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The language of my former heart, and read
My former pleasures in the shooting lights
of thy wild eyes. Oh! yet a little while
May I behold in thee what I was once,
My dear, dear sister! And this prayer I make,
Knowing that nature never did betray
The heart that loved her ; 'tis her privilege,
Through all the years of this our life, to lead
From joy to joy; for she can so inform
The mind that is within us, so impress
With quietness and beauty, and so feed
With lofty thoughts, that neither evil tongues,
Rash judgments, nor the sneers of selfish men,
Nor greetings where no kindness is, nor all
The dreary intercourse of daily life,
Shall e'er prevail against us, or disturb
Our cheerful faith that all which we behold
Is full of blessings. Therefore let the moon
Shine on thee in thy solitary walk;
And let the misty mountain winds be free
To blow against thee : and in after years,
When these wild ecstacies shall be matured
Into a sober pleasure, when thy mind
Shall be a mansion for all lovely forms,
Thy memory be as a dwelling-place
For all sweet sounds and harmonies; oh! then,
If solitude, or fear, or pain, or grief,
Should be thy portion, with what healing thoughts
Of tender joy wilt thou remember me,
And these my exhortations ! Nor, perchance,
If I should be where I no more can hear
Thy voice, nor catch from thy wild eyes these gleams
Of past existence, wilt thou then forget
That on the banks of this delightful stream
We stood together; and that I, so long
A worshipper of nature, hither came,
Unwearied in that service : rather say
With warmer love, oh! with far deeper zeal
Of holier love. Nor wilt thou then forget,
That after many wanderings, many years,
Of absence, these steep woods and lofty cliffs,
And this green pastoral landscape, were to me
More dear, both for themselves and for thy sake.*
* In our admiration of the external forms of nature, the mind is redeemed from a sense of the transitory, which so often mixes perturbation with pleasure; and there is perhaps no feeling of the human heart which, being so intense, is at the same time so composed. It is for this reason, amongst others, that it is peculiarly favourable to the contemplations of a poetical philosopher, and eminently so to one like Mr Wordsworth, in whose scheme of thought there is no feature more prominent than the doctrine, that the intellect should be nourished by the feelings, and that the state of mind which bestows a gift of genuine insight, is one of profound emotion as well as profound com posure; or, as Coleridge has somewhere expressed himself
Deep self-possession, an intense repose. The power which lies in the beauty of nature to induce this union of the tranquil and the vivid is described, and to every disciple of Wordsworth has been, as much as is possible, imparted by the celebrated Lines written in 1798, a few miles above Tintern Abbey,' in which the poet, having attributed to his intermediate recollections of the landscape then revisited a benign influence over many acts of daily life, describes the particulars in which he is indebted to them. * * The im. passioned love of nature is interfused through the whole of Mr Wordsworth's system of thought, filling up all interstices, penetrating all recesses, colouring all media, supporting, associating, and giving coherency and mutual relevancy to it in all its parts. Though man is his subject, yet is man never presented to us divested of his relations with external nature. Man is the text, but there is always a running commentary of natural phenomena.—Quarterly Review for 1834. In illustration of this remark, every episode in the 'Excursion' might be cited (par. ticularly the affecting and beautiful tale of Margaret in the first book); and the poems of "The Cumberland Beggar,' • Michael,' and The Fountain' (the last unquestionably one of the finest of the ballads), are also striking instances.
Picture of Christmas Eve. [Addressed to the Rev. Dr Wordsworth, with Sonnets to the
River Duddon, &c.]
The minstrels played their Christmas tune
To-night beneath my cottage eaves :
While, smitten by a lofty moon,
The encircling laurels, thick with leaves,
Gave back a rich and dazzling sheen,
That overpowered their natural green.
Through hill and valley every breeze
Had sunk to rest with folded wings;
Keen was the air, but could not freeze,
Nor check the music of the strings;
So stout and hardy were the band
That scraped the chords with strenuous hand.
And who but listened ? till was paid
Respect to every inmate's claim;
The greeting given, the music played
In honour of each household name,
Duly pronounced with lusty call,
And merry Christmas' wished to all!
