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O joy! that in our embers
What was so fugitive.
Not for these I raise
The song of thanks and praise;
Blank misgivings of a creature
But for those first affections,
Those shadowy recollections,
Which, be they what they may,
Uphold us, cherish, and have power to make
To perish never;
LITERARY ANALYSIS.—140. obstinate questionings. See Wordsworth's note, page 300.
142. Fallings from us, vanishings: that is, fits of utter dreaminess and abstraction, when nothing material seems solid, but everything mere mist and shadow.
153. seem moments: that is, seem but moments.
Nor man nor boy,
Hence, in a season of calm weather,
Though inland far we be,
Which brought us hither,
Can in a moment travel thither,
And let the young lambs bound
As to the tabor's sound !
Ye that pipe and ye that play,
Feel the gladness of the May !
We will grieve not-rather find
In the faith that looks through death,
LITERARY ANALYSIS. -160-166. The pupil will observe the grandeur of the thought imaged in these splendid lines, which should be committed to memory.
167-169. Then sing ... sound. What kind of sentence grammatically? 174-185. What kind of sentence rhetorically? 185. In ... mind. Explain.
And O ye fountains, meadows, hills, and groves,
Is lovely yet;
LITERARY ANALYSIS.—189. only. What does the word modify?
NOTE BY WORDSWORTH. - This was composed during my residence at Town-End, Grasmere. Two years at least passed between the writing of the first four stanzas and the remaining part. To the attentive and competent reader the whole sufficiently explains itself, but there may be no harm in adverting here to particular feelings or experiences of my own mind on which the structure of the poem partly rests. Nothing was more difficult for me in childhood than to admit the notion of death as a state applicable to my own being. I have elsewhere said,
A simple child
But it was not so much from the source of animal vivacity that my difficulty came as from a sense of the indomitableness of the spirit within me. I used to brood over the stories of Enoch and Elijah, and almost persuade myself that, whatever might become of others, I should be translated in something of the same way to heaven. With a feeling congenial to this, I was often unable to think of external things as having external existence, and I com
muned with all that I saw as something not apart from, but inherent in, my own immaterial nature. Many times while going to school have I grasped at a wall or tree to recall myself from this abyss of idealism to the reality. At that time I was afraid of mere processes. In later periods of life I have deplored, as we have all reason to do, a subjugation of an opposite character, and have rejoiced over the remembrances, as is expressed in the lines Obstinate Questionings, etc. To that dreamlike vividness and splendor which invests objects of sight in childhood, every one, I believe, if he would look back, could bear testimony, and I need not dwell upon it here ; but having in the poem regarded it as a presumptive evidence of a prior state of existence, I think it right to protest against a conclusion which has given pain to some good and pious persons, that I meant to inculcate such a belief. It is far too shadowy a notion to be recommended to faith as more than an element in our instincts of immortality. But let us bear in mind that though the idea is not advanced in Revelation, there is nothing there to contradict it, and the fall of man presents an analogy in its favor. Accordingly, a pre-existent state has entered into the creed of many nations, and among all persons acquainted with classic literature is known as an ingredient in Platonic philosophy. Archimedes said that he could move the world if he had a point whereon to rest his machine. Who has not felt the same aspirations as regards his own mind ? Having to wield some of its elements when I was impelled to write this poem on the immortality of the soul, I took hold of the notion of preexistence as having sufficient foundation in humanity for authorizing me to make for my purpose the best use of it I could as a poet.