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Set the sign-board in a blaze,
When the rising sun he painted,
Took the fancy from a glance
At thy glittering countenance.

Soon as gentle breezes bring
News of winter's vanishing,
And the children build their bowers,
Sticking 'kerchief-plots of mould
All about with full-blown flowers,
Thick as sheep in shepherd's fold!
With the proudest thou art there,
Mantling in the tiny square.

Often have I sighed to measure
By myself a lonely pleasure.
Sighed to think I read a book
Only read, perhaps, by me;
Yet I long could overlook
Thy bright coronet and Thee,
And thy arch and wily ways,
And thy store of other praise.

Blithe of heart, from week to week
Thou dost play at hide-and-seek;
While the patient primrose sits
Like a beggar in the cold,
Thou, a flower of wiser wits,
Slipp'st into thy sheltering hold;
Liveliest of the vernal train
When ye all are out again.

Drawn by what peculiar spell,
By what charm of sight or smell,
Does the dim-eyed curious Bee,
Laboring for her waxen cells,
Fondly settle upon Thee
Prized above all buds and bells
Opening daily at thy side,
By the season multiplied?

Thou are not beyond the moon,
But a thing "beneath our shoon:"
Let the bold Discoverer thrid
In his bark the polar sea;
Rear who will a pyramid;
Praise it is enough for me,
If there be but three or four
Who will love my little Flower.



This poem was originally known as The Leech Gatherer, and is still often called by that title. Compare the account of its origin, in Dorothy Wordsworth's Journal:

When William and I returned, we met an old man almost double. He had on a coat, thrown over his shoulders, above his waistcoat and coat.

Under this he carried a bundle, and had an apron on and a night-cap. His face was interesting. He had dark eyes and a long nose. John, who afterwards met him at Wytheburn, took him for a Jew. He was of Scotch parents, but had been born in the army. He had had a wife, and she was a good woman, and it pleased God to bless us with ten children." All these were dead but one, of whom he had not heard for many years, a sailor. His trade was to gather leeches, but now leeches were scarce, and he had not strength for it. He lived by begging, and was making his way to Carlisle, where he should buy a few godly books to sell. He said leeches were very scarce, partly owing to this dry season, but many years they have been scarce. He supposed it owing to their being much sought after, that they did not breed fast, and were of slow growth. Leeches were formerly 2s. 6d. per 100; they are now 30s. He had been hurt in driving a cart, his leg broken, his body driven over, his skull fractured. He felt no pain till he recovered from his first insensibility. It was then late in the evening, when the light was just going away.' (Dorothy Wordsworth's Journal, October 3, 1800.)

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As a huge stone is sometimes seen to lie
Couched on the bald top of an eminence;
Wonder to all who do the same espy,
By what means it could thither come,
and whence;

So that it seems a thing endued with


Like a sea-beast crawled forth, that on a shelf

Of rock or sand reposeth, there to sun itself;

Such seemed this Man, not all alive nor dead,

Nor all asleep, in his extreme old age:
His body was bent double, feet and head
Coming together in life's pilgrimage;
As if some dire constraint of pain, or rage
Of sickness felt by him in times long

A more than human weight upon his frame had cast.

Himself he propped, limbs, body, and pale face,

Upon a long gray staff of shaven wood: And, still as I drew near with gentle


Upon the margin of that moorish flood Motionless as a cloud the old Man stood, That heareth not the loud winds when they call

And moveth all together, if it move at all.

At length, himself unsettling, he the pond

Stirred with his staff, and fixedly did look Upon the muddy water, which he conned,

As if he had been reading in a book: And now a stranger's privilege I took; And, drawing to his side, to him did say, "This morning gives us promise of a glorious day."

A gentle answer did the old Man make. In courteous speech which forth he slowly drew:

And him with further words I thus bespake,

"What occupation do you there pursue? This is a lonesome place for one like you." Ere he replied, a flash of mild surprise Broke from the sable orbs of his yet vivid eyes,

His words came feebly, from a feeble chest,

But each in solemn order followed each,

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By which true Sway doth mount; this is the stalk

True Power doth grow on ; and her rights are these.






"We left London on Saturday morning at half-past five or six, the 30th of July. We mounted the Dover coach at Charing Cross. It was a beautiful morning. The city, St. Paul's, with the river, and a multitude of little boats, made a most beautiful sight as we crossed Westminster Bridge. The houses were not overhung by their cloud of smoke, and they were spread out endlessly; yet the sun shone so brightly, with such a fierce light, that there was even something like the purity of one of nature's own grand spectacles." (Dorothy Wordsworth's Journal, July, 1802.)

