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A prospect in the mind.
'Twere long to tell What Spring and Autumn, what the winter snows, And what the summer shade, what day and night, Evening and morning, sleep and waking, thought From sources inexhaustible, pour'd forth To feed the spirit of religious love In which I walk'd with Nature. But let this Be not forgotten, that I still retain'd My first creative sensibility; That by the regular action of the world My soul was unsubdued. A plastic power Abode with me; a forming hand, at times Rebellious, acting in a devious mood; A local spirit of his own, at war With general tendency, but, for the most, Subservient strictly to external things With which it communed. An auxiliar light Came from my mind, which on the setting Sun Bestow'd new splendour; the melodious birds, The fluttering breezes, fountains that run on Murmuring, so sweetly in themselves, obey'd A like dominion, and the midnight storm Grew darker in the presence of my eye: Hence my obeisance, my devotion hence, And hence my transport.
Nor should this, perchance, Pass unrecorded, that I still had loved The exercise and produce of a toil, Than analytic industry to me More pleasing, and whose character I deem Is more poetic, as resembling more Creative agency. The song would speak Of that interminable building rear'd By observation of affinities In objects where no brotherhood exists To passive minds. My seventeenth year was come; And, whether from this habit rooted now So deeply in my mind, or from excess In the great social principle of life Coercing all things into sympathy, To unorganic natures were transferrd My own enjoyments; or the power of truth, Coming in revelation, did converse With things that really are; I, at this time, Saw blessings spread around me like a sea.
Thus, while the days flew by, and years pass'd on,
From Nature and her overflowing soul
I had received so much, that all my thoughts
Were steep'd in feeling; I was only then
Contented, when with bliss ineffable
I felt the sentiment of Being spread
O’er all that moves and all that seemeth still;
O'er all that, lost beyond the reach of thought
And human knowledge, to the human eye
Invisible, yet liveth to the heart;
O'er all that leaps and runs, and shouts and sings,
Or beats the gladsome air; o'er all that glides
Beneath the wave, yea, in the wave itself,
And mighty depth of waters. Wonder not
If high the transport, great the joy I felt,
Communing in this sort through earth and heaven
With every form of creature, as it look'd
Towards th' Uncreated with a countenance
Of adoration, with an eye of love.
One song they sang, and it was audible,
Most audible then, when the fleshly ear,
O'ercome by humblest prelude of that strain,
Forgot her functions, and slept undisturb’d.
If this be error, and another faith
Find easier access to the pious mind,
Yet were I grossly destitute of all
Those human sentiments that make this Earth
So dear, if I should fail with grateful voice
To speak of you, ye mountains, and ye lakes
And sounding cataracts, ye mists and winds
That dwell among the hills where I was born.
If in my youth I have been pure in heart,
If, mingling with the world, I am content
With my own modest pleasures, and have lived
With God and Nature communing, removed
From little enmities and low desires,
The gift is yours; if in these times of fear,
This melancholy waste of hopes o'erthrown,
If, 'mid indifference and apathy,
And wicked exultation, when good men
On every side fall off, we know not how,
To selfishness, disguised in gentle names
peace and quiet and domestic love,
Yet mingled not unwillingly with sneers
On visionary minds; if, in this time
Of dereliction and dismay, I yet
Despair not of our nature, but retain
A more than Roman confidence, a faith
That fails not, in all sorrow my support,
The blessing of my life; the gift is yours,
Ye winds and sounding cataracts! 'tis yours,
Ye mountains! thine, 0 Nature! Thou hast fed
My lofty speculations; and in thee,
For this uneasy heart of ours, I find
A never-failing principle of joy
And purest passion.
Thou, my Friend, wert rear'd
In the great city, ʼmid far other scenes;
But we, by different roads, at length have gain'd
The self-same bourne. And for this cause to thee
I speak, unapprehensive of contempt,
Thi insinuated scoff of coward tongues,
And all that silent language which so oft
In conversation between man and man
Blots from the human countenance all trace
Of beauty and of love. For thou hast sought
The truth in solitude, and, since the days
That gave thee liberty, full long desired,
To serve in Nature's temple, thou hast been
The most assiduous of her ministers;
In many things my brother, chiefly here
In this our deep devotion.
