William Wordsworth.

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Oft, through thy fair domains, illustrious Peer !
In youth I roamed, on youthful pleasures bent ;
And mused in rocky cell or sylvan tent,
Beside swift-flowing Lowther's current clear*
— Now, by thy care befriended, I appear
Before thee, Lonsdale, and this Work present,
A token (may it prove a monument !)
Of high respect and gratitude sincere.
Gladly would I have waited till my task
Had reached its close ; but Life is insecure,
And Hope full oft fallacious as a dream :
Therefore, for what is here produced I ask
Thy favour ; trusting that thou wilt not deem
The Offering, though imperfect, premature.

William Wordsworth.

Rydal Mount, Westmoreland,
Jvly 29. 1814.


Ihe Title-page announces that this is only a
Portion of a Poem ; and the Reader must be
here apprised that it belongs to the second part
of a long and laborious Work, which is to con-
sist of three parts. — The Author will candidly
acknowledge that, if the first of these had been
completed, and in such a manner as to satisfy
his own mind, he should have preferred the
natural order of publication, and have given
that to the World first; but, as the second
division of the Work was designed to refer
more to passing events, and to an existing state
of things, than the others were meant to do,
more continuous exertion was naturally be-
stowed upon it, and greater progress made here
than in the rest of the Poem ; and as this part
does not depend upon the preceding, to a
degree which will materially injure its own pe-


culiar interest, the Author, complying with the
earnest entreaties of some valued Friends, pre-
sents the following Pages to the Public.

It may be proper to state whence the Poem,
of which The Excursion is a part, derives its
Title of The Recluse. — Several years ago,
when the Author retired to his native Moun-
tains, with the hope of being enabled to con-
struct a literary Work that might live, it was a
reasonable thing that he should take a review of
his own Mind, and examine how far Nature
and Education had qualified him for such em-
ployment. As subsidiary to this preparation, he
undertook to record, in Verse, the origin and
progress of his own powers, as far as he was ac-
quainted with them. That Work, addressed to
a dear Friend, most dist'mguished for his know-
ledge and genius, and to whom the Author's
Intellect is deeply indebted, has been long
finished ; and the result of the investigation
which gave rise to it was a determination to
compose a philosophical Poem, containing views
of Man, Nature, and Society; and to be entitled,
The Recluse ; as having for its principal subject
the sensations and opinions of a Poet living in


retirement. — The preparatory Poem is biogra-
phical, and conducts the history of the Author's
mind to the point when he was emboldened to
hope that his faculties were sufficiently matured
for entering upon the arduous labour which he
had proposed to himself; and the two Works
have the same kind of relation to each other, if
he may so express himself, as the Anti-chapel
has to the body of a Gothic Church. Con-
tinuing this allusion, he may be permitted to add,
that his minor Pieces, which have been long be-
fore the Public, when they shall be properly
arranged, will be found by the attentive Reader
to have such connection with the main Work as
may give them claim to be likened to the little
Cells, Oratories, and sepulchral Recesses, or-
dinarily included in those Edifices.

The Author would not have deemed himself
justified in saying, upon this occasion, so much
of performances either unfinished, or unpub-
lished, if he had not thought that the labour
bestowed by him upon what he has heretofore
and now laid before the Public, entitled him to
candid attention for such a statement as he thinks
necessary to throw light upon his endeavours to


please, and he would hope, to benefit his coun-
trymen. — Nothing further need be added, than
that the first and third parts of the Recluse will
consist chiefly of meditations in the Author's
own Person ; and that in the intermediate part
(The Excursion) the intervention of Characters
speaking is employed, and something of a dra-
matic form adopted.

It is not the Author's intention formally to
announce a system : it was more animating to
him to proceed in a different course ; and if he
shall succeed in conveying to the mind clear
thoughts, lively images, and strong feelings, the
Reader will have no difficulty in extracting the
system for himself. And in the mean time the
following passage, taken from the conclusion of
the first book of the Recluse, maybe acceptable
as a kind of Prospectus of the design and scope
of the whole Poem.

" O71 Man^ on NaturCy and on Human Lif
Musing in Solitude^ I oft perceive
Fair trains of imagery before me rise.
Accompanied by feelings of delight
Pure^ or with no unpleasing sadness mixed ;


And I am conscious of affecting thoughts

And dear remembrances^ whose presence soothes

Or elevates the Mind^ intent to tveigh

The good and evil of our mortal state.

