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For though the Giant Ages heave the hill,
And break the shore, and evermore
Make and break, and work their will;
Though world on world in myriad myriads roll
Round us, each with different powers,
And other forms of life than ours,
What know we greater than the soul ?
On God and Godlike men we build our trust.
Hush! the Dead March wails in the people's ears ;
The dark crowd moves, and there are sobs and tears;
The black earth yawns; the mortal disappears;
Ashes to ashes, dust to dust :
He is gone who seemed so great,
Gone; but nothing can bereave him
Of the force he made his own
Being here; and we believe him
Something far advanced in state,
And that he wears a truer crown
Than any wreath that man can weave him.
But speak no more of his renown:
Lay your earthly fancies down,
And in the vast cathedral leave him.
God accept him ! Christ receive him!
"The Lake school of poets” was contemptuously so called because Wordsworth, Coleridge, and Southey, its founders, lived by the English lakes. Catching their inspiration from the usually unheeded voices of Nature, and giving it utterance in plain, simple English, they terribly excited the wrath and ridicule of the critics. 'Though steadily gaining in favor, Wordsworth's position as a poet still divides opinion.
“ Lyrical Ballads," 1798; “White Doe of Rylstone;" “ Peter Bell;" “Sonnets on the River Duddon;" “ The Wagoner; " " Memorials of a Tour on the Continent;” “Ecclesiastical Sonnets; " " Yarrow Revisited, and Other Poems; " " The Excursion.” Part of an unfinished epic, “The Recluse," is his greatest work.
Milton, thou shouldst be living at this hour!
England hath need of thee: she is a fen
Of stagnant waters. Altar, sword, and pen,
Fireside, the heroic wealth of hall and bower,
Have forfeited their ancient English dower
Of inward happiness. We are selfish men :
Oh! raise us up; return to us again,
And give us manners, virtue, freedom, power.
Thy soul was like a star, and dwelt apart;
Thou hadst a voice whose sound was like the sea;
Pure as the naked heavens, majestic, free:
So didst thou travel on life's common way
In cheerful godliness; and yet thy heart
The lowliest duties on herself didst lay.
“ ONE adequate support
For the calamities of mortal life
Exists; one only, an assured belief
That the procession of our fate, howe'er
Sad or disturbed, is ordered by a Being
Of infinite benevolence and power,
Whose everlasting purposes embrace
All accidents, converting them to good.
The darts of anguish fix not where the seat
Of suffering hath been thoroughly fortified
By acquiescence in the Will supreme,
For time and for eternity; by faith, -
Faith absolute in God, including hope,
And the defense that lies in boundless love
Of his perfections; with habitual dread
Of aught unworthily conceived, endured
To the dishonor of his holy name.
Soul of our souls, and Safeguard of the world!
Sustain, thou only canst, the sick of heart;
Restore their languid spirits, and recall
Their lost affections unto thee and thine! "
Then, as we issued from that covert nook, He thus continued, lifting up bis eyes To heaven : "How beautiful this dome of sky! And the vast hills in fluctuation fixed At thy command, how awful! Shall the soul, Human and rational, report of thee Even less than these? "Be mute who will, who can; Yet I will praise thee with impassioned voice: My lips, that may forget thee in the crowd, Can not forget thee here, where thou hast built For thy own glory, in the wilderness ! Me didst thou constitute a priest of thine In such a temple as we now behold Reared for thy presence: therefore am I bound To worship, here and everywhere, as one
Not doomed to ignorance, though forced to tread
From childhood up the ways of poverty;
From unreflecting ignorance preserved,
And from debasement rescued. By thy grace
The particle divine remained unquenched;
And, 'mid the wild weeds of a rugged soil,
Thy bounty caused to flourish deathless flowers
From Paradise transplanted. Wintry age
Impends; the frost will gather round my heart :
If the flowers wither, I am worse than dead!
Come labor when the worn-out frame requires
Perpetual sabbath; come disease and want,
And sad exclusion through decay of sense :
But leave me unabated trust in thee,
And let thy favor, to the end of life,
Inspire me with ability to seek
Repose and hope among eternal things,
Father of heaven and earth! and I am rich,
And will possess my portion in content.
