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O joy! that in our embers
Is something that doth live,
That nature yet remembers

What was so fugitive!
The thought of our past years in me doth breed

benediction : not indeed
For that which is most worthy to be blest, –
Delight and liberty, the simple creed
Of Childhood, whether busy or at rest,
With new-fledged hope still fluttering in his breast:-

Not for these I raise
The song of thanks and praise ;
But for those obstinate questionings
Of sense and outward things;6
Fallings from us, vanishings ;

Blank misgivings of a Creature
Moving about in worlds not realised;
High instincts before which our mortal Nature
Did tremble like a guilty Thing surprised:

But for those first affections,
Those shadowy recollections,

Which, be they what they may,
Are yet the fountain light of all our day,
Are yet a master-light of all our seeing ;
Uphold us, cherish, and have power to make
Our noisy years seem moments in the being
Of the eternal Silence: truths that wake,

To perish never;
Which neither listlessness, nor mad endeavour,

Nor Man nor Boy,
Nor all that is at enmity with joy,

Can utterly abolish or destroy! 6 These “ questionings of sense and outward things” are, I suppose, the ques. tions which the soul puts to its visible surroundings, ever seeking from them what they have not to give: that is, the soul is so unable to acquiesce in death as the end of its being, that it cannot choose but keep interrogating the world of sense for answers which must come from a higher source; and this is taken as arguing that the soul is itself framed and attuned to a world above and beyond the present. Thus the poet finds cause to rejoice in the moral disappointments he has sustained,to rejoice that the glories he saw in childhood have fallen away from him, and van. Ished under the pressure of experience; because all this is a sort of pledge that his being has in it something

greater and better than this world; that the soul's true home is in a world where life is unfailing and death is unknown. And so, in his view, for the purpose in question, the “philosophic mind” more than compensates the loss of the instinctive faith of childhood." Wordsworth here shows that the thought is at least a good one for poetical use; and I think it may be shown to be a good one for practical use. For, in fact, the strongest natural argument for a future life is, that the higher needs and instincts of our moral being are not met in this world: in other words, conscience and the present state of thing do not go together; the one does not answer to the other; and the world is full of beginnings that are to be finished elsewhere, if inished at all. See page 214, note 4.

Hence in a season of calm weather,

Though inland far we be,
Our souls have sight of that immortal sea

Which brought us hither,

Can in a moment travel thither,
And see the Children sport upon the shore,
And hear the mighty waters rolling evermore.

Then sing, ye Birds, sing, sing a joyous song!

And let the young Lambs bound

As to the tabor's sound!
We in thought will join your throng,

Ye that pipe and ye that play,
Ye that through your hearts to-day

Feel the gladness of the May !
What though the radiance which was once so bright
Be now for ever taken from my sight,

Though nothing can bring back the hour
Of splendour in the grass, of glory in the flower;

We will grieve not, rather find
Strength in what remains behind;
In the primal sympathy
Which having been must ever be;
In the soothing thoughts that spring
Out of human suffering ;

In the faith that looks through death,
In years that bring the philosophic mind.

XI. And 0, ye Fountains, Meadows, Hills, and Groves, Förebode not any severing of our loves ! Yet in my heart of hearts I feel your might; I only have relinquish'd one delight To live beneath your more habitual sway. I love the Brooks which down their channels fret, Even more than when I tripp'd lightly as they; The innocent brightness of a new-born Day

Is lovely yet; The Clouds that gather round the setting Sun Do take a sober colouring from an eye That hath kept watch o'er man's mortality: Another race hath been, and other palms are won. Thanks to the human heart by which we live, Thanks to its tenderness, its joys, and fears,

To me the meanest flower that blows can give
Thoughts that do often lie too deep for tears."



PREFATORY NOTE.-This poem was begun early in 1799, and was finished in the Summer of 1805. During that time, the author, as he himself tells us, was ineditating a much larger work, of which The Excursion forms a part; and by way of preparation for this work," he undertook to record, in verse, the origin and progress of his own powers, so far as he was acquainted with them.” And he adds the following: “The preparatory poem is autobiographical, and conducts the history of the author's mind to the point when he was emboldened to hope that his faculties were sufficiently matured for entering upon the arduous labour which he had proposed to himselt'; and the two works have the same kind of relation to each other, if he may so express himself, as the Ante-chapel has to the body of a Gothic Church.” The Prelude was addressed to Coleridge, who was residing in Malta for the restoration of his health when the greater part of it was composed. On his return to England, Wordsworth read the poem to him; and the impression it made upon him is set forth in some very noble verses addressed to Wordsworth, which will be found among the poems by Coleridge given in this volume. Wordsworth speaks of The Prelude as being “addressed to a dear friend, most distinguished for his knowledge and genius, and to whom the author's intellect is deeply indebted.” - The poem was not published till 1850, soon after the author's death. On its first appearance, it was, I think, rather disappointing to the lovers of Wordsworth; but it wears well, and, if my own experience be any test, never fails to improve on further acquaintance. - The whole poem consists of fourteen Books. Of these, I give the first two Books entire, and portions of several others; which is all I can make room for, without excluding other pieces that seem better suited to the purpose of this volume.