O brother! I revere the choice
That took thee from thy native hills;
And it is given thee to rejoice :
Though public care full often tills
(Heaven only witness of the toil)
À barren and ungrateful soil.
Yet, would that thou, with me and mine,
Hadst heard this never-failing rite;
And seen on other faces shine
A true revival of the light;
Which nature, and these rustic powers,
In simple childhood spread through ours !
For pleasure hath not ceased to wait
On these expected annual rounds,
Whether the rich man's sumptuous gate
Call forth the unelaborate sounds,
Or they are offered at the door
That guards the lowliest of the poor.
How touching, when at midnight sweep
Snow-muffled winds, and all is dark,
To hear—and sink again to sleep!
Or, at an earlier call, to mark,
By blazing fire, the still suspense
Of self-complacent innocence;
The mutual nod—the grave disguise
Of hearts with gladness brimming o'er;
And some unbidden tears that rise
For names once heard, and heard no more;
Tears brightened by the serenade
For infant in the cradle laid!
Ah! not for emerald fields alone,
With ambient streams more pure and bright
Than fabled Cytherea's zone
Glittering before the thunderer's sight,
Is to my heart of hearts endeared
The ground where we were born and reared!
Hail, ancient manners ! sure defence,
Where they survive, of wholesome laws;
Remnants of love, whose modest sense
Thus into narrow room withdraws;
Hail, usages of pristine mould,
And ye that guard them, mountains old!
Bear with me, brother, quench the thought
That slights this passion or condemns ;
If thee fond fancy ever brought
From the proud margin of the Thames
And Lambeth's venerable towers
To humbler streams and greener bowers.
Yes, they can make, who fail to find
Short leisure even in busiest days;
Moments—to cast a look behind,
And profit by those kindly rays
That through the clouds do sometimes steal,
And all the far-off past reveal.
Hence, while the imperial city's din
Beats frequent on thy satiate ear,
A pleased attention I may win
To agitations less severe,
That neither overwhelm nor cloy,
But fill the hollow vale with joy!
He spake of plants that hourly change
Their blossoms, through a boundless range
Of intermingling hues ;
With budding, fading, faded flowers,
They stand the wonder of the bowers
From morn to evening dews.
He told of the magnolia, spread
High as a cloud, high overhead !
The cypress and her spire ;
Of flowers that with one scarlet gleam
Cover a hundred leagues, and seem
To set the hills on fire.
The youth of green savannahs spako,
And many an endless, endless lake,
With all its fairy crowds
Of islands, that together lie
As quietly as spots of sky
Among the evening clouds.
How pleasant,' then he said, “it wero
A fisher or a hunter there,
In sunshine or through shade
To wander with an easy mind,
And build a household f::e, and find
A home in every glade !
When Ruth was left half desolate,
Her father took another mate;
And Ruth, not seven years old,
A slighted child, at her own will
Went wandering over dale and hill
In thoughtless freedom bold.
And she had made a pipe of straw,
And music from that pipe could draw
Like sounds of winds and floods;
Had built a bower upon the green,
As if she from her birth had been
An infant of the woods.
What days and what bright years! Ah mo !
Our life were life indeed, with thee
So passed in quiet bliss,
And all the while,' said he, 'to know
That we were in a world of wo,
On such an earth as this !!
And then he sometimes interwove Fond thoughts about a father's love : * For there,' said he,' are spun Around the heart such tender ties, That our own children to our eyes Are dearer than the sun.
Beneath her father's roof, alone She seemed to live ; her thoughts her own ; Herself her own delight; Pleased with herself, nor sad, nor gay; And, passing thus the live-long day, She grew to woman's height. There came a youth from Georgia's shore A military casque he wore, With splendid feathers drest ; He brought them from the Cherokees; The feathers nodded in the breeze, And made a gallant crest. From Indian blood you deem him sprung: But no ! he spake the English tongue, And bore a soldier's name; And, when America was free From battle and from jeopardy, He 'cross the ocean came. With hues of genius on his cheek, In finest tones the youth could speak : While he was yet a boy, The moon, the glory of the sun, And streams that murmur as they run, Had been his dearest joy. He was a lovely youth! I guess The panther in the wilderness Was not so fair as he ; And, when he chose to sport and play, No dolphin ever was so gay Upon the tropic sea. Among the Indians he had fought, And with him many tales he brought Of pleasure and of fear ; Such tales as told to any maid By such a youth, in the green shade, Were perilous to hear. He told of girls—a happy rout! Who quit their fold with dance and shout, Their pleasant Indian town, To gather strawberries all day long; Returning with a choral song Wheu daylight is gone down.
