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The verses “on the Mother's Return,” mentioned in the last chapter, furnish an appropriate occasion for reference to the poems in which Mr. Wordsworth speaks of those to whom the above-mentioned verses of his sister were addressed. His family then consisted of three children : John, his eldest son, born on the 18th of June,
1803; Dorothy, or (as she is called in her father's poems,
and as she was known to all around her) Dora, born August 16. 1804; the birth-day, also, of
Catharine, September 6. 1808;
The sonnet that concludes the series on the Scotch tour in 1803?, ends with an image of the joy which would appear on the face of his first child, on the tidings of his father's return:
“ Yea, let our Mary's one companion child,
That hath her six weeks' solitude beguiled,
With intimations, manifold and dear,
In the following year, his daughter Dora was born ; and on the 16th September of that year, a month after her birth, he wrote the lines,
“ Hast thou then survived,
Hail to thee !
on thy face
Through a strait passage intricate and dim?” A few weeks passed away; autumn arrived; the withered leaves in the cottage-orchard at Grasmere began to fall:
“ Through the calm and frosty air
Of the morning, bright and fair,
The kitten, on the wall of the garden, sports with the leaves as they fall to the ground; the infant in the father's arms is delighted with the show:
“Such a light of gladness breaks,
Pretty Kitten ! from thy freaks ;
1 Vol. ii. p. 65.
2 Vol. ii. p. 62. 64.
Spreads with such a living grace,
O'er my little Dora's face.” And the Poet is cheered by the sight, and draws a gladsome moral from the whole :
“ I will have my
Keep the sprightly soul awake,
To gambol with life’s falling leaf.” It will not be an uninteresting or unprofitable task to look forward a few years, and to compare
poem just mentioned with another of a serious cast, not, however, unmingled with playfulness, addressed to the same daughter, at a different season of the year, -“the Longest Day.”
“ Dora! sport, as now thou sportest
On this platform, light and free:
Are indifferent to thee!
«Yet, at this impressive season,
Words which tenderness can speak,
Might exalt the loveliest cheek;
I Vol. i. p. 174.
“ And while shades to shades succeeding
Steal the landscape from the sight,
Last forerunner of Good Night.'
“Summer ebbs; each day that follows
Is a reflux from on high,
Where the frosts of winter lie.
Fix thine eyes upon the sea
Look thou to Eternity !” About the same time were written those pathetic lines in which the Poet, who was often affected by disorder and weakness of eyesight, gives vent to foreboding apprehensions of blindness. In quest of paral. lels to his own case, he recurs in imagination, first, to the Samson Agonistes of Milton, and then to the Edipus of Sophocles. In this mood of mind, he thus addresses his daughter: “A little onward lend thy guiding hand To these dark steps, a little further on!
What trick of memory to my voice hath brought
1 Vol. iv. p. 218.
In later years, the imagery of mythology gave way to the sober and more touching language of real life, and the verse now stands,
“O my own Dora, my beloved child !” He concludes the poem with a grateful commemoration of some of the uses of eyesight, “not unmenaced,” but still preserved to him:
“ Now also shall the page of classic lore,
To these glad eyes from bondage freed, again
The poetical portrait which he has drawn of his beloved daughter ought to find a place here':
Open, ye thickets ! let her fly,
She stops — is fastened to that rivulet's side;
From the Triad, vol. ii. p. 181.