A Selection of English Romantic Poetry




WILLIAM BLAKE (1757-1827)

From Milton (1804)

1 And did those feet in ancient time 
2 Walk upon England's mountains green?
3 And was the holy Lamb of God
4 On England's pleasant pastures seen? 
5 And did the Countenance Divine
6 Shine forth upon our clouded hills?
7 And was Jerusalem builded here
8 Among these dark Satanic mills? 
9 Bring me my bow of burning gold:
10 Bring me my arrows of desire:
11 Bring me my spear: O clouds unfold!
12 Bring me my chariot of fire. 
13 I will not cease from mental fight,
14 Nor shall my sword sleep in my hand
15 Till we have built Jerusalem
16 In England's green and pleasant land.







(Original Text: William Blake, Songs of Innocence (1789). 

1 My mother bore me in the southern wild,
2 And I am black, but O! my soul is white;
3 White as an angel is the English child,
4 But I am black, as if bereav'd of light.

5 My mother taught me underneath a tree,
6 And sitting down before the heat of day,
7 She took me on her lap and kissed me,
8 And pointing to the east, began to say:

9 "Look on the rising sun: there God does live, 
10 And gives his light, and gives his heat away;
11 And flowers and trees and beasts and men receive
12 Comfort in morning, joy in the noonday.

13 And we are put on earth a little space,
14 That we may learn to bear the beams of love;
15 And these black bodies and this sunburnt face
16 Is but a cloud, and like a shady grove.

17 For when our souls have learn'd the heat to bear, 
18 The cloud will vanish; we shall hear his voice,
19 Saying: 'Come out from the grove, my love and care,
20 And round my golden tent like lambs rejoice.' "

21 Thus did my mother say, and kissed me;
22 And thus I say to little English boy,
23 When I from black and he from white cloud free,
24 And round the tent of God like lambs we joy,

25 I'll shade him from the heat, till he can bear
26 To lean in joy upon our father's knee;
27 And then I'll stand and stroke his silver hair,
28 And be like him, and he will then love me.







Original Text: William Blake, Songs of Innocence (1789).

1 Little Lamb, who made thee? 
2 Dost thou know who made thee? 
3 Gave thee life, and bid thee feed
4 By the stream and o'er the mead;
5 Gave thee clothing of delight,
6 Softest clothing, woolly, bright;
7 Gave thee such a tender voice, 
8 Making all the vales rejoice?
9 Little Lamb, who made thee?
10 Dost thou know who made thee?

11 Little Lamb, I'll tell thee,
12 Little Lamb, I'll tell thee:
13 He is called by thy name,
14 For he calls himself a Lamb.
15 He is meek, and he is mild;
16 He became a little child.
17 I a child, and thou a lamb.
18 We are called by his name.
19 Little Lamb, God bless thee!
20 Little Lamb, God bless thee! 







William Blake, Songs of Experience (1794).

1 Tyger! Tyger! burning bright 
2 In the forests of the night,
3 What immortal hand or eye
4 Could frame thy fearful symmetry?

5 In what distant deeps or skies
6 Burnt the fire of thine eyes?
7 On what wings dare he aspire?
8 What the hand dare seize the fire?

9 And what shoulder, and what art, 
10 Could twist the sinews of thy heart,
11 And when thy heart began to beat,
12 What dread hand? and what dread feet?

13 What the hammer? what the chain?
14 In what furnace was thy brain?
15 What the anvil? what dread grasp
16 Dare its deadly terrors clasp?

17 When the stars threw down their spears,
18 And water'd heaven with their tears,
19 Did he smile his work to see?
20 Did he who made the Lamb make thee?

21 Tyger! Tyger! burning bright
22 In the forests of the night,
23 What immortal hand or eye,
24 Dare frame thy fearful symmetry?







Original Text: William Blake, Songs of Experience (1794).

1 I wander thro' each charter'd street, 
2 Near where the charter'd Thames does flow,
3 And mark in every face I meet
4 Marks of weakness, marks of woe.

5 In every cry of every Man, 
6 In every Infant's cry of fear,
7 In every voice, in every ban,
8 The mind-forg'd manacles I hear.

9 How the Chimney-sweeper's cry
10 Every black'ning Church appalls;
11 And the hapless Soldier's sigh
12 Runs in blood down Palace walls.

13 But most thro' midnight streets I hear
14 How the youthful Harlot's curse
15 Blasts the new born Infant's tear,
16 And blights with plagues the Marriage hearse. 







William Blake, Songs of Experience (1794). 

1 O Rose, thou art sick! 
2 The invisible worm
3 That flies in the night,
4 In the howling storm,

5 Has found out thy bed
6 Of crimson joy:
7 And his dark secret love
8 Does thy life destroy.




George Gordon, Lord Byron (1788-1824)

Lake Leman 
(from Childe Harold's Pilgrimage, Canto iii, stanzas 68-75) (1816) 

    Lake Leman woos me with its crystal face,
    The mirror where the stars and mountains view
    The stillness of their aspect in each trace
    Its clear depth yields of their far height and hue:
    There is too much of man here, to look through
    With a fit mind the might which I behold;
    But soon in me shall loneliness renew
    Thoughts hid, but not less cherish'd than of old,
    Ere mingling with the herd had penn'd me in their fold.

    To fly from, need not be to hate, mankind: 
    All are not fit with them to stir and toil,
    Nor is it discontent to keep the mind
    Deep in its fountain, lest it over boil
    In the hot throng, where we become the spoil
    Of our infection, till too late and long
    We may deplore and struggle with the coil,
    In wretched interchange of wrong for wrong
    Midst a contentious world, striving where none are strong.

    There, in a moment we may plunge our years
    In fatal penitence, and in the blight
    Of our own soul turn all our blood to tears,
    And colour things to come with hues of Night;
    The race of life becomes a hopeless flight
    To those that walk in darkness: on the sea
    The boldest steer but where their ports invite;
    But there are wanderers o'er Eternity
    Whose bark drives on and on, and anchor'd ne'er shall be.

    Is it not better, then, to be alone,
    And love Earth only for its earthly sake?
    By the blue rushing of the arrowy Rhone,
    Or the pure bosom of its nursing lake,
    Which feeds it as a mother who doth make
    A fair but froward infant her own care, 
    Kissing its cries away as these awake--
    Is it not better thus our lives to wear,
    Than join the crushing crowd, doom'd to inflict or bear?

    I live not in myself, but I become
    Portion of that around me; and to me
    High mountains are a feeling, but the hum
    Of human cities torture: I can see
    Nothing to loathe in nature, save to be
    A link reluctant in a fleshly chain,
    Class'd among creatures, when the soul can flee,
    And with the sky--the peak--the heaving plain
    Of ocean, or the stars, mingle--and not in vain.

    And thus I am absorb'd, and this is life:
    I look upon the peopled desert past,
    As on a place of agony and strife,
    Where, for some sin, to sorrow I was cast,
    To act and suffer, but remount at last
    With a fresh pinion; which I feel to spring,
    Though young, yet waxing vigorous as the blast
    Which it would cope with, on delighted wing,
    Spurning the clay-cold bonds which round our being cling.

    And when, at length, the mind shall be all free
    From what it hates in this degraded form,
    Reft of its carnal life, save what shall be
    Existent happier in the fly and worm,
    When elements to elements conform,
    And dust is as it should be, shall I not
    Feel all I see, less dazzling, but more warm?
    The bodiless thought? the Spirit of each spot?
    Of which, even now, I share at times the immortal lot?

    Are not the mountains, waves and skies a part
    Of me and of my soul, as I of them?
    Is not the love of these deep in my heart
    With a pure passion? should I not contemn
    All objects, if compar'd with these? and stem
    A tide of suffering, rather than forego
    Such feelings for the hard and worldly phlegm
    Of those whose eyes are only turn'd below,
    Gazing upon the ground, with thoughts which dare not glow?





