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The Poems in Two Volumes, of which a carefully executed reprint is given in the following pages, appeared in the first instance at some point of time between the twenty-fifth day of March and the twenty-first of May-probably on or about the first of May, 1807. Leaving out of account Wordsworth's magnum opus, which at this time comprised the Prelude, now finished, the Pedlar (i.e., Books I.-IV. of the Excursion), and the single canto of the Recluse, first published in 1888, the tiny volumes may be said to represent five years' strenuous, though oftinterrupted poetic industry, the dates of the contents ranging, in all but three instances, from January,
1 The three pieces which fall outside the limits of date here indicated are: The Seven Sisters (earlier than August 17, 1800),
1802, to March, 1807. For about a twelvemonth prior to the earlier of these date-limits, Wordsworth's faculty of song had been virtually in abeyance. During the latter months of 1800 he had striven hard to make up for the delinquency of Coleridge, his partner in the Lyrical Ballads of 1798;' and in
The Sparrow's Nest (assigned in 1836 by the poet to 1801), and the early sonnet, “ Calm is all Nature," etc. (1786 ?). As many as eight poems written during these five years—A Farewell, Stanzas written in a Copy of the Castle of Indolence, “When to the attractions," etc., “Fly, some kind Harbinger," etc., Address to my Infant Daughter Dora, Sonnet at Applethwaite, “Sweet Flower! belike one day,” etc., and Elegiac Verses in memory of John Wordsworth—were withheld by the poet in 1807 on account of their intimately personal reference. Besides these, only two other poems composed during this period were omitted from the volumes of 1807: Yew-trees (assigned in 1836 by Wordsworth to 1803) and the magnificent Lines on the expected Invasion (1803). Of these ten pieces three the last-named, the Applethwaite Sonnet, and the John Wordsworth memorial verses-were published in 1842 (Poems, Chiefly of Early and Late Years); the others appeared in the first collected edition of the Minor Poems, (1815).
i Coleridge, since the project of a new edition was mooted, the prostration following this effort—which had included, amongst other things, the preparation of the famous Preface and the composition of Michael - he had been fain to let his mind lie fallow for a season. Resuming work on December 22, 1801, he soon gives tokens of recovered vigour. For the next seven weeks, as Dorothy's Journal testifies, he toils unremittingly at the Pedlar, "altering and refitting;” early in February he is retouching and adding to Peter Bell; Sunday, March 7, finds him correcting and in parts rewriting Ruth for the third edition (1802) of the Lyrical Ballads ; and within the following ten days he ashers in the year's “harvest of sweet lays " with a sheaf of five remarkable poems : The Sailor's Mother, Alice Fell, Beggars, bines to a Butterfly, and The Emigrant Mother.
had at various times proposed in turn to contribute, first, a Dissertation on the Principles of Poetic Diction; next, a complete version of Christabel ; and, lastly, Poems on the Naming of Places. He ended by furnishing a single-line Latin motto (not his own) for the title-page! His stanzas entitled Love, published a year previously in the Morning Post, replaced Wordsworth’s Convict in vol. i. of this edition.
1 To speak strictly, the firstfruits of the harvest had been
In the course of the season thus promisingly began, the poet added to his scanty stock of new verse some fifty pieces, of which over two score, exhibiting a wide diversity of style and subject, and varying in length from nine to one hundred and fortyseven lines, were included in the volume here reprinted. In some of these, as of the contents of later date, Wordsworth speaks at once as the devout worshipper and as the chosen hierophant of Nature, catching and interpreting to as the moral intimations of earth, sea, and sky, while in a series of idylls and anecdotes he celebrates the calming, mitigating, healing power of "sympathies aloft ascending and
gathered as far back as January 28, in the shape of the stanzas, “I travell’d among unknown men,” etc.—the missing link in the Lucy lyrical chain of 1799.