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-Yet some maintain that to this day
She is a living child;

That you may see sweet Lucy Gray 60 Upon the lonesome wild.

O'er rough and smooth she trips along,
And never looks behind;

And sings a solitary song
That whistles in the wind.

THE PRELUDE 1799-1805

The last autumnal crocus, 'twas my joy 310 With store of springes1 o'er my shoulder hung

To range the open heights where woodcocks run

Among the smooth green turf. Through half the night,

Scudding away from snare to snare, I plied That anxious visitation;-moon and stars 315 Were shining o'er my head. I was alone, And seemed to be a trouble to the peace That dwelt among them. Sometimes it befell

Ten birthdays, when among the mountain slopes

Frost, and the breath of frosty wind, had snapped

1850 From BOOK I. INTRODUCTION-CHILDHOOD AND SCHOOL-TIME

340

Fair seed-time had my soul, and I grew up Fostered alike by beauty and by fear: Much favored in my birthplace, and no less In that beloved Vale1 to which erelong 305 We were transplanted-there were we let loose

For sports of wider range. Ere I had told

In these night wanderings, that a strong desire

345

1 Esthwaite Lancashire, in which the village of Hawkshead, where Wordsworth attended school, was situated.

O'erpowered my better reason, and the bird
Which was the captive of another's toil
Became my prey; and when the deed was
done

Of undistinguishable motion, steps" 325 Almost as silent as the turf they trod.

I heard among the solitary hills

Low breathings coming after me, and sounds

Our object and inglorious, yet the end
330 Was not ignoble. Oh! when I have hung
Above the raven's nest, by knots of grass
And half-inch fissures in the slippery rock
But ill-sustained, and almost (so it seemed)
Suspended by the blast that blew amain,
335 Shouldering the naked crag, oh, at that time
While on the perilous ridge I hung alone,
With what strange utterance did the loud
dry wind

Blow through my ear! the sky seemed not
a sky
Of earth-and with what motion moved
the clouds!

Nor less when spring had warmed the cultured Vale,2

Moved we as plunderers where the motherbird

Had in high places built her lodge; though

mean

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One summer evening (led by her) I found
A little boat tied to a willow tree
Within a rocky cove, its usual home.
360 Straight I unloosed her chain, and stepping

in
Pushed from the shore. It was an act
of stealth

And troubled pleasure, nor without the voice

355 Severer interventions, ministry
More palpable, as best might suit her aim. 400

swan;

When, from behind that craggy steep till then

And through the meadows homeward went, in grave

390 And serious mood; but after I had seen That spectacle, for many days, my brain Worked with a dim and undetermined sense Of unknown modes of being; o'er my thoughts

The horizon's bound, a huge peak, black and huge,

395

There hung a darkness, call it solitude
Or blank desertion. No familiar shapes
Remained, no pleasant images of trees,
Of sea or sky, no colors of green fields;
But huge and mighty forms, that do not live
Like living men, moved slowly through the
mind

By day, and were a trouble to my dreams.

Of childhood didst thou intertwine for me
The passions that build up our human soul;
Not with the mean and vulgar works of
man,

Of mountain echoes did my boat move on;
Leaving behind her still, on either side,
365 Small circles glittering idly in the moon,
Until they melted all into one track
Of sparkling light. But now, like one
who rows,

But with high objects, with enduring things

410

With life and nature-purifying thus
The elements of feeling and of thought,
And sanctifying, by such discipline,
Both pain and fear, until we recognize
A grandeur in the beatings of the heart.
Nor was this fellowship vouchsafed to me
With stinted kindness. In November days,
When vapors rolling down the valley made
A lonely scene more lonesome, among
woods,

415

At noon and 'mid the calm of summer
nights,

When, by the margin of the trembling lake,
Beneath the gloomy hills homeward I went
In solitude, such intercourse was mine;
Mine was it in the fields both day and night,
And by the waters, all the summer long.

