William Wordsworth Poems

  • 401.  
    Screams round the Arch-druid's brow the seamew white
    As Menai's foam; and toward the mystic ring Where Augurs stand, the Future questioning,
  • 402.  
    Sacred Religion! "mother of form and fear,"
    Dread arbitress of mutable respect, New rites ordaining when the old are wrecked,
  • 403.  
    Something must now be said of this poem, but chiefly, as has been done through the whole of these notes, with reference to my personal friends, and especially to her who has perseveringly taken them down from my dictation. Towards the close of the first book stand the lines that were first written, beginning, "Nine tedious years," and ending, "Last human tenant of these ruined walls." These were composed in '95 at Racedown; and for several passages describing the employment and demeanour of Margaret during her affliction, I was indebted to observations made in Dorsetshire, and afterwards at Alfoxden in Somersetshire, where I resided in '97 and '98. The lines towards the conclusion of the fourth book beginning, "For, the man, who, in this spirit," to the words "intellectual soul" were in order of time composed the next, either at Racedown or Alfoxden, I do not remember which. The rest of the poem was written in the vale of Grasmere, chiefly during our residence at Allan Bank. The long poem on my own education was, together with many minor poems, composed while we lived at the cottage at Town-end. Perhaps my purpose of giving an additional interest to these my poems in the eyes of my nearest and dearest friends may be promoted by saying a few words upon the character of the Wanderer, the Solitary, and the Pastor, and some other of the persons introduced. And first, of the principal one, the Wanderer. My lamented friend Southey (for this is written a month after his decease) used to say that had he been born a papist, the course of life which would in all probability have been his was the one for which he was most fitted and most to his mind, that of a Benedictine monk in a convent, furnished, as many once were and some still are, with an inexhaustible library. 'Books', as appears from many passages in his writings, and as was evident to those who had opportunities of observing his daily life, were in fact 'his passion'; and 'wandering', I can with truth affirm, was 'mine'; but this propensity in me was happily counteracted by inability from want of fortune to fulfil my wishes. But, had I been born in a class which would have deprived me of what is called a liberal education, it is not unlikely that, being strong in body, I should have taken to a way of life such as that in which my Pedlar passed the greater part of his days. At all events, I am here called upon freely to acknowledge that the character I have represented in his person is chiefly an idea of what I fancied my own character might have become in his circumstances. Nevertheless, much of what he says and does had an external existence that fell under my own youthful and subsequent observation. An individual named Patrick, by birth and education a Scotchman, followed this humble occupation for many years, and afterwards settled in the town of Kendal. He married a kinswoman of my wife's, and her sister Sarah was brought up from her ninth year under this good man's roof. My own imaginations I was happy to find clothed in reality, and fresh ones suggested, by what she reported of this man's tenderness of heart, his strong and pure imagination, and his solid attainments in literature, chiefly religious whether in prose or verse. At Hawkshead also, while I was a schoolboy, there occasionally resided a Packman (the name then generally given to persons of this calling) with whom I had frequent conversations upon what had befallen him, and what he had observed, during his wandering life; and, as was natural, we took much to each other: and, upon the subject of "Pedlarism" in general, as 'then' followed, and its favourableness to an intimate knowledge of human concerns, not merely among the humbler classes of society, I need say nothing here in addition to what is to be found in the "Excursion," and a note attached to it. Now for the Solitary. Of him I have much less to say. Not long after we took up our abode at Grasmere, came to reside there, from what motive I either never knew or have forgotten, a Scotchman a little past the middle of life, who had for many years been chaplain to a Highland regiment. He was in no respect as far as I know, an interesting character, though in his appearance there was a good deal that attracted attention, as if he had been shattered in fortune and not happy in mind. Of his quondam position I availed myself, to connect with the Wanderer, also a Scotchman, a character suitable to my purpose, the elements of which I drew from several persons with whom I had been connected, and who fell under my observation during frequent residences in London at the beginning of the French Revolution. The chief of these was, one may 'now' say, a Mr. Fawcett, a preacher at a dissenting meeting-house at the Old Jewry. It happened to me several times to be one of his congregation through my connection with Mr. Nicholson of Cateaton Street, who at that time, when I had not many acquaintances in London, used often to invite me to dine with him on Sundays; and I took that opportunity (Mr. N. being a dissenter) of going to hear Fawcett, who