EARTH has not anything to show more fair:

Dull would he be of soul who could pass by

A sight so touching in its majesty: This City now doth, like a garment,


The beauty of the morning; silent, bare, Ships, towers, domes, theatres and tem ples lie

Open unto the fields, and to the sky; All bright and glittering in the smokeless air.

Never did sun more beautifully steep In his first splendor, valley, rock, or hill;

Ne'er saw I, never felt, a calm so deep! The river glideth at his own sweet will: Dear God! the very houses seem asleep; And all that mighty heart is lying still! 1802. 1807.


"We had delightful walks after the heat of the day was passed-seeing far off in the west the coast of England like a cloud crested with Dover Castle, which was but like the summit of the cloud-the evening star and the glory of the sky, the reflections in the water were more beautiful than the sky itself, purple waves brighter than precious stones, for ever melting away upon the sands..... Nothing in romance was ever half so beautiful. Now came in view, as the evening star sunk down, and the colors of the west faded away, the two lights of England." (Dorothy Wordsworth's Journal, August, 1802.)

FAIR Star of evening, Splendor of the west,

Star of my Country --on the horizon's brink

Thou hangest, stooping, as might seem,

to sink

On England's bosom; yet well pleased to rest,

Meanwhile, and be to her a glorious crest Conspicuous to the Nations. Thou, I think,

Should'st be my Country's emblem; and should'st wink,

Bright Star! with laughter on her banners, drest

In thy fresh beauty. There! that dusky spot

Beneath thee, that is England; there she lies.

Blessings be on you both! one hope, one lot,

One life, one glory!-I, with many a fear For my dear Country, many heartfelt sighs,

Among men who do not love her, linger here. 1802. 1807.

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Of Venice did not fall below her birth,
Venice, the eldest Child of Liberty.
She was a maiden City, bright and free;
No guile seduced, no force could violate;
And when she took unto herself a Mate,
She must espouse the everlasting Sea.
And what if she had seen those glories

Those titles vanish, and that strength decay;

Yet shall some tribute of regret be paid When her long life hath reached its final day:

Men are we, and must grieve when even the Shade

Of that which once was great, is passed away. 1802. 1807.

TO TOUSSAINT L'OUVERTURE TOUSSAINT, the most unhappy man of men!

Whether the whistling Rustic tend his plough

Within thy hearing, or thy head be now Pillowed in some deep dungeon's earless


O miserable Chieftain! where and when Wilt thou find patience? Yet die not; do thou

Wear rather in thy bonds a cheerful brow:

Though fallen thyself, never to rise again,

Live, and take comfort. Thou hast left behind

Powers that will work for thee; air, earth, and skies;

There's not a breathing of the common wind

That will forget thee; thou hast great allies:

Thy friends are exultations, agonies. And love, and man's unconquerable mind. 1802. 1803.


INLAND, within a hollow vale, I stood; And saw, while sea was calm and air was clear,

The coast of France--the coast of France how near!

Drawn almost into frightful neighborhood.

I shrunk; for verily the barrier flood Was like a lake, or river bright and fair,

A span of waters; yet what power is there!

What mightiness for evil and for good! Even so doth God protect us if we be Virtuous and wise. Winds blow, and waters roll,

Strength to the brave, and Power, and Deity;

Yet in themselves are nothing! One decree

Spake laws to them, and said that by the soul

Only, the Nations shall be great and free. 1802. 1807.


This was written immediately after my return from France to London, when I could not but be struck, as here, described, with the vanity and parade of our own country, especially in great towns and cities, as contrasted with the quiet, and I may say the desolation, that the revolution had produced in France. This must be borne in mind, or else the reader may think that in this and the succeeding Sonnets I have exaggerated the mischief engendered and fostered among us by undisturbed wealth. It would not be easy to conceive with what a depth of feeling I entered into the struggle carried on by the Spaniards for their deliverance from the usurped power of the French. Many times have I gone from Allan Bank in Grasmere vale, where we were then residing, to the top of the Raise-gap as it is called, so late as two o'clock in the morning, to meet the carrier bringing the newspaper from Keswick. Imperfect traces of the state of mind in which I then was may be found in my Tract on the Convention of Cintra, as well as in these Sonnets. (Wordsworth.)

O FRIEND! I know not which way I must look

For comfort, being, as I am, opprest,
To think that now our life is only drest
For show; mean handy-work of crafts-
man, cook,

Or groom!-We must run glittering like a brook

In the open sunshine, or we are unblest: The wealthiest man among us is the


No grandeur now in nature or in book Delights us. Rapine, avarice, expense, This is idolatry; and these we adore Plain living and high thinking are no

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