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Or else not live at all, and seeing too
Each little drop of wisdom as it falls
Into the dimpling cistern of his heart:

For this unnatural growth the trainer blame,
Pity the tree.-Poor human vanity,
Wert thou extinguished, little would be left
Which he could truly love; but how escape?
For, ever as a thought of purer birth
Rises to lead him toward a better clime,
Some intermeddler still is on the watch

To drive him back, and pound him, like a stray,
Within the pirafold of his own conceit.
Meanwhile old grandame earth is grieved to find
The playthings, which her love designed for him,
Unthought of: in their woodland beds the flowers
Weep, and the river sides are all forlorn.
Oh! give us once again the wishing cap

Of Fortunatus, and the invisible coat

Of Jack the Giant-killer, Robin Hood,

And Sabra in the forest with St. George!

The child, whose love is here, at least, doth reap
Une precious gain, that he forgets himself.

These mighty workmen of our later age,
Who, with a broad highway, have overbridged
The froward chaos of futurity,

Tamed to their bidding; they who have the skill
To manage books, and things, and make them act
On infant minds as surely as the sun
Deals with a flower; the keepers of our time,
The guides and wardens of our faculties,
Sages who in their prescience would control
All accidents, and to the very road
Which they have fashioned would confine us down,
Laxe engines; when will their presumption learn,
That in the unreasoning progress of the world
A wiser spirit is at work for us,

A better eye than theirs, most prodigal
Of blessings, and most studious of our good,
Even in what seem our most unfruitful hours?

Across the watery vale, and shout again,

Responsive to his call, with quivering peals,
And long halloos and screams, and echoes loud,
Redoubled and redoubled, concourse wild
Of jocund din; and, when a lengthened pause
Of silence came and 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 scene
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.
Fair is the spot, most beautiful the vale
Where he was born; the grassy churchyard hangs
Upon a slope above the village school,

And through that churchyard when my way has

On summer evenings, I believe that there
A long half hour together I have stood
Mute, looking at the grave in which he lies!
Even now appears before the mind's clear eye
That self-same village church; I see her sit
(The throned Lady whom erewhile we hailed)
On her green hill, forgetful of this Boy
Who slumbers at her feet,-forgetful, too,..
Of all her silent neighbourhood of graves,
And listening only to the gladsome sounds
That, from the rural school ascending, play
Beneath her and about her. May she long
Behold a race of young ones like to those
With whom I herded !--(easily, indeed,
We might have fed upon a fatter soil
Of arts and letters-but be that forgiven)-
A race of real children; not too wise,
Too learned, or too good; but wanton, fresh,
And bandied up and down by love and hate;

There was a Boy: ye knew him well, ye cliffs Not unresentful where self-justified;

And islands of Winander!-many a time
At evening, when the earliest stars began
To more along the edges of the hills,
Being or setting, would he stand alone
Leneath the trees or by the glimmering lake,
And there, with fingers interwoven, both hands
Pressed closely palm to palm, and to his mouth
Trafted, he, as through an instrument,
le mie hootings to the silent owls,

Fierce, moody, patient, venturous, modest, shy;
Mad at their sports like withered leaves in winds;
Though doing wrong and suffering, and full oft
Bending beneath our life's mysterious weight
Of pain, and doubt, and fear, yet yielding not
In happiness to the happiest upon earth.
Simplicity in habit, truth in speech,

Be these the daily strengtheners of their minds;
May books and Nature be their early joy!

That they might answer him; and they would shout And knowledge, rightly honoured with that

• See p. 141.-Ed.


Knowledge not purchased by the loss of power!

