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descending deep, even to the inferior kinds”-descending to beast, bird, and insect, to tree and flower and the common grass,—nay, to “ the life that breathes not” of (so-called) inanimate nature—to rocks and stones, to syke and tarn, to the mist, the rainbow, and the cloud. In others again he figures as the heroic poet of England, urging his countrymen in thrilling accents to arm and combine in defence of their common birthright, recalling them from avarice, luxury, and display to "plain living and high thinking”-to “manners, virtue, freedom, power.” For these passionate appeals he chooses the aptest of all mediums in the Miltonic sonnetform, of which the intricate and frankly artistic structure serves, as it were, to mask, even while it reveals, the fierce glow of the patriot's emotion, clothing it
“With decoration of ideal grace,
Such are the Sonnets dedicated to Liberty of Volume I. Chastened " transcripts of the private heart”
“Subdued, composed and formalised by art”_ they illustrate, in the weight and compactness of their substance, the maxim expressed by Wordsworth to Moore on the advantage to the poet of having a harsh and rugged language to deal with : “In strug. gling with words one is led to give birth to and dwell upon thoughts; while on the contrary an easy and mellifluous language such as the Italian is apt to tempt by its very felicity into negligence, and to lead the poet to substitute music for thought."
But, further : it is not only by the wise and solemn ases to which he turns the sonnet-touching it to finer issues than idle dalliance or puling egotismthat Wordsworth's artistic growth manifests itself during these five years, 1802-1807; his progress is seen no less in the variety of rhythms'essayed by
* This advance in metrical facility was largely due to the
him in these two volumes, and in the high proportion of his successes over his failures-indeed, generally, in the marked predominance here of what is first rate over what is mediocre or poor. The Happy Warrior and the Tribute to the Memory of a Dog in themselves suffice to prove, what in subsequent years the Lines on the expected Invasion, the Epistle to Sir George Beaumont, the Pillar of Trajan,
influence of Chaucer and the Elizabethans, whose works Wordsworth had begun to study diligently from 1800 onwards in Dr. Robert Anderson's Corpus of the British Poets (Edinburgh, Mundell and Son, 1795). Anderson's bulky but incomplete collection in twelve volumes, royal 8vo., ill-printed and ill-edited, or edited not at all, was for many years the only edition of the older English poets within Wordsworth's reach. The measure he employs in the three poems To the Daisy, which almost certainly belong to the spring of 1802, Wordsworth found in Ben Jonson (Underwoods: Eupheme, or the Fair Fame of the Lady Venetia Digby: No. i., The Dedication of her Cradle), whose works (Anderson, vol. iv.) he and Dorothy had been studying during the six weeks, February 11–March 23. Charles Lamb, who no doubt saw Wordsworth’s Daisy poems in manuscript on the occasion of his visit to Grasmere in August, 1802, copied and other pieces more abundantly established, that if in his blank verse Wordsworth can at rare moments (as in Yew-trees and Tintern Abbey) reverberate the this measure in his stanzas on Hester Savary, written in March, 1803; and Landor has adopted it in “ Twenty years hence," “Yes; I write verses now and then,” and “There is, alas! a chill, a gloom.” Many traces of Wordsworth's study of the Elizabethan poets are to be observed in the volumes of 1807. Beggars, line 18 reproduces a phrase from Spenser's Muiopotmos, stanza xxvii. ; 11. 10 and 14 of “ The world is too much with us," etc., are from ll. 283 and 245 respectively of Colin Clouts Come Home Again ; 11. 2 and 3 of the third sonnet To Sleep are a. reminiscence of the Faerie Queene, I., i., xli.; the motto on the title-pages is from the Culex, 11. 8 and 9. To the Culex Wordsworth was led by reading the Virgils Gnat of Spenser, of which he quotes 11. 21 and 22 in the sonnet, “Pelion and Ossa, published in 1815. Line 4 of “ It is not to be thought of,” etc., comes from Daniel's History of the Civil Wars, Book II., stanza 7; 11. 9-11 of “ Vanguard of Liberty," etc., is inspired by 11. 323, 324 of Drayton's Baron's Wars, Book I. (cf. Stray Pleasures, 1. 34); and there are quotations from Sir P. Sydney, and (many) from Milton. Two writers quoted by Wordsworth
-Skelton (Henry VIII.) and Sir John Beaumont (Elizabeth) are not included in Anderson. “Choice or chance” (i., p. 95) may have been borrowed from P. Fletcher's lines To my only chosen Valentine and Wife.
majestic and dædal harmonies of Milton, he can also at will not unworthily compare with Dryden in the gravity, variety, and force of his rhymed decasyllables. But it is in the octosyllabic measure above all, that Wordsworth wins his happiest successes in these Poems of 1807; whether (as in Glen-Almain and the lines To a Highland Girl) he employs the couplet of which Ben Jonson and other Elizabethans, but chiefly Milton in L'Allegro and Il Penseroso, tanght him the secret, or whether (as in the Affliction of Margaret) he prefers the linked sweetness of a stanzaic rhyme-sequence, framed in harmony with the prevailing tone of the composition. Witness the magnificent accelerando movement (1. 142) which forms the climax of the Song at the Feast of Brougham; where, the measure shifting finally from iambic dimeter (usu-lucu-) to trochaic di. meter catalectic (-u-ull 20-), the music ever more and more breathlessly speeds along, until at the close