— To these emotions^ whencesoeer they come^

Whether from breath of outward circumstance^

Or from the Soul — a7i impulse to herself

I would give utterance in numerous Verse.

Of Truths of Grandeur J Beauty ^ Love^ and Hope —

And melancholy Fear subdued by Faith ;

Of blessed consolations in distress ;

Of moral strength^ and intellectual Power ;

Of joy in widest commonalty spread ;

Of the individu^tl Mind that keeps her own

Inviolate retirement^ subject there

To Conscience only^ and the law supreme

Of that Intelligence which governs all ;

I sing : — 'ft audience let me find though few /'

'' So prayed^ more gaining than he asked^ the Bard^
Holiest of Men. — Urania^ I shall need
Thy guidance^ or a greater Muse^ if such
Descend to earth or dwell in highest heaven !
For I must tread on shadowy ground, must sink
Deep — and, aloft ascending, breathe in worlds
To which the heaven of heavens is but a veil.
All strength — all terror, sitigle or in bands^

VOL. V. a


That ever was put forth in personal form ;

Jehovah - — with his thunder^ and the choir

Of shouting Angels^ and the empyreal thrones —

I pass them unalarmed. Not Chaos^ not

The darkest pit of lowest Erebus^

Nor aught of blinder vacancy — scooped out

By help of dreams^ can breed such fear and awe

As fall upon us often when we look

Into our Minds ^ into the Mind of Man^

My haunt^ and the main region of my Song.

— Beauty — a living Presence of the earthy
Surpassing the most fair ideal Forms
Which craft of delicate Spirits hath composed

From earth's materials — waits upon my steps ;
Pitches her tents before me as I move^
An hourly neighbour. Paradise^ and groves
Elysian^ Fortunate Fields — like those of old
Sought in the Atlantic Main^ why should they be
A history only of departed things^
Or a mere fiction of what never was ?
For the discerning intellect ofMan^
When wedded to this goodly universe
In love and holy passion^ shall find these
A simple produce of the common day.

— /, lo7ig before the blissful hour arrives^
Would chanty in lonely peace^ the spoiisal verse
Of this great consummation : — and^ by words


Which speak of nothing more than what we are^
Would I arouse the sensual from their sleep
Of Deaths and win- the vacant and the vain
To noble raptures ; while my voice proclaims
How exquisitely the individual Mind
[And the progressive powers perhaps no less
Of the whole species) to the external World
Is fitted : — and how exquisitely ^ too^
Theme this hut little heard of among Men^
The external World is fitted to the Mind ;
And the creation {by no lower name
Can it be called) which they with blended might
Accomplish : — this is our high argument.
— Such grateful haunts foregoing^ if I of t
Must turn elsewhere — to travel near the tribes
And fellowships of men^ and see ill sights
Of madding passions mutually inflamed ;
Must hear Humanity infields and groves
Pipe solitary anguish ; or must hang
Brooding above the fierce confederate storm
Of sorrow^ barricadoed evermore
Within the walls of Cities ; may these sounds
Have their authentic comment^ — that even these
Hearing^ I be not downcast or forlorn !
— Descend^ prophetic Spirit ! that inspirst
The human Soul of universal earthy
Dreaming on things to come ; and dost possess

a 2


A metropolitan Temple in the hearts
Of mighty Poets ; upon me bestow
A gift of genuine insight ; that my Song
With star-like virtue in its place may shine ;
Shedding benignant influence^ — and secure^
Itself from all malevolent effect
Of those mutations that extend their sway
Throughout the nether sphere ! — And if with this
I mix more lowly matter ; imth the thing
Contemplated^ describe the Mind of Man
Contemplating^ and who^ and what he was^
The transitory Being that beheld
This Vision^ — when andwhere^ and how he lived ; —
IBe not this labour useless. If such tJieme
May sort with highest objects^ tJieUy dread Poiver^
Whose gracious favour is the primal source
Of all illumination^ may 7ny Life
Express the image of a better time^
More wise desires^ and simpler manners ; — nurse
My Heart in genuine freedom : — all pure thoughts
Be with me ; — so shall thy unfailing love
Guidcy and supporty and cheer me to tJie end r



