William Wordsworth.

The complete works of Wordsworth online

. (page 78 of 86)
Online LibraryWilliam WordsworthThe complete works of Wordsworth → online text (page 78 of 86)
Font size
QR-code for this ebook


May's fresh verdure drest ;
The wings they did not flag ; the Child,

though grave, was not deprest.

But who shall show, to waking sense, the

gleam of light that broke
Forth from his eyes, when first the Boy

looked down on that huge oak,



For length of days so much revered, so

famous where it stands
For twofold hallowing Nature's care, and

work of human hands?

Strong as an Eagle with my charge I

glided round and round
The wide-spread boughs, for view of door,

window, and stair that wound
Gracefully up the gnarled trunk ; nor left

we unsurveyed
The pointed steeple peering forth from the

centre of the shade.

I lighted opened with soft touch the
chapel's iron door,

Past softly, leading in the Boy ; and, while
from roof to floor

From floor to roof all round his eyes the
Child with wonder cast,

Pleasure on pleasure crowded in, each live-
lier than the last.

For, deftly framed within the trunk, the

sanctuary showed,
By light of lamp and precious stones, that

glimmer here, there glowed,
Shrine, Altar, Image, Offerings hung in

sign of gratitude ;
Sight that inspired accordant thoughts ;

and speech I thus renewed :

"Hither the Afflicted come, as thou hast

heard thy Mother say,
And, kneeling, supplication make to our

Lady de la Paix ;
What mournful sighs haveherebeen heard,

and, when the voice was stopt
By sudden pangs, what bitter tears have

on this pavement dropt 1

"Poor Shepherd of the naked Down, a

favoured lot is thine,
Far happier lot, dear Boy, than brings full

many to this shrine ;
From body pains and pains of soul thou

needest no release,
Thy hours as they flow on are spent, if nol

in joy, in peace.

" Then offer up thy heart to God in thank-
fulness and praise,

Give to Him prayers, and many thoughts,
in thy most busy days ;

And in His sight the fragile Cross, on thy
small hut, will be

Holy as that which long hath crowned the
'Chapel of this Tree j



MISCE L LA NEO US POE MS.



567



" Holy as that far seen which crowns the

sumptuous Church in Rome
Where thousands meet to worship God

under a mighty Dome :
He sees the bending multitude, He hears

the choral rites,
Yet not the loss, in children's hymns and

lonely prayer, delights.

"God for His service needeth not proud

work of human skill ;
They please Him best who labour most to

do in peace His will :
So let us strive to live, and to our spirits

will be given
Such wings as, when our Saviour calls,

shall bear us up to heaven."

The Boy no answer made by words, but,
so earnest was his look,

Sleep fled, and with it fled the dream re-
corded in this book,

Lest all that passed should melt away in
silence from my mind,

As visions still more bright have done, and
left no trace behind.

But oh ! that Country-man of thine, whose

eye, loved Child, can see
A pledge of endless bliss in acts of early

piety,
In verse, which to thy ear might come,

would treat this simple theme,
Nor leave untold our happy flight in that

adventurous dream.

Alas the dream, to thee, poor Boy ! to thee
from whom it flowed,

VVas nothing, scarcely can be aught, yet
'twas bounteously bestowed,

If I may dare to cherish hope that gentle
eyes will read

Not loth, and listening little-ones, heart-
touched, their fancies feed.



THE WESTMORELAND GIRL.

TO MY GRANDCHILDREN.
PART I,

SEEK who will delight in fable,
1 shall tell you truth. A Lamb
Leapt from this steep bank to follow
'Cross the brook its thoughtless dam.



Far and wide on hill and valley
Rain had fallen, unceasing rain,
And the bleating mother's Young-one
Struggled with the flood in vain :

But, as chanced, a Cottage-maiden
(Ten years scarcely had she told)
Seeing, plunged into the torrent,
Clasped the Lamb and kept her hold.

Whirled adown the rocky channel,
Sinking, rising, on they go,
Peace and rest, as seems, before them
Only in the lake below.

