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A Voice to Light gave Being;
To Time, and Man his earth-born chronicler;
A Voice shall finish doubt and dim foreseeing,
And sweep away life's visionary stir:
The trumpet, (we, intoxicate with pride,
Arm at its blast for deadly wars,)
To archangelic lips applied,
The grave shall open, quench the stars.
O Silence! are Man's noisy years
No more than moments of thy life?
Is Harmony, blest queen of smiles and tears,
With her smooth tones and discords just,
Temper'd into rapturous strife,
Thy destined bond-slave ? No! though Earth be dust
And vanish, though the heavens dissolve, her stay
Is in the WORD, that shall not pass away."

[1828.

ODE.

INTIMATIONS OF IMMORTALITY FROM RECOLLECTIONS OF

EARLY CHILDHOOD.2

The Child is Father of the Man;
And I could wish my days to be
Bound each to each by natural piety.

See page 129.

I.
THERE was a time when meadow, grove, and stream,
The earth, and every common sight,

To me did seem

Apparell’d in celestial light,
The glory and the freshness of a dream.
It is not now as it hath been of yore;

Turn whereso'er I may,

By night or day, The things which I have seen I now can see no more. 1 This has long seemed to me one of the author's greatest poems; hardly inferior, indeed, to his Ode on Immortality, though less celebrated than that. The classi. cal allusions, of which there are many, are selected with rare judgment, and used with consummate art: the scope of the piece is as wide-sweeping and inclusive as the theme can well admit of; yet all the parts are toned and balanced in exquisite harmony; and the effect of the whole is inspiring and soul-lifting in the highest degree. Nor can its freshness be exhausted: after a close familiarity of more than thirty-five years, it still affects me in a manner quite beyond my powers of ex. pression. It is as if all the voices and utterances of the world were gathered and attempered into a multitudinous anthem, now thrilling the heart with the deepest notes of awe, now soothing it with the softest notes of joy, and anon blending the two in a strain that leaves no part of our emotional nature untouched. Thus much is the least I can say of this magnificent poem.

2 The little poem, We are Seven, page 133, ought to be read in connection with

II.
The rainbow comes and goes,
And lovely is the Rose;

The Moon doth with delight
Look round her when the heavens are bare;

Waters on a starry night

Are beautiful and fair;
The sunshine is a glorious birth;

But yet I know, where'er I go,
That there hath past away a glory from the earth.

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III.
Now, while the birds thus sing a joyous song,

And while the young lambs bound

As to the tabor's sound,
To me alone there came a thought of grief :
A timely utterance gave that thought relief,

Ånd I again am strong:
The cataracts blow their trumpets from the steep;
No more shall grief of mine the season wrong;
I hear the Echoes through the mountains throng;
The Winds come to me from the fields of sleep,

And all the earth is gay;

Land and sea

Give themselves up to jollity,' this Ode. - In his notes dictated 1843, the author has the following: "This was com. posed during my residence at Townend, Grasmcre. Two years at least passed between the writing of the first four stanzas and the remaining part. To the attentive and competent reader the whole sufficiently explains itself; but there inay be no harm in adverting here to particular feelings or experiences of my own mind on which the structure of the poem partly rests. Nothing was more difficult for me in child. hood than to admit the notion of death as a state applicable to my own being. I used to brood over the stories of Enoch and Elijah, and almost to persuade myself that, whatever might become of others, I should be translated, in something of the same way, to Heaven. With a feeling congenial to this,

I was often unable to think of external things as having external existence; and I communed with all that I saw as something not apart from, but inherent in, my own immaterial nature. Many times while going to school have I grasped at a wall or tree, to recall myself from this abyss of idealism to the reality. At that time I was afraid of such processes. In later periods of life I have deplored, as we all have reason to do, a subjugation of an opposite character. To that dream-like vividness and splendour which invest objects of sight in childhood, every one, I believe, if he would look back, could bear testimony, and I need not dwell upon it here; but, having in the poem regarded it as presumptive evidence of a prior state of existence, I think it right to protest against a conclusion, which has given pain to some good and pious persons, that I meant to inculcate such a belief. But let us bear in mind that, though the idea is not advanced in revelation, there is nothing there to contradict it, and the fall of man presents an analogy in its favour. Accordingly, a pre-existent state has en, tered into the popular creeds of many nations; and, among all persons acquainted with classic literature, is known as an ingredient in the Platonic philosophy. Archimedes said that he could move the world, if he had a point whereon to rest his machine. Who has not felt the same aspirations as regards the world of his own mind? Having to wield some of its elements when I was impelled to write this poem on the Immortality of the Soul,' I took hold of the notion of pre-existence as having sufficient foundation in humanity for authorizing me to make for my purpose the best use of it I could as a poet."

And with the heart of May
Doth every Beast keep holiday; —

Thou Child of Joy,
Shout round me, let me hear thy shouts, thou happy
Shepherd-boy!

IV.
Ye blessed Creatures, I have heard the call

Ye to each other make; I see
The heavens laugh with you in your jubilee;

My heart is at your festival,

My head hath its coronal,
The fulness of your bliss, I feel — I feel it all.

O evil day! if I were sullen
While Earth herself is adorning,

This sweet May-morning,
And the children are culling

On every side,
In a thousand valleys far and wide,

Fresh flowers; while the Sun shines warm,
And the Babe leaps up on his mother's arm:

I hear, I hear, with joy I hear!-

But there's a Tree, of many, one,
A single Field which I have looked upon,
Both of them speak of something that is gone :

The Pansy at my feet

Doth the same tale repeat:
Whither is fled the visionary gleam ?
Where is it now, the glory and the dream ?

