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THE leaves were fading when to Esthwaite's banks And the simplicities of cottage life

I bade farewell; and, one among the youth
Who, summoned by that season, reunite
As scattered birds troop to the fowler's luie,
Went back to Granta's cloisters, not so prompt
Or eager, though as gay and undepressed
In mind, as when I thence had taken flight
A few short months before. I turned my face
Without repining from the coves and heights
Clothed in the sunshine of the withering fern;
Quitted, not loth, the mild magnificence
Of calmer lakes and louder streams; and you,
Frank-hearted maids of rocky Cumberland,
You and your not unwelcome days of mirth,
Relinquished, and your nights of revelry,
And in my own unlovely cell sat down
In lightsome mood; such privilege has youth,
That cannot take long leave of pleasant thoughts.

The bonds of indolent society Relaxing in their hold, henceforth I lived More to myself. Two winters may be passed Without a separate notice: many books Were skimmed, devoured, or studiously perused, But with no settled plan. I was detached Internally from academic cares; Yet independent study seemed a course Of hardy disobedience toward friends And kindred, proud rebellion and unkind. This spurious virtue, rather let it bear A name it now deserves, this cowardice, Gave treacherous sanction to that over-love Of freedom which encouraged me to turn From regulations even of my own,

As from restraints and bonds. Yet who can tell,Who knows what thus may have been gained, both then

And at a later season, or preserved;

What love of nature, what original strength
Of contemplation, what intuitive truths,
The deepest and the best, what keen research,
Unbiased, unbewildered, and unawed?

The Poet's soul was with me at that time;
Sweet meditations, the still overflow
Of present happiness, while future years
Lacked not anticipations, tender dreams,
No few of which have since been realized:
And some remain, hopes for my future life.

Four years and thirty, told this very week,
Have I been now a sojourner on earth,
By sorrow not unsmitten; yet for me

Life's morning radiance hath not left the hills,
Her dew is on the flowers. Those were the days
Which also first emboldened me to trust
With firmness, hitherto but lightly touched
By such a daring thought, that I might leave
Some monument behind me which pure hearts
Should reverence. The instinctive humbleness,
Maintained even by the very name and thought
Of printed books and authorship, began
To melt away; and further, the dread awe
Of mighty names was softened down and seemed
Approachable, admitting fellowship

Of modest sympathy. Such aspect now,
Though not familiarly, my mind put on,
Content to observe, to achieve, and to enjoy.

All winter long, whenever free to choose,
Did I by night frequent the College groves
And tributary walks; the last, and oft
The only one, who had been lingering there
Through hours of silence, till the porter's bell,
A. punctual follower on the stroke of nine,
Rang, with its blunt, unceremonious voice,
Inexorable summons! Lofty elms,
Inviting shades of opportune recess,
Bestowed composure on a neighborhood
Inpeaceful in itself. A single tree.

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