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My Study Fire X
My Study Fire, Second Series
Under the Trees and Elsewhere
Short Studies in Literature
Essays in Literary Interpretation
Essays on Nature and Culture
Essays on Books and Culture ^ '
Essays on Work and Culture
The Life of the Spirit v'
Norse Stories
Williann Shakespeare
The Forest of Arden
A Child of Nature
Works and Days
Parables of Life
In Arcady


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Published October, 1903. Reprinted November, 1903,
New edition, with additions, November, 1904 ; May,
191 1 ; October, 1912.

NorfDooD $Tt» :
Berwick & Smith Co., Norwood, Mass., U.S.A.















Dove Cottage^ Grasmere Frontispiece

Honister Crag and Pass 5

Hawkshead, where Wordsworth went to School . . 11

Kirkstone Pass 18

Ullswater 2S

Rydal Mount 29

Striding Edge^ Helvellyn 36

Langdale Pikes 41

Derwentwater 47

Emerson's Home from the Orchard 56

Drawn by Elizabeth Wentworth Roberts

The Great Meadows 63

Drawn by Elizabeth Wentworth Roberts

The Pines of Walden 69

Drawn by Elizabeth Wentworth Roberts

The Elms of the Concord River 76

Drawn by Elizabeth Wentworth Roberts

A Corner of the Study 81

Drawn by Elizabeth Wentworth Roberts



Early Morning at the Old Manse 87

Drawn by Elizabeth Wentworth Roberts

Walden Ledge by Moonlight 94

Drawn by Elizabeth Wentworth Boberts

Sunnyside 98

The Entrance to Sleepy Hollow 103

On Sleepy Hollow Brook 109

Old Willows near Tarry town 115

Along Sleepy Hollow Brook on the Old Philipse

Manor 122

The Old Dutch Church in Sleepy Hollow Cemetery 127

Goethe's House 134

Goethe's Working-room 141

The State Church at Weimar 147

The Castle and Ducal Palace 155

The Bronze Serpent in the Park 162

The Garden of Goethe's House 167

A Corner in the Garden 175

The Valley of the Doones 180

Whitman's Birthplace 194

Old Well at Huntington 204



The Garden of Whitman's House in Camden . . . 217

At Cold Spring Harbor, where Whitman had his

First Glimpse of the Sea 227

A Byway in Huntington 237

Whitman's Grave at Camden 241

Abbotsford 246

The Brig o' Turk 251

St. Margaret's Loch and Arthur's Seat, Edinburgh . 258

Edinburgh Castle 263

Loch Achray and Ben Venue 270

Dryburgh Abbey 275

The Canongate Tolbooth, Edinburgh 282

Loch Katrine 287

Melrose Abbey 294

The Quadrangle, Edinburgh University .... 299



He spoke, and loosed our hearts in tears.
He laid us as we lay at birth,
On the cool flowery lap of earth;
Smiles broke from us and we had ease;
The hills were round us, and the breeze
Went o"er the sunlit fields again;
Our foreheads felt the wind and rain.
Our youth return'd; for there was shed
On spirits that had long been dead.
Spirits dried up and closely furl'd.
The freshness of the early world.

O wrote Matthew Arnold in
1850, when the long life of
Wordsworth ended and he
was laid at rest in the
churchyard at Grasmere,
the Rotha sweeping past his
grave with the freshness
and purity of the mountains in its bosom.



Half a century has passed since the bells in
the old square tower tolled on that memor-
able day, but the peace with which the poet
touched the fevered life of the century has not
lost its healing, nor has his message lost its
power. There are still differences of opinion
concerning minor points in his work, but his
genius is no longer questioned ; and his art, in its
best moments, has won complete recognition.
Some foreign critics, it is true, have doubted and
even sneered; but one of the most valuable of
recent contributions to the large literature
which has grown up about Wordsworth comes
from the hand of a very intelligent and sympa-
thetic French critic. It is safe to say that, in the
settled opinion of this country and of England,
Wordsworth gave the world between 1798 and
1815 work that has enriched English poetry for
all time both in substance and in form. For
this poetry had not only a new music for the ear
which made men think suddenly of mountain
brooks; it had also a new view of nature and a
new conception of life.