Proud of his skill, to reach a chosen point With an unswerving line, I fixed my view 370 Upon the summit of a craggy ridge,

The horizon's utmost boundary; far above
Was nothing but the stars and the gray sky.
She was an elfin pinnace; lustily

I dipped my oars into the silent lake,
375 And, as I rose upon the stroke, my boat
Went heaving through the water like a

420

Wisdom and Spirit of the universe!
Thou Soul that art the eternity of thought,
That givest to forms and images a breath
And everlasting motion, not in vain
By day or star-light thus from my first
dawn

405

And through the silent water stole my way
Back to the covert of the willow tree;
There in her mooring-place I left my
bark,-

As if with voluntary power instinct 380 Upreared its head. I struck and struck 425

again,

And growing still in stature the grim shape
Towered up between me and the stars,
and still,

For so it seemed, with purpose of its own
And measured motion like a living thing, 430
285 Strode after me. With trembling oars
I turned,

And in the frosty season, when the sun
Was set, and visible for many a mile
The cottage windows blazed through twi-
light gloom,

I heeded not their summons: happy time
It was indeed for all of us-for me
It was a time of rapture! Clear and loud
The village clock tolled six,-I wheeled
about,

Proud and exulting like an untired horse That cares not for his home. All shod with steel,

We hissed along the polished ice in games

435 Confederate, imitative of the chase

And woodland pleasures,-the resounding horn,

The pack loud chiming, and the hunted hare.

545

So through the darkness and the cold we flew,

And not a voice was idle; with the din 440 Smitten, the precipices rang aloud;

The leafless trees and every icy crag
Tinkled like iron; while far distant hills
Into the tumult sent an alien sound
Of melancholy not unnoticed, while the

stars
445 Eastward were sparkling clear, and in the
west

The orange sky of evening died away. Not seldom from the uproar I retired Into a silent bay, or sportively Glanced sideway, leaving the tumultuous throng, 450 To cut across the reflex of a star

That fled, and, flying still before me, gleamed

Upon the glassy plain; and oftentimes, When we had given our bodies to the wind, And all the shadowy banks on either side 455 Came sweeping through the darkness, spinning still

The rapid line of motion, then at once
Have I, reclining back upon my heels,
Stopped short; yet still the solitary cliffs
Wheeled by me-even as if the earth had
rolled

460 With visible motion her diurnal round!

Behind me did they stretch in solemn train, Feebler and feebler, and I stood and watched

Till all was tranquil as a dreamless sleep.

Ye Presences of Nature in the sky 465 And on the earth! Ye Visions of the hills! And Souls of lonely places! can I think A vulgar hope was yours when ye employed

Such ministry, when ye through many a

year

Haunting me thus among my boyish sports, 470 On caves and trees, upon the woods and

hills,
Impressed upon all forms the characters
Of danger or desire; and thus did make
The surface of the universal earth
With triumph and delight, with hope and

fear,
475 Work like a sea?

Not uselessly employed, Might I pursue this theme through every change

Of exercise and play, to which the year
Did summon us in his delightful round.

Nor, sedulous as I have been to trace How Nature by extrinsic passion first Peopled the mind with forms sublime or fair,

And made me love them, may I here omit How other pleasures have been mine, and joys

Of subtler origin; how I have felt, 550 Not seldom even in that tempestuous time, Those hallowed and pure motions of the

sense

Which seem, in their simplicity, to own An intellectual charm; that calm delight Which, if I err not, surely must belong 555 To those first-born affinities that fit

Our new existence to existing things,1
And, in our dawn of being, constitute
The bond of union between life and joy.

Yes, I remember when the change ful earth,

560

And twice five summers on my mind had
stamped

The faces of the moving year, even then
I held unconscious intercourse with beauty
Old as creation, drinking in a pure
Organic pleasure from the silver wreaths
Of curling mist, or from the level plain
Of waters colored by impending clouds.