V.
Our birth is but a sleep and a forgetting:
The Soul that rises with us, our life’s Star,

Hath had elsewhere its setting,

And cometh from afar:
Not in entire forgetfulness,

And not in utter nakedness,
But trailing clouds of glory do we come

From God, who is our home:
Heaven lies about us in our infancy!
Shades of the prison-house begin to close

Upon the growing Boy,
But He beholds the light, and whence it flows,

He sees it in his joy;
The Youth, who daily further from the East

Must travel, still is Nature's Priest,

And by the vision splendid

Is on his way attended;
At length the Man perceives it die away,
And fade into the light of common day.

VI.
Earth fills her lap with pleasures of her own;
Yearnings she hath in her own natural kind,
And, even with something of a Mother's mind,

And no unworthy aim,

The homely Nurse doth all she can
To make her Foster-child, her Inmate Man,

Forget the glories he hath known,
And that imperial palace whence he came.

VII.
Behold the Child among his new-born blisses,
A six years' Darling of a pigmy size!
See, where 'mid work of his

own hand he lies,
Fretted by sallies of his mother's kisses,
With light upon him from his father's eyes!
See, at his feet, some little plan or chart,
Some fragment from his dream of human life,
Shaped by himself with newly-learned art;

A wedding or a festival,
A mourning or a funeral;
And this hath now his heart,
And unto this he frames his song:

Then will he fit his tongue
To dialogues of business, love, or strife;

But it will not be long
Ere this be thrown aside,

And with new joy and pride

The little actor cons another part;
Filling from time to time his “humorous stage”
With all the Persons, down to palsied Age,
That Life brings with her in her equipage;

As if his whole vocation
Were endless imitation.

VIII.
Thou, whose exterior semblance doth belie

Thy soul's immensity; Thou best Philosopher, who yet dost keep 3."Humorons stage” is stage whereon humours, that is, whims, crotchets, or fancies are displayed. This is the old meaning of humour. So in Shakespeare and Ben Jonson, passim.

Thy heritage, thou Eye among the blind,
That, deaf and silent, read'st th' eternal deep,
Haunted for ever by th' eternal mind,

Mighty Prophet! Seer blest!

On whom those truths do rest, Which we are toiling all our lives to find, In darkness lost, the darkness of the grave; Thou, over whom thy Immortality Broods like the Day, a Master o'er a Slave, A Presence which is not to be put by;* Thou little Child, yet glorious in the might Of heaven-born freedom on thy being's height, Why with such earnest pains dost thou provoke The years to bring th' inevitable yoke, Thus blindly with thy blessedness at strife? Full soon thy Soul shall have her earthly freight, And custom lie upon thee with a weight,

Heavy as frost, and deep almost as life! 4 As the matter is here viewed, the child, from the strength or instinctive action of an inward law, rests in the full conviction or assurance of that truth, namely, the immortality of the soul, which the mature mind is ever struggling to make good by external proof and inference; because the latter, as the stern facts of our condition press upon it, gets lost in the “ dark valley;" that is, the grave cuts of from it the vision of a life beyond.

5 The preceding part of this stanza has always been something of a poser to me. I have never been quite able to get over Coleridge's comment upon it: “In what sense is a child of that age a philosopher? In what sense does he read 'th'eternal deep'? In what sense is he declared to be for ever haunted by the Supreme Being'? or so inspired as to deserve the titles of a mighty prophet, a blessed secry By reflection? by knowledge? by conscious intuition? or by any form or modification of consciousness? These would be tidings indeed; but such as would presuppose an inn. mediate revelation to the inspired communicator, and require miracles to authenti. cate his inspiration. But if this be too wild and exorbitant to be suspected as hav. ing been the poet's meaning; if these mysterious gifts, faculties, and operations are not accompanied with consciousness, who else is conscious of them? or how can it be called the child, if it be no part of the child's conscious being?" And again: “In what sense can the magnificent attributes, above quoted, be appropriated to a child, which would not make them equally suitable to a bee, or a dog, or a field of corn? or even to a ship, or to the wind and waves that propel it? The omnipresent Spirit works equally in them as in the child; and the child is equally unconscious of it as they."-On the other hand, Wordsworth, in his Essay upon Epitaphs, pursues the theme in a high strain of discourse from which I must be content to give a short extract: “Forlorn, and cut off from communication with the best part of his nature, must that man be, who should derive the sense of immortality, as it exists in the mind of a child, from the same unthinking gaiety or liveliness of animal spirits with which the lamb in the meadow, or any other irrational creature is endowed; who should ascribe it, in short, to blank ignorance in the child; to an inability arising from the imperfect state of his faculties to come, in any point of his being, into con. tact with a notion of death: or to an unreflecting acquiescence in what had been in. stilled into him! Has such an unfolder of the mysteries of nature, though he may have forgotten his former self, ever noticed the early, obstinate, and unappeasable inquisitiveness of children upon the subject of origination? This single fact proves outwardly the monstrousness of those suppositions: for, if we had no direct exter. nal testimony that the minds of very young children meditate feelingly upon death and immortality, these inquiries, which we all know they are perpetually making concerning the whence, do necessarily include corresponding habits of interrogation concerning the whither. Origin and tendency are notions inseparably co-relative. We may, then, be justified in asserting, that the sense of immortality, if not a coexistent and twin birth with Reason, is among the earliest of her offspring: and we may further assert, that from these conjoined, and under their countenance, the human affections are gradually formed and opened out.”

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