A poet so freighted with spiritual insight,
with meditative habit, and with moral fervor, is



always in danger of straining his art and dissi-
pating its magic in the endeavor to produce
ethical results; and a touch of didacticism ban-
ishes the bloom and dissolves the spell. There
was in Wordsworth a natural stiffness of mind
which showed itself more distinctly as time im-
paired the vivacity of his moods and the fresh-
ness of his imagination. He was, by instinct
and the habit of a Uf etime, a moralist ; and there
were times when he came perilously near being
a preacher in verse. He was, as often happens,
radically unlike the popular impression of him;
he and Keats have been widely and astonish-
ingly misunderstood. One constantly comes
upon expressions of the feeling that Words-
worth had the calmness of the philosophic tem-
per, and that he was by nature self-poised and
cold ; and this in the face of the fact that one of
the great qualities of his verse is its passion!
Wordsworth was, by nature, headstrong, ar-
dent, passionate, with great capacity for emo-
tion and suffering ; the sorrows of his life shook
him as an oak is shaken by a tempest, and years
afterward, when he referred to the deaths of his
children or of his brother, his emotion was pain-



ful to look upon. He bore himself with a noble
fortitude through the trials and disappoint-
ments of his long career ; but that fortitude was
won through struggle. He had a stubborn will,
which became inflexible when a principle was
involved; he passed through a great spiritual
crisis when the French Revolution first liber-
ated and then blasted the hopes of ardent and
generous spirits in Europe; he sought seclusion
and maintained it to the end; he was rejected
and derided by the great majority of those who
made literary opinion during his youth and ma-
turity ; and his verse brought him no returns, al-
though he had both the need and the wholesome
desire for adequate payment for honorable

All these and other conditions told against
the free development of the pure poetic quality
in Wordsworth's nature, and against that spon-
taneity which is the source of natural magic in
poetry. It is not surprising that he wrote so
much didactic verse; it is surprising that he
wrote so much poetry of surpassing charm and
beauty. When all deductions are made from
his work, there remains a body of poetry large



enough and beautiful enough to place the poet
among the greatest of English singers. At his
best no one has more of that magic which lends
to thought the enchantment of a melody that
seems to flow out of its heart as the brook runs
shining and singing out of the heart of the hills.
No English poet has command of a purer
music, and none has more to say to the spirit ; he
speaks to the ear, to the imagination, to the in-
tellect, and to the soul of his fellows. He was
always high-minded, devoted to his work, stain-
less in all his relations; during fifteen golden
years he was so in tune with Nature that she
breathed through him as the wind breathes
through the harp, and the deep silence of the
hills became a haunting music in his verse, and
the inarticulate murmur of the mountain
streams a reconciling and restful melody to
tired spirits and sorrow-smitten hearts. Such
a life is a spiritual achievement; add to it a
noble body of poetry, and the measure of
Wordsworth's greatness and service becomes
more clear, although that measure has not yet
been finally taken.

In this poetry Nature is not only presented


in every aspect, but is interpreted in a way
which was in effect a revelation. It is true,
poets as far back as Lucretius had conceived of
Nature as a whole, and had felt and expressed
the inspiration which flowed from this great
conception; but Wordsworth was the first poet
in whose imagination this view of the world
was completely mastered and assimilated; the
first poet who adequately presented Nature,
not only as a vast unity of form and life, but
as a sublime symbol; the first poet who suc-
ceeded in blending the life of man with Nature
with such spiritual insight that the deeper corre-
spondences between the two were brought into
clear view, and their subtle and secret relations
indicated. He is constantly spoken of as pre-
eminently the poet of Nature, because in no
other English verse does Nature fill so vast a
place as in his poetry; but he was even more
distinctly the poet of the spirit of man, discern-
ing everywhere in Nature those spiritual forces
and verities whicli came to consciousness in his
own soul, and those hints and suggestions of
spiritual truth which found in his own spirit an


