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Six changeful years have vanished since I first
Poured out (saluted by that quickening breeze
Which met me issuing from the City's* walls)
A glad preamble to this Verse: I sang
Aloud, with fervor irresistible

Of short-lived transport, like a torrent bursting,
From a black thunder-cloud, down Scafell's side
To rush and disappear. But soon broke forth
(So willed the Muse) a less impetuous stream,
That flowed awhile with unabating strength,
Then stopped for years; not audible again
Before last primrose-time. Beloved Friend!
The assurance which then cheered some heavy

On thy departure to a foreign land

Has failed; too slowly moves the promised work. Through the whole summer have I been at rest, Partly from voluntary holiday,

* See Note.

And part through outward hindrance. But I heard,

After the hour of sunset yester-even,

Sitting within doors between light and dark,

A choir of redbreasts gathered somewhere near My threshold, - minstrels from the distant woods Sent in on Winter's service, to announce,

With preparation artful and benign,

That the rough lord had left the surly North
On his accustomed journey. The delight,
Due to this timely notice, unawares

Smote me, and, listening, I in whispers said,
"Ye heartsome Choristers, ye and I will be
Associates, and, unscared by blustering winds,
Will chant together." Thereafter, as the shades
Of twilight deepened, going forth I spied
A glow-worm underneath a dusky plume
Or canopy of yet unwithered fern,

Clear-shining, like a hermit's taper seen

Through a thick forest. Silence touched me here
No less than sound had done before; the child
Of Summer, lingering, shining, by herself,
The voiceless worm on the unfrequented hills,
Seemed sent on the same errand with the choir
Of Winter that had warbled at my door,

And the whole year breathed tenderness and love.

The last night's genial feeling overflowed Upon this morning, and my favorite grove,

Tossing in sunshine its dark boughs aloft,
As if to make the strong wind visible,
Wakes in me agitations like its own,
A spirit friendly to the Poet's task,

Which we will now resume with lively hope,
Nor checked by aught of tamer argument
That lies before us, needful to be told.

Returned from that excursion,* soon I bade
Farewell for ever to the sheltered seats
Of gowned students, quitted hall and bower,
And every comfort of that privileged ground,
Well pleased to pitch a vagrant tent among
The unfenced regions of society.

Yet, undetermined to what course of life
I should adhere, and seeming to possess
A little space of intermediate time

At full command, to London first I turned,
In no disturbance of excessive hope,

By personal ambition unenslaved,

Frugal as there was need, and, though self-willed, From dangerous passions free. Three years had


Since I had felt in heart and soul the shock

Of the huge town's first presence, and had paced
Her endless streets, a transient visitant:
Now, fixed amid that concourse of mankind

*See p. 136.

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