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To slacken in his duty, and at length
There is a comfort in the strength of love; Twill make a thing endurable, which else Would break the heart:--Old Michael found
it so. I have convers'd with more than one who well Remember the Old Man, and what he was Years after he had heard this heavy news. His bodily frame had been from youth to age Of an unusual strength. Among the rocks He went, and still look'd up upon the
sun, And listen’d to the wind; and as before Perform'd all kinds of labour for his sheep, And for the land his small inheritance. And to that hollow Dell from time to time Did he repair, to build the Fold of which His flock had need, 'Tis not forgotten yet The pity which was then in every heart For the Old Man--and 'tis believ'd by all That many and many a day he thither went And never lifted up a single stone. There, by the Sheep-fold, sometimes was he
Sitting alone, with that his faithful Dog,
Three years, or little more, did Isahel, Survive her Husband: At her death the estate Was sold, and went into a Stranger's hand. The Cottage, which was nam’d the Evening
Star, Is gone, the ploughshare has been through the
ground On which it stood; great changes have been
wrought In all the neighbourhood, yet the Oak is left That grew beside their door; and the remains Of the unfinish'd Sheep-fold may be seen Beside the boisterous brcok of Green headGill,
Note to the THORN, V.1.p. 95.This Poem ought to have heen preceded by an introductory Poem, which I have been prevented from writing by never having felt myself in a mood when it was probable that I should write it well. The character which I have here introduced speaking is sufficiently common. The Reader will perhaps have a general notion of it, if he has ever known a man, a Captain of a small trading vessel for example, who being past the middle age of life, had retired upon an annuity, or small independent income, to some village or country town of which he was not a native, or in which he had not been accustomed to live. Such men having little to do become credulous and talkative from indolence; and from the same cause, and other pre-disposing causes by which it is probable that such men may have been affected, they are prone to superatition. On which account it appeared to me proper to select a character like this, to exhibit some of the general laws by which superstition acts upon the mind, Superstitious men are alinost always men of slow faculties and deep feelings, their minds are not loose but adhesive;' they have a reasonable share of imagination, by which word I mean the faculty which produces impressive effects out of simple elements; but they are utterly destitute of fancy, the power by which pleasure and surprise are excited by sudden varieties of situation, and by accumulated imagery,
It was my wish in this poem to shew the manner in which such men cleave to the same ideas; and to follow the turns of passion, always different, yet not palpably different, by which their conversation is swayed. I had two objects to attain ; first, to represent a picture which should not be unimpressive yet consistent with the character that should describe it; secondly, while I adhered to the style in which such persons described, to take care that words, which in their minds are impregnated with passion, should likewise convey passion to Readers who are not accustomed to sympathise with men feeling in that manner or using such language. It seemed to me that this might be done by calling in the assistance of Lyrical and rapid Metre. It was necessary that the Poem, to be natural, should in reality move slowly; yet I hoped, that, by the aid of the Metre, to those who should at alt enter into the spirit of the Poem, it would appear to move quickly. The Reader will have the kindness to excuse this note, as I am sensible that an introductory Poem is necessary to give this Poem its full effect.
Upon this occasion I will request permission to add a few words closely connected with the Thorn, and many other Poems in these Volumes. There is a numerous class of readers who imagine that the same words cannot be repeated without tautology: This is a great error: Virtual tautology is much oftener produced by using different words when the meaning is exactly the same. Words, a Poet's words more particularly, ought to be weighed in the balance of feeling, and not measured by the space which they occupy upon paper. For the Reader cannot be too often reminded, that Poetry is Passion; it is the History or Science of Feelings. Now every man must known that an attempt is rarely made to communicate impassion ed feelings, without something of an accompanying consci.' ousness of the inadequateness of our own powers, or the de. ficiencies of language. During such efforts there will be a craving in the mind, and as long as it is unsatisfied, the Speaker will cling to the same words or words, of the same character. There are also various other reasons why repetition and apparent tautology are frequently beauties of the highest kind. Among the chief of these reasons is the interest which the mind attaches to words, not only as symbols of the passion, but as things, active and effi. cient, which are of themselves part of the passion. And further, from a spirit of fondness, exultation, and gratitude, the mind luxuriates in the repetition of words, which appear succ
accessfully to communicate its feelings. The truth of these remarks might be shewn by innumerable passages from the Bible, and from the impassioned Poetry of every nation..
" Awake, awake Deborah : awake, atake, utter a song: Arise Barak, and lead thy captivity captive, thou son of Abi
“ At her feet he bowed, he fell, he lay down : at her feet, he bowed, he fell; where he bowed, there he fell down dead.
Why is his Chariot so long in coming? Why tarry the Wheels of his Chariot?"- Judges, Chap. 5th. Verses 12th 27th, and part of the 28th. See also the whole of that tumultu. ous and wonderful Poem.
Note to the ANCIENT MARINER, V. I. p. 13.-I cannot refuse myself the gratification of informing such Readers as may have been pleased with this Poem, or with any part of it, that they owe their pleasure in some sort to me; as the Author was himself very desirous that it should be suppressed. This wish had arisen from a consciousness of the defects of the Poem, and from a knowledge that many persons had been much displeased with it. The Poem of my friend has indeed great defects; first, that the principal person has no distinct character, either in his profession of Mariner, or as a human being who, having been long under the controul of supernatural impressions, might be supposed himself to partake of something supernatural; secondly, that he not act, but is continually acted upon; thirdly, that the events having, no necessary connection, do not produce each other; and lastly, that the imagery is somewhat too laboriously accumulated. Yet the Poem contains many delicate touches of passion, and indeed, the passion is every where true to Nature; a great number of the stanzas present beautiful images, and are expressed with unusual felicity of language ; and the versification, though the Metre is itself unfit for long poems, is harmonious and artfully varied, exhibiting the utmost powers of that Metre, and every variety of which it is capable. It therefore appeared to me, that these several merits (the first of which, namely that of the passion, is of the highest kind) gave to the Poem a value which is not often possessed by better Poems. On this account I requested, of my friend to permit me to republish it.