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The fairy isles fled far away; That with its woods and uplands green, Where shepherd-huts are dimly seen, And songs are heard at close of day; That, too, the deer's wild covert fled, And that, the asylum of the dead: While, as the boat went merrily, Much of Rob § the boatman told; His arm that fell below his knee, His cattle ford and mountain hold. Tarbat, thy shore I climbed at last; And, thy shady region passed, Upon another shore I stood, And looked upon another flood;’ Great Ocean's self! ('Tis he who fills That vast and awful depth of hills); Where many an elf was playing round, Who treads unshod his classic ground; And speaks, his native rocks among, As Fingal spoke, and Ossian sung. Night fell, and dark and darker grew That narrow sea, that narrow sky, As o'er the glimmering waves we flew, The sea-bird rustling, wailing by. And now the grampus, half-descried, Black and huge above the tide; The cliffs and promontories there, Front to front, and broad and bare; Each beyond each, with giant feet Advancing as in haste to meet; The shattered fortress, whence the Dane Blew his shrill blast, nor rushed in vain, Tyrant of the drear domain; All into midnight shadow sweep, | When day springs upward from the deep ! | Kindling the waters in its flight, The prow wakes splendour, and the oar, That rose and fell unseen before, Flashes in a sea of light; Glad sign and sure, for now we hail Thy flowers, Glenfinnart, in the gale; And bright indeed the path should be, That leads to Friendship and to Thee! Oh blest retreat, and sacred too ! Sacred as when the bell of prayer Tolled duly on the desert air, And crosses decked thy summits blue. | Oft like some loved romantic tale, Oft shall my weary mind recall, Amid the hum and stir of men, Thy beechen grove and waterfall, Thy ferry with its gliding sail, And her—the Lady of the Glen I
They stand between the mountains and the sea;" Awful memorials, but of whom we know not.
| The seaman ing, gazes from the deck,
| The buffalo-driver, in his shaggy cloak,
| Points to the work of magic, and moves on.
| Time was they stood along the crowded street, Temples of gods, and on their ample steps What various habits, various tongues beset
| The brazen gates for prayer and sacrifice
| Time was perhaps the third was sought for justice;
And here the accuser stood, and there the accused, And here the judges sat, and heard, and judged.
* Signifying in the Gaelic language an isthmus.
* Loch Long.
3 The temples of Pastum are three in number, and have survived, nearly nine centuries, the total destruction of the city. Tradition is silent concerning them, but they must have
existed now between two and three thousand years.
All silent now, as in the ages past,
Mine be a cot beside the hill;
The swallow oft beneath my thatch Shall twitter from her clay-built nest; Oft shall the pilgrim lift the latch, And share my meal, a welcome guest.
Around my ivied porch shall spring
The village church, among the trees, Where first our marriage vows were given, With merry peals shall swell the breeze, And point with taper spire to heaven.
On a Tear.
Oh that the chemist's magic art
The little brilliant, ere it fell,
Benign restorer of the soul!
The sage's and the poet's theme,
That very law which moulds a tear, And bids it trickle from its source, That law preserves the earth a sphere, And guides the planets in their course.
WILLIAM Wordsworth, the greatest of metaphysical poets, is a native of Cockermouth, in the county of Cumberland, where he was born on the 7th of April 1770. His parents were enabled to bestow upon their children the advantages of a complete education (his father was law-agent to Lord Lonsdale), and the poet and his brother (now Dr Christopher Wordsworth, long master of Trinity college), after being some years at Hawkesworth school, in Lancashire, were sent to the university of Cambridge. William was entered of St John's in 1787. Poetry has been with him the early and almost the sole business of his life. Having finished his academical course, and taken his degree, he travelled for a short time; and marrying an amiable lady, his cousin, settled down among the lakes and mountains of Westmoreland. A gentleman dying in his neighbourhood left him a handsome legacy; other bequests followed; and about 1814, the patronage of the noble family of Lowther procured for the poet the easy and lucrative situation of Distributor of Stamps, which left the greater part of his time at his own disposal. In 1842 he resigned this situation in favour of his son, and government re
Wordsworth, and designed by him as an experiment how far a simpler kind of poetry than that in use would afford permanent interest to readers. The humblest subjects, he contended, were fit for poetry, and the language should be that “really used by men.” The fine fabric of poetic diction which generations of the tuneful tribe had been laboriously rearing, he proposed to destroy altogether. The language of humble and rustic life, arising out of repeated experience and regular feelings, he considered to be a more permanent and far more philosophical language than that which is frequently substituted for it by poets. The attempt of Words| worth was either totally neglected or assailed with
ridicule. The transition from the refined and sen| timental school of verse, with select and polished
