Henry Wadsworth Longfellow, ed. Poems of Places: An Anthology in 31 Volumes.
England: Vols. I–IV. 1876–79.



By William Wordsworth (1770–1850)

From “The Prelude

IT was a dreary morning when the wheels

Rolled over a wide plain o’erhung with clouds,

And nothing cheered our way till first we saw

The long-roofed chapel of King’s College lift

Turrets and pinnacles in answering files,

Extended high above a dusky grove.

Advancing, we espied upon the road

A student clothed in gown and tasselled cap,

Striding along as if o’ertasked by Time,

Or covetous of exercise and air;

He passed,—nor was I master of my eyes

Till he was left an arrow’s flight behind.

As near and nearer to the spot we drew,

It seemed to suck us in with an eddy’s force.

Onward we drove beneath the castle; caught,

While crossing Magdalene Bridge, a glimpse of Cam;

And at the Hoop alighted, famous inn.


The Evangelist St. John my patron was:

Three Gothic courts are his, and in the first

Was my abiding-place, a nook obscure;

Right underneath, the college kitchens made

A humming sound less tunable than bees,

But hardly less industrious; with shrill notes

Of sharp command and scolding intermixed.

Near me hung Trinity’s loquacious clock,

Who never let the quarters, night or day,

Slip by him unproclaimed, and told the hours

Twice over with a male and female voice.

Her pealing organ was my neighbor too;

And from my pillow, looking forth by light

Of moon or favoring stars, I could behold

The antechapel where the statue stood

Of Newton, with his prism and silent face,

The marble index of a mind forever

Voyaging through strange seas of thought, alone.


All winter long, whenever free to choose,

Did I by night frequent the college groves

And tributary walks; the last, and oft

The only one, who had been lingering there

Through hours of silence, till the porter’s bell,

A punctual follower on the stroke of nine,

Rang, with its blunt, unceremonious voice,

Inexorable summons! Lofty elms,

Inviting shades of opportune recess,

Bestowed composure on a neighborhood

Unpeaceful in itself. A single tree,

With sinuous trunk, boughs exquisitely wreathed,

Grew there; an ash which winter for himself

Decked as in pride, and with outlandish grace:

Up from the ground, and almost to the top,

The trunk and every master branch were green

With clustering ivy, and the lightsome twigs

And outer spray profusely tipped with seeds

That hung in yellow tassels, while the air

Stirred them, not voiceless. Often have I stood

Foot-bound, uplooking at this lovely tree

Beneath a frosty moon. The hemisphere

Of magic fiction verse of mine perchance

May never tread; but scarcely Spenser’s self

Could have more tranquil visions in his youth,

Or could more bright appearance create

Of human forms with superhuman powers,

Than I beheld, loitering on calm, clear nights,

Alone, beneath this fairy work of earth.