Oh ! it was a frightful current
Whose fierce wrath the Girl had braved
Clap your hands with joy, my Hearers,
Shout in triumph, both are saved ;

Saved by courage that with danger
Grew, by strength the gift of love,
And belike a guardian angel
Came with succour from above.



Now, to a maturer Audience,
Let me speak of this brave Child
Left among her native mountains
With wild Nature to run wild.

So, unwatched by love maternal,
Mothers care no more her guide,
Fared this little bright-eyed Orphan
Even while at her father's side.

Spare your blame, remembrance makes

him

Loth to rule by strict command ;
Still upon his cheek are living
Touches of her infant hand,

Dear caresses given in pity,
Sympathy that soothed his grief,
As the dying mother witnessed
To her thankful mind's relief.

Time passed on ; the Child was happy,
Like a Spirit of air she moved,
Wayward, yet by all who knew her
For her tender heart beloved.

Scarcely less than sacred passions,
Bred in house, in grove, and field,
Link her with the inferior creatures,
Urge her powers their rights to shield.



568



MISCELLANEOUS POEMS.



Anglers, bent on reckless pastime,
l^earn how she can feel alike
Both for tiny harmless minnow
And the fierce and sharp-toothed pike.

Merciful protectress, kindling
Into anger or disdain ;
Many a captive hath she rescued,
Others saved from lingering pain.

Listen yet awhile ; with patience
Hear the homely truths I tell,
She in Grasmere's old church-steeple
Tolled this day the passing-bell.

Yes, the wild Girl of the mountains
To their echoes gave the sound,
Notice punctual as the minute,
Warning solemn and profound.

She, fulfilling her sire's office,
Rang alone the far-heard knell,
Tribute, by her hand, in sorrow,
Paid to One who loved her welL

When his spirit was departed,
On that service she went forth ;
Nor will fail the like to render
When his corse is laid in earth.

What then wants the child to temper,
In her breast, unruly fire,
To control the froward impulse
And restrain the vague desire?

Easily a pious training
And a steadfast outward power
Would supplant the weeds and cherish,
In their stead, each opening flower.

Thus the fearless Lamb-deliv'rer,
Woman-grown, meek-hearted, sage,
May become a blest example
For her sex, of every age.

Watchful as a wheeling eagle,
Constant as a soaring lark,
Should the country need a heroine
She might prove our Maid of Arc

Leave that thought ; and here be uttered
Prayer that Grace divine may raise
Her humane courageous spirit
Up to heaven, thro' peaceful ways.



YES, THOU ART FAIR.

YES ! thou art fair, yet be not moved

To scorn the declaration,
fhat sometimes I in thee have loved

My fancy's own creation



Imagination needs must stir;

Dear Maid, this truth believe,
Minds that have nothing to confer

Find little to perceive.

Be pleased that nature made thee fit
To feed my heart's devotion,

By laws to which all Forms submit
In sky, air, earth, and ocean.



WHAT HEAVENLY SMILES.

WHAT heavenly smiles ! O Lady mine
Through my very heart they shine ;
And, if my brow gives back their light.
Do thou look gladly on the sight ;
As the clear Moon with modest pride

Beholds. her own bright beams
Reflected from the mountain's side

And from the headlong streams.



THE WIDOW ON WINDERMERE
SIDE.



How beautiful when up a lofty height
Honour ascends among the humblest poor,
And feeling sinks as deep ! See there the

door

Of One, a Widow, left beneath a weight
Of blameless debt. On evil Fortune's spite
She wasted no complaint, but strove to

make

A just repayment, both for conscience-sake
And that herself and hers should stand

upright

In the world's eye. Her work when day-
light failed
Paused not, and through the depth of

night she kept

Such earnest vigils, that belief prevailed
With some, the noble Creature never slept ;
But, one by one, the hand of death assailed
Her children from her inmost heart bewept.



II.
The Mother mourned, nor ceased her tears

to flow
Till a winter's noon-day placed her buried

Son

Before her eyes, last child of many gone
His raiment of angelic white, and lo !
His very feet bright as the dazzling snow



MISCELLANEOUS POEMS.