She Walks in Beauty, Like the Night

SHE walks in beauty, like the night 
Of cloudless climes and starry skies, 
And all that's best of dark and bright 
Meets in her aspect and her eyes; 
Thus mellow'd to that tender light 5
Which Heaven to gaudy day denies. 

One shade the more, one ray the less, 
Had half impair'd the nameless grace 
Which waves in every raven tress 
Or softly lightens o'er her face, 10
Where thoughts serenely sweet express 
How pure, how dear their dwelling-place. 

And on that cheek and o'er that brow 
So soft, so calm, yet eloquent, 
The smiles that win, the tints that glow, 15
But tell of days in goodness spent,- 
A mind at peace with all below, 
A heart whose love is innocent. 

Gainsborough, Thomas
Mrs. Peter William Baker 1781






First Publication Date: 1816

    I had a dream, which was not all a dream. 
    The bright sun was extinguish'd, and the stars
    Did wander darkling in the eternal space,
    Rayless, and pathless, and the icy earth
    Swung blind and blackening in the moonless air;
    Morn came and went--and came, and brought no day,
    And men forgot their passions in the dread
    Of this their desolation; and all hearts
    Were chill'd into a selfish prayer for light:
    And they did live by watchfires--and the thrones,
    The palaces of crowned kings--the huts,
    The habitations of all things which dwell,
    Were burnt for beacons; cities were consum'd,
    And men were gather'd round their blazing homes
    To look once more into each other's face;
    Happy were those who dwelt within the eye
    Of the volcanos, and their mountain-torch:
    A fearful hope was all the world contain'd;
    Forests were set on fire--but hour by hour
    They fell and faded--and the crackling trunks
    Extinguish'd with a crash--and all was black.
    The brows of men by the despairing light
    Wore an unearthly aspect, as by fits
     The flashes fell upon them; some lay down
    And hid their eyes and wept; and some did rest
    Their chins upon their clenched hands, and smil'd;
    And others hurried to and fro, and fed
    Their funeral piles with fuel, and look'd up
    With mad disquietude on the dull sky,
    The pall of a past world; and then again
    With curses cast them down upon the dust,
    And gnash'd their teeth and howl'd: the wild birds shriek'd
    And, terrified, did flutter on the ground,
    And flap their useless wings; the wildest brutes
    Came tame and tremulous; and vipers crawl'd
    And twin'd themselves among the multitude,
    Hissing, but stingless--they were slain for food.
    And War, which for a moment was no more,
    Did glut himself again: a meal was bought
    With blood, and each sate sullenly apart
    Gorging himself in gloom: no love was left;
    All earth was but one thought--and that was death
    Immediate and inglorious; and the pang
    Of famine fed upon all entrails--men
    Died, and their bones were tombless as their flesh; 
    The meagre by the meagre were devour'd,
    Even dogs assail'd their masters, all save one,
    And he was faithful to a corse, and kept
    The birds and beasts and famish'd men at bay,
    Till hunger clung them, or the dropping dead
    Lur'd their lank jaws; himself sought out no food,
    But with a piteous and perpetual moan,
    And a quick desolate cry, licking the hand
    Which answer'd not with a caress--he died.
    The crowd was famish'd by degrees; but two
    Of an enormous city did survive,
    And they were enemies: they met beside
    The dying embers of an altar-place
    Where had been heap'd a mass of holy things
    For an unholy usage; they rak'd up,
    And shivering scrap'd with their cold skeleton hands
    The feeble ashes, and their feeble breath
    Blew for a little life, and made a flame
    Which was a mockery; then they lifted up
    Their eyes as it grew lighter, and beheld
    Each other's aspects--saw, and shriek'd, and died-
    Even of their mutual hideousness they died,
    Unknowing who he was upon whose brow
    Famine had written Fiend. The world was void,
    The populous and the powerful was a lump,
    Seasonless, herbless, treeless, manless, lifeless--
    A lump of death--a chaos of hard clay.
    The rivers, lakes and ocean all stood still,
    And nothing stirr'd within their silent depths;
    Ships sailorless lay rotting on the sea,
    And their masts fell down piecemeal: as they dropp'd
    They slept on the abyss without a surge--
    The waves were dead; the tides were in their grave,
    The moon, their mistress, had expir'd before;
    The winds were wither'd in the stagnant air,
    And the clouds perish'd; Darkness had no need
    Of aid from them--She was the Universe.




Robert Burns (1759-1796)


1 Wee, sleeket, cowrin, tim'rous beastie, 
2 Oh, what a panic's in thy breastie!
3 Thou need na start awa sae hasty
4   Wi' bickerin brattle!
5 I wad be laith to rin an' chase thee
6   Wi' murd'ring pattle!

7 I'm truly sorry man's dominion
8 Has broken Nature's social union,
9 An' justifies that ill opinion
10   Which makes thee startle
11 At me, thy poor earth-born companion,
12   An' fellow-mortal!

13 I doubt na, whyles, but thou may thieve:
14 What then? poor beastie, thou maun live!
15 A daimen icker in a thrave
16   'S a sma' request;
17 I'll get a blessin wi' the lave,
18   An' never miss 't!

19 Thy wee bit housie, too, in ruin!
20 Its silly wa's the win's are strewin!
21 An' naething, now, to big a new ane,
22   O' foggage green!
23 An' bleak December's winds ensuin
24   Baith snell an' keen!

25 Thou saw the fields laid bare an' wast,
26 An' weary winter comin fast,
27 An' cozie here beneath the blast
28   Thou thought to dwell,
29 Till crash! the cruel coulter past
30   Out thro' thy cell.

31 That wee bit heap o' leaves an' stibble
32 Has cost thee monie a weary nibble!
33 Now thou's turn'd out for a' thy trouble,
34   But house or hald,
35 To thole the winter's sleety dribble
36   An' cranreuch cauld!

37 But, Mousie, thou art no thy lane
38 In proving foresight may be vain:
39 The best laid schemes o' mice an' men
40   Gang aft agley,
41 An' lea'e us nought but grief an' pain
42   For promis'd joy.

43 Still thou art blest, compar'd wi' me!
44 The present only toucheth thee:
45 But, och! I backward cast my e'e
46   On prospects drear!
47 An' forward, tho' I canna see,
48   I guess an' fear! 





1 Ae fond kiss, and then we sever; 
2 Ae fareweel, and then forever! 
3 Deep in heart-wrung tears I'll pledge thee, 
4 Warring sighs and groans I'll wage thee. 
5 Who shall say that Fortune grieves him, 
6 While the star of hope she leaves him? 
7 Me, nae cheerfu' twinkle lights me; 
8 Dark despair around benights me. 
9 I'll ne'er blame my partial fancy, 
10 Naething could resist my Nancy; 
11 But to see her was to love her; 
12 Love but her, and love forever. 
13 Had we never lov'd sae kindly, 
14 Had we never lov'd sae blindly, 
15 Never met--or never parted-- 
16 We had ne'er been broken-hearted. 
17 Fare thee weel, thou first and fairest! 
18 Fare thee weel, thou best and dearest! 
19 Thine be ilka joy and treasure, 
20 Peace. enjoyment, love, and pleasure! 
21 Ae fond kiss, and then we sever; 
22 Ae fareweel, alas, forever! 
23 Deep in heart-wrung tears I'll pledge thee, 
24 Warring sighs and groans I'll wage thee!

