Obrazy na stronie
PDF

Ships, towers, domes, theatres, and temples lie
Open unto the fields and to the sky,
All bright and glittering in the smokeless air.
Never did sun more beautifully steep,
In his first splendour, valley, rock, or hill;
Ne'er saw I, never felt, a calm so deep !
The river glideth at his own sweet will:
Dear God! the very houses seem asleep;
And all that mighty heart is lying still !

On King's College Chapel, Cambridge.

Tax not the royal saint with vain expense,
With ill-matched aims the architect who planned,
Albeit labouring for a scanty band
Of white-robed scholars only, this immense
And glorious work of fine intelligence 1
Give all thou canst; high Heaven rejects the lore
Of nicely calculated less or more;
So deemed the man who fashioned for the sense
These lofty pillars, spread that branching roof
Self-poised, and scooped into ten thousand cells,
Where light and shade repose, where music dwells
Lingering—and wandering on, as loath to die;
Like thoughts whose very sweetness yieldeth proof
That they were born for immortality.

His Intimations of Immortality, and Lines on Tintern Abbey, are the finest examples of his rapt imaginative style, blending metaphysical truth with diffuse gorgeous description and metaphor. His simpler effusions are pathetic and tender. #. little strong passion; but in one piece, Wau ur and Julia, he has painted the passion of love with more warmth than might be anticipated from his abstract idealism—

His present mind Was under fascination; he beheld A vision, and adored the thing he saw. Arabian fiction never filled the world With half the wonders that were wrought for him. Earth breathed in one great presence of the spring; Life turned the meanest of her implements Before his eyes, to price above all gold; The house she dwelt in was a sainted shrine; Her chamber window did surpass in glory The portals of the dawn; all paradise Could, by the simple opening of a door, Let itself in upon him; pathways, walks, Swarmed with enchantment, till his spirit sank, Surcharged within him—overblest to move Beneath a sun that wakes a weary world To its dull round of ordinary cares; A man too happy for mortality

The lovers parted under circumstances of danger, but had a stolen interview at night—

Through all her courts The vacant city slept; the busy winds, That keep no certain intervals of rest, Moved not; meanwhile the galaxy displayed Her fires, that like mysterious pulses beat Aloft—momentous but uneasy bliss To their full hearts the universe seemed hung On that brief meeting's slender filament!

This is of the style of Ford or Massinger. Living mostly apart from the world, and nursing with solitary complacency his poetical system, and all that could bear upon his works and pursuits as a poet, Wordsworth fell into those errors of taste and that want of discrimination to which we have already alluded. His most puerile ballads and attempts at humour are apparently as much prized by him, and classed with the same nicety and care, as the most majestic of his conceptions, or the most natural and beautiful of his descriptions. The art of condensation is also rarely practised by him. But if the

poet's retirement or peculiar disposition has been a

cause of his weakness, it has also been one of the sources of his strength. It left him untouched by the artificial or mechanical tastes of his age; it gave an originality to his conceptions and to the whole colour of his thoughts; and it completely imbued him with that purer antique life and knowledge of the phenomena of nature—the sky, lakes, and moun: tains of his native district, in all their tints and forms—which he has depicted with such power and enthusiasm. A less complacent poet would have been chilled by the long neglect and ridicule he experienced. His spirit was self-supported, and his genius, at once observant and meditative, was left to shape out its own creations, and extend its sympathies to that world which lay beyond his happy || mountain solitude.

[merged small][ocr errors][merged small][merged small][merged small]

She was a phantom of delight
When first she gleamed upon my sight;
A lovely apparition, sent
To be a moment's ornament;
Her eyes as stars of twilight fair;
Like twilight's, too, her dusky hair;
But all things else about her drawn
From May-time and the cheerful dawn; |
A dancing shape, an image gay,
To haunt, to startle, and waylay. -
I saw her upon nearer view,
A spirit, yet a woman too!
Her household motions light and free,
And steps of virgin liberty;
A countenance in which did meet
Sweet records, promises as sweet;
A creature not too bright or good
For human nature's daily food;
For transient sorrows, simple wiles, -
Praise, blame, love, kisses, tears, and smiles.

