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



By William Wordsworth (1770–1850)

Left upon a Seat in a Yew-Tree, Which Stands near the Lake of Esthwaite, on a Desolate Part of the Shore, Commanding a Beautiful Prospect

NAY, traveller! rest. This lonely yew-tree stands

Far from all human dwelling: what if here

No sparkling rivulet spread the verdant herb?

What if the bee love not these barren boughs?

Yet, if the wind breathe soft, the curling waves,

That break against the shore, shall lull thy mind

By one soft impulse saved from vacancy.
Who he was

That piled these stones and with the mossy sod

First covered o’er, and taught this aged tree

With its dark arms to form a circling bower,

I well remember. He was one who owned

No common soul. In youth by science nursed,

And led by nature into a wild scene

Of lofty hopes, he to the world went forth

A favored being, knowing no desire

Which genius did not hallow; ’gainst the taint

Of dissolute tongues, and jealousy, and hate,

And scorn,—against all enemies prepared,

All but neglect. The world, for so it thought,

Owed him no service; wherefore he at once

With indignation turned himself away,

And with the food of pride sustained his soul

In solitude. Stranger! these gloomy boughs

Had charms for him; and here he loved to sit,

His only visitants a straggling sheep,

The stone-chat, or the glancing sand-piper;

And on these barren rocks, with fern and heath

And juniper and thistle sprinkled o’er,

Fixing his downcast eye, he many an hour

A morbid pleasure nourished, tracing here

An emblem of his own unfruitful life;

And, lifting up his head, he then would gaze

On the more distant scene,—how lovely ’t is

Thou seest!—and he would gaze till it became

Far lovelier, and his heart could not sustain

The beauty, still more beauteous! Nor, that time

When Nature had subdued him to herself,

Would he forget those beings to whose minds,

Warm from the labors of benevolence,

The world and human life appeared a scene

Of kindred loveliness; then he would sigh,

With mournful joy, to think that others felt

What he must never feel; and so, lost man!

On visionary views would fancy feed,

Till his eye streamed with tears. In this deep vale

He died,—this seat his only monument.

If thou be one whose heart the holy forms

Of young imagination have kept pure,

Stranger! henceforth be warned; and know that pride,

Howe’er disguised in its own majesty,

Is littleness, that he who feels contempt

For any living thing hath faculties

Which he has never used, that thought with him

Is in its infancy. The man whose eye

Is ever on himself doth look on one

The least of nature’s works,—one who might move

The wise man to that scorn which wisdom holds

Unlawful, ever. O, be wiser, thou!

Instructed that true knowledge leads to love;

True dignity abides with him alone

Who, in the silent hour of inward thought,

Can still suspect, and still revere himself,

In lowliness of heart.