The Village Betrothal (1764) Jean-Baptiste Greuze









William Wordsworth (1770-1850)

Residence in France
(from The Prelude, Book 11, lines 105-145)

O pleasant exercise of hope and joy!
For mighty were the auxiliars which then stood
Upon our side, us who were strong in love!
Bliss was it in that dawn to be alive,
But to be young was very Heaven! O times,
In which the meagre, stale, forbidding ways 110
Of custom, law, and statute, took at once
The attraction of a country in romance!
When Reason seemed the most to assert her rights
When most intent on making of herself
A prime enchantress--to assist the work,
Which then was going forward in her name!
Not favoured spots alone, but the whole Earth,
The beauty wore of promise--that which sets
(As at some moments might not be unfelt
Among the bowers of Paradise itself) 
The budding rose above the rose full blown.
What temper at the prospect did not wake
To happiness unthought of? The inert
Were roused, and lively natures rapt away!
They who had fed their childhood upon dreams,
The play-fellows of fancy, who had made
All powers of swiftness, subtilty, and strength
Their ministers,--who in lordly wise had stirred
Among the grandest objects of the sense,
And dealt with whatsoever they found there 
As if they had within some lurking right
To wield it;--they, too, who of gentle mood
Had watched all gentle motions, and to these
Had fitted their own thoughts, schemers more mild,
And in the region of their peaceful selves;--
Now was it that 'both' found, the meek and lofty
Did both find, helpers to their hearts' desire,
And stuff at hand, plastic as they could wish,--
Were called upon to exercise their skill,
Not in Utopia,--subterranean fields,-- 140
Or some secreted island, Heaven knows where!
But in the very world, which is the world
Of all of us,--the place where, in the end,
We find our happiness, or not at all!

Liberty Leading the People (1830), Delacroix





















First published in Lyrical Ballads (1798)

--------A SIMPLE Child,
That lightly draws its breath,
And feels its life in every limb,
What should it know of death?

I met a little cottage Girl:
She was eight years old, she said;
Her hair was thick with many a curl
That clustered round her head.

She had a rustic, woodland air,
And she was wildly clad: 
Her eyes were fair, and very fair;
--Her beauty made me glad.

"Sisters and brothers, little Maid,
How many may you be?"
"How many? Seven in all," she said
And wondering looked at me.

"And where are they? I pray you tell."
She answered, "Seven are we;
And two of us at Conway dwell,
And two are gone to sea. 20

"Two of us in the church-yard lie,
My sister and my brother;
And, in the church-yard cottage, I
Dwell near them with my mother."

"You say that two at Conway dwell,
And two are gone to sea,
Yet ye are seven!--I pray you tell,
Sweet Maid, how this may be."

Then did the little Maid reply,
"Seven boys and girls are we; 30
Two of us in the church-yard lie,
Beneath the church-yard tree."

"You run about, my little Maid,
Your limbs they are alive;
If two are in the church-yard laid,
Then ye are only five."

"Their graves are green, they may be seen,"
The little Maid replied,
"Twelve steps or more from my mother's door,
And they are side by side. 40

"My stockings there I often knit,
My kerchief there I hem;
And there upon the ground I sit,
And sing a song to them.

"And often after sunset, Sir,
When it is light and fair,
I take my little porringer,
And eat my supper there.

"The first that died was sister Jane;
In bed she moaning lay, 50
Till God released her of her pain;
And then she went away.

"So in the church-yard she was laid;
And, when the grass was dry,
Together round her grave we played,
My brother John and I.

"And when the ground was white with snow,
And I could run and slide,
My brother John was forced to go,
And he lies by her side." 60

"How many are you, then," said I,
"If they two are in heaven?"
Quick was the little Maid's reply,
"O Master! we are seven."

"But they are dead; those two are dead!
Their spirits are in heaven!"
'Twas throwing words away; for still
The little Maid would have her will,
And said, "Nay, we are seven!"







First Published in Lyrical Ballads (1798)

IN the sweet shire of Cardigan,
Not far from pleasant Ivor-hall,
An old Man dwells, a little man,--
'Tis said he once was tall.
Full five-and-thirty years he lived
A running huntsman merry;
And still the centre of his cheek
Is red as a ripe cherry.

No man like him the horn could sound,
And hill and valley rang with glee 10
When Echo bandied, round and round,
The halloo of Simon Lee.
In those proud days, he little cared
For husbandry or tillage;
To blither tasks did Simon rouse
The sleepers of the village.

He all the country could outrun,
Could leave both man and horse behind;
And often, ere the chase was done,
He reeled, and was stone-blind. 20
And still there's something in the world
At which his heart rejoices;
For when the chiming hounds are out,
He dearly loves their voices!

But, oh the heavy change!--bereft
Of health, strength, friends, and kindred, see!
Old Simon to the world is left
In liveried poverty.
His Master's dead,--and no one now
Dwells in the Hall of Ivor; 30
Men, dogs, and horses, all are dead;
He is the sole survivor.

And he is lean and he is sick;
His body, dwindled and awry,
Rests upon ankles swoln and thick;
His legs are thin and dry.
One prop he has, and only one,
His wife, an aged woman,
Lives with him, near the waterfall,
Upon the village Common. 40

Beside their moss-grown hut of clay,
Not twenty paces from the door,
A scrap of land they have, but they
Are poorest of the poor.
This scrap of land he from the heath
Enclosed when he was stronger;
But what to them avails the land
Which he can till no longer?

Oft, working by her Husband's side,
Ruth does what Simon cannot do; 50
For she, with scanty cause for pride,
Is stouter of the two.
And, though you with your utmost skill
From labour could not wean them,
'Tis little, very little--all
That they can do between them.

Few months of life has he in store
As he to you will tell,
For still, the more he works, the more
Do his weak ankles swell. 60
My gentle Reader, I perceive
How patiently you've waited,
And now I fear that you expect
Some tale will be related.

O Reader! had you in your mind
Such stores as silent thought can bring,
O gentle Reader! you would find
A tale in every thing.
What more I have to say is short,
And you must kindly take it: 70
It is no tale; but, should you think,
Perhaps a tale you'll make it.

One summer-day I chanced to see
This old Man doing all he could
To unearth the root of an old tree,
A stump of rotten wood.
The mattock tottered in his hand;
So vain was his endeavour,
That at the root of the old tree
He might have worked for ever. 80

"You're overtasked, good Simon Lee,
Give me your tool," to him I said;
And at the word right gladly he
Received my proffered aid.
I struck, and with a single blow
The tangled root I severed,
At which the poor old Man so long
And vainly had endeavoured.

The tears into his eyes were brought,
And thanks and praises seemed to run 90
So fast out of his heart, I thought
They never would have done.
--I've heard of hearts unkind, kind deeds
With coldness still returning;
Alas! the gratitude of men
Hath oftener left me mourning.









1 Oh! what's the matter? what's the matter?
2 What is't that ails young Harry Gill?
3 That evermore his teeth they chatter,
4 Chatter, chatter, chatter still.
5 Of waistcoats Harry has no lack,
6 Good duffle grey, and flannel fine;
7 He has a blanket on his back,
8 And coats enough to smother nine. 

9 In March, December, and in July,
10 'Tis all the same with Harry Gill;
11 The neighbours tell, and tell you truly,
12 His teeth they chatter, chatter still.
13 At night, at morning, and at noon,
14 'Tis all the same with Harry Gill;
15 Beneath the sun, beneath the moon,
16 His teeth they chatter, chatter still. 
17 Young Harry was a lusty drover,
18 And who so stout of limb as he?
19 His cheeks were red as ruddy clover,
20 His voice was like the voice of three.
21 Auld Goody Blake was old and poor,
22 Ill fed she was, and thinly clad;
23 And any man who pass'd her door,
24 Might see how poor a hut she had. 

25 All day she spun in her poor dwelling,
26 And then her three hours' work at night!
27 Alas! 'twas hardly worth the telling,
28 It would not pay for candle-light.
29 --This woman dwelt in Dorsetshire,
30 Her hut was on a cold hill-side,
31 And in that country coals are dear,
32 For they come far by wind and tide. 
33 By the same fire to boil their pottage,
34 Two poor old dames, as I have known,
35 Will often live in one small cottage,
36 But she, poor woman, dwelt alone.
37 'Twas well enough when summer came,
38 The long, warm, lightsome summer-day,
39 Then at her door the canty dame
40 Would sit, as any linnet gay. 