wish to conciliate. The poems, however, were read by some. Two more volumes were added in 1807; and it was seen that, whatever might be the theory of the poet, he possessed a vein of pure and exalted description and meditation which it was impossible not to feel and admire. The influence of nature upon man was his favourite theme; and though sometimes unintelligible from his idealism, he was also, on other occasions, just and profound. His worship of nature was ennobling and impressive. In | real simplicity, however, Wordsworth is inferior to Cowper, Goldsmith, and many others. He has triumphed as a poet, in spite of his own theory. As the circle of his admirers was gradually extending, he continued to supply it with fresh materials of a | higher order. In 1814 appeared The Ercursion, a philosophical poem in blank verse, by far the noblest production of the author, and containing passages of sentiment, description, and pure eloquence, not excelled by any living while its spirit of enlightened humanity and Christian benevolence—extending over all ranks of sentient and animated
being—imparts to the poem a peculiarly sacred and
elevated character. The influence of Wordsworth on the poetry of his age has thus been as beneficial as extensive. He has turned the public taste from pompous inanity to the study of man and nature;
he has banished the false and exaggerated style of character and emotion which even the genius of
Byron stooped to imitate; and he has enlisted the sensibilities and sympathies of his intellectual brethren in favour of the most expansive and kindly philanthropy. The pleasures and graces of his muse are all simple, pure, and lasting. In working out the plan of his “Excursion, the poet has not, however, escaped from the errors of his early poems. The incongruity or want of keeping in most of Wordsworth's productions is observable in this work. The principal character is a poor Scotch pedlar, who traverses the mountains company with the poet, and is made to discourse, with clerklike fluency,
Of truth, of grandeur, beauty, love, and hope.
It is thus that the poet violates the conventional rules of poetry and the realities of life; for surely it 323
world, or completed by the poet, is uncertain.
is inconsistent with truth and probability, that a profound moralist and dialectician should be found in such a situation. In his travels with the ‘Wanderer,' the poet is introduced to a “Solitary,' who lives secluded from the world, after a life of busy adventures and high hope, ending in disappointment and disgust. They all proceed to the house of the pastor, who (in the style of Crabbe's Parish Register) recounts some of the deaths and mutations that had taken place in his sequestered valley; and with a description of a visit made by the three to a neigh: bouring lake, the poem concludes. The “Excursion' is an unfinished work, part of a larger poem, The Recluse, “having for its principal object the sensations and opinions of a poet living in retirement. Whether the remainder of the work will ever be given to4.
le want of incident would, we fear, be fatal to its success. The narrative part of the “Excursion' is a mere framework, rude and unskilful, for a series of pictures of mountain scenery and philosophical dissertations, tending to show how the external world is adapted to the mind of man, and good educed out of evil and suffering—
So fails, so languishes, grows dim, and dies,
The picturesque parts of the ‘Excursion' are full of a
quiet and tender beauty characteristic of the author. We subjoin two passages, the first descriptive of a peasant youth, the hero of his native vale:–
The mountain ash No eye can overlook, when 'mid a grove Of yet unfaded trees she lifts her head Decked with autumnal berries, that outshine Spring's richest blossoms; and ye may have marked By a brook side or solitary tarn, How she her station doth adorn. The pool Glows at her feet, and all the gloomy rocks Are brightened round her. In his native vale, Such and so glorious did this youth appear; A sight that kindled pleasure in all hearts By his ingenuous beauty, by the gleam Of his fair eyes, by his capacious brow, By all the graces with which nature's hand Had lavishly arrayed him. As old bards Tell in their idle songs of wandering gods, Pan or Apollo, veiled in human form; Yet, like the sweet-breathed violet of the shade, Discovered in their own despite to sense Of mortals (if such fables without blame May find chance mention on this sacred ground), So, through a simple rustic garb's disguise, And through the impediment of rural cares, In him revealed a scholar's genius shone; And so, not wholly hidden from men's sight, In him the spirit of a hero walked Our unpretending valley. How the quoit Whizzed from the stripling's arm! If touched by him, The inglorious football mounted to the pitch Of the lark's flight, or shaped a rainbow curve Aloft in prospect of the shouting field ! The indefatigable fox had learned To dread his perseverance in the chase. With admiration would he lift his eyes To the wide-ruling eagle, and his hand Was loath to assault the majesty he loved, Else had the strongest fastnesses proved weak To guard the royal brood. The sailing glede, The wheeling swallow, and the darting snipe, The sporting sea-gull dancing with the waves, And cautious waterfowl from distant climes, Fixed at their seat, the centre of the mere, Were subject to young Oswald's steady aim.
