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In those vast regions where his service lies,
A freeman, wedded to his life of hope
And hazard, and hard labour interchanged
With that majestic indolence so dear
To native man. A rambling schoolboy, thus
I felt his presence in his own domain,
As of a lord and master, or a power,
Or genius, under Nature, under God,
Presiding; and severest solitude

Had more commanding looks when he was there.
When up the lonely brooks on rainy days
Angling I went, or trod the trackless hills
By mists bewildered, suddenly mine eyes
Have glanced upon him distant a few steps,
In size a giant, stalking through thick fog,
His sheep like Greenland bears; or, as he stepped
Beyond the boundary line of some hill-shadow,
His form hath flashed upon me, glorified
By the deep radiance of the setting sun:
Or him have I descried in distant sky,
A solitary object and sublime,
Above all height! like an aërial cross
Stationed alone upon a spiry rock

Of the Chartreuse, for worship. Thus was man
Ennobled outwardly before my sight,

And thus my heart was early introduced
To an unconscious love and reverence

Of human nature; hence the human form
To me became an index of delight,

Of grace and honour, power and worthiness.

Yet deem not, friend! that human kind with me Thus early took a place pre-eminent;

Nature herself was, at this unripe time,

But secondary to my own pursuits

And animal activities, and all

Their trivial pleasures; and when these had drooped And gradually expired, and Nature, prized

For her own sake, became my joy, even then—

And upwards through late youth, until not less
Than two-and-twenty summers had been told—
Was Man in my affections and regards
Subordinate to her, her visible forms
And viewless agencies: a passion, she,
A rapture often, and immediate love
Ever at hand; he, only a delight
Occasional, an accidental grace,
His hour being not yet come.

Far less had then

The inferior creatures, beast or bird, attuned

My spirit to that gentleness of love

-Though they had long been carefully observed,— Won from me those minute obeisances

Of tenderness, which I may number now

With my first blessings. Nevertheless, on these
The light of beauty did not fall in vain,
Or grandeur circumfuse them to no end.

A diamond light

(Whene'er the summer sun, declining, smote
A smooth rock wet with constant springs) was seen
Sparkling from out a copse-clad bank that rose
Fronting our cottage. Oft beside the hearth
Seated, with open door, often and long
Upon this restless lustre have I gazed,
That made my fancy restless as itself.
'Twas now for me a burnished silver shield
Suspended over a knight's tomb, who lay
Inglorious, buried in the dusky wood:
An entrance now into some magic cave
Or palace built by fairies of the rock;
Nor could I have been bribed to disenchant
The spectacle, by visiting the spot.
Thus wilful fancy, in no hurtful mood,
Engrafted far-fetched shapes on feelings bred
By pure imagination: busy power
She was, and with her ready pupil turned
Instinctively to human passions, then
Least understood.

A grove there is whose boughs

Stretch from the western marge of Thurston-mere,
With length of shade so thick, that whoso glides
Along the line of low-roofed water, moves
As in a cloister. Once—while, in that shade
Loitering, I watched the golden beams of light
Flung from the setting sun, as they reposed
In silent beauty on the naked ridge

Of a high eastern hill-thus flowed my thoughts
In a pure stream of words fresh from the heart :
Dear native regions, wheresoe'er shall close
My mortal course, there will I think on you;
Dying, will cast on you a backward look;
Even as this setting sun (albeit the vale
Is nowhere touched by one memorial gleam)
Doth with the fond remains of his last power
Still linger, and a farewell lustre sheds

On the dear mountain-tops where first he rose.

Grave teacher, stern preceptress! for at times Thou canst put on an aspect most severe; London, to thee I willingly return.

Erewhile my verse played idly with the flowers
Enwrought upon thy mantle; satisfied
With that amusement, and a simple look
Of child-like inquisition now and then
Cast upwards on thy countenance, to detect
Some inner meaning which might harbour there.
But how could I in mood so light indulge,
Keeping such fresh remembrance of the day,
When, having thridded the long labyrinth
Of the suburban villages, I first

Entered thy vast dominion? On the roof
Of an itinerant vehicle I sate,

With vulgar men about me, trivial forms

Of houses, pavement, streets, of men and things,-
Mean shapes on every side: but, at the instant,
When to myself it fairly might be said,
The threshold now is overpast, (how strange

That aught external to the living mind
Should have such mighty sway! yet so it was),
A weight of ages did at once descend
Upon my heart; no thought embodied, no
Distinct remembrances, but weight and power,
Power growing under weight: alas! I feel
That I am trifling: 'twas a moment's pause,
All that took place within me came and went
As in a moment; yet with time it dwells,
And grateful memory, as a thing divine.

BOOK TENTH

RESIDENCE IN FRANCE

OVER the smooth sands

Of Leven's ample estuary lay

My journey, and beneath a genial sun,
With distant prospect among gleams of sky
And clouds, and intermingling mountain-tops,
In one inseparable glory clad,

Creatures of one ethereal substance met
In consistory, like a diadem

Or crown of burning seraphs as they sit

In the empyrean.

Underneath that pomp

Celestial, lay unseen the pastoral vales
Among whose happy fields I had grown up
From childhood. On the fulgent spectacle,
That neither passed away nor changed, I gazed
Enrapt; but brightest things are wont to draw
Sad opposites out of the inner heart,

As even their pensive influence drew from mine.
How could it otherwise? for not in vain

That very morning had I turned aside

To seek the ground where, 'mid a throng of graves, An honoured teacher of my youth was laid,

And on the stone were graven by his desire
Lines from the churchyard elegy of Gray.
This faithful guide, speaking from his death-bed,
Added no farewell to his parting counsel,
But said to me, "My head will soon lie low";
And when I saw the turf that covered him,
After the lapse of full eight years, those words,
With sound of voice and countenance of the Man,
Came back upon me, so that some few tears
Fell from me in my own despite. But now
I thought, still traversing that widespread plain,
With tender pleasure of the verses graven
Upon his tombstone, whispering to myself,
He loved the poets, and, if now alive,
Would have loved me, as one not destitute
Of promise, nor belying the kind hope
That he had formed, when I, at his command,
Began to spin, with toil, my earliest songs.

BOOK ELEVENTH

FRANCE (concluded)

O PLEASANT exercise of hope and joy! For mighty were the auxiliars which then stood Upon our side, us who were strong in love! Bliss was it in that dawn to be alive, But to be young was very Heaven! O times, In which the meagre, stale, forbidding ways Of custom, law, and statute, took at once The attraction of a country in romance! When reason seemed the most to assert her rights, When most intent on making of herself A prime enchantress-to assist the work, Which then was going forward in her name!

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