k' ^.-w j

Hawkshead, where Wordsworth went to School


It was inevitable that a poetry of Nature
which was, at bottom, a poetry of Hfe, with Na-
ture as a background, a symbol, a spiritual en-
ergy, a living environment, should have its
roots deep in the soil and should reflect, not
general impressions of a universe, but aspects,
glimpses, views of a world close at hand. In
art great conceptions are successfully presented
only when they find forms so beautiful and in-
evitable that the thought seems born in the
form as the soul is lodged in the body; not con-
ditioned bj^ it, but so much a part of it that it
cannot be localized, and so pervasive that it
irradiates and spiritualizes every part. In like
manner, in his best moments, Wordsworth fills
our vision with the beauty of some actual scene
or place before he opens the imagination by
natural and inevitable dilation to some great
poetic idea. In the noble " Lines written above
Tintern Abbey," in which his imagination rises
to a great height and his diction rises with it on
even wing, we are first made to see with mar-
velous distinctness the steep and lonely cliiFs,
the dark sycamore, the orchard-tufts, the
hedge-rows — " little lines of sportive wood run



wild " — the pastoral farms and wreaths of
smoke, before we are brought under the spell


That serene and blessed mood,
In which the aflPections lead us on,

and we become living souls and see into the
heart of things. In like manner the great Ode
rises from familiar things — the rose, the moon,
the birds, the lamb, the sweet, homely sights and
sounds — to that sublime height from which the
whole sweep and range of life become visible.
And the lover of Wordsworth who recalls the
Highland girl, the dancing daffodils, and a
hundred other imperishable figures and scenes,
knows with what unerring instinct the poet fas-
tens upon the familiar and near when he pur-
poses to flash into the imagination the highest

Wordsworth's poetry has a singular unity
and consistency; from beginning to end it is
bound together not only by great ideas which
continually reappear, but it is harmonized by a
background which remains unchanged from
stage to stage. This double unity was made
possible by the good fortune of a lifelong resi-



dence in the Lake Country. With the excep-
tion of the years at Cambridge, when he was
a student in St. John's College, and later in
London and Dorsetshire, and of occasional
visits to the Continent, the poet spent his whole
life almost within sight of Skiddaw and Hel-
vellyn. In childhood, youth, maturity, and age
he saw the same noble masses of mountain, the
same sleeping or moving surfaces of water; he
heard the same music of running streams and
the same deep harmonies of tempests among
the hills. The sources of his poetry were in his
own nature, but its scenery, its incidents, its
occasions, are, with few exceptions, to be found
in the Lake Country. No one can catch all the
tones of his verse who has not heard the rush
of wind and the notes of hidden streams in that
beautiful region; no one can fully possess the
rich and splendid atmosphere which gathers
about his greater passages who has not seen the
unsearchable glory of the sunset when the up-
per Vales are filled with a mist which is trans-
formed into such effulgence of light as never yet
came "within the empire of any earthly pencil."
In a word, the poetry of Wordsworth is rooted



in the Lake Country as truly as the other
flora of that region; and the spirit and quality
of the landscape not only come to the surface
in separate poems and in detached lines, but
penetrate and irradiate the whole body of his

The poet was born at Cockermouth, on the 7th
of April, 1770, the second son of John Words-
worth, law agent of the Earl of Lonsdale. The
town is in the northeastern part of the Lake
region, not many miles from the English Chan-
nel, and within sound of the water of the Der-
went. On the main street of the old market
town stands the plain, substantial, two-storied
house, spacious and comfortable, in which Wil-
liam and Dorothy were born ; for the two names
ought never to be separated, the sister's pas-
sionate devotion and genius contributing not
only to the brother's growth and comfort, but
to his work. To the south rises the castle, half
in ruins; about are soft, grassy hills. The
garden at the back of the house, with its hedges
and the river murmuring near, was the play-
ground of the children. There flowers bloomed



and birds built safely, and the days went by in
a deep and beautiful calm:

Stay near me : do not take thy flight !
A little longer stay in sight !
Much converse do I find in thee,
Historian of my infancy !
Float near me: do not yet depart.
Dead times revive in thee :
Thou bring'st, gay creature as thou art !
A solemn image to my heart,
My father's family !

