position in the vicinity of the old ruins."—Ed.



Doubling and doubling with laborious walk,
Who, that has gained at length the wished-for Height,
This brief this simple way-side Call can slight,
And rests not thankful? Whether cheered by talk
With some loved friend, or by the unseen hawk 5
Whistling to clouds and sky-born streams, that shine
[Pg 296] At the sun's outbreak, as with light divine,
Ere they descend to nourish root and stalk
Of valley flowers. Nor, while the limbs repose,
Will we forget that, as the fowl can keep 10
Absolute stillness, poised aloft in air,
And fishes front, unmoved, the torrent's sweep,—
So may the Soul, through powers that Faith bestows,
Win rest, and ease, and peace, with bliss that Angels share.


See what gay wild flowers deck this earth-built Cot,
Whose smoke, forth-issuing whence and how it may,
Shines in the greeting of the sun's first ray
Like wreaths of vapour without stain or blot.
The limpid mountain rill avoids it not; 5
And why shouldst thou?—If rightly trained and bred,
Humanity is humble, finds no spot
Which her Heaven-guided feet refuse to tread.
The walls are cracked, sunk is the flowery roof,
Undressed the pathway leading to the door; 10
But love, as Nature loves, the lonely Poor;
Search, for their worth, some gentle heart wrong-proof,
Meek, patient, kind, and, were its trials fewer,
Belike less happy.—Stand no more aloof![714]

[Pg 297]


[714] This sonnet describes the exterior of a Highland hut, as often seen under morning or evening sunshine. To the authoress of the Address to the Wind, and other poems, in these volumes, who was my fellow-traveller in this tour, I am indebted for the following extract from her journal, which[715] accurately describes, under particular circumstances, the beautiful appearance of the interior of one of these rude habitations.

"On our return from the Trosachs the evening began to darken, and it rained so heavily that we were completely wet before we had come two miles, and it was dark when we landed with our boatman, at his hut upon the banks of Loch Katrine. I was faint from cold: the good woman had provided, according to her promise, a better fire than we had found in the morning; and, indeed, when I sat down in the chimney-corner of her smoky biggin, I thought I had never felt more comfortable in my life: a pan of coffee was boiling for us, and, having put our clothes in the way of drying, we all sat down thankful for a shelter. We could not prevail upon our boatman, the master of the house, to draw near the fire, though he was cold and wet, or to suffer his wife to get him dry clothes till she had served us, which she did most willingly, though not very expeditiously.

"A Cumberland man of the same rank would not have had such a notion of what was fit and right in his own house, or, if he had, one would have accused him of servility; but in the Highlander it only seemed like politeness (however erroneous and painful to us), naturally growing out of the dependence of the inferiors of the clan upon their laird; he did not, however, refuse to let his wife bring out the whisky bottle for his refreshment, at our request. 'She keeps a dram,' as the phrase is: indeed, I believe there is scarcely a lonely house by the way-side, in Scotland, where travellers may not be accommodated with a dram. We asked for sugar, butter, barley-bread, and milk; and, with a smile and a stare more of kindness than wonder, she replied, 'Ye'll get that,' bringing each article separately. We caroused our cups of coffee, laughing like children at the strange atmosphere in which we were: the smoke came in gusts, and spread along the walls; and above our heads in the chimney (where the hens were roosting) it appeared like clouds[716] in the sky. We laughed and laughed again, in spite of the smarting of our eyes, yet had a quieter pleasure in observing the beauty of the beams and rafters gleaming between the clouds of smoke: they had been crusted over, and varnished by many winters, till, where the firelight fell upon them, they had become as glossy as black rocks, on a sunny day, cased in ice. When we had eaten our supper we sat about half an hour, and I think I never felt so deeply the blessing of a hospitable welcome and a warm fire. The man of the house repeated from time to time that we should often tell of this night when we got to our homes, and interposed praises of his own lake, which he had more than once, when we were returning in the boat, ventured to say was 'bonnier than Loch Lomond.' Our companion from the Trosachs, who, it appeared, was an Edinburgh drawing-master going, during the vacation, on a pedestrian tour to John o' Groat's house, was to sleep in the barn with my fellow-travellers, where the man said he had plenty of dry hay. I do not believe that the hay of the Highlands is ever very dry, but this year it had a better chance than usual: wet or dry, however, the next morning they said they had slept comfortably. When I went to bed, the mistress, desiring me to 'go ben,' attended me with a candle, and assured me that the bed was dry, though not 'sic as I had been used to.' It was of chaff; there were two others in the room, a cupboard and two chests, upon one of which stood milk in wooden vessels, covered over. The walls of the house were of stone unplastered: it consisted of three apartments, the cowhouse at one end, the kitchen or house in the middle, and the spence at the other end; the rooms were divided, not up to the rigging, but only to the beginning of the roof, so that there was a free passage for light and smoke from one end of the house to the other. I went to bed some time before the rest of the family; the door was shut between us, and they had a bright fire, which I could not see, but the light it sent up amongst[717] the varnished rafters and beams, which crossed each other in almost as intricate and fantastic a manner as I have seen the under-boughs of a large beech tree withered by the depth of shade above, produced the most beautiful effect that can be conceived. It was like what I should suppose an under-ground cave or temple to be, with a dripping or moist roof, and the moonlight entering in upon it by some means or other: and yet the colours were more like those of melted gems. I lay looking up till the light of the fire faded away, and the man and his wife and child had crept into their bed at the other end of the room: I did not sleep much, but passed a comfortable night; for my bed, though hard, was warm and clean: the unusualness of my situation prevented me from sleeping. I could hear the waves beat against the shore of the lake: a little rill close to the door made a much louder noise, and, when I sat up in my bed, I could see the lake through an open window-place at the bed's head. Add to this, it rained all night. I was less occupied by remembrance of the Trosachs, beautiful as they were, than the vision of the Highland hut, which I could not get out of my head; I thought of the Faery-land of Spenser, and what I had read in romance at other times; and then what a feast it would be for a London Pantomime-maker could he but transplant it to Drury-lane, with all its beautiful colours!"—MS. W. W. 1835.

