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Eastward, were sparkling clear, and in the west
The orange sky of evening died away.
To cut across the reflex of a star;
Upon the glassy plain: and oftentimes, When we had given our bodies to the wind,
And all the shadowy banks on either side
Came sweeping through the darkness, spinning still
The rapid line of motion, then at once Have I, reclining back upon my heels, Stopped short; yet still the solitary cliffs Wheeled by me-even as if the earth had rolled
With visible motion her diurnal round! Behind me did they stretch in solemn train,
Feebler and feebler, and I stood and watched
Till all was tranquil as a summer sea. 1799. 1809.
THERE WAS A BOY
Written in Germany. This is an extract from the poem on my own poetical education. (Wordsworth. The poem referred to is The Prelude.)
THERE was a Boy; ye knew him well, ye cliffs
And islands of Winander!--many a time, At evening, when the earliest stars began To move along the edges of the hills, Rising or setting, would he stand alone, Beneath the trees, or by the glimmering lake;
And there, with fingers interwoven, both hands
Pressed closely palm to palm and to his mouth
Uplifted, he, as through an instrument, Blew mimic hootings to the silent owls, That they might answer him.--And they would shout
Across the watery vale, and shout again, Responsive to his call,-with quivering peals.
And long halloos, and screams, and
Redoubled and redoubled; concourse wild
Of jocund din! And, when there came a pause
Of silence such as baffled his best skill, Then, sometimes, in that silence, while he hung
Listening, a gentle shock of mild surprise Has carried far into his heart the voice Of mountain-torrents; or the visible
Would enter unawares into his mind With all its solemn imagery, its rocks, Its woods, and that uncertain heaven received
Into the bosom of the steady lake.
This boy was taken from his mates, and died
In childhood, ere he was full twelve years old.
Pre-eminent in beauty is the vale Where he was born and bred: the churchyard hangs
Upon a slope above the village-school; And through that church-yard when my way has led
On summer-evenings, I believe, that
Among the flowers, and with the flowers I played;
A temper known to those, who, after long
And weary expectation, have been blest With sudden happiness beyond all hope. Perhaps it was a bower beneath whose leaves
The violets of five seasons re-appear And fade, unseen by any human eye; Where fairy water-breaks do murmur on For ever; and I saw the sparkling foam, And-with my cheek on one of those green stones
That, fleeced with moss, under the shady trees,
Lay round me, scattered like a flock of sheep-
I heard the murmur and the murmuring
The silent trees, and saw the intruding sky.-
Then, dearest Maiden, move along these shades
In gentleness of heart; with gentle hand Touch-for there is a spirit in the woods. 1799. 1800.
STRANGE FITS OF PASSION HAVE I KNOWN
The next three poems were written in
STRANGE fits of passion have I known:
But in the Lover's ear alone,
When she I loved looked every day
I to her cottage bent my way,
Upon the moon I fixed my eye,
Those paths so dear to me.
And now we reached the orchard-plot;
In one of those sweet dreams I slept,
My horse moved on; hoof after hoof
What fond and wayward thoughts will slide
Into a Lover's head!
"O mercy!" to myself I cried, If Lucy should be dead!"
SHE DWELT AMONG THE UNTRODDEN WAYS
SHE dwelt among the untrodden ways Beside the springs of Dove,
A Maid whom there were none to praise And very few to love:
THREE YEARS SHE GREW IN SUN
THREE years she grew in sun and shower,
"Myself will to my darling be
Both law and impulse: and with me
In earth and heaven, in glade and bower,
Shall feel an overseeing power
"She shall be sportive as the fawn
And hers shall be the breathing balm,
Art thou a Man of purple cheer?
Or art thou one of gallant pride,
Physician art thou? one all eyes, Philosopher! a fingering slave, One that would peep and botanize Upon his mother's grave?
Wrapt closely in thy sensual fleece, O turn aside,-and take, I pray, That he below may rest in peace, Thy ever-dwindling soul away!
A Moralist perchance appears;
Led, Heaven knows how! to this poor sod:
And he has neither eyes nor ears;
One to whose smooth-rubbed soul can cling
Nor form, nor feeling, great or small!
Shut close the door; press down the latch;
Sleep in thy intellectual crust;
But who is he, with modest looks,
He is retired as noontide dew,
The outward shows of sky and earth,
In common things that round us lie Some random truths he can impart,The harvest of a quiet eye
That broods and sleeps on his own heart.
But he is weak; both Man and Boy,
-Come hither in thy hour of strength;
In the School of- is a tablet, on which are inscribed in gilt letters, the Names of the several persons who have been Schoolmasters there since the foundation of the School, with the time at which they entered upon and quitted their office. Opposite to one of those names the Author wrote the following lines.
Such a Tablet as is here spoken of continued to be preserved in Hawkshead School, though the inscriptions were not brought down to our time. This and other poems connected with Matthew would not gain by a literal detail of facts. Like the Wanderer in "The Excursion," this Schoolmaster was made up of several both of his class and men of other occupations. I do not ask pardon for what there is of untruth in such verses, considered strictly as matters of fact. It is enough if, being true and consistent in spirit, they move and teach in a manner not unworthy of a Poet's calling. (Wordsworth.)
IF Nature, for a favorite child,
Read o'er these lines; and then review
Its history of two hundred years.
-When through this little wreck of fame,
Cipher and syllable! thine eye
Has travelled down to Matthew's name. Pause with no common sympathy.
And, if a sleeping tear should wake,
Poor Matthew, all his frolics o'er,
The sighs which Matthew heaved were sighs
Of one tired out with fun and madness;
The tears which came to Matthew's eyes
Were tears of light, the dew of gladness.
Yet, sometimes, when the secret cup
-Thou soul of God's best earthly mould!
THE TWO APRIL MORNINGS
WE walked along, while bright and red Uprose the morning sun;
And Matthew stopped, he looked, and
"The will of God be done!"
A village schoolmaster was he,
As blithe a man as you could see
And on that morning, through the grass,
We travelled merrily, to pass
"Our work," said I, was well begun,
A second time did Matthew stop;
Upon the eastern mountain-top,
"Yon cloud with that long purple cleft Brings fresh into my mind
A day like this which I have left
"And just above yon slope of corn
"With rod and line I sued the sport
Beside my daughter's grave.