41 But when the ice our streams did fetter,
42 Oh! then how her old bones would shake!
43 You would have said, if you had met her,
44 'Twas a hard time for Goody Blake.
45 Her evenings then were dull and dead;
46 Sad case it was, as you may think,
47 For very cold to go to bed,
48 And then for cold not sleep a wink. 
49 Oh joy for her! when e'er in winter
50 The winds at night had made a rout,
51 And scatter'd many a lusty splinter,
52 And many a rotten bough about.
53 Yet never bad she, well or sick,
54 As every man who knew her says,
55 A pile before-hand, wood or stick,
56 Enough to warm her for three days. 

57 Now, when the frost was past enduring,
58 And made her poor old bones to ache,
59 Could any thing be more alluring,
60 Than an old hedge to Goody Blake?
61 And now and then, it must be said,
62 When her old bones were cold and chill,
63 She left her fire, or left her bed,
64 To seek the hedge of Harry Gill. 
65 Now Harry he had long suspected
66 This trespass of old Goody Blake,
67 And vow'd that she should be detected,
68 And he on her would vengeance take.
69 And oft from his warm fire he'd go,
70 And to the fields his road would take,
71 And there, at night, in frost and snow,
72 He watch'd to seize old Goody Blake. 

73 And once, behind a rick of barley,
74 Thus looking out did Harry stand;
75 The moon was full and shining clearly,
76 And crisp with frost the stubble-land.
77 --He hears a noise--he's all awake--
78 Again?--on tip-toe down the hill
79 He softly creeps--'Tis Goody Blake,
80 She's at the hedge of Harry Gill. 
81 Right glad was he when he beheld her:
82 Stick after stick did Goody pull, 
83 He stood behind a bush of elder,
84 Till she had filled her apron full.
85 When with her load she turned about,
86 The bye-road back again to take,
87 He started forward with a shout,
88 And sprang upon poor Goody Blake. 

89 And fiercely by the arm he took her,
90 And by the arm he held her fast,
91 And fiercely by the arm he shook her,
92 And cried, "I've caught you then at last!"
93 Then Goody, who had nothing said,
94 Her bundle from her lap let fall;
95 And kneeling on the sticks, she pray'd
96 To God that is the judge of all. 
97 She pray'd, her wither'd hand uprearing,
98 While Harry held her by the arm--
99 "God! who art never out of hearing,
100 O may he never more be warm!"
101 The cold, cold moon above her head,
102 Thus on her knees did Goody pray,
103 Young Harry heard what she had said,
104 And icy-cold he turned away. 

105 He went complaining all the morrow
106 That he was cold and very chill:
107 His face was gloom, his heart was sorrow,
108 Alas! that day for Harry Gill!
109 That day he wore a riding-coat,
110 But not a whit the warmer he:
111 Another was on Thursday brought,
112 And ere the Sabbath he had three. 
113 'Twas all in vain, a useless matter,
114 And blankets were about him pinn'd;
115 Yet still his jaws and teeth they clatter,
116 Like a loose casement in the wind.
117 And Harry's flesh it fell away;
118 And all who see him say 'tis plain,
119 That, live as long as live he may,
120 He never will be warm again. 

121 No word to any man he utters,
122 A-bed or up, to young or old;
123 But ever to himself he mutters,
124 "Poor Harry Gill is very cold."
125 A-bed or up, by night or day;
126 His teeth they chatter, chatter still.
127 Now think, ye farmers all, I pray,
128 Of Goody Blake and Harry Gill. 








1 Her eyes are wild, her head is bare,
2 The sun has burnt her coal-black hair,
3 Her eye-brows have a rusty stain,
4 And she came far from over the main.
5 She has a baby on her arm,
6 Or else she were alone;
7 And underneath the hay-stack warm,
8 And on the green-wood stone,
9 She talked and sung the woods among;
10 And it was in the English tongue. 

11 "Sweet babe! they say that I am mad,
12 But nay, my heart is far too glad;
13 And I am happy when I sing
14 Full many a sad and doleful thing:
15 Then, lovely baby, do not fear!
16 I pray thee have no fear of me,
17 But, safe as in a cradle, here
18 My lovely baby! thou shalt be,
19 To thee I know too much I owe;
20 I cannot work thee any woe. 
21 A fire was once within my brain;
22 And in my head a dull, dull pain;
23 And fiendish faces one, two, three,
24 Hung at my breasts, and pulled at me.
25 But then there came a sight of joy;
26 It came at once to do me good;
27 I waked, and saw my little boy,
28 My little boy of flesh and blood;
29 Oh joy for me that sight to see!
30 For he was here, and only he. 

31 Suck, little babe, oh suck again!
32 It cools my blood; it cools my brain;
33 Thy lips I feel them, baby! they
34 Draw from my heart the pain away.
35 Oh! press me with thy little hand;
36 It loosens something at my chest;
37 About that tight and deadly band
38 I feel thy little fingers press'd.
39 The breeze I see is in the tree;
40 It comes to cool my babe and me. 
41 Oh! love me, love me, little boy!
42 Thou art thy mother's only joy;
43 And do not dread the waves below,
44 When o'er the sea-rock's edge we go;
45 The high crag cannot work me harm,
46 Nor leaping torrents when they howl;
47 The babe I carry on my arm,
48 He saves for me my precious soul;
49 Then happy lie, for blest am I;
50 Without me my sweet babe would die. 

51 Then do not fear, my boy! for thee
52 Bold as a lion I will be;
53 And I will always be thy guide,
54 Through hollow snows and rivers wide.
55 I'll build an Indian bower; I know
56 The leaves that make the softest bed:
57 And if from me thou wilt not go,
58 But still be true 'till I am dead,
59 My pretty thing! then thou shalt sing,
60 As merry as the birds in spring. 
61 Thy father cares not for my breast,
62 'Tis thine, sweet baby, there to rest:
63 'Tis all thine own! and if its hue
64 Be changed, that was so fair to view,
65 'Tis fair enough for thee, my dove!
66 My beauty, little child, is flown;
67 But thou wilt live with me in love,
68 And what if my poor cheek be brown?
69 'Tis well for me; thou canst not see
70 How pale and wan it else would be. 

71 Dread not their taunts, my little life!
72 I am thy father's wedded wife;
73 And underneath the spreading tree
74 We two will live in honesty.
75 If his sweet boy he could forsake,
76 With me he never would have stay'd:
77 From him no harm my babe can take,
78 But he, poor man! is wretched made,
79 And every day we two will pray 
80 For him that's gone and far away. 
81 I'll teach my boy the sweetest things;
82 I'll teach him how the owlet sings.
83 My little babe! thy lips are still,
84 And thou hast almost suck'd thy fill.
85 --Where art thou gone my own dear child?
86 What wicked looks are those I see?
87 Alas! alas! that look so wild,
88 It never, never came from me:
89 If thou art mad, my pretty lad,
90 Then I must be for ever sad. 

91 Oh! smile on me, my little lamb!
92 For I thy own dear mother am.
93 My love for thee has well been tried:
94 I've sought thy father far and wide.
95 I know the poisons of the shade,
96 I know the earth-nuts fit for food;
97 Then, pretty dear, be not afraid;
98 We'll find thy father in the wood.
99 Now laugh and be gay, to the woods away!
100 And there, my babe; we'll live for aye. 








BEHOLD her, single in the field,
Yon solitary Highland Lass!
Reaping and singing by herself;
Stop here, or gently pass!
Alone she cuts and binds the grain,
And sings a melancholy strain;
O listen! for the Vale profound
Is overflowing with the sound.

No Nightingale did ever chaunt
More welcome notes to weary bands 
Of travelers in some shady haunt,
Among Arabian sands:
A voice so thrilling ne'er was heard
In spring-time from the Cuckoo-bird,
Breaking the silence of the seas
Among the farthest Hebrides.

Will no one tell me what she sings?--
Perhaps the plaintive numbers flow
For old, unhappy, far-off things,
And battles long ago: 
Or is it some more humble lay,
Familiar matter of to-day?
Some natural sorrow, loss, or pain,
That has been, and may be again?

Whate'er the theme, the Maiden sang
As if her song could have no ending;
I saw her singing at her work,
And o'er the sickle bending;--
I listened, motionless and still;
And, as I mounted up the hill
The music in my heart I bore,
Long after it was heard no more.