“ And what are things eternal ? Powers depart,” The gray-haired wanderer steadfastly replied, Answering the question which himself had asked, “ Possessions vanish, and opinions change, And passions hold a fluctuating seat ; But by the storms of circumstance unshaken, And subject neither to eclipse nor wane, Duty exists. Immutably survive, For our support, the measures and the forms Which an abstract intelligence supplies ; Whose kingdom is where time and space are not. Of other converse which mind, soul, and heart Do with united urgency require, What more that may not perish? Thou dread Source, Prime, self-existing Cause and End of all That in the scale of being fill their place, Above our human region, or below, Set and sustained ; Thou who didst wrap the cloud Of infancy around us, that Thyself Therein with our simpļicity a while Mightst hold on earth communion undisturbed ; Who from the anarchy of dreaming sleep, Or from its death-like void, with punctual care, And touch as gentle as the morning light, Restor'st us daily to the powers of sense And reason's steadfast rule, — Thou, Thou alone, Art everlasting, and the blessed spirits, Which Thou includest, as the sea her waves : For adoration thou endurest; endure For consciousness the motions of thy will; For apprehension those transcendent truths Of the pure intellect, that stand as laws
(Submission constituting strength and power)
Even to thy being's infinite majesty!
This universe shall pass away, - a work
Glorious, because the shadow of thy might;
A step, or link, for intercourse with thee.
Ah! if the time must coine in which my feet
No more shall stray where meditation leads,
By flowing stream, through wood, or craggy wild,
Loved haunts like these, the unimprisoned Mind
May yet have scope to range among her own,
Her thoughts, her images, her high desires.
If the dear faculty of sight should fail,
Still it may be allowed me to remember
What visionary powers of eye and soul
In youth were mine, when, stationed on the top
Of some huge hill, expectant, I beheld
The sun rise up, from distant climes returned,
Darkness to chase and sleep, and bring the day,
His bounteous gift; or saw him toward the deep
Sink, with a retinue of flaming clouds
Attended : then my spirit was entranced
With joy exalted to beatitude ;
The measure of my soul was filled with bliss
And holiest love, as earth, sea, air, with light,
With pomp, with glory, with magnificence.
“ Those fervent raptures are for ever flown ; And, since their date, my soul hath undergone Change manifold for better or for worse : Yet cease I not to struggle, and aspire Heavenward, and chide the part of me that flags Through sinful choice, or dread necessity On human nature from above imposed. 'Tis, by comparison, an easy task Earth to despise; but to converse with heaven This is not easy, To relinquish all We have or hope of happiness and joy, And stand in freedom loosened from this world, I deem not arduous; but must needs confess That 'tis a thing impossible to frame Conceptions equal to the soul's desires, And the most difficult of tasks to keep Hights which the soul is competent to gain. Man is of dust : ethereal hopes are his, Which, when they should sustain themselves aloft, Want due consistence; like a pillar of smoke, That with majestic energy from earth Rises, but, having reached the thinner air, Melts and dissolves, and is no longer seen. From this infirmity of mortal kind Sorrow proceeds, which else were not: at least, If grief be something hallowed and ordained;
If, in proportion, it be just and meet,
Yet through this weakness of the general heart
Is it enabled to maintain its hold
In that excess which conscience disapproves.
For who could sink and settle to that point
Of selfishness, so senseless who could be,
As long and perseveringly to mourn
For any object of his love removed
From this unstable world, if he could fix
A satisfying view upon that state
of pure, imperishable blessedness
Which reason promises, and Holy Writ
Insures to all believers ? Yet mistrust
Is of such incapacity, methinks,
No natural branch ; despondency far less;
And least of all is absolute despair.
“ And if there be whose tender frames have drooped
Even to the dust, apparently through weight
Of anguish unrelieved, and lack of power
An agonizing sorrow to transmute,
Deem not that proof is here of hope withheld
When wanted most, a confidence impaired
So pitiably, that, having ceased to see
With bodily eyes, they are borne down by love
Of what is lost, and perish through regret.
Oh, no! the innocent sufferer often sees
Too clearly, feels too vividly, and longs
To realize, the vision with intense
And over-constant yearning: there, there lies
The excess by which the balance is destroyed.
Too, too contracted are these walls of flesh,
This vital warmth too cold, these visual orbs,
Though inconceivably endowed, too dim,
For any passion of the soul that leads
To ecstasy; and, all the crooked paths
Of time and change disdaining, takes its course
Along the line of limitless desires.
I, speaking now, from such disorder free,
Nor rapt nor craving, but in settled peace,
I can not doubt that they whom you deplore
Are glorified, or, if they sleep, shall wake
From sleep, and dwell with God in endless love.
Hope below this consists not with belief
mercy carried infinite degrees
Beyond the tenderness of human hearts;
Hope below this consists not with belief
In perfect wisdom, guiding mightiest power,
That finds no limits but her own pure will.
“Here, then, we rest, not fearing for our creed The worst that human reasoning can achieve