Page images
PDF
EPUB

And unto this he frames his song:

Then will he fit his tongue
To dialogues of business, love, or strife;

But it will not be long
Ere this be thrown aside,

And with new joy and pride
The little Actor cons another part;
Filling from time to time his “humorous stage”
With all the Persons, down to palsied Age,
That Life brings with her in her Equipage;

As if his whole vocation
Were endless imitation.

Thou, whose exterior semblance doth belie

Thy Soul's immensity; Thou best Philosopher, who yet dost keep Thy heritage, thou Eye among the blind, That, deaf and silent, read’st the eternal deep, Haunted for ever by the eternal mind,

Mighty Prophet! Seer blest!

On whom those truths do rest, Which we are toiling all our lives to find, In darkness lost, the darkness of the grave; Thou, over whom thy Immortality Broods like the Day, a Master o'er a Slave, A Presence which is not to be put by ; Thou little Child, yet glorious in the might Of heaven-born freedom on thy Being's height, Why with such earnest pains dost thou provoke The Years to bring the inevitable yoke,

Thus blindly with thy blessedness at strife?
Full soon thy Soul shall have her earthly freight,
And custom lie upon thee with a weight,
Heavy as frost, and deep almost as life!

[ocr errors]

O joy! that in our embers
Is something that doth live,
That nature yet remembers

What was so fugitive!
The thought of our past years in me doth breed
Perpetual benediction : not indeed
For that which is most worthy to be blest;
Delight and liberty, the simple creed
Of Childhood, whether busy or at rest,
With new-fledged hope still fluttering in his breast:-

Not for these I raise

The song of thanks and praise ;
But for those obstinate questionings
Of sense and outward things,
Fallings from us, vanishings;

Blank misgivings of a Creature
Moving about in worlds not realised,
High instincts before which our mortal Nature
Did tremble like a guilty Thing surprised :

But for those first affections,

Those shadowy recollections,

Which, be they what they may,
Are yet the fountain light of all our day,
Are yet a master light of all our seeing;

Uphold us, cherish, and have power to make
Our noisy years seem moments in the being
Of the eternal Silence: truths that wake,

To perish never ;
Which neither listlessness, nor mad endeavour,

Nor Man nor Boy,
Nor all that is at enmity with joy,
Can utterly abolish or destroy!

Hence, in a season of calm weather,

Though inland far we be,
Our Souls have sight of that immortal sea

Which brought us hither,

Can in a moment travel thither, And see the Children sport upon the shore, And hear the mighty waters rolling evermore.

10.

Then sing, ye Birds, sing, sing a joyous song !

And let the young Lambs bound

As to the tabor's sound !
We in thought will join your throng,

Ye that pipe and ye that play,
Ye that through your hearts to-day

Feel the gladness of the May!
What though the radiance which was once so bright
Be now for ever taken from my sight,

Though nothing can bring back the hour
Of splendour in the grass, of glory in the flower;

We will grieve not, rather find
Strength in what remains behind,
In the primal sympathy
Which having been must ever be,
In the soothing thoughts that spring
Out of human suffering,

In the faith that looks through death,
In years that bring the philosophic mind.

VOL. III.

11.

And O, ye Fountains, Meadows, Hills, and Groves,
Think not of any severing of our loves !
Yet in my heart of hearts I feel your might;
I only have relinquished one delight
To live beneath your more habitual sway.
I love the Brooks which down their channels fret,
Even more than when I tripped lightly as they ;
The innocent brightness of a new-born Day

Is lovely yet;
The Clouds that gather round the setting sun
Do take a sober colouring from an eye
That hath kept watch o'er man's mortality;
Another race hath been, and other palms are won
Thanks to the human heart by which we live,
Thanks to its tenderness, its joys, and fears,
To me the meanest flower that blows can give
Thoughts that do often lie too deep for tears.

PREFACE

TO THE SECOND EDITION OF SEVERAL OF THE FOREGOING

POEMS, PUBLISHED, WITH AN ADDITIONAL VOLUME, UNDER THE TITLE OF “ LYRICAL BALLADS.”

The first Volume of these Poems has already been submitted to general perusal. It was published, as an experiment, which, I hoped, might be of some use to ascertain, how far, by fitting to metrical arrangement a selection of the real language of men in a state of vivid sensation, that sort of pleasure and that quantity of pleasure may be imparted, which a Poet may rationally endeavour to impart.

I had formed no very inaccurate estimate of the probable effect of those Poems: I flattered myself that they who should be pleased with them would read them with more than common pleasure : and, on the other hand, I was well aware, that by those who should dislike them, they would be read with more than common dislike. The result has differed from my expectation in this only, that I have pleased a greater number than I ventured to hope I should please.

« PreviousContinue »