Oh! pleasant, pleasant were the days,
The time, when, in our childish plays,
My sister Emmeline and I
Together chased the butterfly !
A very hunter did I rush
Upon the prey; with leaps and springs
I followed on from brook to bush;
But she, God love her! feared to brush
The dust from off^ its wings.

In the " Prelude " Wordsworth has left to
the world a unique autobiography; a human
document of the highest interest. In this story
of his poetic life the landscape of his physical
life is reflected in almost numberless glimpses,
from his childhood to those rich years at Gras-



mere. In this meditative, descriptive poem, as
in a quiet stream, his childhood and youth are
preserved, and we are enabled to note the scenes
and incidents which left their permanent im-
press on his memory. Under the northwest
tower of the Castle at Cockermouth the Der-
went runs swift and deep, and sweeps tumultu-
ously over the blue-gray gravel of the shallows
which spread out from the bank opposite. The
boy never forgot this striking effect, and years
after he wrote of

. . . the shadow of those towers
That yet survive, a shattered monument
Of feudal sway, the bright blue river passed
Along the margin of our terrace walk.

Standing in the garden at the back of the
house, he saw constantly the footpath that led
from the ford over the rocky brow of a neigh-
boring hill; and that worn line of human travel
became a highway to his imagination:

... a disappearing line,
One daily present to my eyes, that crossed
The naked summit of a far-off hill
Beyond the limits that my feet had trod,
Was like an invitation into space
Boundless, or guide into eternity.



In 1778 the boy was sent to the Grammar
School at Hawkshead, foimded by Archbishop
Sandys in 1585, at that memorable time when
William Shakespeare, escaping from the tasks
of the Stratford Grammar School and the quiet
which broods along the banks of the slow-mov-
ing Avon, had gone up to London to seek and
find the greatest fortune of literary opportu-
nity and fame which has yet come in the way of
mortal man. The school is still largely un-
changed ; there is a spacious room on the ground
floor w^here the ancient hum of industrious boys
is still heard ; there is a small library made up of
gifts from the students, each pupil presenting
a volume when he leaves the school. The names
of the Masters are preserved on a tablet in this
room, and in an oaken chest the original charter
of the school is kept. The old oak benches in
the lower room bear witness to the traditional
activity of the jack-knife, and " W. Words-
worth " is cut deeply in the wood. Here the
boy worked at his books for eight happy years;
boarding, as was the custom of the place, with
a village dame — Anne Tyson — for whom he
came to have a deep and lasting affection. The



house in which she lived, hke its fellows in the
village, is small and unpretentious. The village
lies in the beautiful country between Winder-
mere and Coniston Water, with Esthwaite
Water close at hand. It is a quaint old market
town, with narrow streets, low archways, houses
with many-paned windows; the old church
dominating the place:

The snow-white church upon the hill
Sits like a throned lady, sending out
A gracious look all over her domain.

The " Prelude " lingers long over the scenes,
incidents, and experiences of the eight years at
Hawkshead; and it would be quite impossible
to find a locality more nobly planned for the
unfolding and enrichment of a poet's imagina-
tion. The lover of Wordsworth can still feel
something of the spell which was laid upon the
boy in those golden days of fresh and aspiring
youth. The teaching which the school gave
was, for its time, admirable; but the deepest
education was gained out of school hours, and,
largely, out of doors. The memory of those
years was always fresh and grateful:



Well do I call to mind the very week
When I was first intrusted to the care
Of that sweet Valley.

The '* Prelude " makes us aware of the spir-
itual richness and growth of these school days;
of the joy of reading and the deeper joy of
seeing; of long walks of exploration; of silent
hours upon Esthwaite, or, in vacation, upon
Windermere, when the deep and solemn beauty
of mountain and star sank into his 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 luster sheds
On the dear mountain-tops where first he rose.