And now I see with eye serene
The very pulse of the machine; -
A being breathing thoughtful breath,
A traveller betwixt life and death; |
The reason firm, the temperate will,
Endurance, foresight, strength, and skill,
A perfect woman, nobly planned,
To warn, to comfort, and command;
And yet a spirit still, and bright
With something of an angel light.

[Lines Composed a few miles above Tintern Abbey, on Revisiting the Banks of the Wye.]

Tintern Abbey. Five years have passed; five summers, with the length Of five long winters; and again I hear These waters, rolling from their mountain springs

With a sweet inland murmur. Once again
Do I behold these steep and lofty cliffs,
Which on a wild secluded scene impress
Thoughts of more deep seclusion, and connect
The landscape with the quiet of the sky.
The day is come when I again repose
Here, under this dark sycamore, and view
These plots of cottage ground, these orchard tufts,
Which, at this season, with their unripe fruits,
Are clad in one green hue, and lose themselves
Among the woods and copses, nor disturb
The wild green landscape. Once again I see
These hedgerows, hardly hedgerows, little lines
Of sportive wood run wild; these pastoral farms
Green to the very door; and wreaths of smoke
Sent up in silence from among the trees,
With some uncertain notice, as might seem,
Of vagrant dwellers in the houseless woods,
Or of some hermit's cave, where, by his fire,
The hermit sits alone.

Though absent long,
These forms of beauty have not been to me
As is a landscape to a blind man's eye:
But oft, in lonely rooms, and 'mid the din
Of towns and cities, I have owed to them,
In hours of weariness, sensations sweet,
Felt in the blood, and felt along the heart,
And passing even into my purer mind
With tranquil restoration—feelings, too,
Of unremembered pleasure; such, perhaps,
As may have had no trivial influence
On that best portion of a good man's life,
His little, nameless, unremembered acts
Of kindness and of love. Nor less, I trust,
To them I may have owed another gift,
Of aspect more sublime; that blessed mood
In which the burthen of the mystery,
In which the heavy and the weary weight
Of all this unintelligible world
Is lightened; that serene and blessed mood
In which the affections gently lead us on,

Until the breath of this corporeal frame,
And even the motion of our human blood
Almost suspended, we are laid asleep
In body, and become a living soul:
While with an eye made quiet by the power
Of harmony and the deep power of joy,
We see into the life of things.

If this
Be but a vain belief, yet, oh! how oft,
In darkness, and amid the many shapes
Of joyless daylight, when the fretful stir
Unprofitable, and the fever of the world,
Have hung upon the beatings of my heart,
How oft in spirit have I turned to thee,
O sylvan Wye —thou wanderer through the woods—
How often has my spirit turned to thee!
And now, with gleams of half-extinguished thought,
With many recognitions dim and faint,
And somewhat of a sad perplexity,
The picture of the mind revives again:
While here I stand, not only with the sense
Of present pleasure, but with pleasing thoughts
That in this moment there is life and food
For future years. And so I dare to hope,
Though changed, no doubt, from what I was when first
I came among these hills; when, like a roe,
I bounded o'er the mountains, by the sides
Of the deep rivers, and the lonely streams,
Wherever nature led: more like a man
Flying from something that he dreads, than one
Who sought the thing he loved. For nature then
(The coarser pleasures of my boyish days .
And their glad animal movements all gone by)
To me was all in all—I cannot paint
What then I was. The sounding cataract
Haunted me like a passion; the tall rock,
The mountain, and the deep and gloomy wood,
Their colours and their forms, were then to me
An appetite; a feeling and a love
That had no need of a remoter charm,
By thought supplied, or any interest
Unborrowed from the eye. That time is past,
And all its aching joys are now no more,
And all its dizzy raptures. Not for this
Faint I, nor mourn, nor murmur; other gifts
Have followed, for such loss, I would believe,
Abundant recompense. For I have learned
To look on nature, not as in the hour
Of thoughtless youth, but hearing oftentimes
The still sad music of humanity,
Nor harsh nor grating, though of ample power
To chasten and subdue. And I have felt
A presence that disturbs me with the joy
Of elevated thoughts; a sense sublime
Of something far more deeply interfused,
Whose dwelling is the light of setting suns,
And the round ocean, and the living air,
And the blue sky, and in the mind of man;
A motion and a spirit that impels
All thinking things, all objects of all thought,
And rolls through all things. Therefore am I still
A lover of the meadows and the woods
And mountains, and of all that we behold
From this green earth; of all the mighty world
Of eye and ear, both what they half create
And what perceive; well pleased to recognise
In nature, and the language of the sense,
The anchor of my purest thoughts, the nurse,
The guide, the guardian of my heart, and soul

