Home  »  The Complete Poetical Works by William Wordsworth  »  ODE TO LYCORIS. MAY 1817


I AN age hath been when Earth was proud Of lustre too intense To be sustained; and Mortals bowed The front in self-defence. Who ‘then’, if Dian’s crescent gleamed, Or Cupid’s sparkling arrow streamed While on the wing the Urchin played, Could fearlessly approach the shade? –Enough for one soft vernal day, If I, a bard of ebbing time, And nurtured in a fickle clime, May haunt this horned bay; Whose amorous water multiplies The flitting halcyon’s vivid dyes; And smooths her liquid breast–to show These swan-like specks of mountain snow, White as the pair that slid along the plains Of heaven, when Venus held the reins! II In youth we love the darksome lawn Brushed by the owlet’s wing; Then, Twilight is preferred to Dawn, And Autumn to the Spring. Sad fancies do we then affect, In luxury of disrespect To our own prodigal excess Of too familiar happiness. Lycoris (if such name befit Thee, thee my life’s celestial sign!) When Nature marks the year’s decline, Be ours to welcome it; Pleased with the harvest hope that runs Before the path of milder suns; Pleased while the sylvan world displays Its ripeness to the feeding gaze; Pleased when the sullen winds resound the knell Of the resplendent miracle. III But something whispers to my heart That, as we downward tend, Lycoris! life requires an ‘art’ To which our souls must bend; A skill–to balance and supply; And, ere the flowing fount be dry, As soon it must, a sense to sip, Or drink, with no fastidious lip. Then welcome, above all, the Guest Whose smiles, diffused o’er land and sea, Seem to recall the Deity Of youth into the breast: May pensive Autumn ne’er present A claim to her disparagement! While blossoms and the budding spray Inspire us in our own decay; Still, as we nearer draw to life’s dark goal, Be hopeful Spring the favourite of the Soul!