Home  »  The Complete Poetical Works by William Wordsworth  »  UPON SEEING A COLOURED DRAWING OF THE BIRD OF PARADISE IN AN ALBUM


WHO rashly strove thy Image to portray? Thou buoyant minion of the tropic air; How could he think of the live creature–gay With a divinity of colours, drest In all her brightness, from the dancing crest Far as the last gleam of the filmy train Extended and extending to sustain The motions that it graces–and forbear To drop his pencil! Flowers of every clime Depicted on these pages smile at time; 10 And gorgeous insects copied with nice care Are here, and likenesses of many a shell Tossed ashore by restless waves, Or in the diver’s grasp fetched up from caves Where sea-nymphs might be proud to dwell: But whose rash hand (again I ask) could dare, ‘Mid casual tokens and promiscuous shows, To circumscribe this Shape in fixed repose; Could imitate for indolent survey, Perhaps for touch profane, 20 Plumes that might catch, but cannot keep, a stain; And, with cloud-streaks lightest and loftiest, share The sun’s first greeting, his last farewell ray! Resplendent Wanderer! followed with glad eyes Where’er her course; mysterious Bird! To whom, by wondering Fancy stirred, Eastern Islanders have given A holy name–the Bird of Heaven! And even a title higher still, The Bird of God! whose blessed will 30 She seems performing as she flies Over the earth and through the skies In never-wearied search of Paradise– Region that crowns her beauty with the name She bears for ‘us’–for us how blest, How happy at all seasons, could like aim Uphold our Spirits urged to kindred flight On wings that fear no glance of God’s pure sight, No tempest from his breath, their promised rest Seeking with indefatigable quest 40 Above a world that deems itself most wise When most enslaved by gross realities! 1835.