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“ With fervent welcome greets the glowworm's
flame, Puts it to bed, and blesses it by name" ; and this contemptuous reference in the verse-text is followed up with a page-long prose-comment, wherein the slender incident of the poem is recounted in a strain of mock solemnity. A disparaging allusion to The Glowworm also occurs in the commentary on Sortes Horatianæ (1814), a rapid satire of the kind accurately described by Coleridge as owing such success as it may have achieved solely to the number of contemporary characters named in the patchwork notes. But Wordsworth, though for some years he withdrew Alice Fell from a hard-hearted generation, was neither to be bullied nor laughed into abandoning his poetic offspring, as the verses entitled The Redbreast and the Butterfly survive to prove. Had ridicule the power to kill, assuredly they had incontinently perished; for hardly had they seen the light when they were ruthlessly set upon and held up to universal derision. It may be, therefore, that the cause of Wordsworth's rejection of The Glowworm
should be looked for, not so much in the laughter of the critics, as in his own independent recognition of a certain incongruity between the matter and the manner of the poem, between the subject and his treatment of it.
“ I travell d among unknown Men” (page 68).Date 1799 (W. W.-1836). But if this date be correct, why were not these stanzas published, along with the other poems (composed in 1799) of the Lucy group, in the Lyrical Ballads of 1800 ? There is little doubt that the poet is in error here, and that these verses are the “Epitaph” which was written on Thursday, January 28, 1802 (see Knight's Life of Wordsworth, vol. i., p. 289). They were written out for insertion in the Lyrical Ballads of that year. It is clear from stanza ii. that they must have been composed after the poet's return from Germany (April, 1799). The text remained substantially unaltered.
Ode to Duty (page 70).—Date 1805 (W. W.1837). “This Ode is on the model of Gray's Ode to Adversity, which is copied from Horace's Ode to Fortune" (Fenwick Note). In its original form, it
is justly chargeable with harshness and inequality : dignity, harmony and smoothness were however attained by a series of happy textual changes. Stanza i., 1. 8, became in 1815 :
“ And calm'st the weary strife of frail humanity!”
Stanza ii., 11. 7, 8, were recast without success in 1827, but in 1837 became :
“Oh! if through confidence misplaced They fail, thy saving arms, dread Power! around
Stanza ii., II. 5-8, were rehandled thus :
“ And they a blissful course may hold
ing to their need (1837).”
" Full ['And,' 1827] oft, when in my heart was heard Thy timely mandate, I deferr'd The task (1815), in smoother walks to stray" (1827);
Lastly, stanza vi, was omitted in ed. 1815 and all later editions.
The following early version of stanzas i.-iv. is taken from a cancelled proof of 1807, reprinted by Mr. J. R. Tutin of Hull (Aldine Wordsworth, iv., p. 370). It is also found in the Longman MSS. See Mr. Hale White's Monograph, p. 62.
ODE TO DUTY.
There are who tread a blameless way
Serene would be our days and bright;
And bless'd are they who in the main,
where must grow.
I loving freedom, and untried ;
O Power of Duty! sent from God