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welcoming the pacific proposals of Talleyrand, perhaps also to his efforts for the abolition of slavery.
The “lonely road” referred to in these Lines, was, in all likelihood, the path from Town-end towards the Swan Inn past the Hollins, Grasmere. A "mighty unison of streams” may be heard there any autumn evening after a stormy day, and especially after long continued rain, the sound of waters from Easdale, from Greenhead Ghyll, and the slopes of Silver How, blending with that of the Rothay in the valley below. The poem was always classed amongst the “Epitaphs and Elegiac Pieces.”—ED.
ANOTHER year another deadly blow !
Napoleon won the battle of Jena on the 14th October 1806, entered Potsdam on the 25th, and Berlin on the 28th ; Prince Hohenlohe laid down his arms on the 6th November; Blücher surrendered at Lübeck on the 7th ; Magdeburg was taken on the 8th ; on the 14th the French occupied Hanover; and on the 21st Napoleon issued his Berlin decree for the Blockade of England.-ED.
The last that dares
not a venal Band,
What way does the Wind come ? What way does he go?
He will suddenly stop in a cunning nook,
As soon as 'tis daylight to-morrow, with me
Heaven grant that he spare but that one upright twig
Hark! over the roof he makes a pause,
-But let him range round; he does us no harm,
-Come now we'll to bed! and when we are there
Wordsworth dated this poem 1806, and said to Miss Fenwick that it was written at Grasmere. If it was written“ during a boisterous winter evening” in 1806, it could not have been written at Grasmere, because the Wordsworths spent that winter at Coleorton. I suspect this date is wrong, and that the poem really belongs to the year 1805 ; but as it is just possible that, although referring to winter, it may have been written at Town-end in the summer of 1806, and is therefore placed amongst the poems belonging to the latter year.
In all the editions, from 1815 to 1849, this Address was placed amongst the “Poems referring to the period of Childhood." From 1815 to 1842 the authorship was veiled, under the title, “ by a female friend of the author.” In 1845 it was disclosed, “ by my Sister."-Ed.
to read-hush ! that half-stifled knell. Methinks 'tis the sound
Comp. 1803-6 Pub. 1807. [This was composed during my residence at Town-end, Grasmere. Two years at least passed between the writing of the four first 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 said elsewhere
“A simple child, That lightly draws its breath, And feels its life in every limb,
What should it know of death !" But it was not so much from feelings 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 to 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 communed 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 such 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 Of sense and outward things,
Fallings from us, vanishings,” &c. To that dream-like vividness and splendour which invest 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 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 favour. Accordingly, a pre-existent state has entered into the popular creeds 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 the world of 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 pre-existence as having sufficient foundation in humanity for authorizing me to make for my purpose the best use of it I could as a poet.]
The Child is father of the Man;
(See vol. II. p. 260.)
To me did seem
Apparelled in celestial light, The glory and the freshness of a dream. It is not now as it hath been of yore;
Turn whereso'er I may,
By night or day,
The Rainbow comes and goes,
The Moon doth with delight
Waters on a starry night
Are beautiful and fair;
But yet I know, where'er I go,
as it has been