The peasant youth, with others in the vale, roused by the cry to arms, studies the rudiments of war, but dies suddenly:—
To him, thus snatched away, his comrade paid
A description of deafness in a peasant would seem to be a subject hardly susceptible of poetical ornament; yet, by contrasting it with the surrounding objects—the pleasant sounds and stir of nature— and by his vein of pensive and graceful reflection, Wordsworth has made this one of his finest pictures:— | 324
Almost at the root | Of that tall pine, the shadow of whose bare | And slenderstem, while here I sit at eve, Oft stretches towards me, like a strong straight path | Traced faintly in the greensward, there, beneath A plain blue stone, a gentle dalesman lies, From whom in early childhood was withdrawn The precious gift of hearing. He grew up | From year to year in loneliness of soul; And this deep mountain valley was to him | Soundless, with all its streams. The bird of dawn Did never rouse this cottager from sleep | With startling summons; not for his delight | The vernal cuckoo shouted; not for him | Murmured the labouring bee. When stormy winds | Were working the broad bosom of the lake Into a thousand thousand sparkling waves, Rocking the trees, or driving cloud on cloud Along the sharp edge of yon lofty crags, | The agitated scene before his eye Was silent as a picture: evermore Were all things silent, wheresoe'er he moved. | Yet, by the solace of his own pure thoughts | Upheld, he duteously pursued the round Of rural labours; the steep mountain side Ascended with his staff and faithful dog; The plough he guided, and the scythe he swayed; | And the ripe corn before his sickle fell Among the jocund reapers. Book VII.
The subsequent works of the poet are numerous— The White Doe of Rylstone, a romantic narrative poem, yet coloured with his peculiar genius; Sonnets on the River Duddon; The Waggoner; Peter Bell; Ecclesiastical Sketches; Yarrow Revisited, &c. Having made repeated tours in Scotland and on the continent, the poet diversified his subjects with descriptions of particular scenes, local manners, legends, and associations. The whole of his works have been arranged by their author according to their respective subjects; as Poems referring to the Period of Childhood; Poems founded on the Affections; Poems of the Fancy; Poems of the Imagination, &c. This classification is often arbitrary and capricious; but it is one of the conceits of Wordsworth, that his poems should be read in a certain continuous order, to give full effect to his system. Thus classified and published, the poet's works form six volumes. | A seventh has lately (1842) been added, consisting of poems written very early and very late in life (as is stated), and a tragedy which had long lain past the author. The latter is not happy, for Wordsworth has less dramatic power than any other living | poet. In the drama, however, both Scott and Byron failed; and Coleridge, with his fine imagination and pietorial expression, was only a shade more successful. The fame of Wordsworth is daily extending. The few ridiculous or puerile pieces which excited so much sarcasm, parody, and derision, have been quietly forgotten, or are considered as mere idiosynerasies of the poet that provoke a smile, while his higher attributes command admiration, and have
secured a new generation of readers. A tribe of wor- || shippers, in the young poets of the day, have arisen to
do him homage, and in some instances have carried the feeling to a sectarian and bigotted excess. Many of his former depreciators have also joined the ranks of his admirers—partly because in his late works he has done himself more justice both in his style and subjects. He is too intellectual, and too little sensuous, to use the phrase of Milton, ever to become generally popular, unless in some of his smaller pieces. His peculiar sensibilities cannot be relished by all. His poetry, however, is of various kinds. Forgetting his own theory as to the proper subjects of poetry, he has ventured on the loftiest themes, and in calm sustained elevation of thought, appropriate imagery, and intense feeling, he often reminds the reader of the sublime strains of Milton. His Laodamia, the Wernal Ode, the Ode to Lycoris and Dion, are pure and richly classic poems in conception and diction. Many of his sonnets have also a chaste and noble simplicity. In these short compositions, his elevation and power as a poet are perhaps more remarkably displayed than in any of his other productions. They possess a winning sweetness or simple grandeur, without the most distant approach to antithesis or straining for effect; while that tendency to prolixity and diffuseness which characterise his longer poems, is repressed by the necessity for brief and rapid thought and concise expression, imposed by the nature of the sonnet. It is no exaggeration to say that Milton alone has surpassed—if even he has surpassed—some of the noble sonnets of Wordsworth dedicated to liberty and inspired by patriotism.
Sonnets. London, 1802.
Milton I thou shouldst be living at this hour;
The lowliest duties on herself didst lay.
The World is Too Much with Us.
The world is too much with us; late and soon,
Composed upon Westmi Bridge, September 3, 1803. Earth has not anything to show more fair: Dull would he be of soul who could pass by A sight so touching in its majesty: This city now doth like a garment wear
The beauty of the morning; silent, bare,