Sweet Ruth ! and could you go with me
My helpmate in the woods to be,
Our shed at night to rear ;
Or run, my own adopted bride,
A sylvan huntress at my side,
And drive the flying deer !
Beloved Ruth !'-No more he said.
The wakeful Ruth at midnight shed
A solitary tear :
She thought again-and did agree
With him to sail across the sea,
And drive the flying deer.
And now, as fitting is and right,
We in the church our faith will plight,
A husband and a wife.'
Even so they did ; and I may say
That to sweet Ruth that happy day
Was more than human life.
Through dream and vision did she sink,
Delighted all the while to think
That on those lonesome floods,
And green savannahs, she should share
His board with lawful joy, and bear
His name in the wild woods.
But, as you have before been told,
This stripling, sportive, gay, and bold,
And, with his dancing crest,
So beautiful, through savage lands
Had roamed about, with vagrant bands
Of Indians in the west.
Meanwhile, as thus with him it fared,
They for the voyage were prepared,
And went to the sea-shore;
But, when they thither came, the youth
Deserted his poor bride, and Ruth
Could never find him more.
The wind, the tempest roaring high,
The tumult of a tropic sky,
Might well be dangerous food
For him, a youth to whom was given
So much of earth-so much of heaven,
And such impetuous blood.
Whatever in those climes he found
Irregular in sight or sound
Did to his mind impart
A kindred impulse, seemed allied
To his own powers, and justified
The workings of his heart.
Nor less, to feed voluptuous thought,
The beauteous forms of nature wrought,
Fair trees and lovely flowers ;
The breezes their own languor lent;
The stars had feelings, which they sent
Into those gorgeous bowers.
God help thee, Ruth !-Such pains she bad,
That she in a half year was mad,
And in a prison housed ;
And there, with many a doleful song
Made of wild words, her cup of wrong
She fearfully Caroused.
Yet sometimes milder hours she knew,
Nor wanted sun, nor rain, nor dew,
Nor pastimes of the May;
They all were with her in her cell;
And a clear brook with cheerful knell
Did o'er the pebbles play.
When Ruth three seasons thus had lain,
There came a respite to her pain;
She from her prison fled;
But of the vagrant none took thought;
And where it liked her best, she sought
Her shelter and her bread.
Yet, in his worst pursuits, I ween
That sometimes there did intervene
Pure hopes of high intent:
For passions linked to forms so fair
And stately, needs must have their share
Of noble sentiment.
But ill he lived, much evil saw, With men to whom no better law Nor better life was known; Deliberately, and undeceived, Those wild men's vices he received, And gave them back his own.
Among the fields she breathed again;
The master-current of her brain
Ran permanent and free;
And, coming to the banks of Tone,
There did she rest; and dwell alone
Under the greenwood tree.
The engines of her pain, the tools
That shaped her sorrow, rocks and pools,
And airs that gently stir
The vernal leaves—she loved them still;
Nor ever taxed them with the ill
Which had been done to her.
His genius and his moral frame
Were thus impaired, and he became
The slave of low desires :
A man who, without self-control,
Would seek what the degraded soul
And yet he with no feigned delight
Had wooed the maiden, day and night
Had loved her, night and morn:
What could he less than love a maid
Whose heart with so much nature played !
So kind and so forlorn!
A barn her winter bed supplies;
But, till the warmth of summer skies
And summer days is gone
(And all do in this tale agree),
She sleeps beneath the greenwood tree,
And other home hath none.
