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Such sympathies, though rarely, were betray'd
By outward gestures and by visible looks:
Some call'd it madness, so indeed it was,
If childlike fruitfulness in passing joy,
If steady moods of thoughtfulness matured
To inspiration, sort with such a name;
If prophecy be madness; if things view'd
By poets in old time, and higher up
By the first men, Earth's first inhabitants,
May in these tutor'd days no more be seen
With undisorder'd sight. But, leaving this,
It was no madness, for the bodily eye
Amid my strongest workings evermore
Was searching out the lines of difference,
As they lie hid in all external forms,
Near or remote, minute or vast; an eye
Which from a tree, a stone, a wither'd leaf,
To the broad ocean and the azure heavens
Spangled with kindred multitudes of stars,
Could find no surface where its power might sleep;
Which spake perpetual logic to my soul,
And by an unrelenting agency,
Did bind my feelings even as in a chain.

Full oft the quiet and exalted thoughts
Of loneliness gave way to empty noise
And superficial pastimes; now and then
Forced labour, and more frequently forced hopes;
And, worst of all, a treasonable growth
Of indecisive judgments, that impair'd
And shook the mind's simplicity.- And yet

was a gladsome time. Could I behold,
Who, less insensible than sodden clay
In a sea-river's bed at ebb of tide,
Could have beheld ? - with undelighted heart,
So many happy youths, so wide and fair
A congregation in its budding-time
Of health

and hope and beauty, all at once
So many divers samples from the growth
Of life's sweet season,-could have seen unmoved
That miscellaneous garland of wild flowers
Decking the matron temples of a place
So famous through the world? To me, at least,
It was a goodly prospect: for, in sooth,
Though I had learnt betimes to stand unpropp'd,
And independent musings pleased me so
That spells seem'd on me when I was alone,

Yet could I only cleave to solitude
In lonely places; if a throng was near
That way I lean'd by nature; for my heart
Was social, and loved idleness and joy.

Not seeking those who might participate
My deeper pleasures, easily I pass’d
From the remembrances of better things,
And slipp'd into the ordinary works
Of careless youth, unburthen'd, unalarm'd.
Caverns there were within my mind which sun
Could never penetrate, yet did there not
Want store of leafy arbours where the light
Might enter in at will. Companionships,
Friendships, acquaintances, were welcome all.
We saunter'd, play'd, or rioted; we talk'd
Unprofitable talk at morning hours;
Drifted about along the streets and walks,
Read lazily in trivial books, went forth
To gallop through the country in blind zeal
Of senseless horsemanship, or on the breast
Of Cam sail'd boisterously, and let the stars
Come forth, perhaps without one quiet thought.

Such was the tenour of the second act
In this new life. Imagination slept,
And yet not utterly. I could not print
Ground where the grass had yielded to the steps
Of generations of illustrious men,
Unmoved. I could not always lightly pass
Through the same gateways, sleep where they had slept,
Wake where they had waked, range that inclosure old,
That garden of great intellects, undisturb'd.
Place also by the side of this dark sense
Of noble feeling, that those spiritual men,
Even the great Newton's own ethereal self,
Seem'd humbled in these precincts, thence to be
The more endear'd. Their several memories here
(Even like their persons in their portraits clothed
With the accustom'd garb of daily life)
Put on a lowly and a touching grace
Of more distinct humanity, that left
All genuine admiration unimpair'd.

Beside the pleasant Mill at Trompington
I laugh'd with Chaucer in the hawthorn shade;
Heard him, while birds were warbling, tell his tales
Of amorous passion. And that gentle Bard,
Chosen by the Muses for their Page of State,