  • Original Text: William Wordsworth, Poems in Two Volumes (1807). See The Manuscript of William Wordsworth's Poems, in Two Volumes (1807): A Facsimile (London: British Library, 1984). bib MASS (Massey College Library, Toronto).

   I wandered lonely as a cloud 
   That floats on high o'er vales and hills,
   When all at once I saw a crowd,
   A host, of golden daffodils;
   Beside the lake, beneath the trees,
   Fluttering and dancing in the breeze.


   Continuous as the stars that shine
   And twinkle on the milky way,
   They stretched in never-ending line
   Along the margin of a bay:
   Ten thousand saw I at a glance,
   Tossing their heads in sprightly dance.


   The waves beside them danced; but they
   Out-did the sparkling waves in glee:
   A poet could not but be gay,
   In such a jocund company:
   I gazed--and gazed--but little thought
   What wealth the show to me had brought:


   For oft, when on my couch I lie
   In vacant or in pensive mood,
   They flash upon that inward eye
   Which is the bliss of solitude;
   And then my heart with pleasure fills,
   And dances with the daffodils.




Resolution and Independence (1807)


THERE was a roaring in the wind all night;
The rain came heavily and fell in floods;
But now the sun is rising calm and bright;
The birds are singing in the distant woods;
Over his own sweet voice the Stock-dove broods;
The Jay makes answer as the Magpie chatters;
And all the air is filled with pleasant noise of waters.


All things that love the sun are out of doors;
The sky rejoices in the morning's birth;
The grass is bright with rain-drops;--on the moors
The hare is running races in her mirth;
And with her feet she from the plashy earth
Raises a mist, that, glittering in the sun,
Runs with her all the way, wherever she doth run.


I was a Traveler then upon the moor,
I saw the hare that raced about with joy;
I heard the woods and distant waters roar;
Or heard them not, as happy as a boy:
The pleasant season did my heart employ:
My old remembrances went from me wholly;
And all the ways of men, so vain and melancholy.


But, as it sometimes chanceth, from the might
Of joy in minds that can no further go,
As high as we have mounted in delight
In our dejection do we sink as low;
To me that morning did it happen so;
And fears and fancies thick upon me came;
Dim sadness--and blind thoughts, I knew not, nor could name.


I heard the sky-lark warbling in the sky;
And I bethought me of the playful hare:
Even such a happy Child of earth am I;
Even as these blissful creatures do I fare;
Far from the world I walk, and from all care;
But there may come another day to me--
Solitude, pain of heart, distress, and poverty.


My whole life I have lived in pleasant thought,
As if life's business were a summer mood;
As if all needful things would come unsought
To genial faith, still rich in genial good;
But how can He expect that others should
Build for him, sow for him, and at his call
Love him, who for himself will take no heed at all?


I thought of Chatterton, the marvelous Boy,
The sleepless Soul that perished in his pride;
Of Him who walked in glory and in joy
Following his plough, along the mountain-side:
By our own spirits are we deified:
We Poets in our youth begin in gladness;
But thereof come in the end despondency and madness.


Now, whether it were by peculiar grace,
A leading from above, a something given,
Yet it befell, that, in this lonely place,
When I with these untoward thoughts had striven,
Beside a pool bare to the eye of heaven
I saw a Man before me unawares:
The oldest man he seemed that ever wore grey hairs.


As a huge stone is sometimes seen to lie
Couched on the bald top of an eminence;
Wonder to all who do the same espy,
By what means it could thither come, and whence;
So that it seems a thing endued with sense:
Like a sea-beast crawled forth, that on a shelf
Of rock or sand reposeth, there to sun itself;


Such seemed this Man, not all alive nor dead,
Nor all asleep--in his extreme old age:
His body was bent double, feet and head
Coming together in life's pilgrimage;
As if some dire constraint of pain, or rage
Of sickness felt by him in times long past,
A more than human weight upon his frame had cast.


Himself he propped, limbs, body, and pale face,
Upon a long grey staff of shaven wood:
And, still as I drew near with gentle pace,
Upon the margin of that moorish flood
Motionless as a cloud the old Man stood,
That heareth not the loud winds when they call
And moveth all together, if it move at all.


At length, himself unsettling, he the pond
Stirred with his staff, and fixedly did look
Upon the muddy water, which he conned,
As if he had been reading in a book:
And now a stranger's privilege I took;
And, drawing to his side, to him did say,
"This morning gives us promise of a glorious day."


A gentle answer did the old Man make,
In courteous speech which forth he slowly drew:
And him with further words I thus bespake,
"What occupation do you there pursue?
This is a lonesome place for one like you."
Ere he replied, a flash of mild surprise
Broke from the sable orbs of his yet-vivid eyes,


His words came feebly, from a feeble chest,
But each in solemn order followed each,
With something of a lofty utterance drest--
Choice word and measured phrase, above the reach
Of ordinary men; a stately speech;
Such as grave Livers do in Scotland use,
Religious men, who give to God and man their dues.


He told, that to these waters he had come
To gather leeches, being old and poor:
Employment hazardous and wearisome!
And he had many hardships to endure:
From pond to pond he roamed, from moor to moor;
Housing, with God's good help, by choice or chance,
And in this way he gained an honest maintenance.


The old Man still stood talking by my side;
But now his voice to me was like a stream
Scarce heard; nor word from word could I divide;
And the whole body of the Man did seem
Like one whom I had met with in a dream;
Or like a man from some far region sent,
To give me human strength, by apt admonishment.


My former thoughts returned: the fear that kills;
And hope that is unwilling to be fed;
Cold, pain, and labour, and all fleshly ills;
And mighty Poets in their misery dead.
--Perplexed, and longing to be comforted,
My question eagerly did I renew,
"How is it that you live, and what is it you do?"


He with a smile did then his words repeat;
And said, that, gathering leeches, far and wide
He traveled; stirring thus about his feet
The waters of the pools where they abide.
"Once I could meet with them on every side;
But they have dwindled long by slow decay;
Yet still I persevere, and find them where I may."


While he was talking thus, the lonely place,
The old Man's shape, and speech--all troubled me:
In my mind's eye I seemed to see him pace
About the weary moors continually,
Wandering about alone and silently.
While I these thoughts within myself pursued,
He, having made a pause, the same discourse renewed.


And soon with this he other matter blended,
Cheerfully uttered, with demeanour kind,
But stately in the main; and when he ended,
I could have laughed myself to scorn to find
In that decrepit Man so firm a mind.
"God," said I, "be my help and stay secure;
I'll think of the Leech-gatherer on the lonely moor!"







'TIS eight o'clock,--a clear March night,
The moon is up,--the sky is blue,
The owlet, in the moonlight air,
Shouts from nobody knows where;
He lengthens out his lonely shout,
Halloo! halloo! a long halloo!

--Why bustle thus about your door,
What means this bustle, Betty Foy?
Why are you in this mighty fret?
And why on horseback have you set                    10
Him whom you love, your Idiot Boy?

Scarcely a soul is out of bed;
Good Betty, put him down again;
His lips with joy they burr at you;
But, Betty! what has he to do
With stirrup, saddle, or with rein?

But Betty's bent on her intent;
For her good neighbour, Susan Gale,
Old Susan, she who dwells alone,
Is sick, and makes a piteous moan                      20
As if her very life would fail.

There's not a house within a mile,
No hand to help them in distress;
Old Susan lies a-bed in pain,
And sorely puzzled are the twain,
For what she ails they cannot guess.

And Betty's husband's at the wood,
Where by the week he doth abide,
A woodman in the distant vale;
There's none to help poor Susan Gale;               30
What must be done? what will betide?

And Betty from the lane has fetched
Her Pony, that is mild and good;
Whether he be in joy or pain,
Feeding at will along the lane,
Or bringing faggots from the wood.

And he is all in travelling trim,--
And, by the moonlight, Betty Foy
Has on the well-girt saddle set
(The like was never heard of yet)                     40
Him whom she loves, her Idiot Boy.