The Wanderer -.-*-.-., 3
The Solitary -* - ..-. .47

Despondency - - - -gt

Despondency corrected - - - - -131

The Pastor - - - - - - -189

The Church-yard among the Mountains. - - 233

(continued) - - • - 285

The Parsonage - - - - - - - 33 1

Discourse of the Wanderer . ^ - - 359

NOTES . - ^ 395






A summer forenoon — The Author reaches a ruined Cottage
upon a Common, and there meets with a revered Friend, the
Wanderer, of whom he gives an account — Tlie Wanderer while
resting under the shade of the Trees that surround the Cottage
relates the History of its last Inhabitants



1 WAS summer^ and the sun had mounted high :
Southward the landscape indistinctly glared
Through a pale steam ; but all the northern downSj
In clearest air ascending^ show'd far off
A surface dappled o'er with shadows flung
From brooding clouds ; shadows that lay in spots
Determined and unmoved^ with steady beams
Of bright and pleasant sunshine interposed;
Pleasant to him who on the soft cool moss
Extends his careless limbs along the front
Of some huge cave^ whose rocky ceiling casts
A twilight of its own^ an ample shade,
Wliere the wren warbles ; while the dreaming Man;
Half conscious of the soothing melody,
With side-long eye looks out upon the scene,

B 2


By power of that impending covert thrown
To finer distance. Other lot was mine ;
Yet with good hope that soon I should obtain
As grateful resting-place, and livelier joy.
Across a bare wide Common I was toiling
With languid stept that by the slippery ground
Were baffled ; nor could my weak arm disperse
The host of insects gathering round my face,
And ever with me as I paced along.

Upon that open level stood a Grove,
The wish'd-for port to which my course was bound.
Thither I came, and there, amid the gloom
Spread by a brotherhood of lofty elms.
Appeared a roofless Hut ; four naked walls
That stared upon each other ! I looked round,
And to my wish and to my hope espied
Him whom I sought ; a Man of reverend age,
But stout and hale, for travel unimpaired.
There was he seen upon the Cottage bench,
Recumbent in the shade, as if asleep ;
An iron-pointed staff lay at his side.

Him had I mark'd the day before — alone
And station'd in the public way, with face


Turn d tow'rd the sun then setting, while that staff
Afforded to the Figure of the Man
Detain d for contemplation or repose^
Graceful support ; his countenance meanwhile
Was hidden from my view^ and he remain'd
Unrecognized ; but, stricken by the sight.
With slacken d footsteps I advanced, and soon
A glad congratulation we exchanged
At such unthought-of meeting. — For the night
We parted, nothing willingly ; and now
He by appointment waited for me here,
Beneath the shelter of these clustering elms.

We were tried Friends : amid a pleasant vale,
In the antique market village where were pass'd
My school-days, an apartment he had own'd,
To which at intervals the Wanderer drew,
And found a kind of home or harbour there.
He loved me ; from a swarm of rosy Boys
Singled out me, as he in sport would say,
For my grave looks — too thoughtful for my years<
As I grew up, it was my best delight
To be his chosen Comrade. Many a time,
On holidays, we rambled through the woods :
We sate — we walk'd ; he pleased me with report

B 3


Of things which he had seen ; and often touched

Abstrusest matter, reasonings of the mind

Tm^n'd inward ; or at my request would sing

Old songs — the product of his native hills ;

A skilful distribution of sweet sounds,

Feeding the soul, and eagerly imbibed

As cool refreshing Water, by the care

Of the industrious husbandman, diffused

Through a parch'd meadow-ground, in time of drought.

Still deeper welcome found his pure discourse :

How precious when in riper days I learned

To weigh with care his words, and to rejoice

In the plain presence of his dignity !

Oh ! many are the Poets that are sown
By Nature ; Men endowd with highest gifts,
The vision and the faculty divine.
Yet wanting the accomplishment of Verse
(Which, in the docile season of their youth,
It was denied them to acquire, through lack
Of culture and the inspiring aid of books,
Or haply by a temper too severe.
Or a nice backwardness afraid of shame) ;
Nor having e'er, as life advanced, been led
By circumstance to take unto the height


The measure of themselves, these favour'd Beings,

All but a scattered few, live out their time.