Well do I call to mind the very week
When I was first intrusted to the care
Of that sweet Valley; when its paths, its shores,
And brooks were like a dream of novelty
To my half-infant thoughts; that very week,
While I was roving up and down alone,
Seeking I knew not what, I chanced to cross
One of those open fields, which, shaped like ears,
Make green peninsulas on Esthwaite's Lake:
Twilight was coming on, yet through the gloom
Appeared distinctly on the opposite shore
A heap of garments, as if left by one

Who might have there been bathing. Long I

But no one owned them; meanwhile the calm lake
Grew dark with all the shadows on its breast,
And, now and then, a fish up-leaping snapped
The breathless stillness. The succeeding day,
Those unclaimed garments telling a plain tale
Drew to the spot an anxious crowd; some looked
In passive expectation from the shore,

While from a boat others hung o'er the deep,
Sounding with grappling irons and long poles.
The drowned At last, the dead man, 'mid that beauteous scene
Of trees and hills and water, bolt upright
Wasso's Rose, with his ghastly face, a spectre shape
Of terror; yet no soul-debasing fear,

Than and

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Young as I was, a child not nine years old,
Possessed me, for my inner eye had seen
Such sights before, among the shining streams
Of faery land, the forest of romance.
Their spirit hallowed the sad spectacle
With decoration of ideal grace;
A dignity, a smoothness, like the works
Of Grecian art, and purest poesy.

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A precious treasure had I long possessed, A little yellow, canvas-covered book, A slender abstract of the Arabian tales; And, from companions in a new abode, When first I learnt, that this dear prize of mine Was but a block hewn from a mighty quarry— That there were four large volumes, laden all With kindred matter, 'twas to me, in truth, A promise scarcely earthly. Instantly, With one not richer than myself, I made A covenant that each should lay aside The moneys he possessed, and hoard up more, Till our joint savings had amassed enough

To make this book our own. Through several months,

In spite of all temptation, we preserved
Religiously that vow; but firmness failed,
Nor were we ever masters of our wish.

And when thereafter to my father's house The holidays returned me, there to find That golden store of books which I had left, What joy was mine! How often in the course Of those glad respites, though a soft west wind Ruffled the waters to the angler's wish, For a whole day together, have I lain Down by thy side, O Derwent! murmuring stream, On the hot stones, and in the glaring sun, And there have read, devouring as I read, Defrauding the day's glory, desperate ! Till with a sudden bound of smart reproach, Such as an idler deals with in his shame, I to the sport betook myself again.

A gracious spirit o'er this earth presides, And o'er the heart of man; invisibly It comes, to works of unreproved delight, And tendency benign, directing those Who care not, know not, think not what they do The tales that charm away the wakeful night In Araby, romances; legends penned For solace by dim light of monkish lamps; Fictions, for ladies of their love, devised By youthful squires; adventures endless, spun By the dismantled warrior in old age, Out of the bowels of those very schemes In which his youth did first extravagate: These spread like day, and something in the shape Of these will live till man shall be no more. Dumb yearnings, hidden appetites, are ours, And they must have their food. Our childhood


Our simple childhood, sits upon a throne
That hath more power than all the elements.
I guess not what this tells of Being past,
Nor what it augurs of the life to come;
But so it is, and, in that dubious hour,
That twilight when we first begin to see
This dawning earth, to recognise, expect,
And, in the long probation that ensues,
The time of trial, ere we learn to live
In reconcilement with our stinted powers;
To endure this state of meagre vassalage,
Unwilling to forego, confess, submit,
Uneasy and unsettled, yoke-fellows
To custom, mettlesome, and not yet tamed
And humbled down; oh! then we feel, we feel.
We know where we have friends. Ye dreamers,

Forgers of daring tales! we bless you then,
Impostors, drivellers, dotards, as the ape
Philosophy will call you: then we feel

With what, and how great might ye are in league,


Who make our wish, our power, our thought a deed,

An empire, a possession,-ye whom time
And seasons serve; all Faculties to whom
Earth crouches, the elements are potter's clay,
Space like a heaven filled up with northern lights,
Here, nowhere, there, and everywhere at once.

Relinquishing this lofty eminence

For ground, though humbler, not the less a tract
Of the same isthmus, which our spirits cross
In progress from their native continent
To earth and human life, the Song might dwell
On that delightful time of growing youth,
When craving for the marvellous gives way
To strengthening love for things that we have seen;
When sober truth and steady sympathies,
Offered to notice by less daring pens,
Take firmer hold of us, and words themselves
Move us with conscious pleasure.