Fare thee well!
Health and the quiet of a healthful mind
Attend thee! seeking oft the haunts of men,
And yet more often living with thyself,
And for thyself; so, haply, shall thy days
Be many, and a blessing to mankind.
FIRST YEAR IN COLLEGE.
(From the Prelude, Book iii.)
TH' EVANGELIST Saint John my patron was:
Three Gothic courts are his, and in the first
Was my abiding-place, a nook obscure;
Right underneath, the College kitchens made
A humming sound, less tuneable than bees,
But hardly less industrious; with shrill notes
Of sharp command and scolding intermix'd.
Near me hung Trinity's loquacious. clock,
Who never let the quarters, night or day,
Slip by him unproclaim'd, and told the hours
Twice over with a male and female voice.
Her pealing organ was my neighbour too;
And from my pillow, looking forth by light
Of Moon or favouring stars, I could behold
The antechapel where the statue stood
Of Newton with his prism and silent face,
The marble index of a mind for ever
Voyaging through strange seas of Thought, alone.
of College labours, of the Lecturer's room
All studded round, as thick as chairs could stand,
With loyal students faithful to their books,
Half-and-half idlers, hardy recusants,
And honest dunces; of important days,
when the man was weigh'd
As in a balance; of excessive hopes,
Tremblings withal and commendable fears,
Small jealousies, and triumphs good or bad, -
Let others that know more speak as they know.
Such glory was but little sought by me,
And little won. Yet, from the first crude days
Of settling-time in this untried abode,
I was disturb'd at times by prudent thoughts,
Wishing to hope without å hope, some fears
About my future worldly maintenance,
And, more than all, a strangeness in the mind,
A feeling that I was not for that hour,
But wherefore be cast down?
For (not to speak of Reason and her pure
Reflective acts to fix the moral law
Deep in the conscience, nor of Christian Hope,
Bowing her head before her sister Faith
As one far mightier) hither I had come,
Bear witness Truth, endow'd with holy powers
And faculties, whether to work or feel.
Oft when the dazzling show no longer new
Had ceased to dazzle,
ofttimes did I quit My comrades, leave the crowd, buildings and groves, And, as I paced alone the level fields Far from those lovely sights and sounds sublime With which I had been conversant, the mind Droop'd not; but there into herself returning With prompt rebound seem'd fresh as heretofore. At least I more distinctly recognised Her native instincts: let me dare to speak A higher language, say that now I felt
What independent solaces were mine,
To mitigate th' injurious sway of place
Or circumstance, how far soever changed
In youth, or to be changed in manhood's prime;
Or for the few who shall be call’d to look
On the long shadows in our evening years,
Ordain'd precursors to the night of death.
As if awaken’d, summond, roused, constrain'd,
I look'd for universal things; perused
The common countenance of earth and sky:
Earth, nowhere unimbellish'd by some trace
Of that first Paradise whence man was driven;
And sky, whose beauty and bounty are express'd
By the proud name she bears, the name of Heaven.
I callid on both to teach me what they might;
Or turning the mind in upon herself
Pored, watch'd, expected, listen'd, spread my thoughts,
And spread them with a wider creeping; felt
Incumbencies more awful, visitings
Of the Upholder of the tranquil soul,
That tolerates th' indignities of Time,
And, from the centre of Eternity,
All finite motions overruling, lives
In glory immutable. But peace! enough
Here to record that I was mounting now
To such community with highest truth,
A track pursuing, not untrod before,
From strict analogies by thought supplied
Or consciousnesses not to be subdued.
To every natural form, rock, fruit or flower,
Even the loose stones that cover the high-way,
I gave a moral life: I saw them feel,
Or link'd them to some feeling: the great mass
Lay bedded in a quickening soul, and all
That I beheld respired with inward meaning.
Add that whate'er of Terror or of Love
Or Beauty Nature's daily face put on
From transitory passion, unto this
I was as sensitive as waters are
To the sky's influence in a kindred mood
Of passion; was obedient as a lute
That waits upon the touches of the wind.
Unknown, unthought of, yet I was most rich,
I had a world about me, -'twas my own;
I made it, for it only lived to me,
And to the God who sees into the heart.