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For the tired slave, Song lifts the languid oar,
e-in lagging file
Transmute him to a wretch from quiet hurled
When civic renovation
Oblivion may not cover Dawns on a kingdom, and for needful haste
All treasures hoarded by the miser, Time. Best eloquence avails not, Inspiration
Orphean Insight ! truth's undaunted lover, Mounts with a tune, that travels like a blast
To the first leagues of tutored passion climb, Piping through cave and battlemented tower;
When Music deigned within this grosser sphere Then starts the sluggard, pleased to meet
Her subtle essence to enfold, That voice of Freedom, in its power
And voice and shell drew forth a tear Of promises, shrill, wild, and sweet!
Softer than Nature's self could mould. Who, from a martial pageant, spreads
Yet strenuous was the infant Age: Incitements of a battle-day,
Art, daring because souls could feel, Thrilling the unweaponed crowd with plumieless Stirred nowhere but an urgent equipage heads ?
Of rapt imagination sped her march Even She whose Lydian airs inspire
Through the realms of woe and weal : Peaceful striving, gentle play
Hell to the lyre bowed low; the upper
arch Of timid hope and innocent desire
Rejoiced that clamorous spell and magic verse Shot from the dancing Graces, as they move
Her wan disasters could disperse. Fanned by the plausive wings of Love.
How oft along thy mazes,
The Gift to king Amphion Regent of sound, have dangerous Passions trod !
That walled a city with its melody O Thou, through whom the temple rings with praises, Was for belief no dream :—thy skill, Arion ! And blackening clouds in thunder speak of God,
Could humanise the creatures of the sea, Betray not by the cozenage of sense
Where men were monsters. A last grace he craves, Thy votaries, wooingly resigned
Leave for one chant ;-the dulcet sound To a voluptuous influence
Steals from the deck o'er willing waves, That taints the purer, better, mind ;
And listening dolphins gather round. But lead sick Fancy to a harp
Self-cast, as with a desperate course, That hath in noble tasks been tried;
'Mid that strange audience, he bestrides And, if the virtuous feel a pang too sharp,
A proud One docile as a managed horse ; Soothe it into patience,-stay
And singing, while the accordant hand The uplifted arm of Suicide ;
Sweeps his harp, the Master rides; And let some mood of thine in firm array
So shall he touch at length a friendly strand, Knit every thought the impending issue needs, And he, with his preserver, shine star-bright Ere martyr burns, or patriot bleeds!
In memory, through silent night.
As Conscience, to the centre
The pipe of Pan, to shepherds
How did they sparkle to the cymbal's clang!
That Ocean is a mighty harmonist;
For terror, joy, or pity, Vast is the compass and the swell of notes : From the babe's first cry to voice of regal city, Rolling a solemn sea-like bass, that floats Far as the woodlands with the trill to blend Of that shy songstress, whose love-tale Might tempt an angel to descend, While hovering o'er the moonlight vale. Ye wandering Utterances, has earth no scheme, No scale of moral music--to unite Powers that survive but in the faintest dream Of memory !-0 that ye might stoop to bear Chains, such precious chains of sight As laboured minstrelsies through ages wear! O for a balance fit the truth to tell Of the Unsubstantial, pondered well!
Break forth into thanksgiving,
By one pervading spirit
A Voice to Light gave Being ;
What's in a Name
Brutus will start a Spirit as soon as Cæsar !
TO ROBERT SOUTHEY, ESQ., P.L., ETC. ETC.
The Tale of Peter Bell, which I now introduce to your notice, and to that of the Public, has, in its Manuscript state, nearly survived its minority :-for it first saw the light in the summer of 1798. During this long interval, pains have been taken at different times to make the production less unworthy of a favourable reception ; or, rather, to fit it for filling permanently a station, however humble, in the Literature of our Country. This has, indeed, been the aim of all my endeavours in Poetry, which, you know, have been sufficiently laborious to prove that I deem the Art not lightly to be approached ; and that the attainment of excellence in it, may laudably be made the principal object of intellectual pursuit by any man, who, with reasonable consideration of circumstances, has faith in his own impulses.
The Poem of Peter Bell, as the Prologue will show, was composed under a belief that the Imagination not only does not require for its exercise the intervention of supernatural agency, but that, though such agency be excluded, the faculty may be called forth as imperiously and for kindred results of pleasure, by incidents, within the compass of poetic probability, in the humblest departments of daily life. Since that Prologue was written, you have exhibited most splendid effects of judicious daring, in the opposite and usual course. Let this acknowledgment make my peace with the lovers of the supernatural ; and I am persuaded it will be admitted, that to you, as a Master in that province of the art, the following Tale, whether from contrast or congruity, is not an unappropriate offering. Accept it, then, as a public testimony of affectionate admiration from one with whose name yours has been often coupled (to use your own words) for evil and for good; and believe me to be, with earnest wishes that life and health may be granted you to complete the many important works in wbich you are engaged, and with high respect,
Most faithfully yours,
WILLIAM WORDSWORTH. RYDAL MOUNT, April 7, 1819.