Sometimes, most earnestly, he said,
O Ruth! I have been worse than dead; False thoughts, thoughts bold and vain, Encompassed me on every side When first, in confidence and pride, I crossed the Atlantic main.
An innocent life, yet far astray!
And Ruth will, long before her day,
Be broken down and old :
Sore aches she needs must have! but less
Of mind than body's wretchedness,
From damp, and rain, and cold.
If she is pressed by want of food,
She from her dwelling in the wood
Repairs to a road-side ;
And there she begs at one steep place,
Where up and down with easy pace
The horsemen-travellers ride.
It was a fresh and glorious world-
A banner bright that shone unfurled
Before me suddenly:
I looked upon those hills and plains,
And seemed as if let loose from chains,
To live at liberty.
But wherefore speak of this ? For now,
Dear Ruth ! with thee, I know not how,
I feel my spirit burn;
My soul from darkness is released,
Like the whole sky when to the east
The morning doth return.'
Full soon that purer mind was gone ;
No hope, no wish remained, not one-
They stirred him now no more ;
New objects did new pleasure give,
And once again he wished to live
As lawless as before.
That oaten pipe of hers is mute,
Or thrown away; but with a flute
Her loneliness she cheers :
This flute, inade of a hemlock stalk,
At evening in his homeward walk
The Quantock woodman hears.
I, too, have passed her on the hills
Setting her little water-mills
By spouts and fountains wild-
Such small machinery as she turned
Ere she had wept, ere she had mourned,
A young and happy child !
Farewell! and when thy days are told,
Ill-fated Ruth, in hallowed mould
Thy corpse shall buried be;
For thee a funeral bell shall ring,
And all the congregation sing
A Christian psalm for thee.
Then, why should I be loath to stir ?
I feel this place was made for her ;
To give new pleasure like the past,
Continued long as life shall last.
Nor am I loath, though pleased at heart,
Sweet Highland girl ! fruen thee to part;
For I, methinks, till I grow old,
As fair before me shall behold,
As I do now, the cabin small,
The lake, the bay, the waterfall ;
And thee, the spirit of them all!
To a Highland Girl.
[At Inversneyde, upon Loch Lomond.]
Sweet Highland girl! a very shower
Of beauty is thy earthly dower !
Twice seven consenting years have shed
Their utmost bounty on thy head :
And those gray rocks; that household lawn ;
Those trees, a veil just half withdrawn ;
This fall of water, that doth make
A murmur near the silent lake;
This little bay, a quiet road
That holds in shelter thy abode
In truth, unfolding thus, ye seem
Like something fashioned in a dream;
Such forms as from their covert peep
When earthly cares are laid asleep!
Yet, dream or vision as thou art,
I bless thee with a human heart:
God shield thee to thy latest years!
I neither know thee nor thy peers ;
And yet my eyes are filled with tears.
With earnest feeling I shall pray
For thee when I am far away:
For never saw I mien or face,
In which more plainly I could trace
Benignity and home-bred sense
Ripening in perfect innocence.
Here scattered, like a random seed,
Remote from men, thou dost not need
The embarrassed look of shy distress
And maidenly shamefacedness :
Thou wear’st upon thy forehead clear
The freedom of a mountaineer:
A face with gladness overspread!
Soft smiles, by human kindness bred!
And seemliness complete, that sways
Thy courtesies, about thee plays ;
With no restraint, but such as springs
From quick and eager visitings
Of thoughts that lie beyond the reach
Of thy few words of English speech :
A bondage sweetly brooked, a strife
That gives thy gestures grace and life!
So have I, not unmoved in mind,
Seen birds of tempest-loving kind,
Thus beating up against the wind.
What hand but would a garland cull
For thee who art so beautiful ?
O happy pleasure ! here to dwell
Beside thee in some heathy dell;
Adopt your homely ways, and dress
A shepherd, thou a shepherdess !
But I could frame a wish for thee
More like a grave reality :
Thou art to me but as a wave
Of the wild sea ; and I would have
Some claim upon thee, if I could,
Though but of common neighbourhood.
What joy to hear thee, and to see !
Thy elder brother I would be
Thy father-anything to thee !
