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Ships, towers, domes, theatres, and temples lie
On King's College Chapel, Cambridge.
Tax not the royal saint with vain expense,
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.
She was a phantom of delight
And now I see with eye serene
[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
Though absent long,
Until the breath of this corporeal frame,
Of all my moral being.
If I were not thus taught, should I the more
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.