Within easy walking distance one comes
upon some of the most impressive or enchant-
ing scenery of the Lake Country. Winder-
mere, with its group of mountains ; the striking
lines of the Langdale Pikes, and other peaks,
crowd the horizon in all directions. To the
west, over the hill, through lovely stretches of



meadow or across the moorland, lies Conis-
ton Water, with the massive front of Coniston
Old Man rising across the quiet lake. One
cannot look down on that exquisite Valley with-
out thinking of Brantwood, and of the last of
the group of great writers who were contempo-
raneous with Wordsworth's later years.

The leisure hours of that happy time were
not, however, wholly given over to wandering
and solitude; there was companionship with
books as well:

Of my earliest days at school [writes the poet]
I have little to say, but that they were very happy
ones, chiefly because I was left at liberty there, and
in the vacations, to read whatever books I liked. For
example, I read all Fielding's works, Don Quixote, Gil
Bias, and any part of Swift that I liked, Gulliver's
Travels and The Tale of a Tub being both much to
my taste. It may be, perhaps, as well to mention that
the first verses which I wrote were a task imposed by
my master — the subject. The Summer Vacation ; and
of my own accord I added others upon Return to
School. There was nothing remarkable in cither poem ;
but I was called upon, among other scholars, to write
verses upon the completion of the second centenary
from the foundation of the school in 1585 by Arch-
bishop Sandys. These verses were much admired —



far more than they deserved, for they were but a tame
imitation of Pope's versification, and a little in his

The real education of the boy — the libera-
tion of his imagination and the unfolding of
his spiritual nature — was gained, however, in
the woods and fields and upon the quiet lakes.
Esthwaite, Windermere, and Winander, and
the mountains which encircled them and made
them a world by themselves, were his most po-
tent teachers. Here, in boyhood, he began to
reveal that union of exact observation with
imaginative insight which was to give his po-
etry vividness of pictorial effect and depth of
spiritual suggestion. He learned both to see
the object upon which his eye rested, and also,
by a sudden extension of vision, to discern its
significance in that invisible order of w^hich all
things seen are but types and symbols. And
out of this clarity and range of vision there
came the double beauty of his verse : the beauty
of the flower or tree or landscape suddenly and
vividly presented to the imagination, and the
beauty of the great world of earth and sky
which enfolds flower and tree and landscape;



the beauty of the daffodil dancing along the

margin of the bay, and that other beauty which

flashes upon

. . . that inward eye
Which is the bliss of soHtude.

In October, 1787, Wordsworth left the Lake
Country for the first time and took up his resi-
dence in the southwestern corner of the first
quadrangle of St. John's College, Cambridge.
Here he found another kind of beauty: the
beauty of low-lying fields, of streams that run
through marshes to the sea, of low, veiled skies.
Here, too, was the ripe loveliness of an ancient
seat of learning; and here, above all, were the
richest traditions and associations of English
poetry. Those glorious windows and noble
roofs which Milton loved so well Wordsworth
loved also, and from those dark carven seats
where one sits to-day under the spell of choral
singing of almost angelic sweetness he doubtless
searched, with reverent gaze.

That branching roof
Self-poised, and scooped into ten thousand cells
Where light and shade repose, where music dwells



Lingering, and wandering on as loth to die —
Like thoughts whose ver}' sweetness yieldeth proof
That they were born for immortahty.

Having taken his Bachelor's degree in Janu-
ary, 1791, Wordsworth went up to London,
uncertain as to his future vocation. Every
reader of his poetry knows how vividly he saw
certain things in London — the thrush that sang
on Wood Street, and by the magic of its notes
made poor Susan suddenly aware of trees
and mountains, of rolling vapor and running
streams; and that noble vision from Westmin-
ster Bridge; but the great city touched him
mainly as it reminded him of things remote
from its turmoil and alien to its mighty rush
and war of strife and toil. In November of the
same j^ear he landed in France, at the very mo-
ment when the hopes of humanity were still full
winged on their sublimest flight; hopes so soon
to fall, maimed and bruised, to the earth whence
they had risen with such exultant joy. The
spiritual crisis through which the ardent young
poet passed lies outside the scope of this article ;
it may be said in passing, however, that those
who are tempted to make the usual common-



place comments on his subsequent change of
attitude will do well to study first the tempera-
ment of one whose nature had a kind of ocean-

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