Now thanks to Heaven! that of its grace
Hath led me to this lonely place.
Joy have I had ; and going hence,
I bear away my recompense.
In spots like these it is we prize
Our memory, feel that she hath eyes :
Laodamia. With sacrifice before the rising morn, Vows have I made by fruitless hope inspired; And from the infernal gods, 'mid shades forlorn Of night, my slaughtered lord have I required: Celestial pity I again implore ; Restore him to my sight-great Jove, restore! So speaking, and by fervent love endowed With faith, the suppliant heavenward lifts her hands; While, like the sun emerging from a cloud, Her countenance brightens and her eye expands; Her bosom heaves and spreads, her stature grows; And she expects the issue in repose. O terror! what hath she perceived ?-0 joy! What doth she look on whom doth she behold ? Her hero slain upon the beach of Troy? His vital presence? his corporeal mould ? It is—if sense deceive her not-'tis he! And a god leads him, winged Mercury ! Mild Hermes spake, and touched her with his wand That calms all fear, ‘Such grace hath crowned thy
prayer, Laodamia ! that at Jove's command Thy husband walks the paths of upper air; He comes to tarry with thee three hours' space; Accept the gift, behold him face to face !' Forth sprang the impassioned queen her lord to clasp ; Again that consummation she essayed ; But unsubstantial Form eludes her grasp As often as that eager grasp was made. The phantom parts--but parts to re-unite, And re-assume his place before her sight. Protesiláus, lo! thy guide is gone! Confirm, I pray, the vision with thy voice. This is our palace--yonder is thy throne; Speak, and the floor thou tread'st on will rejoice. Not to appal me have the gods bestowed This precious boon; and blest a sad abode.' Great Jove, Laodamial doth not leave His gifts imperfect. Spectre though I be, I am not sent to scare thee or deceive; But in reward of thy fidelity. And something also did my worth obtain ; For fearless virtue bringeth boundless gain. Thou knowest, the Delphic oracle foretold That the first Greek who touched the Trojan strand Should die: but me the threat could not withhold: A generous cause a victim did demand ; And forth I leapt upon the sandy plain; A self-devoted chief-by Hector slain.'
Supreme of heroes ; bravest, noblest, best! Thy matchless courage I bewail no more, Which then, when tens of thousands were deprest By doubt, propelled thee to the fatal shore; Thou found'st-and I forgive thee-here thou art A nobler counsellor than my poor heart.
But thou, though capable of sternest deed,
Yet bitter, ofttimes bitter was the pang, Wert kind as resolute, and good as brave;
When of thy loss I thought, beloved wife! And he, whose power restores thee, hath decreed On thee too fondly did my memory hang, That thou shouldst cheat the malice of the grave. And on the joys we shared in mortal life; Redundant are thy locks, thy lips as fair
The paths which we had trod-these fountains, flowers;
As when their breath enriched Thessalian air. My new-planned cities, and unfinished towers.
No spectre greets me-no vain shadow this;
But should suspense permit the foe to cry,
Come, blooming hero, place thee by my side! “ Behold they tremble! haughty their array;
Give, on this well known couch, one nuptial kiss Yet of their number no one dares to die!"
To me, this day, a second time thy bride!
In soul I swept the indignity away:
Jove frowned in heaven; the conscious Parce threw Old frailties then recurred; but lofty thought,
Upon those roseate lips a Stygian hue.
In act embodied, my deliverance wrought.
This visage tells thee that my doom is past ; And thou, though strong in love, art all too weak
Nor should the change be mourned, even if the joys In reason, in self-government too slow;
Of sense were able to return as fast
I counsel thee by fortitude to seek
And surely as they vanish. Earth destroys
Our blest reunion in the shades below. Those raptures duly-Erebus disdains ;
The invisible world with thee hath sympathised; Calm pleasures there abide-majestic pains.
Be thy affections raised and solemnised. Be taught, O faithful consort, to control
Learn, by a mortal yearning, to ascendRebellious passion ; for the gods approve
Seeking a higher object. Love was given, The depth, and not the tumult, of the soul ;
Encouraged, sanctioned, chiefly for that end;
A fervent, not ungovernable love.