Of all my moral being.
Nor, perchance,

If I were not thus taught, should I the more
Suffer my genial spirits to decay:
For thou art with me here, upon the banks
Of this fair river; thou, my dearest friend,
My dear, dear friend, and in thy voice I *::

[graphic]

The language of my former heart, and read My former pleasures in the shooting lights Of thy wild eyes. Oh! yet a little while May I behold in thee what I was once, My dear, dear sister! And this prayer I make, Knowing that nature never did betra The heart that loved her; 'tis her privilege, Through all the years of this our life, to lead From joy to joy; for she can so inform The mind that is within us, so impress With quietness and beauty, and so feed With lofty thoughts, that neither evil tongues, Rash judgments, nor the sneers of selfish men, Nor greetings where no kindness is, nor all The dreary intercourse of daily life, Shall e'er prevail against us, or disturb Our cheerful faith that all which we behold Is full of blessings. Therefore let the moon Shine on thee in thy solitary walk; And let the misty mountain winds be free To blow against thee: and in after years, When these wild ecstacies shall be matured Into a sober pleasure, when thy mind Shall be a mansion for all lovely forms, Thy memory be as a dwelling-place For all sweet sounds and harmonies; oh! then, If solitude, or fear, or pain, or grief, Should be thy portion, with what healing thoughts Of tender joy wilt thou remember me, And these my exhortations ! Nor, perchance, If I should be where I no more can hear Thy voice, nor catch from thy wild eyes these gleams Of past existence, wilt thou then forget That on the banks of this delightful stream We stood together; and that I, so long A worshipper of nature, hither came, Unwearied in that service: rather say With warmer love, oh! with far deeper zeal Of holier love. Nor wilt thou then forget, That after many wanderings, many years Of absence, these steep woods and lofty cliffs, And this green pastoral landscape, were to me More dear, both for themselves and for thy sake.”

* In our admiration of the external forms of nature, the mind is redeemed from a sense of the transitory, which so often mixes perturbation with pleasure; and there is perhaps no feeling of the human heart which, being so intense, is at the same time so composed. It is for this reason, amongst others, that it is peculiarly favourable to the contemplations of a poetical philosopher, and eminently so to one like Mr Wordsworth, in whose scheme of thought there is no feature more prominent than the doctrine, that the intellect should be nourished by the feelings, and that the state of mind which bestows a gift of genuine insight, is one of profound emotion as well as profound composure; or, as Coleridge has somewhere expressed himself

Deep self-possession, an intense repose.

The power which lies in the beauty of nature to induce this union of the tranquil and the vivid is described, and to every disciple of Wordsworth has been, as much as is possible, imparted by the celebrated ‘Lines written in 1798, a few miles above Tintern Abbey," in which the poet, having attributed to his intermediate recollections of the landscape then revisited a benign influence over many acts of daily life, describes the particulars in which he is indebted to them. * * The impassioned love of nature is interfused through the whole of Mr Wordsworth's system of thought, filling up all interstices, penetrating all recesses, colouring all media, supporting, associating, and giving coherency and mutual relevancy to it in all its parts. Though man is his subject, yet is man never presented to us divested of his relations with external nature. Man is the text, but there is always a running commentary of natural phenomena.-Quarterly Review for 1834. In illustration of this remark, every episode in the “Excursion’ might be cited (particularly the affecting and beautiful tale of Margaret in the first book); and the poems of “The Cumberland Beggar,' “Michael, and “The Fountain' (the last unquestionably one of the finest of the ballads), are also striking instances.

[merged small][ocr errors][merged small][merged small][merged small][merged small][merged small][merged small][merged small][merged small][merged small][merged small][merged small][merged small]
[blocks in formation]
[blocks in formation]
« PoprzedniaDalej »