569



Which they are touching ; yea, far brighter,

even
As that which comes, or seems to come,

from heaven,

Surpasses aught these elements can show.
Much she rejoiced, trusting that from that

hour

Whate'er befell she could not grieve or pine;
But the Transfigured, in and out of season,
Appeared, and spiritual presence gained a

power

Over material forms that mastered reason.
Oh, gracious Heaven, in pitymakeher thine!



But why that prayer? as if to her could

come

No good but by the way that leads to bliss
Through Death, so judging we should

judge amiss.
Since reason failed want is her threatened

doom,

Vet frequent transports mitigate the gloom :
Nor of those maniacs is she one that kiss
The air or laugh upon a precipice ;
No, passing through strange sufferings

toward the tomb,

She smiles as if a martyr's crown were won :
Oft, when light breaks through clouds or

waving trees,
With outspread arms and fallen upon her

knees

The Mother hails in her descending Son
An Angel, and in earthly ecstasies
Her own angelic glory seems begun.



FAREWELL LINES.

" HIGH bliss is only for a higher state,"
But, surely, if severe afflictions borne
With patience merit the reward of peace,
Peace ye deserve ; and may the solid good,
Sought by a wise though late exchange,

and here
With bounteous hand beneath a cottage-

roof

To you accorded, never be withdrawn,
Nor for the world's best promises re-
nounced.

Most soothing was it for a welcome Friend,
Fresh from the crowded city, to behold
That lonely union, privacy so deep,
Such calm employments, such entire con-
tent.



So when the rain is over, the storm laid,
A pair of herons oft-times have I seen.
Upon a rocky islet, side by side,
Drying their feathers in the sun, at ease ;
And so, when night with grateful gloom

had fallen,
Two glow-worms in such nearness that they

shared,

As seemed, their soft self-satisfying light,
Each with the other, on the dewy ground,
Where He that made them blesses their

repose.
When wandering among lakes and hills I

note,
Once more, those creatures thus by nature

paired,

And guarded in their tranquil state of life,
Even as your happy presence to my mind
Their union brought, will they repay thr

debt,

And send a thankful spirit back to you,
With hope that we, dear Friends ! shall

meet again.



GLAD sight wherever new with old

Is joined through some dear homeborn tie;

The life of all that we behold

Depends upon that mystery.

Vain is the glory of the sky,

The beauty vain of field and grove.

Unless, while with admiring eye

We gaze, we also learn to love.



LOVE LIES BLEEDING.

You call it " Love lies bleeding," so you

may,
Though the red Flower, not prostrate, only

droops,

As we have seen it here from day to day,
From month to month, life passing not

away :
A flower how rich in sadness ! Even thus

stoops,
(Sentient by Grecian sculpture's marvellous

power)
Thus leans, with hanging brow and body

bent

F.arth ward in uncomplaining languishment.
The dying Gladiator. So, sad Flower !
('Tis Fancy guides me willing to be led,
Though by a slender thread),
So drooped Adonis bathed in sanguine dew
Of his death wound, when he from inno-
cent air



570



MISCELLANEOUS POEMS.



The gentlest breath of resignation drew ;
While Venus in a passion of despair
Rent, weeping over him, her golden hair
Spangled with drops of that celestial shower.
She suffered, as Immortals sometimes do ;
But pangs more lasting far that Lover knew
Who first, weighed down by scorn, in some

lone bower

Did press this semblance of unpitied smart
Into the service of his constant heart,
His own dejection, downcast Flower ! could

share
With thine, and gave the mournful name

which thou wilt ever bear.



COMPANION TO THE FOREGOING.

NEVER enlivened with the liveliest ray
That fosters growth or checks or cheers

decay,
Nor by the heaviest rain-drops more

deprest,

This Flower, that first appeared as sum-
mer's guest,

Preserves her beauty mid autumnal leaves,
And to her mournful habits fondly cleaves.
A^hen files of stateliest plants have ceased

to bloom,

One after one submitting to their doom,
When her coevals each and all are fled,
IVhat keeps her thus reclined upon her
lonesome bed ?

