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


William Wordsworth (1770–1850)

IF Nature, for a favourite child,

In thee hath tempered so her clay,

That every hour thy heart runs wild,

Yet never once doth go astray,

Read o’er these lines; and then review

This tablet, that thus humbly rears

In such diversity of hue

Its history of two hundred years.

—When through this little wreck of fame,

Cipher and syllable! thine eye

Has travelled down to Matthew’s name,

Pause with no common sympathy.

And, if a sleeping tear should wake,

Then be it neither checked nor stayed:

For Matthew a request I make

Which for himself he had not made.

Poor Matthew, all his frolics o’er,

Is silent as a standing pool:

Far from the chimney’s merry roar,

And murmur of the village school.

The sighs which Matthew heaved were sighs

Of one tired out with fun and madness;

The tears which came to Matthew’s eyes

The tears of light, the dew of gladness.

Yet, sometimes, when the secret cup

Of still and serious thought went round,

It seemed as if he drank it up—

He felt with spirit so profound.

—Thou soul of God’s best earthly mould!

Thou happy soul! and can it be

That these two words of glittering gold

Are all that must remain of thee?