And he must post without delay
Across the bridge and through the dale,
And by the church, and o'er the down,
To bring a Doctor from the town,
Or she will die, old Susan Gale.

There is no need of boot or spur,
There is no need of whip or wand;
For Johnny has his holly-bough,
And with a 'hurly-burly' now                          50
He shakes the green bough in his hand.

And Betty o'er and o'er has told
The Boy, who is her best delight,
Both what to follow, what to shun,
What do, and what to leave undone,
How turn to left, and how to right.

And Betty's most especial charge,
Was, "Johnny! Johnny! mind that you
Come home again, nor stop at all,--
Come home again, whate'er befall,                60
My Johnny, do, I pray you do."

To this did Johnny answer make,
Both with his head and with his hand,
And proudly shook the bridle too;
And then! his words were not a few,
Which Betty well could understand.

And now that Johnny is just going,
Though Betty's in a mighty flurry,
She gently pats the Pony's side,
On which her Idiot Boy must ride,               70
And seems no longer in a hurry.

But when the Pony moved his legs,
Oh! then for the poor Idiot Boy!
For joy he cannot hold the bridle,
For joy his head and heels are idle,
He's idle all for very joy.

And while the Pony moves his legs,
In Johnny's left hand you may see
The green bough motionless and dead:
The Moon that shines above his head          80
Is not more still and mute than he.

His heart it was so full of glee,
That till full fifty yards were gone,
He quite forgot his holly whip,
And all his skill in horsemanship:
Oh! happy, happy, happy John.

And while the Mother, at the door,
Stands fixed, her face with joy o'erflows,
Proud of herself, and proud of him,
She sees him in his travelling trim,               90
How quietly her Johnny goes.

The silence of her Idiot Boy,
What hopes it sends to Betty's heart!
He's at the guide-post--he turns right;
She watches till he's out of sight,
And Betty will not then depart.

Burr, burr--now Johnny's lips they burr,
As loud as any mill, or near it;
Meek as a lamb the Pony moves,
And Johnny makes the noise he loves,       100
And Betty listens, glad to hear it.

Away she hies to Susan Gale:
Her Messenger's in merry tune;
The owlets hoot, the owlets curr,
And Johnny's lips they burr, burr, burr,
As on he goes beneath the moon.

His steed and he right well agree;
For of this Pony there's a rumour,
That, should he lose his eyes and ears,
And should he live a thousand years,         110
He never will be out of humour.

But then he is a horse that thinks!
And when he thinks, his pace is slack;
Now, though he knows poor Johnny well,
Yet, for his life, he cannot tell
What he has got upon his back.

So through the moonlight lanes they go,
And far into the moonlight dale,
And by the church, and o'er the down,
To bring a Doctor from the town,             120
To comfort poor old Susan Gale.

And Betty, now at Susan's side,
Is in the middle of her story,
What speedy help her Boy will bring,
With many a most diverting thing,
Of Johnny's wit, and Johnny's glory.

And Betty, still at Susan's side,
By this time is not quite so flurried:
Demure with porringer and plate
She sits, as if in Susan's fate                      130
Her life and soul were buried.

But Betty, poor good woman! she,
You plainly in her face may read it,
Could lend out of that moment's store
Five years of happiness or more
To any that might need it.

But yet I guess that now and then
With Betty all was not so well;
And to the road she turns her ears,
And thence full many a sound she hears,     140
Which she to Susan will not tell.

Poor Susan moans, poor Susan groans;
"As sure as there's a moon in heaven,"
Cries Betty, "he'll be back again;
They'll both be here--'tis almost ten--
Both will be here before eleven."

Poor Susan moans, poor Susan groans;
The clock gives warning for eleven;
'Tis on the stroke--"He must be near,"
Quoth Betty, "and will soon be here,          150
As sure as there's a moon in heaven."

The clock is on the stroke of twelve,
And Johnny is not yet in sight:
--The Moon's in heaven, as Betty sees,
But Betty is not quite at ease;
And Susan has a dreadful night.

And Betty, half an hour ago,
On Johnny vile reflections cast:
"A little idle sauntering Thing!"
With other names, an endless string;         160
But now that time is gone and past.

And Betty's drooping at the heart,
That happy time all past and gone,
"How can it be he is so late?
The Doctor, he has made him wait;
Susan! they'll both be here anon."

And Susan's growing worse and worse,
And Betty's in a sad 'quandary';
And then there's nobody to say
If she must go, or she must stay!             170
--She's in a sad 'quandary'.

The clock is on the stroke of one;
But neither Doctor nor his Guide
Appears along the moonlight road;
There's neither horse nor man abroad,
And Betty's still at Susan's side.

And Susan now begins to fear
Of sad mischances not a few,
That Johnny may perhaps be drowned;
Or lost, perhaps, and never found;          180
Which they must both for ever rue.

She prefaced half a hint of this
With, "God forbid it should be true!"
At the first word that Susan said
Cried Betty, rising from the bed,
"Susan, I'd gladly stay with you.

"I must be gone, I must away:
Consider, Johnny's but half-wise;
Susan, we must take care of him,
If he is hurt in life or limb"--                   190
"Oh God forbid!" poor Susan cries.

"What can I do?" says Betty, going,
"What can I do to ease your pain?
Good Susan tell me, and I'll stay;
I fear you're in a dreadful way,
But I shall soon be back again."

"Nay, Betty, go! good Betty, go!
There's nothing that can ease my pain,"
Then off she hies, but with a prayer
That God poor Susan's life would spare,     200
Till she comes back again.

So, through the moonlight lane she goes,
And far into the moonlight dale;
And how she ran, and how she walked,
And all that to herself she talked,
Would surely be a tedious tale.

In high and low, above, below,
In great and small, in round and square,
In tree and tower was Johnny seen,
In bush and brake, in black and green;       210
'Twas Johnny, Johnny, every where.

And while she crossed the bridge, there came
A thought with which her heart is sore--
Johnny perhaps his horse forsook,
To hunt the moon within the brook,
And never will be heard of more.

Now is she high upon the down,
Alone amid a prospect wide;
There's neither Johnny nor his Horse
Among the fern or in the gorse;                 220
There's neither Doctor nor his Guide.

"O saints! what is become of him?
Perhaps he's climbed into an oak,
Where he will stay till he is dead;
Or, sadly he has been misled,
And joined the wandering gipsy-folk.

"Or him that wicked Pony's carried
To the dark cave, the goblin's hall;
Or in the castle he's pursuing
Among the ghosts his own undoing;          230
Or playing with the waterfall."

At poor old Susan then she railed,
While to the town she posts away;
"If Susan had not been so ill,
Alas! I should have had him still,
My Johnny, till my dying day."

Poor Betty, in this sad distemper,
The Doctor's self could hardly spare:
Unworthy things she talked, and wild;
Even he, of cattle the most mild,               240
The Pony had his share.

But now she's fairly in the town,
And to the Doctor's door she hies;
'Tis silence all on every side;
The town so long, the town so wide,
Is silent as the skies.

And now she's at the Doctor's door,
She lifts the knocker, rap, rap, rap;
The Doctor at the casement shows
His glimmering eyes that peep and doze!    250
And one hand rubs his old night-cap.

"O Doctor! Doctor! where's my Johnny?"
"I'm here, what is't you want with me?"
"O Sir! you know I'm Betty Foy,
And I have lost my poor dear Boy,
You know him--him you often see;

"He's not so wise as some folks be:"
"The devil take his wisdom!" said
The Doctor, looking somewhat grim,
"What, Woman! should I know of him?"       260
And, grumbling, he went back to bed!

"O woe is me! O woe is me!
Here will I die, here will I die;
I thought to find my lost one here,
But he is neither far nor near,
Oh! what a wretched Mother I!"

She stops, she stands, she looks about;
Which way to turn she cannot tell.
Poor Betty! it would ease her pain
If she had heart to knock again;                   270
--The clock strikes three--a dismal knell!