565

The sands of Westmoreland, the creeks and bays

Of Cumbria's rocky limits, they can tell How, when the Sea threw off his evening shade

570 And to the shepherd's hut on distant hills
Sent welcome notice of the rising moon,
How I have stood, to fancies such as these
A stranger, linking with the spectacle
No conscious memory of a kindred sight,
And bringing with me no peculiar sense
Of quietness or peace; yet have I stood,
Even while mine eye hath moved, o'er
many a league

575

Of shining water, gathering as it seemed,
Through every hair-breadth in that field
of light,
New pleasure like a bee among the flowers.

580

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585 And is forgotten; even then I felt
Gleams like the flashing of a shield;-
the earth

And common face of Nature spake to me Rememberable things; sometimes, 'tis true, By chance collisions and quaint accidents 90 (Like those ill-sorted unions, work supposed

Of evil-minded fairies), yet not vain
Nor profitless, if haply they impressed
Collateral objects and appearances,
Albeit lifeless then, and doomed to sleep
595 Until maturer seasons called them forth

265

The scenes which were a witness of that joy
600 Remained in their substantial lineaments
Depicted on the brain, and to the eye
Were visible, a daily sight; and thus
By the impressive discipline of fear,
By pleasure and repeated happiness,
605 So frequently repeated, and by force

Of obscure feelings representative
Of things forgotten, these same scenes so
bright,

So beautiful, so majestic in themselves,
Though yet the day was distant, did become
610 Habitually dear, and all their forms
And changeful colors by invisible links
Were fastened to the affections.

To impregnate and to elevate the mind.
-And if the vulgar joy by its own weight 300
Wearied itself out of the memory,

From Book II. SCHOOL-TIME
From early days,
Beginning not long after that first time
In which, a babe, by intercourse of touch
I held mute dialogues with my mother's
heart,

And sorrow is not there! The seasons came, And every season wheresoe'er I moved 290 Unfolded transitory qualities,

Which, but for this most watchful power
of love,

Had been neglected; left a register
Of permanent relations, else unknown.
Hence life, and change, and beauty, soli-
tude

295 More active even than "best society❞—
Society made sweet as solitude
By silent inobtrusive sympathies,
And gentle agitations of the mind
From manifold distinctions, difference
Perceived in things, where, to the unwatch-
ful eye,

No difference is, and hence, from the same
source,

Sublimer joy! for I would walk alone,
Under the quiet stars, and at that time
Have felt whate'er there is of power in
sound

305 To breathe an elevated mood, by form

Or image unprofaned; and I would stand,
If the night blackened with a coming storm,
Beneath some rock, listening to notes that

are

The ghostly language of the ancient earth, 310 Or make their dim abode in distant winds. Thence did I drink the visionary power; And deem not profitless those fleeting moods

Of shadowy exultation: not for this, That they are kindred to our purer mind 315 And intellectual life; but that the soul, Remembering how she felt, but what she felt

Remembering not, retains an obscure sense
Of possible sublimity, whereto

With growing faculties she doth aspire, 320 With faculties still growing, feeling still That whatsoever point they gain, they yet Have something to pursue.

I have endeavored to display the means 270 Whereby this infant sensibility,

Great birthright of our being, was in me
Augmented and sustained. Yet is a path
More difficult before me; and I fear
That in its broken windings we shall need
275 The chamois' sinews, and the eagle's wing:
For now a trouble came into my mind
From unknown causes. I was left alone
Seeking the visible world, nor knowing why.
The props of my affections were removed,
280 And yet the building stood, as if sustained
By its own spirit! All that I beheld -
Was dear, and hence to finer influxes
The mind lay open, to a more exact
And close communion. Many are our joys
285 In youth, but oh! what happiness to live
When every hour brings palpable access
Of knowledge, when all knowledge is de-
light,

Oft in these moments such a holy calm
Would overspread my soul, that bodily eyes
Were utterly forgotten, and what I saw

350

And not alone, 'Mid gloom and tumult, but no less 'mid fair

And tranquil scenes, that universal power 325 And fitness in the latent qualities

And essences of things, by which the mind
Is moved with feelings of delight, to me
Came strengthened with a superadded soul,
A virtue not its own.

346

How shall I seek the origin ? where find
Faith in the marvellous things which then
I felt?

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