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Day's mutable distinctions.Ancient Power!
Thus did the waters gleam, the mountains lower,
To the rude Briton, when, in wolf-skin vest
Here roving wild, he laid him down to rest
On the bare rock, or through a leafy bower
Looked ere his eyes were closed. By him was seen
The self-same Vision which we now behold,



At thy meek bidding, shadowy Power! brought forth;
These mighty barriers, and the gulf between ;
The flood,1 the stars,- —a spectacle as old
As the beginning of the heavens and earth!


Published 1815

One of the "Miscellaneous Sonnets."-Ed.

THE Shepherd, looking eastward, softly said,
"Bright is thy veil, O Moon, as thou art bright!"
Forthwith, that little cloud, in ether spread

And penetrated all with tender light,

She cast away, and showed her fulgent head
Uncovered; dazzling the Beholder's sight
As if to vindicate her beauty's right,
Her beauty thoughtlessly disparagèd.
Meanwhile that veil, removed or thrown aside,
Went floating from her, darkening as it went ;
And a huge mass, to bury or to hide,
Approached this glory of the firmament;
Who meekly yields, and is obscured-content
With one calm triumph of a modest pride.

1 1837.

The floods,





Published 1815

One of the "Miscellaneous Sonnets."-

EVEN as a dragon's eye that feels the stress
Of a bedimming sleep, or as a lamp
Suddenly1 glaring through sepulchral damp,
So burns yon Taper 'mid a 2 black recess
Of mountains, silent, dreary, motionless :
The lake below reflects it not; the sky
Muffled in clouds, affords no company
To mitigate and cheer its loneliness.
Yet, round the body of that joyless Thing
Which sends so far its melancholy light,
Perhaps are seated in domestic ring
A gay society with faces bright,

Conversing, reading, laughing ;—or they sing,
While hearts and voices in the song unite.



The light of the " Taper" referred to shone from Allan Bank; the black recess of mountains" described the heights of Silver Howe, and Easdale, round to Helm Crag; the "lake below," which "reflected it not " (because of the distance of Allan Bank from the side of the mere), was, of course, Grasmere. Wordsworth is looking at this "lamp suddenly glaring through sepulchral damp," however, from the eastern side of the lake, perhaps from the neighbourhood of "The Wishing Gate.” I am indebted to the Rev. W. A. Harrison, Vicar of St. Anne's, Lambeth, for the following note to this sonnet :—

1 1827. Sullenly

2 1827.


'mid its


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In the Sonnet No. XXIV., 'Poems of the Imagination,'

[i.e. Miscellaneous Sonnets '] these lines occur :—

Even as a dragon's eye that feels the stress
Of a bedimming sleep, or as a lamp
Suddenly glaring through sepulchral damp,
So burns yon Taper 'mid a black recess
Of mountains, silent, dreary, motionless:

etc. etc. etc.

"In line 3, all the later editions read 'Suddenly glaring.' But why suddenly'? There is nothing in the imagery of the poem which is at all suggestive of suddenness or unexpectedness in the appearance of the burning taper. The idea is alien from the spirit of the context. The dragon is drowsy and overborne with sleep. The taper is dreary' and 'motionless.' Everything is suggestive of sluggish stillness,' not of rapid, flashing


"Yet I find the reading 'suddenly' in the one vol. ed. of 1828, which is said to be a reprint of the edition of 1827 in 5 vols. ; in that of 1836-7; in that of 1840; and in all the later editions.

"In the edition of 1815, however, the reading given is one that is in strict keeping with the rest of the imagery, namely—

'Sullenly glaring.'

"Is it likely that 'sullenly' was deliberately altered by Wordsworth to 'suddenly,' or is 'suddenly' a misprint that has been perpetuated through successive editions?

"The sonnet in question is not dated, but it was probably written after 1807 and before 1815.

"Now, in a well-known and often-quoted passage in Wordsworth's letter in answer to Mathetes (Friend, vol. iii. 35, etc.), he speaks of the 'sullen light' which survives the extinguished flame of the candle that the schoolboy has blown out. 'It continues,' he says, 'to shine with an endurance which in its apparent weakness is a mystery; it protracts its existence so long that the observer who had lain down in his bed so easy-minded, becomes sad and melancholy,' etc. etc. etc. "In the sonnet the same ideas occur, only the melancholy' is here predicated figuratively of the 'light' itself :—

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Which sends so far its melancholy light,
Perhaps are seated, etc. etc.

"This paper in The Friend was written in 1810; and it is possible that the sonnet was written at about the same time.W. A. HARRISON."-ED.


Published 1815

[Suggested in the wild hazel wood at the foot of Helm-crag, where the stone still lies, with others of like form and character, though much of the wood that veiled it from the glare of day has been felled. This beautiful ground was lately purchased by our friend Mrs. Fletcher; the ancient owners, most respected persons, being obliged to part with it in consequence of the imprudence of a son. It is gratifying to mention that, instead of murmuring and repining at this change of fortune, they offered their services to Mrs. Fletcher, the husband as an outdoor labourer, and the wife as a domestic servant. I have witnessed the pride and pleasure with which the man worked at improvements of the ground round the house. Indeed he expressed those feelings to me himself, and the countenance and manner of his wife always denoted feelings of the same character. I believe a similar disposition to contentment under change of fortune is common among the class to which these good people belong. Yet, in proof that to part with their patrimony is most painful to them, I may refer to those stanzas entitled Repentance, no inconsiderable part of which was taken verbatim from the language of the speaker herself.-I. F.]

One of the "Miscellaneous Sonnets."-ED.

MARK the concentred hazels that enclose
Yon old grey Stone, protected from the ray
Of noontide suns :-and even the beams that play
And glance, while wantonly the rough wind blows,
Are seldom free to touch the moss that grows


Upon that roof, amid embowering gloom,
The very image framing of a Tomb,

In which some ancient Chieftain finds repose
Among the lonely mountains.—Live, ye trees!
And thou, grey Stone, the pensive likeness keep
Of a dark chamber where the Mighty sleep:
For more than Fancy to the influence bends
When solitary Nature condescends

To mimic Time's forlorn humanities.


This "old grey Stone" is a prominent feature in the Lancrigg Terrace-Walk. It is still moss-grown, and embowered by the hazel underwood. Not far from it, the path opens to the spot where the most of The Prelude was composed; first hummed aloud--as the poet walked to and fro along the terrace -and then dictated to his wife or sister. See Lady Richardson's account of this, in her article in Sharpe's London Magazine, in 1851, and in the Autobiography of Mrs. Fletcher (her mother), p. 244; also her contributions to the Memoirs of Wordsworth, vol. ii. p. 438, etc.-ED.



Published 1815

[This was in fact suggested by my daughter Catherine long after her death.*-I. F.]

One of the "Miscellaneous Sonnets."—ED.

SURPRISED by joy-impatient as the Wind

I turned1 to share the transport-Oh! with whom

1 1820.

I wished


* Wordsworth's daughter, Catherine, was born on the 6th September 1808, and died 4th June 1812.-ED.

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