Sweet Spenser, moving through his clouded heaven
With the Moon's beauty and the Moon's soft pace,
I call’d him Brother, Englishman, and Friend!
Yea, our blind Poet, who, in his later day,
Stood almost single ; uttering odious truth,
Darkness before, and danger's voice behind,
Soul awful,— if the Earth has ever lodged
An awful soul;~ I seem'd to see him here
Familiarly, and in his scholar's dress
Bounding before me, yet a stripling youth, -
A boy, no better, with his rosy cheeks
Angelical, keen eye, courageous look,
And conscious step of purity and pride.
Among the band of my compeers was one
Whom chance had station'd in the very room
Honour'd by Milton's name. O temperate Bard!
Be it confest that, for the first time, seated
Within thy innocent lodge and oratory,
One of a festive circle, I pour'd out
Libations, to thy memory drank, till pride
And gratitude grew dizzy in a brain
Never excited by the fumes of wine
Before that hour, or since. Then forth I ran
From the assembly; through a length of streets,
Ran, ostrich-like, to reach our chapel-door
In not a desperate or opprobrious time,
Albeit long after the importunate bell
Had stopp'd, with wearisome Cassandra voice
No longer haunting the dark winter night.
Call back, 0 Friend! a moment to thy mind
The place itself and fashion of the rites.
With careless ostentation shouldering up
My surplice, through th' inferior throng I clove
of the plain Burghers, who in audience stood
On the last skirts of their permitted ground,
Under the pealing organ. Empty thoughts !
I am ashamed of them: and that great Bard,
And thou, O Friend! who in thy ample mind
Hast placed me high above my best deserts,
Ye will forgive the weakness of that hour,
In some of its unworthy vanities,
Brother to many more.

In this mix'd sort
The months pass'd on, remissly, not given up
To wilful alienation from the right,
Or walks of open scandal, but in vague

And loose indifference, easy likings, aims
Of a low pitch, - duty and zeal dismiss'd,
Yet nature, or a happy course of things
Not doing in their stead the needful work.
The memory languidly revolved, the heart
Reposed in noontide rest, the inner pulse
Of contemplation almost fail'd to beat.
Such life might not inaptly be compared
To a floating island, an amphibious spot
Unsound, of spongy texture, yet withal
Not wanting a fair face of water-weeds
And pleasant flowers. The thirst of living praise,
Fit reverence for the glorious Dead, the sight
Of those long vistas, sacred catacombs,
Where mighty minds lie visibly entomb'd,
Have often stirr'd the heart of youth, and bred
A fervent love of rigorous discipline.-
Alas! such high emotion touch'd not me.
Look was there none within these walls to shame
My easy spirits, and discountenance
Their light composure, far less to instil
A calm resolve of mind, firmly address'd
To puissant efforts. Nor was this the blame
Of others, but my own; I should, in truth,
As far as doth concern my single self,
Misdeem most widely, lodging it elsewhere.

But peace to vain regrets! We see but darkly
Even when we look behind us, and best things
Are not so pure by nature that they needs
Must keep to all, as fondly all believe,
Their highest promise. If the mariner,
When at reluctant distance he hath pass'd
Some tempting island, could but know the ills
That must have fall’n upon him had he brought
His bark to land upon the wish’d-for shore,
Good cause would oft be his to thank the surf
Whose white belt scared him thence, or wind that blew
Inexorably adverse: for myself
I grieve not; happy is the gowned youth,
Who only misses what I miss'd, who falls
No lower than I fell.


(From the Prelude, Book v.) GREAT and benign, indeed, must be the power Of living Nature, which could thus so long Detain me from the best of other guides * And dearest helpers, left unthank'd, unpraised, Even in the time of lisping infancy; And later down, in prattling childhood even, While I was travelling back among those days, How could I ever play an ingrate's part? Once more should I have made those bowers resound, By intermingling strains of thankfulness With their own thoughtless melodies; at least It might have well beseem'd me to repeat Some simply-fashion'd tale, to tell again, In slender accents of sweet verse, some tale That did bewitch me then, and soothes me now. O Friend ! O Poet! brother of my soul, Think not that I could pass along untouch'd By these remembrances. Yet wherefore speak? Why call upon a few weak words to say What is already written in the hearts Of all that breathe ? — what in the path of all Drops daily from the tongue of every child, Wherever man is found? The trickling tear Upon the cheek of listening Infancy Proclaims it, and th' insuperable look That drinks as if it never could be full.

That portion of my story I shall leave There register'd: whatever else of power Or pleasure sown or foster'd thus, may be Peculiar to myself, let that remain Where still it works, though hidden from all search Among the depths of time. Yet is it just That here, in memory of all books which lay Their sure foundations in the heart of man, Whether by native prose or numerous verse, That in the name of all inspired souls, From Homer the great Thunderer, from the voice That roars along the bed of Jewish song, And that more varied and elaborate, Those trumpet-tones of harmony that shake Our shores in England, — from those loftiest notes Down to the low and wren-like warblings, made

4 The other guides" here referred to are books.

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