Then up along the town she hies,
No wonder if her senses fail;
This piteous news so much it shocked her,
She quite forgot to send the Doctor,
To comfort poor old Susan Gale.

And now she's high upon the down,
And she can see a mile of road:
"O cruel! I'm almost threescore;
Such night as this was ne'er before,              280
There's not a single soul abroad."

She listens, but she cannot hear
The foot of horse, the voice of man;
The streams with softest sound are flowing,
The grass you almost hear it growing,
You hear it now, if e'er you can.

The owlets through the long blue night
Are shouting to each other still:
Fond lovers! yet not quite hob nob,
They lengthen out the tremulous sob,             290
That echoes far from hill to hill.

Poor Betty now has lost all hope,
Her thoughts are bent on deadly sin,
A green-grown pond she just has past,
And from the brink she hurries fast,
Lest she should drown herself therein.

And now she sits her down and weeps;
Such tears she never shed before;
"Oh dear, dear Pony! my sweet joy!
Oh carry back my Idiot Boy!                       300
And we will ne'er o'erload thee more."

A thought is come into her head:
The Pony he is mild and good,
And we have always used him well;
Perhaps he's gone along the dell,
And carried Johnny to the wood.

Then up she springs as if on wings;
She thinks no more of deadly sin;
If Betty fifty ponds should see,
The last of all her thoughts would be           310
To drown herself therein.

O Reader! now that I might tell
What Johnny and his Horse are doing
What they've been doing all this time,
Oh could I put it into rhyme,
A most delightful tale pursuing!

Perhaps, and no unlikely thought!
He with his Pony now doth roam
The cliffs and peaks so high that are,
To lay his hands upon a star,                    320
And in his pocket bring it home.

Perhaps he's turned himself about,
His face unto his horse's tail,
And, still and mute, in wonder lost,
All silent as a horseman-ghost,
He travels slowly down the vale.

And now, perhaps, is hunting sheep,
A fierce and dreadful hunter he;
Yon valley, now so trim and green,
In five months' time, should he be seen,          330
A desert wilderness will be!

Perhaps, with head and heels on fire,
And like the very soul of evil,
He's galloping away, away,
And so will gallop on for aye,
The bane of all that dread the devil!

I to the Muses have been bound
These fourteen years, by strong indentures:
O gentle Muses! let me tell
But half of what to him befell;                        340
He surely met with strange adventures.

O gentle Muses! is this kind?
Why will ye thus my suit repel?
Why of your further aid bereave me?
And can ye thus unfriended leave me
Ye Muses! whom I love so well?

Who's yon, that, near the waterfall,
Which thunders down with headlong force,
Beneath the moon, yet shining fair,
As careless as if nothing were,                      350
Sits upright on a feeding horse?

Unto his horse--there feeding free,
He seems, I think, the rein to give;
Of moon or stars he takes no heed;
Of such we in romances read:
--'Tis Johnny! Johnny! as I live.

And that's the very Pony, too!
Where is she, where is Betty Foy?
She hardly can sustain her fears;
The roaring waterfall she hears,                    360
And cannot find her Idiot Boy.

Your Pony's worth his weight in gold:
Then calm your terrors, Betty Foy!
She's coming from among the trees,
And now all full in view she sees
Him whom she loves, her Idiot Boy.

And Betty sees the Pony too:
Why stand you thus, good Betty Foy?
It is no goblin, 'tis no ghost,
'Tis he whom you so long have lost,             370
He whom you love, your Idiot Boy.

She looks again--her arms are up--
She screams--she cannot move for joy;
She darts, as with a torrent's force,
She almost has o'erturned the Horse,
And fast she holds her Idiot Boy.

And Johnny burrs, and laughs aloud;
Whether in cunning or in joy
I cannot tell; but while he laughs,
Betty a drunken pleasure quaffs                 380
To hear again her Idiot Boy.

And now she's at the Pony's tail,
And now is at the Pony's head,--
On that side now, and now on this;
And, almost stifled with her bliss,
A few sad tears does Betty shed.

She kisses o'er and o'er again
Him whom she loves, her Idiot Boy;
She's happy here, is happy there,
She is uneasy every where;                      390
Her limbs are all alive with joy.

She pats the Pony, where or when
She knows not, happy Betty Foy!
The little Pony glad may be,
But he is milder far than she,
You hardly can perceive his joy.

"Oh! Johnny, never mind the Doctor;
You've done your best, and that is all:"
She took the reins, when this was said,
And gently turned the Pony's head           400
From the loud waterfall.

By this the stars were almost gone,
The moon was setting on the hill,
So pale you scarcely looked at her:
The little birds began to stir,
Though yet their tongues were still.

The Pony, Betty, and her Boy,
Wind slowly through the woody dale;
And who is she, betimes abroad,
That hobbles up the steep rough road?      410
Who is it, but old Susan Gale?

Long time lay Susan lost in thought;
And many dreadful fears beset her,
Both for her Messenger and Nurse;
And, as her mind grew worse and worse,
Her body--it grew better.

She turned, she tossed herself in bed,
On all sides doubts and terrors met her;
Point after point did she discuss;
And, while her mind was fighting thus,         420
Her body still grew better.

"Alas! what is become of them?
These fears can never be endured;
I'll to the wood."--The word scarce said,
Did Susan rise up from her bed,
As if by magic cured.

Away she goes up hill and down,
And to the wood at length is come;
She spies her Friends, she shouts a greeting;
Oh me! it is a merry meeting                           430
As ever was in Christendom.

The owls have hardly sung their last,
While our four travellers homeward wend;
The owls have hooted all night long,
And with the owls began my song,
And with the owls must end.

For while they all were travelling home,
Cried Betty, "Tell us, Johnny, do,
Where all this long night you have been,
What you have heard, what you have seen:     440
And, Johnny, mind you tell us true."

Now Johnny all night long had heard
The owls in tuneful concert strive;
No doubt too he the moon had seen;
For in the moonlight he had been
From eight o'clock till five.

And thus, to Betty's question, he
Made answer, like a traveller bold,
(His very words I give to you,)
"The cocks did crow to-whoo, to-whoo,        450
And the sun did shine so cold!" 
--Thus answered Johnny in his glory,
And that was all his travel's story,








EARTH has not anything to show more fair:
Dull would he be of soul who could pass by
A sight so touching in its majesty:
This City now doth, like a garment, wear
The beauty of the morning; silent, bare,
Ships, towers, domes, theatres, and temples lie
Open unto the fields, and to the sky;
All bright and glittering in the smokeless air.
Never did sun more beautifully steep
In his first splendour, valley, rock, or hill;               10
Ne'er saw I, never felt, a calm so deep!
The river glideth at his own sweet will:
Dear God! the very houses seem asleep;
And all that mighty heart is lying still!









