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Of subtler origin; how I have felt,
Not seldom even in that tempestuous time,
Those hallow'd and pure motions of the sense
Which seem, in their simplicity, to own
An intellectual charm; that calm delight
Which, if I err not, surely must belong
To those first-born affinities that fit
Our new existence to existing things,
And, in our dawn of being, constitute
The bond of union between life and joy.

Yes, I remember when the changeful earth,
And twice five Summers on my mind had stamp'd
The faces of the moving year, even then
I held unconscious intercourse with beauty
Old as creation, drinking in a pure
Organic pleasure from the silver wreaths
Of curling mist, or from the level plain
Of waters colour'd by impending clouds.

The sands of Westmoreland, the creeks and bays
Of Cumbria's rocky limits, they can tell
How, when the Sea threw off his evening shade,
And to the shepherd's hut on distant hills
Sent welcome notice of the rising Moon,
How I have stood, to fancies such as these
A stranger, linking with the spectacle
No conscious memory of a kindred sight,
And bringing with me no peculiar sense
Of quietness or peace; yet have I stood,
Even while mine eye hath moved o'er many a league
Of shining water, gathering as it seem'd
Through every hair-breadth in that field of light
New pleasure like a bee among the flowers.

Thus oft amid those fits of vulgar joy
Which, through all seasons, on a child's pursuits
Are prompt attendants, ʼmid that giddy bliss
Which, like a tempest, works along the blood
And is forgotten; even then I felt
Gleams like the flashing of a shield ; -- the Earth
And common face of Nature spake to me
Rememberable things; sometimes, 'tis true,
By chance collisions and quaint accidents,
(Like those ill-sorted unions, work supposed
Of evil-minded fairies,) yet not vain
Nor profitless, if haply they impress'd
Collateral objects and appearances,
Albeit lifeless then, and doom'd to sleep

Until maturer seasons call’d them forth
To impregnate and to elevate the mind.
And if the vulgar joy by its own weight
Wearied itself out of the memory,
The scenes which were a witness of that joy
Remain'd in their substantial lineaments
Depicted on the brain, and to the eye
Were visible, a daily sight; and thus,
By the impressive discipline of fear,
By pleasure and repeated happiness,
So frequently repeated, and by force
Of obscure feelings representative
Of things forgotten, these same scenes so bright,
So beautiful, so majestic in themselves,
Though yet the day was distant, did become
Habitually dear, and all their forms
And changeful colours by invisible links
Were fasten'd to th' affections.

I began
My story early,- not misled, I trust,
By an infirmity of love for days
Disown'd by memory,— ere the breath of Spring
Planting my snowdrops among winter snows:
Nor will it seem to thee, O Friend! so prompt
In sympathy, that I have lengthen'd out
With fond and feeble tongue a tedious tale.
Meanwhile my hope has been, that I might fetch
Invigorating thoughts from former years;
Might fix the wavering balance of my mind,
And haply meet reproaches too, whose power
May spur me on, in manhood now mature,
To honourable toil. Yet should these hopes
Prove vain, and thus should neither I be taught
To understand myself, nor thou to know
With better knowledge how the heart was framed
Of him thou lovest; need I dread from thee
Harsh judgments, if the song be loth to quit
Those recollected hours that have the charm
Of visionary things, those lovely forms
And sweet sensations that throw back our life,
And almost make remotest infancy
A visible scene, on which the Sun is shining ?

One end at least hath been attain'd: my mind Hath been revived, and, if this genial mood Desert me not, forthwith shall be brought down Through later years the story of my life.

The road lies plain before me; 'tis a theme
Single and of determined bounds; and hence
I choose it rather at this time than work
Of ampler or more varied argument,
Where I might be discomfited and lost:
And certain hopes are with me, that to thee
This labour will be welcome, honour'd Friend!