0, THERE is blessing in this gentle breeze,
A visitant that while it fans my cheek
Doth seem half-conscious of the joy it brings
From the green fields, and from yon azure sky.
Whate'er its mission, the soft breeze can come

To none more grateful than to me; escaped 7 This great Ode is now commonly accepted as the crowning effort of modern imaginative discourse; but I suspect that few have grown to a full comprehension of its meaning, So deep and strong, indeed, is the undercurrent of thought, and so rich and varied the imagery and expression by which those depths are symbolized, that one may converse with it every day for a lifetime, without exhausting its sig. nificance. I must dismiss it with a brief comment from Coleridge: “To the Ode on the Intimations of Immortality from Recollections of Early Childhood, the poet might have prefixed the lines which Dante addressed to one of his own Canzoni:

O lyric song, there will be few, think I,
Who may thy import understand aright;

Thou art for them so arduous and so high!' But the Ode was intended for such readers only as had been accustomed to watch the flux and reflux of their inmost nature, to venture at times into the twilight realms of consciousness, and to feel a deep interest in modes of inmost being, to which

they know that the attributes of time and space are inapplicable and alien, but which yet cannot be conveyed save in symbols of time and space. For such readers the sense is sufficiently plain."

From the vast city, where I long had pined
A discontented sojourner: now free,
Free as a bird to settle where I will.
What dwelling shall receive me? in what vale
Shall be my harbour? underneath what grove
Shall I take up my home? and what clear stream
Shall with its murmur lull me into rest ?
The earth is all before me. With a heart
Joyous, nor scared at its own liberty,
I look about; and, should the chosen guide
Be nothing better than a wandering cloud,
I cannot miss my way. I breathe again!
Trances of thought and mountings of the mind
Come fast upon me: it is shaken off,
That burthen of my own unnatural self,
The heavy weight of many a weary day
Not mine, and such as were not made for me.
Long months of peace, (if such bold word accord
With any promises of human life,
Long months of ease and undisturb’d delight
Are mine in prospect: wither shall I turn,
By road or pathway, or through trackless field,
Up hill or down, or shall some floating thing
Upon the river point me out my course?

Dear Liberty! Yet what would it avail
But for a gift that consecrates the joy?
For I, methought, while the sweet breath of heaven
Was blowing on my body, felt within
A correspondent breeze, that gently moved
With quickening virtue, but is now become
A tempest, a redundant energy,
Vexing its own creation. Thanks to both,
And their congenial powers, that, while they join
In breaking up a long-continued frost,
Bring with them vernal promises, the hope
Of active days urged on by flying hours,
Days of sweet leisure, tax'd with patient thought
Abstruse, nor wanting punctual service high,
Matins and vespers of harmonious verse!

Thus far, 0 Friend! did I, not used to make A present joy the matter of a song,

Pour forth that day my soul in measured strains 1 This was the city of Goslar, in Germany, where Wordsworth and his sister spent part of the Winter of 1798-99, having arrived there on the 6th of October. The Winter was intensely cold, - the coldest of the whole century; so that

the poet had to keep within doors far more than he was used to do. He left there February 10th, and was much exhilarated on escaping from the dreary confinement, as these lines amply testify.

That would not be forgotten, and are here
Recorded: to the open fields I told
A prophecy: poetic numbers came
Spontaneously to clothe in priestly robe
A renovated spirit singled out,
Such hope was mine, for holy services.
My own voice cheer'd me, and, far more, the mind's
Internal echo of th' imperfect sound;
To both I listen'd, drawing from them both
A cheerful confidence in things to come.

Content, and not unwilling now to give
A respite to this passion, I paced on
With brisk and eager steps; and came, at length,
To a green shady place, where down I sat
Beneath a tree, slackening my thoughts by choice,
And settling into gentler happiness.
'Twas Autumn, and a clear and placid day,
With warmth, as much as needed, from a Sun
Two hours declined towards the West; a day
With silver clouds, and sunshine on the grass,
And in the shelter'd and the sheltering grove
A perfect stillness. Many were the thoughts
Encouraged and dismiss'd, till choice was made
Of a known Vale, whither my feet should turn,
Nor rest till they had reach'd the very door
Of the one cottage which methought I saw.
No pioture of mere memory ever look'd
So fair; and, while upon the fancied scene
I gazed with growing love, a higher power
Than Fancy gave assurance of some work
Of glory there forthwith to be begun,
Perhaps too there perform’d. Thus long I mused,
Nor e'er lost sight of what I mused upon,
Save when, amid the stately grove of oaks,
Now here, now there, an acorn, from its cup
Dislodged, through sere leaves rustled, or at once
To the bare earth dropp'd with a startling sound.
From that soft couch I rose not, till the Sun
Had almost touch'd th' horizon; casting then
A backward glance upon the curling cloud
Of city smoke, by distance ruralised;
Keen as a Truant or a Fugitive,
But as a Pilgrim resolute, I took,
Even with the chance equipment of that hour,

2 The Vale of Grasmere, where the poet and his sister took up their abode soon after their return from Germany.

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