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William Stanley Braithwaite, ed. The Book of Georgian Verse. 1909.

Influence of Natural Objects

William Wordsworth (1770–1850)

In Calling Forth and Strengthening the Imagination in Boyhood and Early Youth

WISDOM and Spirit of the Universe!

Thou Soul, that art the Eternity of thought!

And giv’st to forms and images a breath

And everlasting motion! not in vain,

By day or starlight, thus from my first dawn

Of childhood didst thou intertwine for me

The passions that build up our human soul;

Not with the mean and vulgar works of Man;

But with high objects, with enduring things,

With life and nature; purifying thus

The elements of feeling and of thought,

And sanctifying by such discipline

Both pain and fear,—until we recognise

A grandeur in the beatings of the heart.

Nor was this fellowship vouchsafed to me

With stinted kindness. In November days,

When vapours rolling down the valleys made

A lonely scene more lonesome; among woods

At noon; and mid the calm of summer nights,

When, by the margin of the trembling lake,

Beneath the gloomy hills, homeward I went

In solitude, such intercourse was mine:

Mine was it in the fields both day and night,

And by the waters, all the summer long.

And in the frosty season, when the sun

Was set, and, visible for many a mile,

The cottage-windows through the twilight blazed,

I heeded not the summons: happy time

It was indeed for all of us; for me

It was a time of rapture! Clear and loud

The village-clock tolled six—I wheeled about,

Proud and exulting like an untired horse

That cares not for his home.—All shod with steel

We hissed along the polished ice, in games

Confederate, imitative of the chase

And woodland pleasures,—the resounding horn,

The pack loud-chiming, and the hunted hare.

So through the darkness and the cold we flew,

And not a voice was idle: with the din

Smitten, the precipices rang aloud;

The leafless trees and every icy crag

Tinkled like iron; while far-distant hills

Into the tumult sent an alien sound

Of melancholy, not unnoticed while the stars

Eastward were sparkling clear, and in the west

The orange sky of evening died away.

Not seldom from the uproar I retired

Into a silent bay, or sportively

Glanced sideway, leaving the tumultuous throng,

To cut across the reflex of a star;

Image, that, flying still before me, gleamed

Upon the glassy plain: and oftentimes,

When we had given our bodies to the wind,

And all the shadowy banks on either side

Came sweeping through the darkness, spinning still

The rapid line of motion, then at once

Have I, reclining back upon my heels,

Stopped short; yet still the solitary cliffs

Wheeled by me—even as if the earth had rolled

With visible motion her diurnal round!

Behind me did they stretch in solemn train,

Feebler and feebler, and I stood and watched

Till all was tranquil as a summer sea.