[715] 1837.

... sunshine. The reader may not be displeased with the following extract from the journal of a Lady, my fellow-traveller in Scotland in the autumn of 1803, which ... 1835.

[716] 1837.

roosting) like clouds 1835.

[717] 1845.

among 1835.


Upon a small island not far from the head of Loch Lomond, are some remains of an ancient building, which was for several years the abode of a solitary Individual, one of the last survivors of the clan of Macfarlane, once powerful in that neighbourhood. Passing along the shore opposite this island in the year 1814, the Author learned these particulars, and that this person then living there had acquired the appellation of "The Brownie." See The Brownie's Cell (vol. vi. p. 16), to which the following[718] is a sequel.—W. W.

"How disappeared he?" Ask the newt and toad;
Ask of his fellow men, and they will tell
How he was found, cold as an icicle,
[Pg 298] Under an arch of that forlorn abode;
Where he, unpropp'd, and by the gathering flood 5
Of years hemm'd round, had dwelt, prepared to try
Privation's worst extremities, and die
With no one near save the omnipresent God.
Verily so to live was an awful choice—
A choice that wears the aspect of a doom; 10
[Pg 299] But in the mould of mercy all is cast
For Souls familiar with the eternal Voice;
And this forgotten Taper to the last
Drove from itself, we trust, all frightful gloom.


[718] 1837.

following Sonnet is 1835.



Though joy attend Thee orient at the birth
Of dawn, it cheers the lofty spirit most
To watch thy course when Day-light, fled from earth,
In the grey sky hath left his lingering Ghost,
Perplexed as if between a splendour lost 5
And splendour slowly mustering. Since the Sun,
The absolute, the world-absorbing One,
Relinquished half his empire to the host
Emboldened by thy guidance, holy Star,
Holy as princely, who that looks on thee 10
Touching, as now, in thy humility
The mountain borders of this seat of care,
Can question that thy countenance is bright,
Celestial Power, as much with love as light?



[In my Sister's Journal is an account o[Pg 300]f Bothwell Castle as it appeared to us at that time.—I.F.]

Immured in Bothwell's Towers, at times the Brave
(So beautiful is Clyde) forgot to mourn
The liberty they lost at Bannockburn.
Once on those steeps I roamed[719] at large, and have
In mind the landscape, as if still in sight; 5
The river glides, the woods before me wave;
Then why repine that now in vain I crave[720]
Needless renewal of an old delight?
Better to thank a dear and long-past day
For joy its sunny hours were free to give 10
Than blame the present, that our wish hath crost.
Memory, like sleep, hath powers which dreams obey,
Dreams, vivid dreams, that are not fugitive:
How little that she cherishes is lost!

[Pg 301]


[719] The following is from the same MS., and gives an account of the visit to Bothwell Castle here alluded to:—

"It was exceedingly delightful to enter thus unexpectedly upon such a beautiful region. The castle stands nobly, overlooking the Clyde. When we came up to it, I was hurt to see that flower-borders had taken place of the natural overgrowings of the ruin, the scattered stones and wild plants. It is a large and grand pile of red freestone, harmonising perfectly with the rocks of the river, from which, no doubt, it has been hewn. When I was a little accustomed to the unnaturalness of a modern garden, I could not help admiring the excessive beauty and luxuriance of some of the plants, particularly the purple-flowered clematis, and a broad-leafed creeping plant without flowers, which scrambled up the castle wall, along with the ivy, and spread its vine-like branches so lavishly that it seemed to be in its natural situation, and one could not help thinking that, though not self-planted among the ruins of this country, it must somewhere have its native abode in such places. If Bothwell Castle had not been close to the Douglas mansion, we should have been disgusted with the possessor's miserable conception of adorning such a venerable ruin; but it is so very near to the house, that of necessity the pleasure-grounds must have extended beyond it, and perhaps the neatness of a shaven lawn and the complete desolation natural to a ruin might have made an unpleasing contrast; and, besides being within the precincts of the pleasure-grounds, and so very near to the dwelling of a noble family, it has forfeited, in some degree, its independent majesty, and becomes a tributary to the mansion: its solitude being interrupted, it has no longer the command over the mind in sending it back into past times, or excluding the ordinary feelings which we bear about us in daily life. We