was an able and eloquent man. He published a poem on war, which had a good deal of merit, and made me think more about him than I should otherwise have done. But his Christianity was probably never very deeply rooted; and, like many others in those times of like showy talents, he had not strength of character to withstand the effects of the French Revolution, and of the wild and lax opinions which had done so much towards producing it, and far more in carrying it forward in its extremes. Poor Fawcett, I have been told, became pretty much such a person as I have described; and early disappeared from the stage, having fallen into habits of intemperance, which I have heard (though I will not answer for the fact) hastened his death. Of him I need say no more: there were many like him at that time, which the world will never be without, but which were more numerous then for reasons too obvious to be dwelt upon.
    To what is said of the Pastor in the poem I have little to add, but what may be deemed superfluous. It has ever appeared to me highly favourable to the beneficial influence of the Church of England upon all gradations and classes of society, that the patronage of its benefices is in numerous instances attached to the estates of noble families of ancient gentry; and accordingly I am gratified by the opportunity afforded me in the "Excursion," to pourtray the character of a country clergyman of more than ordinary talents, born and bred in the upper ranks of society so as to partake of their refinements, and at the same time brought by his pastoral office and his love of rural life into intimate connection with the peasantry of his native district. To illustrate the relation which in my mind this Pastor bore to the Wanderer, and the resemblance between them, or rather the points of community in their nature, I likened one to an oak and the other to a sycamore; and, having here referred to this comparison, I need only add, I had no one individual in my mind, wishing rather to embody this idea than to break in upon the simplicity of it, by traits of individual character or of any peculiarity of opinion.
  • 404.  
    Urged by Ambition, who with subtlest skill
    Changes her means, the Enthusiast as a dupe Shall soar, and as a hypocrite can stoop,
  • 405.  
    Not hurled precipitous from steep to steep;
    Lingering no more 'mid flower-enameled lands And blooming thickets; nor by rocky bands
  • 406.  
    In days of yore how fortunately fared
    The Minstrel! wandering on from hall to hall, Baronial court or royal; cheered with gifts
  • 407.  
    By such examples moved to unbought pains,
    The people work like congregated bees; Eager to build the quiet Fortresses
  • 408.  
    Lo! in the burning west, the craggy nape
    Of a proud Ararat! and, thereupon, The Ark, her melancholy voyage done!
  • 409.  
    Woe to the Crown that doth the Cowl obey!
    Dissension, checking arms that would restrain The incessant Rovers of the northern main,
  • 410.  
    Ward of the Law! dread Shadow of a King!
    Whose realm had dwindled to one stately room; Whose universe was gloom immersed in gloom,
  • 411.  
    Methinks 'twere no unprecedented feat
    Should some benignant Minister of air Lift, and encircle with a cloudy chair,
  • 412.  
    A dark plume fetch me from yon blasted yew,
    Perched on whose top the Danish Raven croaks; Aloft, the imperial Bird of Rome invokes
  • 413.  
    And, not in vain embodied to the sight,
    Religion finds even in the stern retreat Of feudal sway her own appropriate seat;
  • 414.  
    The Bard, whose soul is meek as dawning day,
    Yet trained to judgments righteously severe, Fervid, yet conversant with holy fear,
  • 415.  
    "Change me, some God, into that breathing rose!"
    The love-sick Stripling fancifully sighs, The envied flower beholding, as it lies
  • 416.  
    The Cock is crowing,
    The stream is flowing, The small birds twitter,
  • 417.  
    With little here to do or see
    Of things that in the great world be, Daisy! again I talk to thee,
  • 418.  
    Rise! they 'have' risen: of brave Aneurin ask
    How they have scourged old foes, perfidious friends: The Spirit of Caractacus descends
  • 419.  
    The turbaned Race are poured in thickening swarms
    Along the west; though driven from Aquitaine, The Crescent glitters on the towers of Spain;
  • 420.  
    Nor wants the cause the panic-striking aid
    Of hallelujahs tost from hill to hill For instant victory. But Heaven's high will
  • 421.  
    "To every Form of being is assigned,"
    Thus calmly spake the venerable Sage, "An 'active' Principle: howe'er removed
  • 422.  
    Sad thoughts, avaunt! partake we their blithe cheer
    Who gathered in betimes the unshorn flock To wash the fleece, where haply bands of rock,
  • 423.  
    But what if One, through grove or flowery mead,
    Indulging thus at will the creeping feet Of a voluptuous indolence, should meet
  • 424.  
    As, when a storm hath ceased, the birds regain
    Their cheerfulness, and busily retrim Their nests, or chant a gratulating hymn
  • 425.  
    Where are they now, those wanton Boys?
    For whose free range the daedal earth Was filled with animated toys,
  • 426.  
    The Minstrels played their Christmas tune
    To-night beneath my cottage-eaves; While, smitten by a lofty moon,
  • 427.  
    Seen From The Lake Of Lugano

