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Only their fire seems bolder, yielding light,
That on their Gipsy-faces falls,
Their bed of straw and blanket-walls.
-Twelve hours, twelve bounteous hours are gone, while I
Much witnessing of change and cheer,
The weary Sun betook himself to rest;—
The glorious path in which he trod.
Behold the mighty Moon! this way
Begard not her :-oh better wrong and strife,
The silent Heavens have goings-on ;
Regard not her :-oh better wrong and strife,
The stars have tasks-but these have none !
Regard her not; oh better wrong and strife
Yet witness all that stirs in heaven or earth!
In scorn I speak not: they are what their birth
And breeding suffers them to be;
Wild outcasts of society!
(By nature transient) than this torpid life;
Life which the very stars reprove
As on their silent tasks they move!
Wild outcasts of society!
In all the editions this poem was placed by Wordsworth amongst those of the Imagination.-ED.
[Written at Town-end, Grasmere. (Mrs W. says in a note-" At Coleorton.")]
O NIGHTINGALE! thou surely art
A creature of a 'fiery heart:
These notes of thine-they pierce and pierce;
Tumultuous harmony and fierce!
Thou sing'st as if the God of wine
Of shades, and dews, and silent night;
I heard a Stock-dove sing or say
His homely tale, this very day;
Yet to be come-at by the breeze:
He did not cease; but cooed-and cooed
1 1807, and returned to in 1820.
A creature of ebullient heart,
He sang of love, with quiet blending,
That was the song-the song for me!
Mrs Wordsworth corrected her husband's note to Miss Fenwick, by adding in the MS. "at Coleorton ;" and at Coleorton the Wordsworths certainly spent the winter of 1806, the Town-end Cottage at Grasmere being too small for their increasing household. It is certainly much more likely that Wordsworth wrote this poem at Coleorton than at Grasmere. It bears all the signs of being an evening impromptu, after hearing both the nightingale and the stock-dove; and there are no nightingales at Grasmere, while they abound in the "peaceful groves" of Coleorton. If the locality was-as Mrs Wordsworth states it-Coleorton, the year must be 1807, and not 1806 (the poet's own date). The nightingale is a summer visitant in this country, and could not have been heard by Wordsworth at Coleorton in 1806, as he did not go south to Leicestershire till November of that year. The poem was placed by him amongst those of the Imagination.-ED.
[The winter garden of Coleorton, fashioned out of an old quarry, under the superintendence and direction of Mrs Wordsworth and my sister Dorothy, during the winter and spring we resided there.]
LADY! the songs of Spring were in the grove
gave this paradise for winter hours,
A labyrinth, Lady! which your feet shall rove.
While I was framing beds of winter flowers,
Yes! when the sun of life more feebly shines,
And all the mighty ravishment of spring.
This winter garden, fashioned by the Wordsworths out of the old quarry at Coleorton, during Sir George and Lady Beaumont's absence in 1807, exists very much as it was at the beginning of the century. The "perennial bowers and murmuring pines" may still be seen, little altered since 1807. The late Sir George Beaumont (whose grandfather was first-cousin to the artist Sir George, Wordsworth's friend), with strong reverence for the past, and for the traditions of literary men which have made the district famous since the days of his ancestor Beaumont the dramatist, and especially for the memorials of Wordsworth's ten months' residence at Coleorton,-took a pleasure in preserving these memorials, very much as they were when he entered in possession of the estates of his ancestors. Such a reverence for the past is not only consistent with the "improvement" of an estate, and its belongings; it is a part of it. Wordsworth, and his wife and sister, were adepts in the laying out of grounds. (See the reference to the poet's joint labour with Wilkinson at Emont, Vol. III. p. 26.) It was the Wordsworths also, I believe, who designed the grounds of Fox HowDr Arnold's residence, near Ambleside. Similar memorials of the poet survive at Hallsteads, Ullswater. The following is an extract from a letter of Dorothy Wordsworth to Lady Beaumont, written at Coleorton, and which has the postmark of February 18, 1807. "For more than a week we have had the most delightful weather. If William had but waited a few days, it would have been no anticipation when he said to you, 'the songs of Spring were in the grove ;' for all this week the birds have chanted from morn till evening, larks, blackbirds, thrushes, and far more than I can name, and the busy rooks have joined their happy voices."
Wordsworth, writing to Sir George Beaumont, November 16, 1811, says, "I remember, Mr Bowles, the poet, objected to the word 'ravishment' at the end of the sonnet to the winter-garden; yet it has the authority of all the first-rate poets, for instance, Milton:
In whose sight all things joy, with ravishment,
[Written at Coleorton. This old man's name was Mitchell. He was, in all his ways and conversation, a great curiosity, both individually and as a representative of past times. His chief employment was keeping watch at night by pacing round the house, at that time building, to keep off depredators. He has often told me gravely of having seen the Seven Whistlers, and the Hounds as here described. Among the groves of Coleorton, where I became familiar with the habits and notions of old Mitchell, there was also a labourer of whom, I regret, I had no personal knowledge; for, more than forty years after, when he was become an old man, I learned that while I was composing verses, which I usually did aloud, he took much pleasure, unknown to me, in following my steps that he might catch the words I uttered; and, what is not a little remarkable, several lines caught in this way kept their place in his memory. My volumes have lately been given to him by my informant, and surely he must have been gratified to meet in print his old acquaintances.]
THOUGH narrow be that old Man's cares, and near,
The poor old Man is greater than he seems :
For he hath waking empire, wide as dreams;
He the seven birds hath seen, that never part,
Seen the SEVEN WHISTLERS in their nightly rounds,*
+ Seen the Seven Whistlers, &c. Both these superstitions are prevalent in the Midland Counties of England: that of Gabriel's Hounds appears to be very general over Europe; being the same as the one upon which the German poet, Burger, has founded his ballad of the Wild Huntsman. 1807.