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Ere, pouncing like a ravenous bird of prey,
Death in a moment parted them, and left
The Mother, in her turns of anguish, worse
Than desolate; for oft-times from the sound
Of the survivor's sweetest voice (dear child,
He knew it not) and from his happiest looks
Did she extract the food of self-reproach,
As one that lived ungrateful for the stay
By Heaven afforded to uphold her maimed
And tottering spirit. And full oft the Boy,
Now first acquainted with distress and grief,
Shrunk from his Mother's presence, shunned with fear
Her sad approach, and stole away to find,
In his known haunts of joy where'er he might,
A more congenial object. But, as time
Softened her pangs and reconciled the child
To what he saw, he gradually returned,
Like a scared Bird encouraged to renew
A broken intercourse ; and, while his eyes
Were yet with pensive fear and gentle awe
Turned upon her who bore him, she would stoop
To imprint a kiss that lacked not power to spread
Faint colour over both their pallid cheeks,
And stilled his tremulous lip. Thus they were calmed
And cheered ; and now together breathe fresh air
In open fields; and when the glare of day
Is gone, and twilight to the Mother's wish
Befriends the observance, readily they join
In walks whose boundary is the lost One's grave,
Which he with flowers had planted, finding there
Amusement, where the Mother does not miss
Dear consolation, kneeling on the turf
In prayer, yet blending with that solemn rite
Of pious faith the vanities of grief ;
CHARACTERISTICS OF A CHILD THREE YEARS OLD.
For such, by pitying Angels and by Spirits
Transferred to regions upon which the clouds
Of our weak nature rest not, must be deemed
Those willing tears, and unforbidden sighs,
And all those tokens of a cherished sorrow,
Which, soothed and sweetened by the grace of Heaven
As now it is, seems to her own fond heart,
Immortal as the love that gave it being.
“ That celestial light, &c.” Compare the Ode on Immortality (p. 48). Maternal Grief was classed amongst the “ Poems founded on the Affections.”—Ed.
In the spring of 1811 Wordsworth left Allan Bank, to reside for two years in the Rectory, Grasmere. A small fragment on his daughter Catherine, the Epistle to Sir George Beaumont, from the south-west coast of Cumberland, and four Sonnets (mainly suggested by the events of the year in Spain) comprise all the poems belonging to 1811.-ED.
CHARACTERISTICS OF A CHILD THREE
[Written at Allanbank, Grasmere. Catherine, who died the year after.]
LOVING she is, and tractable, though wild;
And Innocence hath privilege in her
To dignify arch looks and laughing eyes ;
And feats of cunning; and the pretty round
Of trespasses, affected to provoke
Mock-chastisement and partnership in play.
And, as a faggot sparkles on the hearth,
Not less if unattended and alone
Than when both young and old sit gathered round
And take delight in its activity;
Even so this happy Creature of herself
Is all-sufficient; solitude to her
Is blithe society, who fills the air
With gladness and involuntary songs.
Light are her sallies as the tripping fawn's
Forth-startled from the fern where she lay couched;
Unthought-of, unexpected, as the stir
Of the soft breeze ruffling the meadow-flowers,
Or from before it chasing wantonly
The many-coloured images imprest
Upon the bosom of a placid lake.
Classed amongst the “Poems referring to the period of Childhood.”
They seek, are sought; to daily battle led,
Shrink not, though far outnumbered by their Foes,
For they have learned to open and to close
The ridges of grim war; and at their head
Are captains such as erst their country bred
Or fostered, self-supported chiefs,-like those
Whom hardy Rome was fearful to oppose ;
Whose desperate shock the Carthaginian fled.
In One who lived unknown a shepherd's life
Redoubted Viriatus breathes again ;* * Viriatus, for eight or fourteen years leader of the Lusitanians in the war with the Romans in the middle of the second century B.C. He defeated many of the Roman generals, including Pompey. Some of the historians say that he was originally a shepherd, and then a robber or guerilla chieftain. (See Livy, Books 52 and 54.)—ED.
THE POWER OF ARMIES IS A VISIBLE THING.
And Mina, nourished in the studious shade,*
With that great Leader † vies, who, sick of strife
And bloodshed, longed in quiet to be laid
In some green island of the western main.
Comp. 1811. Pub. 1815.
The power of Armies is a visible thing,
Formal, and circumscribed in time and space;1
But who the limits of that power shall trace 2
Which a brave People into light can bring
Or hide, at will,—for freedom combating
By just revenge inflamed ? No foot may chase, 3 3
No eye can follow, to a fatal place
That power, that spirit, whether on the wing
* “ Whilst the chief force of the French was occupied in Portugal and Andalusia, and there remained in the interior of Spain only a few weak corps, the Guerilla system took deep root, and in the course of 1811 attained its greatest perfection. Left to itself the boldest and most enterprising of its members rose to command, and the mode of warfare best adapted to their force and habits was pursued. Each province boasted of a hero, in command of a formidable band—Old Castile, Don Julian Sanches ; Arragon, Longa ; Navarre, Esprez y Mina, with innumerable others, whose deeds spread a lustre over every part of the kingdom. . . . Mina and Longa headed armies of 6 or 8000 men with distinguished ability, and displayed maneuvres oftentimes for months together, in baffling the pursuit of more numerous bodies of French, which would reflect credit on the most celebrated commanders." (See Account of the War in Spain and Portugal, and in the south of France, from 1808 to 1814 inclusive, by Lieut.-Colonel John T. Jones. London, 1818.) -ED.
+ Sertorius. See note to The Prelude, Book I., Vol. III. p. 134.-ED.
Like the strong wind, or sleeping like the wind
Within its awful caves.—From year to year
Springs this indigenous produce far and near;
No craft this subtile element can bind,
Rising like water from the soil, to find
In every nook a lip that it may cheer.
HERE pause : the poet claims at least this praise,
That virtuous Liberty hath been the scope
Of his pure song, which did not shrink from hope
In the worst moment of these evil days;
From hope, the paramount duty that Heaven lays,
For its own honour, on man's suffering heart.
Never may from our souls one truth depart-
That an accursed thing it is to gaze
On prosperous tyrants with a dazzled eye;
Nor—touched with due abhorrence of their guilt
For whose dire ends tears flow, and blood is spilt,
And justice labours in extremity-
Forget thy weakness, upon which is built,
O wretched man, the throne of tyranny !
TO SIR GEORGE HOWLAND BEAUMONT, BART.
FROM THE SOUTH-WEST COAST OF CUMBERLAND.
[This poem opened, when first written, with a paragraph that has
been transf ed as an introductio to the first series of my Scotch
Memorials. The journey, of which the first part is here described, was
from Grasmere to Bootle on the south-west coast of Cumberland, the
whole among mountain roads through a beautiful country; and we