The old mythologists, more impressed

than we

Of this late day by character in tree
Or herb, that claimed peculiar sympathy,
Or by the silent lapse of fountain clear,
Or with the language of the viewless air
By bird or beast made vocal, sought a cause
To solve the mystery, not in Nature's laws
But in man's fortunes. Hence a thousand

tales

Sung to the plaintive lyre in Grecian vales
Nor doubt that something of their spirit

swayed
The fancy-stricken Youth or heart-sick

Maid,
Who, while each stood companionless and

eyed

This undeparting Flower in crimson dyed,
Thought of a wound which death is slow

to cure,

A fate that has endured and will endure,
And, patience coveting yet passion feeding,
Called the dejected Lingerer, Love lies

bleeding.



AIREY-FORCE VALLEY.

NOT a breath of air

Ruffles the bosom of this leafy glen.
From the brook's margin, wide around, the

trees

Are steadfast as the rocks ; the brook itself,
Old as the hills that feed it from afar,
Doth rather deepen than disturb the calm
Where all things else are still and motion-
less.

And yet, even now, a little breeze, perchance
Escaped from boisterous winds that rage

without,

Has entered, by the sturdy oaks unfelt,
But to its gentle touch how sensitive
Is the light ash ! that, pendent from the

brow

Of yon dim cave, in seeming silence makes
A soft eye-music of slow-waving boughs,
Powerful almost as vocal harmony
To stay the wanderer's steps and soothe his
thoughts.



THE SIMPLON PASS.

BROOK and road

Were fellow-travellers in this gloomy Pass,
And with them did we journey several hours
At a slow step. The immeasurable height
Of woods decaying, never to be decayed,
The stationary blasts of waterfalls,
And in the narrow rent, at every turn,
Winds thwarting winds bewildered and

forlorn,
The torrents shooting from the clear blue

sky,

The rocks that muttered close upon ourears,
Black drizzling crags that spake by the way-
side

As if a voice were in them, the sick sight
And giddy prospect of the raving stream,
The unfettered clouds and region of the

heavens,
T".mult and peace, the darkness and the

light-
Were all like workings of one mind, the

features

Of the same face, blossoms upon one tree,
Characters of the great Apocalypse,
The types and symbols of Eternity ;
Of first, and last, and midst, and without

end.

'799-



MISCELLANEOUS POEMS.



571



THE LYRE.

LYRE ! though such power do in thy magic

live

As might from India's farthest plain
Recall the not unwilling Maid,
Assist me to detain
The lovely Fugitive :
Check with thy notes the impulse which,

betrayed

By her sweet farewell looks, I longed to aid.
Here let me gaze enrapt upon that eye,
The impregnable and awe-inspiring fort
Of contemplation, the calm port
By reason fenced from winds that sigh
Among the restless sails of vanity.
But if no wish be hers that we should part,
A humbler bliss would satisfy my heart.

Where all things are so fair,
Enough by her dear side to breathe the air

Of this Elysian weather ;
And, on or in, or near, the brook, espy
Shade upon the sunshine lying

Faint and somewhat pensively ;
And downward Image gaily vying

With its upright living tree
Mid silver clouds, and openings of blue sky,
As soft almost and deep as her cerulean
eye.

Nor less the joy with many a glance
Cast up the Stream or down at her be-
seeching,
To mark its eddying foam-balls prettily

distrest

By ever-changing shape and want of rest ;
Or watch, with mutual teaching,
The current as it plays
In flashing leaps and stealthy creeps
Adown a rocky maze ;
Or note (translucent summer's happiest

chance !)
In the slope-channel floored with pebbles

bright,

Stones of all hues, gem emulous of gem,
So vivid that they take from keenest sight
The liquid veil that seeks not to hide them.



THE TRIAD.

SHOW me the noblest Youth of present time,
Whose trembling fancy would to love give

birth ;
Some God or Hero, from the Olympian

clime

Returned, to seejc a Consort upon earth ;
Or, in no doubtful prospect, let me see



The brightest star of ages yet to be,
And I will mate and match him blissfully.