For this the passion to excess was driven,
Thy transports moderate ; and meekly mourn That self might be annulled : her bondage prove
When I depart, for brief is my sojourn.'
The fetters of a dream, opposed to love.' “Ah, wherefore ? Did not Hercules by force
Aloud she shrieked; for Hermes reappears! Wrest from the guardian monster of the tomb Round the dear shade she would have clung; 'tis vain; Alcestis, a reanimated corse,
The hours are past—too brief had they been years; Given back to dwell on earth in vernal bloom?
And him no mortal effort can detain: Medea's spells dispersed the weight of years, Swift toward the realms that know not earthly day, And Æson stood a youth ’mid youthful peers. He through the portal takes his silent way, The gods to us are merciful; and they
And on the palace-floor a lifeless corse she lay. Yet further may relent; for mightier far
By no weak pity might the gods be moved : Than strength of nerve and sinew, or the sway She who thus perished, not without the crime Of magic potent over sun and star,
Of lovers that in reason's spite have loved,
Is love, though oft to agony distrest,
Was doomed to wear out her appointed time
And though his favourite seat be feeble woman's breast. Apart from happy ghosts, that gather flowers
But if thou goest, I follow.' 'Peace!' he said ; Of blissful quiet 'mid unfading bowers.
She looked upon him, and was calmed and cheered ; -Yet tears to human suffering are due;
The ghastly colour from his lips had fed.
And mortal hopes defeated and a’erthrown
In his deportment, shape, and mien appeared Are mourned by man, and not by man alone,
Elysian beauty, melancholy grace,
As fondly he believes. Upon the side
Brought from a pensive though a happy place. Of Hellespont (such faith was entertained)
He spake of love, such love as spirits feel
A knot of spiry trees for ages grew In worlds whose course is equable and pure;
From out the tomb of him for whom she died; No fears to beat away, no strife to heal,
And ever, when such stature they had gained, The past unsighed for, and the future sure;
That Ilium's walls were subject to their view, Spake of heroic arts in graver mood
The tree's tall summits withered at the sight-
Revived, with finer harınony pursued.
A constant interchange of growth and blight!
Of all that is most beauteous-imaged there
In happier beauty; more pellucid streams,
One of the most enthusiastic admirers of WordsAn ampler ether, a diviner air,
worth was Coleridge, so long his friend and associate, And fields invested with purpureal gleams ;
and who looked up to him with a sort of filial veneClimes which the sun, who sheds the brightest day ration and respect.
He has drawn his poetical Earth knows, is all unworthy to survey.
character at length in the Biographia Literaria, and Yet there the soul shall enter which hath earned
if we consider it as applying to the higher characThat privilege by virtue. 'Ill,' said he,
teristics of Wordsworth, without reference to the • The end of man's existence I discerned,
absurdity or puerility of some of his early fables, inWho from ignoble games and revelry
cidents, and language, it will be found equally just Could draw, when we had parted, vain delight,
and felicitous. First, “An austere purity of lanWhile tears were thy best pastime, day and night:
guage, both grammatically and logically ; in short, a And while my youthful peers before my eyes
perfect appropriateness of the words to the meaning.
Secondly, A correspondent weight and sanity of the (Each hero following his peculiar bent)
thoughts and sentiments won, not from books, but Prepared themselves for glorious enterprise
from the poet's own meditations. They are fresh, By martial sports ; or, seated in the tent,
and have the dew upon them. Even throughout Chieftains and kings in council were detainedWhat time the fleet at Aulis lay enchained.
his smaller poems, there is not one which is not ren
dered valuable by some just and original reflection. The wished-for wind was given : I then revolved Thirdly, The sinewy strength and originality of The oracle upon the silent sea ;
single lines and paragraphs; the frequent curiosa And, if no worthier led the
felicitas of his diction. Fourthly, The perfect truth That, of a thousand vessels, mine should be
of nature in his images and descriptions, as taken The foremost prow in pressing to the strand
immediately from nature, and proving a long and Mine the first blood that tinged the Trojan sand. genial intimacy with the very spirit which gives