SCHOOL-TIME. — (CONTINUED.) Thus far, O Friend! have we, though leaving mach Unvisited, endeavour'd to retrace The simple ways in which my childhood walk'd; Those chiefly that first led me to the love Of rivers, woods, and fields. The passion yet Was in its birth, sustain'd, as might befall, By nourishment that came unsought; for still From week to week, from month to month, we lived A round of tumult. Duly were our games Prolong'd in Summer till the daylight faild: No chair remain'd before the doors; the bench And threshold-steps were empty; fast asleep The labourer, and the old man who had sat A later lingerer; yet the revelry Continued and the loud uproar: at last, When all the ground was dark, and twinkling stars Edged the black clouds, home and to bed we went, Feverish with weary joints and beating minds. Ah! is there one who ever has been young, Nor needs a warning voice to tame the pride Of intellect and virtue's self-esteem ? One is there, though the wisest and the best Of all mankind, who covets not at times Union that cannot be; — who would not give, If so he might, to duty and to truth The eagerness of infantine desire ? A tranquillizing spirit presses now On my corporeal frame, so wide appears The vacancy between me and those days Which yet have such self-presence in my mind, That, musing on them, often do I seem Two consciousnesses, conscious of myself And of some other Being. A rude mass

Of native rock, left midway in the square
Of our small market-village, was the goal
Or centre of these sports; and when, return'd
After long absence, thither I repair'd,
Gone was the old gray stone, and in its place
A smart Assembly-room usurp'd the ground
That had been ours. There let the fiddle scream,
And be ye happy! Yet, my Friends! I know
That more than one of you will think with me
Of those soft starry nights, and that old Dame
From whom the stone was named, who there had sat,
And watch'd her table with its huckster's wares
Assiduous, through the length of sixty years.

We ran a boisterous course; the year span round
With giddy motion. But the time approach'd
That brought with it a regular desire
For calmer pleasures, when the winning forms
Of Nature were collaterally attach'd
To every scheme of holiday delight
And every boyish sport, less grateful else
And languidly pursued.

When Summer came,
Our pastime was, on bright half-holidays,
To sweep along the plain of Windermere
With rival oars; and the selected bourne
Was now an Island musical with birds
That sang and ceased not; now a Sister Isle
Beneath the oaks' umbrageous covert, sown
With lilies of the valley like a field;
And now a third small Island, where survived
In solitude the ruins of a shrine
Once to Our Lady dedicate, and served
Daily with chanted rites. In such a race
So ended, disappointment could be none,
Uneasiness, or pain, or jealousy:
We rested in the shade, all pleased alike,
Conquerd, and conqueror. Thus the pride of strength
And the vainglory of superior skill
Were temperd; thus was gradually produced
A quiet independence of the heart;
And, to my Friend who knows


Fearless of blame, that hence for future days
Ensued a diffidence and modesty,
And I was taught to feel, perhaps too much,
The self-sufficing power of Solitude.

Our daily meals were frugal, Sabine fare!

may add,

More than we wish'd we knew the blessing then
Of vigorous hunger,- hence corporeal strength
Unsapp'd by delicate viands; for, exclude
A little weekly stipend, and we lived
Through three divisions of the quarter'd year
In penniless poverty. But now to school
From the half-yearly holidays return’d,
We came with weightier purses, that sufficed
To furnish treats more costly than the Dame
Of th' old gray stone, from her scant board, supplied.
Hence rustic dinners on the cool green ground,
Or in the woods, or by a river side
Or shady fountains, while among the leaves
Soft airs were stirring, and the mid-day Sun
Unfelt shone brightly round us in our joy.
Nor is my aim neglected if I tell
How sometimes, in the length of those half-years,
We from our funds drew largely;-- proud to curb,
And eager to spur on, the galloping steed;
And with the courteous inn-keeper, whose stud
Supplied our want, we haply might employ
Sly subterfuge, if the adventure's bound
Were distant; some famed temple where of yore
The Druids worshipp'd, or the antique walls
Of that large abbey, where within the Vale
Of Nightshade, to Saint Mary's honour built,
Stands yet a mouldering pile with fractured arch,
Belfry, and images, and living trees,
A holy scene! Along the smooth green turf
Our horses grazed. To more than inland peace
Left by the west wind sweeping overhead
From a tumultuous ocean, trees and towers
In that sequester'd valley may be seen,
Both silent and both motionless alike;
Such the deep shelter that is there, and such
The safeguard for repose and quietness.

Our steeds remounted and the summons given,
With whip and spur we through the chauntry flew
In uncouth race, and left the cross-legg'd knight,
And the stone-abbot, and that single wren
Which one day sang so sweetly in the nave
Of the old church, that though from recent showers
The earth was comfortless, and, touch'd by faint
Internal breezes, sobbings of the place
And respirations, from the roofless walls
The shuddering ivy dripp'd large drops — yet still

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