Husbanding that which they possess within,

And go to the grave, unthought of Strongest minds

Are often those of whom the noisy world

Hears least ; else surely this Man had not left

His graces unreveal'd and unproclaim'd.

But, as the mind was fill'd with inward light,

So not without distinction had he lived,

Beloved and honoured — far as he was known.

And some small portion of his eloquent speech.

And something that may serve to set in view

The feeling pleasures of his loneliness.

His observations, and the thoughts his mind

Had dealt with — I will here record in verse ;

Which, if with truth it correspond, and sink

Or rise, as venerable Nature leads,

The high and tender Muses shall accept

With gracious smile, deliberately pleased.

And listening Time reward with sacred praise.

Amonsr the hills of Athol he was born :
Where, on a small hereditary Farm,
An unproductive slip of rugged ground,
His Parents, with their numerous Offspring, dwelt ;

B 4


A virtuous Household, though exceeding poor !
Pure Livers were they all, austere and grave,
And fearing God ; the very Children taught
Stern self-respect, a reverence for God's word,
And an habitual piety, maintained
With strictness scarcely known on English gi^ound,

From his sixth year, the Boy of whom I speak,
In summer, tended cattle on the Hills ;
But, through the inclement and the perilous days
Of long-continuing winter, he repaired,
Equipp'd with satchel, to a School, that stood
Sole Building on a mountain's dreary edge.
Remote from view of City spire, or sound
Of Minster clock ! From that bleak Tenement
He, many an evening, to his distant home
In solitude returning, saw the Hills
Grow larger in the darkness, all alone
Beheld the stars come out above his head,
And traveird through the wood, with no one near
To whom he might confess the things he saw.
So the foundations of his mind were laid.
In such communion, not from terror free.
While yet a Child, and long before his time,
He had perceived the presence and the power


Of greatness ; and deep feelings had impress'd
Great objects on his mind, with portraiture
And colour so distinct, that on his mind
They lay Hke substances, and almost seem'd
To haunt the bodily sense. He had received
A precious gift ; for, as he grew in years,
With these impressions would he still compare
All his remembrances, thoughts, shapes, and forms ;
And, being still unsatisfied with aught
Of dimmer character, he thence attained
An active power to fasten images
Upon his brain ; and on their pictured lines
Intensely brooded, even till they acquired
The liveliness of dreams. Nor did he fail,
While yet a Child, with a Child's eagerness
Incessantly to turn his ear and eye
On all things which the moving seasons brought
To feed such appetite : nor this alone
Appeased his yearning: — in the after day
Of Boyhood, many an hour in caves forlorn,
And 'mid the hollow depths of naked crags
He sate, and even in their fix'd lineaments,
Or from the power of a peculiar eye.
Or by creative feeling overborne.
Or by predominance of thought oppressed,

B 5


Even in their fix'd and steady lineaments
He traced an ebbing and a flowing mind^
Expression ever varying!

Thus informed,
He had small need of books ; for many a Tale
Traditionary^ round the mountains hung.
And many a Legend^ peopling the dark woods.
Nourished Imagination in her growth.
And gave the Mind that apprehensive power
By which she is made quick to recognize
The moral properties and scope of things.
But eagerly he read, and read again,
Whate'er the Minister's old Shelf supplied ;
The Hfe and death of Martyrs, who sustain'd.
With will inflexible, those fearful pangs
Triumphantly displayed in records left
Of Persecution, and the Covenant — Times
Whose echo rings through Scotland to this hour !
And there, by lucky hap, had been preserved
A straggling volume, torn and incomplete,
That left half-told the preternatural tale,
Romance of Giants, chronicle of Fiends,
Profuse in garniture of wooden cuts
Strange and uncouth ; dire faces, figures dire,
Sharp-knee'd, sharp-elbowed, and lean-ankled too,


With long and ghostly shanks — forms which once seen
Could never be forgotten !

In his heartj
Where Fear sate thus, a cherish'd visitant,
Was wanting yet the pure delight of love
By sound diffused, or by the breathing air,
Or by the silent looks of happy things.
Or flowing from the universal face
Of earth and sky. But he had felt the power
Of Nature, and already was prepared.
By his intense conceptions, to receive
Deeply the lesson deep of love which he,
Wliom Nature, by whatever means, has taught
To feel intensely, cannot but receive.