I will not fetch a Naiad from a flood
Pure as herself (song lacks not mightier

power)
Nor leaf-crowned Dryad from a pathless

wood,
Nor sea-nymph glistening from her coral

bower ;

Mere Mortals, bodied forth in vision still,
Shall with Mount Ida's triple lustre fill
The chaster coverts of a British hill.

" Appear ! obey my lyre's command !
Come, like the Graces, hand in hand !
For ye, though not by birth allied,
Are Sisters in the bond of love ;
Nor shall the tongue of envious pride
Presume those interweavings to reprove
In you, which that fair progeny of Jove,
Learned from the tuneful spheres that glide
In endless union, earth and sea above."
I sing in vain ; the pines have hushed

their wavings :

A peerless Youth expectant at my side,
Breathless as they, with unabated craving
Looks to the earth, and to the vacant air ;
And, with a wandering eye that seems to

chide,
Asks of the clouds what occupants they

hide :

But why solicit more than sight could bear,
By casting on a moment all we dare?
Invoke we those bright beings one by one ;
And what was boldly promised, truly shall

be done.

" Fear not a constraining measure !
Yielding to this gentle spell,
Lucida ! from domes of pleasure,
Or from cottage-sprinkled dell,
Come to regions solitary,
Where the eagle builds her aery,
Above the hermit's long-forsaken cell ! "
She comes ! behold
That Figure, like a ship with snow-whiE

sail!

Nearer she draws ; a breeze uplifts her veil.
Upon her coming wait
As pure a sunshine and as soft a gale
As e'er, on herbage covering earthy mold,
Tempted the bird of Juno to unfold
His richest splendour when his veering

gait

And every motion of his starry train
Seem governed by a strain
Of music, audible to him alone,



572



MISCELLANEOUS POEMS.



"O Lady, worthy of earth's proudest

throne !

Nor less, by excellence of nature, fit
Beside an unambitious hearth to sit
Domestic queen, where grandeur is un-
known ;

What living man could fear
The worst of Fortune's malice, wert Thou

near,

Humbling that lily-stem, thy sceptre meek,
That its fair flowers may from his cheek
Brush the too happy tear ?
Queen, and handmaid lowly !
Whose skill can speed the day with lively

cares,

And banish melancholy
By all that mind invents or hand prepares ;
O Thou, against whose lip, without its

smile

And in its silence even, no heart is proof ;
Whose goodness, sinking deep, would

reconcile

The softest Nursling of a gorgeous palace
To the bare life beneath the hawthorn-roof
Of Sherwood's Archer, or in caves of

Wallace
Who that hath seen thy beauty could

content
His soul with but a glimpse of heavenly

day?

Who that hath loved thee, but would lay
His strong hand on the wind, if it were bent
To take thee in thy majesty away ?
Pass onward (even the glancing deer
Till we depart intrude not here ;)
That mossy slope, o'er which the woodbine

throws
A canopy, is smoothed for thy repose ! "

Glad moment is it when the throng
Of warblers in full concert strong
Strive, and not vainly strive, to rout
The lagging shower, and force coy Phrebus

out,

Met by the rainbow's form divine,
Issuing from her cloudy shrine ;
So may the thrillings of the lyre
Prevail to further our desire,
While to these shades a sister Nymph I call.

" Come, if the notes thine ear may pierce,
Come, youngest of the lovely Three,
Submissive to the might of verse
And the dear voice of harmony,
By none more deeply felt than Thee ! "
I sang ; and lo I from pastimes virginal
She hastens to the tents
Of nature, and the lonely elements.



Air sparkles round her with a dazzling

sheen ;
But mark her glowing cheek, her vesture

green !

And, as if wishful to disarm
Or to repay the potent Charm,
She bears the stringed lute of old romance,
That cheered the trellised arbour's privacy,
And soothed war- wearied knights in raftered

hall.