I am sad
At thought of rapture now for ever flown;
Almost to tears I sometimes could be sad
To think of, to read over, many a page,
Poems withal of name, which at that time
Did never fail to entrance me, and are now
Dead in my eyes, dead as a theatre
Fresh emptied of spectators. Twice five years
Or less I might have seen, when first my mind
With conscious pleasure opened to the charm
Of words in tuneful order, found them sweet
For their own sakes, a passion, and a power;
And phrases pleased me chosen for delight,
For pomp, or love. Oft, in the public roads
Yet unfrequented, while the morning light
Was yellowing the hill tops, I went abroad
With a dear friend, and for the better part
Of two delightful hours we strolled along
By the still borders of the misty lake,
Repeating favourite verses with one voice,
Or conning more, as happy as the birds

That round us chaunted. Well might we be glad,
Lifted above the ground by airy fancies,
More bright than madness or the dreams of wine;
And, though full oft the objects of our love
Were false, and in their splendour overwrought,
Yet was there surely then no vulgar power
Working within us,-nothing less, in truth,
Than that most noble attribute of man,
Though yet untutored and inordinate,
That wish for something loftier, more adorned,
Than is the common aspect, daily garb,
Of human life. What wonder, then, if sounds
Of exultation echoed through the groves!
For, images, and sentiments, and words,
And everything encountered or pursued
In that delicious world of poesy,
Kept holiday, a never-ending show,
With music, incense, festival, and flowers!

Here must we pause: this only let me add, From heart-experience, and in humblest sense Of modesty, that he, who in his youth A daily wanderer among woods and fields With living Nature hath been intimate, Not only in that raw unpractised time Is stirred to extasy, as others are, By glittering verse; but further, doth receive, In measure only dealt out to himself, Knowledge and increase of enduring joy From the great Nature that exists in works Of mighty Poets. Visionary power Attends the motions of the viewless winds, Embodied in the mystery of words: There, darkness makes abode, and all the host Of shadowy things work endless changes,-there, As in a mansion like their proper home, Even forms and substances are circumfused By that transparent veil with light divine, And, through the turnings intricate of verse, Present themselves as objects recognised, In flashes, and with glory not their own.

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THE leaves were fading when to Esthwaite's banks
And the simplicities of cottage life

I bade farewell; and, one among the youth
Who, summoned by that season, reunite
As scattered birds troop to the fowler's lure,
Went back to Granta's cloisters, not so prompt
Or eager, though as gay and undepressed
In mind, as when I thence had taken flight
A few short months before. I turned my face
Without repining from the coves and heights
Clothed in the sunshine of the withering fern;
Quitted, not loth, the mild magnificence
Of calmer lakes and louder streams; and you,
Frank-hearted maids of rocky Cumberland,
You and your not unwelcome days of mirth,
Relinquished, and your nights of revelry,
And in my own unlovely cell sate down

In lightsome mood-such privilege has youth
That cannot take long leave of pleasant thoughts.

The bonds of indolent society Relaxing in their hold, henceforth I lived More to myself. Two winters may be passed Without a separate notice: many books Were skimmed, devoured, or studiously perused, But with no settled plan. I was detached Internally from academic cares; Yet independent study seemed a course Of hardy disobedience toward friends And kindred, proud rebellion and unkind. This spurious virtue, rather let it bear A name it now deserves, this cowardice, Gave treacherous sanction to that over-love Of freedom which encouraged me to turn From regulations even of my own

Of present happiness, while future years
Lacked not anticipations, tender dreams,
No few of which have since been realised;
And some remain, hopes for my future life.
Four years and thirty, told this very week,
Have I been now a sojourner on earth,
By sorrow not unsmitten; yet for me
Life's morning radiance hath not left the hills.
Her dew is on the flowers. Those were the days
Which also first emboldened me to trust
With firmness, hitherto but slightly touched
By such a daring thought, that I might leave
Some monument behind me which pure hearts
Should reverence. The instinctive humbleness,
Maintained even by the very name and thought
Of printed books and authorship, began
To melt away; and further, the dread awe
Of mighty names was softened down and seemed
Approachable, admitting fellowship

Of modest sympathy. Such aspect now,
Though not familiarly, my mind put on,
Content to observe, to achieve, and to enjoy.