  • 428.  
    Dear Fellow-travellers! think not that the Muse,
    To You presenting these memorial Lays, Can hope the general eye thereon would gaze,
  • 429.  
    In trellised shed with clustering roses gay,
    And, MARY! oft beside our blazing fire, When yeas of wedded life were as a day
  • 430.  
    How blest the Maid whose heart, yet free
  • 431.  
    Mid-noon is past; upon the sultry mead
    No zephyr breathes, no cloud its shadow throws: If we advance unstrengthened by repose,
  • 432.  
    On, loitering Muse, the swift Stream chides us on!
    Albeit his deep-worn channel doth immure Objects immense portrayed in miniature,
  • 433.  
    I thought of Thee, my partner and my guide,
    As being past away. Vain sympathies! For, backward, Duddon, as I cast my eyes,
  • 434.  
    Not sedentary all: there are who roam
    To scatter seeds of life on barbarous shores; Or quit with zealous step their knee-worn floors
  • 435.  
    "Man's life is like a Sparrow, mighty King!
    "That, while at banquet with your Chiefs you sit "Housed near a blazing fire, is seen to flit
  • 436.  
    I heard (alas! 'twas only in a dream)
    Strains, which, as sage Antiquity believed, By waking ears have sometimes been received
  • 437.  
    Toussaint, the most unhappy man of men!
    Whether the whistling Rustic tend his plough Within thy hearing, or thy head be now
  • 438.  
    At early dawn, or rather when the air
    Glimmers with fading light, and shadowy Eve Is busiest to confer and to bereave;
  • 439.  
    There is a little unpretending Rill
    Of limpid water, humbler far than aught That ever among Men or Naiads sought
  • 440.  
    'Tis said, fantastic ocean doth enfold
    The likeness of whate'er on land is seen; But, if the Nereid Sisters and their Queen,
  • 441.  
    Who swerves from innocence, who makes divorce
    Of that serene companion, a good name, Recovers not his loss; but walks with shame,
  • 442.  
    Where be the noisy followers of the game
    Which faction breeds; the turmoil where? that passed Through Europe, echoing from the newsman's blast,
  • 443.  
    Pause, Traveller! whosoe'er thou be
    Whom chance may lead to this retreat, Where silence yields reluctantly
  • 444.  
    But, to remote Northumbria's royal Hall,
    Where thoughtful Edwin, tutored in the school Of sorrow, still maintains a heathen rule,
  • 445.  
    O life! without thy chequered scene
    Of right and wrong, of weal and woe, Success and failure, could a ground
  • 446.  
    How shall I paint thee? Be this naked stone
    My seat, while I give way to such intent; Pleased could my verse, a speaking monument,
  • 447.  
    'The oppression of the tumult, wrath and scorn
    The tribulation and the gleaming blades' Such is the impetuous spirit that pervades
  • 448.  
    The Kirk of Ulpha to the pilgrim's eye
    Is welcome as a star, that doth present Its shining forehead through the peaceful rent
  • 449.  
    From the Pier's head, musing, and with increase
    Of wonder, I have watched this sea-side Town, Under the white cliff's battlemented crown,
  • 450.  
    I rose while yet the cattle, heat-opprest,
    Crowded together under rustling trees Brushed by the current of the water-breeze;
Total 1015 poems written by William Wordsworth

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A. E. Housman Poem
When Smoke Stood Up From Ludlow
 by A. E. Housman

When smoke stood up from Ludlow,
And mist blew off from Teme,
And blithe afield to ploughing
Against the morning beam
I strode beside my team,

The blackbird in the coppice
Looked out to see me stride,

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