How vivid, yet how delicate, her glee !
So tripped the Muse, inventress of the

dance ;
So, truant in waste woods, the blithe

Euphrosyne !

But the ringlets of that head

Why are they ungarlanded ?

Why bedeck her temples less

Than the simplest shepherdess?

Is it not a brow inviting

Choicest flowers that ever breathed,

Which the myrtle would delight in

With Idalian rose enwreathed ?

But her humility is well content

With one wild floweret (call it not forlorn)

FLOWER OF THE WINDS, beneath her

bosom worn
Yet more for love than ornament

Open, ye thickets ! let her fly.

Swift as a Thracian Nymph o'er field and

height !

For She, to all but those who love her, shy,
Would gladly vanish from a Stranger's

sight ;

Though where she is beloved and loves,
Light as the wheeling butterfly she moves ;
Her happy spirit as a bird is free.
That rifles blossoms on a tree,
Turning them inside out with arch audacity.
Alas ! how little can a moment show
Of an eye where feeling plays
In ten thousand dewy rays ;
A face o'er which a thousand shadows go ,
She stops is fastened to that rivulet's

side ;

And there (while, with sedater mien,
O'er timid waters that have scarcely left
Their birth-place in the rocky cleft
She bends) at leisure may be seen
Features to old ideal grace allied,
Amid their smiles and dimples dignified
Fit countenance for the soul of primal truth
The bland composure of eternal youth !

What more changeful than the sea f
But over his great tides



MISCELLANEOUS POEMS.



573



Fidelity presides ;

Ana this light-hearted Maiden constant is

as he.

High is her aim as heaven above,
And wide as ether her good will ;
And, like the lowly reed, her love
Can drink its nurture from the scantiest

rill:

Insight as keen as frosty star
Is to her charity no bar,
Nor interrupts her frolic graces
When she is, far from these wild places
Encircled by familiar faces.

O the charm that manners draw,

Nature, from thy genuine law !

If from what her hand would do,

Her voice would utter, aught ensue

Untoward or unfit ;

She, in benign affections pure,

In self-forgetfulness secure,

Sheds round the transient harm or vague

mischance

A light unknown to tutored elegance :
Hers is not a cheek shame-stricken,
But her blushes are joy-flushes ;
And the fault (if fault it be)
Only ministers to quicken
Laughter-loving gaiety,
And kindle sportive wit
Leaving this Daughter of the mountains

free

As if she knew that Oberon king of Faery
Had crossed her purpose with some quaint

vagary,

And heard his viewless bands
Over their mirthful triumph clapping hands.

" Last of the Three, though eldest born ,
Reveal thyself, like pensive Morn
Touched by the skylark's earliest note,
Ere humbler gladness be afloat.
But whether in the semblance drest
Of Dawn or Eve, fair vision of the west,
Come with each anxious hope subdued
By woman's gentle fortitude,
Each grief, through meekness, settling into

rest.

Or I would hail thee when some high-
wrought page

Of a closed volume lingering in thy hand
Has raised thy spirit to a peaceful stand
Among the glories of a happier age."

Her brow hath opened o n me see it there
Brightening the umbrage of her hair ;
So gleams the crescent moon, that loves
To be descried, through shady groves.



Tenderest bloom is on her cheek ;

Wish not for a richer streak ;

Nor dread the depth of meditative eye ;

But let thy love, upon that azure field

Of thoughtfulness and beauty, yield

Its homage offered up in purity.

What would'st thou more? In sunny glade,

Or under leaves of thickest shade,

Was such a stillness e'er diffused

Since earth grew calm while angels mused?

Softly she treads, as if her foot were loth

To crush the mountain dew-drops soon

to melt

On the flower's breast ; as if she felt
That flowers themselves, whate'er their

hue,

With all their fragrance, all their glistening,
Call to the heart for inward listening
And though for bridal wreaths and tokens

true

Welcomed wisely ; though a growth
Which the careless shepherd sleeps on
As fitly spring from turf the mourner weeps



Online LibraryWilliam WordsworthThe complete works of Wordsworth → online text (page 78 of 86)