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1811 "The power of armies..."

1811 "The power of armies..."

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Shorter Poems (1807–1820)â•… 35

The Liberty of Greece:—the words rebound

Until all voices in one voice are drowned;

Glad acclamation by which air was rent!

And birds, high-flying in the element,

Dropped to the earth, astonished at the sound!

—A melancholy Echo of that noise

Doth sometimes hang on musing Fancy’s ear:

Ah! that a Conqueror’s words should be so dear;

Ah! that a boon could shed such rapturous joys!

A gift of that which is not to be given

By all the blended powers of Earth and Heaven.



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Upon the Same Event

When, far and wide, swift as the beams of morn

The tidings passed of servitude repealed,

And of that joy which shook the Isthmian Field,

The rough Ỉtolians smiled with bitter scorn.

“’Tis known,” cried they, “that He, who would adorn

His envied temples with the Isthmian Crown,

Must either win, through effort of his own,

The prize, or be content to see it worn

By more deserving brows.— Yet so ye prop,

Sons of the Brave who fought at Marathon,

Your feeble Spirits. Greece her head hath bowed,

As if the wreath of Liberty thereon

Would fix itself as smoothly as a cloud,

Which, at Jove’s will, descends on Pelion’s top!”



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Upon the Sight of a Beautiful Picture

Praised be the Art whose subtle power could stay

Yon Cloud, and fix it in that glorious shape;

Nor would permit the thin smoke to escape,

Nor those bright sunbeams to forsake the day;

Which stopped that Band of Travellers on their way

Ere they were lost within the shady wood;

And shewed the Bark upon the glassy flood

For ever anchored in her sheltering Bay.

Soul-soothing Art! which Morning, Noon-tide, Even

Do serve with all their changeful pageantry!



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36â•… The Poems of William Wordsworth

Thou, with ambition modest yet sublime,

Here, for the sight of mortal man, hast given

To one brief moment caught from fleeting time

The appropriate calm of blest eternity.

Departure

from the vale of grasmere. august



The gentlest Shade that walked Elysian Plains

Might sometimes covet dissoluble chains;

Even for the Tenants of the Zone that lies

Beyond the stars, celestial Paradise,

Methinks ’twould heighten joy, to overleap

At will the crystal battlements, and peep

Into some other region, though less fair,

To see how things are made and managed there:

Change for the worse might please, incursion bold

Into the tracts of darkness and of cold;

O’er Limbo lake with aëry flight to steer,

And on the verge of Chaos hang in fear.

Such animation often do I find,

Power in my breast, wings growing in my mind,

Then, when some rock or hill is overpast,

Perchance without one look behind me cast,

Some barrier with which Nature, from the birth

Of things, has fenced this fairest spot on earth.

O pleasant transit, Grasmere! to resign

Such happy fields, abodes so calm as thine;

Not like an outcast with himself at strife;

The slave of business, time, or care for life,

But moved by choice; or, if constrained in part,

Yet still with Nature’s freedom at the heart;

To cull contentment upon wildest shores,

And luxuries extract from bleakest moors;

With prompt embrace all beauty to enfold,

And having rights in all that we behold.

—Then why these lingering steps? A bright adieu,

For a brief absence, proves that love is true;

Ne’er can the way be irksome or forlorn,

That winds into itself, for sweet return.



1803



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Shorter Poems (1807–1820)â•… 37

[Epistle to Sir George Howland Beaumont, Bart. From the

South-west Coast of Cumberland.—1811]

Far from [â•…â•… ] Grasmere’s lake serene,

Her Vale profound and mountains ever green,

Fixed within hearing of loud Ocean’s roar

Where daily, on a bleak and lonesome shore,

Even at this summer season, huge Black Comb

Frowns, deep’ning visibly his native gloom.

Unless perchance, rejecting in despite

What on the Plain we have of warmth and light,

In his own Tempests hide himself from Sight.

Here am I, Friend, where neither sheltered road

Nor hedgerow screen, invite my steps abroad,

Where one poor Plane-tree, having as it can

Attained a stature twice the height of Man,

Hopeless of further growth, and brown and sere,

Thro’ half the summer stands with top cut sheer

Like an unshifting weathercock that proves

How cold the Quarter that the wind best loves,

Or Centinel, that placed in front before

Darkens the window, not defends the door

Of this unfinished House; a Fortress bare,

Where strength has been the Builder’s only care,

Whose rugged walls may still for years demand

The finer polish of the Plaisterer’s hand;

This Dwelling’s Inmate more than three weeks’ space

And oft a Prisoner in the cheerless place

I, of whose touch the fiddle would complain,

Whose breath would labour at the flute in vain,

In music all unversed—and without skill

A bridge to copy, or to paint a mill;

Tired of my books, a scanty company,

And tired of listening to the boisterous Sea,

Pace between door and window murmuring rhyme,

An old resource to cheat the froward time!

And it would well content me to disclaim



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  The reading text is drawn from the earliest complete version, which is untitled. WW’s notes

are those he published with the poem in Poems, 1815. The first line in 1815 is “Far from

our home by Grasmere’s quiet Lake.”



38â•… The Poems of William Wordsworth

In these dull hours a more ambitious aim.

But if there be a Muse, who, free to take

Her Seat upon Olymphus, doth forsake

Those Heights (like Phœbus when his golden locks

He veiled, attendant on Thessalian Flocks)

And in disguise, a Milkmaid with her pail

Trips on the pathways of some winding dale;

Or like a Mermaid warbles on the shores

To Fishers, mending nets beside their doors;

Or like a tired Way-farer faint in mind,

Gives plaintive Ballads to the heedless wind—

If such a visitant of Earth there be

And she would deign this day to smile on me

And aid my Verse content with narrow bounds,

Life’s beaten road and Nature’s daily rounds,

Thoughts, chances, sights or doings, which we tell

Without reserve to those whom we love well,

Then haply Beaumont, for my pen is near,

The unlaboured lines to your indulgent ear

May be transmitted, else will perish here.

â•… What shall I treat of? News from Mona’s Isle?

Such have I, but unvaried in its style;

No tales of Runnagates fresh landed, whence

And wherefore fugitive, or on what pretence—

Of feasts or scandal eddying like the wind

Most restlessly alive, when most confined.

Ask not of me whose tongue can best appease

The mighty tumults of the House of Keys,

The last Year’s Cup whose Ram or Heifer gained,

What slopes are planted, and what mosses drained?

An eye of Fancy only can I cast

On that proud pageant, now at hand or past,

When full five hundred boats in trim array

With nets and Sails outspread, and streamers gay

And chaunted hymns and stiller voice of prayer

For the old Manx harvest to the Deep repair,

Soon as the Herring-shoals at distance shine

Like beds of moonlight shifting on the brine.

â•… Mona from my Abode is daily seen



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