All winter long, whenever free to choose, Did I by night frequent the College grove And tributary walks; the last, and oft The only one, who had been lingering there Through hours of silence, till the porter's bell, A punctual follower on the stroke of nine, Rang with its blunt unceremonious voice, Inexorable summons! Lofty elms, Inviting shades of opportune recess, Bestowed composure on a neighbourhood Unpeaceful in itself. A single tree With sinuous trunk, boughs exquisitely wreathed, Grew there; an ash which Winter for himself Decked out with pride, and with outlandish grace.

As from restraints and bonds. Yet who can tell-Up from the ground, and almost to the top, Who knows what thus may have been gained,

both then

And at a later season, or preserved ;
What love of nature, what original strength
Of contemplation, what intuitive truths
The deepest and the best, what keen research,
Unbiassed, unbewildered, and unawed?

The Poet's soul was with me at that time; Sweet meditations, the still overflow

The trunk and every master branch were green
With clustering ivy, and the lightsome twigs
And outer spray profusely tipped with seeds
That hung in yellow tassels, while the air
Stirred them, not voiceless. Often have I stood
Foot-bound uplooking at this lovely tree
Beneath a frosty moon. The hemisphere
Of magic fiction, verse of mine perchance
May never tread; but scarcely Spenser's self
Could have more tranquil visions in his youth.

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Or could more bright appearances create
Of human forms with superhuman powers,
Than I beheld loitering on calm clear nights
Alone, beneath this fairy work of earth.

On the vague reading of a truant youth
'Twere idle to descant. My inner judgment
Not seldom differed from my taste in books,
As if it appertained to another mind,

And yet the books which then I valued most
Are dearest to me now; for, having scanned,
Not heedlessly, the laws, and watched the forms
of Nature, in that knowledge I possessed
A standard, often usefully applied,
Even when unconsciously, to things removed
From a familiar sympathy.-In fine,

I was a better judge of thoughts than words,

Misled in estimating words, not only

By common inexperience of youth,

1 Pat by the trade in classic niceties,

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The dangerous craft of culling term and phrase
From Languages that want the living voice
To carry meaning to the natural heart;
To tell us what is passion, what is truth,

What reason, what simplicity and sense.

Yet may we not entirely overlook The pleasure gathered from the rudiments Of geometric science. Though advanced In these inquiries, with regret I speak, No farther than the threshold, there I found Both elevation and composed delight: With Indian awe and wonder, ignorance pleased With its own struggles, did I meditate On the relation those abstractions bear To Nature's laws, and by what process led, These immaterial agents bowed their heads Ity to serve the mind of earth-born man; From star to star, from kindred sphere to sphere, From system on to system without end.

More frequently from the same source I drew A pleasure quiet and profound, a sense

permanent and universal sway,

And paramount belief; there, recognised
A type, for finite natures, of the one
Supreme Existence, the surpassing life
Which to the boundaries of space and time,
of melancholy space and doleful time,
Superior and incapable of change,

Nor touched by welterings of passion-is,
And bath the name of, God. Transcendent peace
And silence did await upon these thoughts
That were a frequent comfort to my youth.

"Tis told by one whom stormy waters threw, With fellow-sufferers by the shipwreck spared, Upon a desert coast, that having brought To land a single volume, saved by chance, A treatise of Geometry, he wont, Although of food and clothing destitute, And beyond common wretchedness depressed, To part from company and take this book (Then first a self-taught pupil in its truths) To spots remote, and draw his diagrams With a long staff upon the sand, and thus Did oft beguile his sorrow, and almost Geometry as an way Forget his feeling: so (if like effect of es disturens From the same cause produced, 'mid outward

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Such dispositions then were mine unearned By aught, I fear, of genuine desertMine, through heaven's grace and inborn aptitudes. And not to leave the story of that time Imperfect, with these habits must be joined, Moods melancholy, fits of spleen, that loved A pensive sky, sad days, and piping winds, The twilight more than dawn, autumn than spring; A treasured and luxurious gloom of choice And inclination mainly, and the mere Redundancy of youth's contentedness. -To time thus spent, add multitudes of hours Pilfered away, by what the Bard who sang

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