Such was the Boy — but for the growing Youth
Wliat soul was his, when, from the naked top
Of some bold headland, he beheld the sun
Rise up, and bathe the world in light ! He looked —
Ocean and earth, the solid frame of earth
And ocean's liquid mass, beneath him lay
In gladness and deep joy. The clouds were touch'd,
And in their silent faces did he read
Unutterable love. Sound needed none,
Nor any voice of joy ; his spirit drank

B 6


The spectacle : sensation, soul, and form
All melted into him ; they swallow'd up
His animal being ; in them did he live,
And by them did he live ; they were his life.
In such access of mind, in such high hour
Of visitation from the living God,
Thought was not; in enjoyment it expired.
No thanks he breathed, he proffered no request ;
Rapt into still communion that transcends
The imperfect offices of prayer and praise,
His mind was a thanksgiving to the power
That made him ; it was blessedness and love !

" A Herdsman on the lonely mountain tops.
Such intercourse was his, and in this sort
Was his existence oftentimes possessed.
O then how beautiful, how bright appear'd
The written Promise ! Early had he learn'd
To reverence the Volume that displays
The mystery, the life which cannot die ;
But in the mountains did he feel his faith.
Responsive to the writing, all things there
Breathed immortality, revolving life.
And greatness still revolving ; infinite ;
There littleness was not ; the least of things



Seem'd infinite ; and there his spirit shaped

Her prospects, nor did he beUeve, — he saw.

What wonder if his being thus became

Subhme and comprehensive ! Low desires,

Low thoughts had there no place; yet was his heart

Lowly; for he was meek'in gratitude.

Oft as he call'd those ecstacies to mind,

And whence they flow'd ; and from them he acquired

Wisdom, which works thro' patience ; thence he learn d

In oft-recurring hours of sober thought

To look on Nature with a humble heart,

Self-question'd where it did not understand.

And with a superstitious eye of love.

So pass'd the time ; yet to the nearest town
He duly went with what small overplus
His earnings might supply, and brought away
The Book that most had tempted his desires
While at the Stall he read. Among the hills
He gazed upon that mighty Orb of Song
The divine Milton. Lore of different kind.
The annual savings of a toilsome life.
His School-master supplied ; books that explain
The purer elements of truth involved


In lines and numbers, and, by charm severe,

(Especially perceived where Nature droops

And feeling is suppressed) preserve the mind

Busy in solitude and poverty.

These occupations oftentimes deceived

The listless hours, while in the hollow vale.

Hollow and green, he lay on the green turf

In pensive idleness. What could he do.

Thus daily thirsting, in that lonesome life,

With blind endeavours ? Yet, still uppermost,

Nature was at his heart as if he felt.

Though yet he knew not how, a wasting power

In all things that from her sweet influence

Might tend to wean him. Therefore with her hues,

Her forms, and with the spirit of her forms.

He clothed the nakedness of austere truth.

While yet he lingered in the rudiments

Of science, and among her simplest laws.

His triangles — they were the stars of heaven.

The silent stars ! Oft did he take delight

To measure th' altitude of some tall crag;

That is the eagle's birth-place, or some peak

Familiar with forgotten years, that shows

Inscribed, as with the silence of the thought,


Upon its bleak and visionary sides.
The history of many a winter storm,
Or obscure records of the path of fire.

And thus, before his eighteenth year was told,
Accumulated feelings press'd his heart
With still increasing weight ; he was o'erpower'd
By Nature, by the turbulence subdued
Of his own mind ; by mystery and hope,
And the first virgin passion of a soul

Communing with the glorious Universe.

Full often wished he that the winds might rage

When they were silent ; far more fondly now

Than in his earlier season did he love

Tempestuous nights — the conflict and the sounds

That live in darkness : « — from his intellect

And from the stillness of abstracted thought

He ask'd repose ; and, failing oft to win

The peace required, he scann'd the laws of light

Amid the roar of torrents, where they send

From hollow clefts up to the clearer air

A cloud of mist, that smitten by the sun

Varies its rainbow hues. But vainly thus,

And vainly by all other means, he strove

To mitigate the fever of his heart.


In dreams, in study, and in ardent thought,
Thus was he reared ; much wanting to assist
The growth of intellect, yet gaining more.
And every moral feeling of his soul
Strengthen d and braced, by breathing in content

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