FIVE years have past; five summers, with the length
Of five long winters! and again I hear
These waters, rolling from their mountain-springs
With a soft inland murmur.--Once again
Do I behold these steep and lofty cliffs,
That on a wild secluded scene impress
Thoughts of more deep seclusion; and connect
The landscape with the quiet of the sky.
The day is come when I again repose
Here, under this dark sycamore, and view                        10
These plots of cottage-ground, these orchard-tufts,
Which at this season, with their unripe fruits,
Are clad in one green hue, and lose themselves
'Mid groves and copses. Once again I see
These hedge-rows, hardly hedge-rows, little lines
Of sportive wood run wild: these pastoral farms,
Green to the very door; and wreaths of smoke
Sent up, in silence, from among the trees!
With some uncertain notice, as might seem
Of vagrant dwellers in the houseless woods,                     20
Or of some Hermit's cave, where by his fire
The Hermit sits alone.
These beauteous forms,
Through a long absence, have not been to me
As is a landscape to a blind man's eye:
But oft, in lonely rooms, and 'mid the din
Of towns and cities, I have owed to them
In hours of weariness, sensations sweet,
Felt in the blood, and felt along the heart;
And passing even into my purer mind,
With tranquil restoration:--feelings too                              30
Of unremembered pleasure: such, perhaps,
As have no slight or trivial influence
On that best portion of a good man's life,
His little, nameless, unremembered, acts
Of kindness and of love. Nor less, I trust,
To them I may have owed another gift,
Of aspect more sublime; that blessed mood,
In which the burthen of the mystery,
In which the heavy and the weary weight
Of all this unintelligible world,                                           40
Is lightened:--that serene and blessed mood,
In which the affections gently lead us on,--
Until, the breath of this corporeal frame
And even the motion of our human blood
Almost suspended, we are laid asleep
In body, and become a living soul:
While with an eye made quiet by the power
Of harmony, and the deep power of joy,
We see into the life of things.
If this
Be but a vain belief, yet, oh! how oft--                             50
In darkness and amid the many shapes
Of joyless daylight; when the fretful stir
Unprofitable, and the fever of the world,
Have hung upon the beatings of my heart--
How oft, in spirit, have I turned to thee,
O sylvan Wye! thou wanderer thro' the woods,
How often has my spirit turned to thee!
And now, with gleams of half-extinguished thought,
With many recognitions dim and faint,
And somewhat of a sad perplexity,                                  60
The picture of the mind revives again:
While here I stand, not only with the sense
Of present pleasure, but with pleasing thoughts
That in this moment there is life and food
For future years. And so I dare to hope,
Though changed, no doubt, from what I was when first
I came among these hills; when like a doe
I bounded o'er the mountains, by the sides
Of the deep rivers, and the lonely streams,
Wherever nature led: more like a man                               70
Flying from something that he dreads, than one
Who sought the thing he loved. For nature then
(The coarser pleasures of my boyish days,
And their glad animal movements all gone by)
To me was all in all.--I cannot paint
What then I was. The sounding cataract
Haunted me like a passion: the tall rock,
The mountain, and the deep and gloomy wood,
Their colours and their forms, were then to me
An appetite; a feeling and a love,                                      80
That had no need of a remoter charm,
By thought supplied, nor any interest
Unborrowed from the eye.--That time is past,
And all its aching joys are now no more,
And all its dizzy raptures. Not for this
Faint I, nor mourn nor murmur, other gifts
Have followed; for such loss, I would believe,
Abundant recompence. For I have learned
To look on nature, not as in the hour
Of thoughtless youth; but hearing oftentimes                      90
The still, sad music of humanity,
Nor harsh nor grating, though of ample power
To chasten and subdue. And I have felt
A presence that disturbs me with the joy
Of elevated thoughts; a sense sublime
Of something far more deeply interfused,
Whose dwelling is the light of setting suns,
And the round ocean and the living air,
And the blue sky, and in the mind of man;
A motion and a spirit, that impels                                    100
All thinking things, all objects of all thought,
And rolls through all things. Therefore am I still
A lover of the meadows and the woods,
And mountains; and of all that we behold
From this green earth; of all the mighty world
Of eye, and ear,--both what they half create,
And what perceive; well pleased to recognise
In nature and the language of the sense,
The anchor of my purest thoughts, the nurse,
The guide, the guardian of my heart, and soul                  110
Of all my moral being.
Nor perchance,
If I were not thus taught, should I the more
Suffer my genial spirits to decay:
For thou art with me here upon the banks
Of this fair river; thou my dearest Friend,
My dear, dear Friend; and in thy voice I catch
The language of my former heart, and read
My former pleasures in the shooting lights
Of thy wild eyes. Oh! yet a little while
May I behold in thee what I was once,                           120
My dear, dear Sister! and this prayer I make,
Knowing that Nature never did betray
The heart that loved her; 'tis her privilege,
Through all the years of this our life, to lead
From joy to joy: for she can so inform
The mind that is within us, so impress
With quietness and beauty, and so feed
With lofty thoughts, that neither evil tongues,
Rash judgments, nor the sneers of selfish men,
Nor greetings where no kindness is, nor all                     130
The dreary intercourse of daily life,
Shall e'er prevail against us, or disturb
Our cheerful faith, that all which we behold
Is full of blessings. Therefore let the moon
Shine on thee in thy solitary walk;
And let the misty mountain-winds be free
To blow against thee: and, in after years,
When these wild ecstasies shall be matured
Into a sober pleasure; when thy mind
Shall be a mansion for all lovely forms,                           140
Thy memory be as a dwelling-place
For all sweet sounds and harmonies; oh! then,
If solitude, or fear, or pain, or grief,
Should be thy portion, with what healing thoughts
Of tender joy wilt thou remember me,
And these my exhortations! Nor, perchance--
If I should be where I no more can hear
Thy voice, nor catch from thy wild eyes these gleams
Of past existence--wilt thou then forget
That on the banks of this delightful stream                       150
We stood together; and that I, so long
A worshipper of Nature, hither came
Unwearied in that service: rather say
With warmer love--oh! with far deeper zeal
Of holier love. Nor wilt thou then forget,
That after many wanderings, many years
Of absence, these steep woods and lofty cliffs,
And this green pastoral landscape, were to me
More dear, both for themselves and for thy sake!






Intimations of Immortality from Recollections of Early Childhood



THERE was a time when meadow, grove, and stream,


    The earth, and every common sight,


            To me did seem


    Apparell'd in celestial light,


The glory and the freshness of a dream.


It is not now as it hath been of yore;—


        Turn wheresoe'er I may,


            By night or day,


The things which I have seen I now can see no more.




        The rainbow comes and goes,


        And lovely is the rose;


        The moon doth with delight


    Look round her when the heavens are bare;


        Waters on a starry night


        Are beautiful and fair;


    The sunshine is a glorious birth;


    But yet I know, where'er I go,


That there hath pass'd away a glory from the earth.




Now, while the birds thus sing a joyous song,


    And while the young lambs bound


        As to the tabor's sound,


To me alone there came a thought of grief:


A timely utterance gave that thought relief,


        And I again am strong:


The cataracts blow their trumpets from the steep;


No more shall grief of mine the season wrong;


I hear the echoes through the mountains throng,


The winds come to me from the fields of sleep,


        And all the earth is gay;


            Land and sea


    Give themselves up to jollity,


      And with the heart of May


    Doth every beast keep holiday;—


          Thou Child of Joy,


Shout round me, let me hear thy shouts, thou happy






Ye blessèd creatures, I have heard the call


    Ye to each other make; I see


The heavens laugh with you in your jubilee;


    My heart is at your festival,


      My head hath its coronal,


The fulness of your bliss, I feel—I feel it all.


        O evil day! if I were sullen


        While Earth herself is adorning,


            This sweet May-morning,


        And the children are culling


            On every side,


        In a thousand valleys far and wide,


        Fresh flowers; while the sun shines warm,


And the babe leaps up on his mother's arm:—


        I hear, I hear, with joy I hear!


        —But there's a tree, of many, one,


A single field which I have look'd upon,


Both of them speak of something that is gone:


          The pansy at my feet


          Doth the same tale repeat:


Whither is fled the visionary gleam?


Where is it now, the glory and the dream?




Our birth is but a sleep and a forgetting:


The Soul that rises with us, our life's Star,


        Hath had elsewhere its setting,


          And cometh from afar:


        Not in entire forgetfulness,


        And not in utter nakedness,


But trailing clouds of glory do we come


        From God, who is our home:


Heaven lies about us in our infancy!


Shades of the prison-house begin to close


        Upon the growing Boy,


But he beholds the light, and whence it flows,


        He sees it in his joy;


The Youth, who daily farther from the east


    Must travel, still is Nature's priest,


      And by the vision splendid


      Is on his way attended;


At length the Man perceives it die away,


And fade into the light of common day.




Earth fills her lap with pleasures of her own;


Yearnings she hath in her own natural kind,


And, even with something of a mother's mind,


        And no unworthy aim,


    The homely nurse doth all she can


To make her foster-child, her Inmate Man,


    Forget the glories he hath known,


And that imperial palace whence he came.




Behold the Child among his new-born blisses,


A six years' darling of a pigmy size!


See, where 'mid work of his own hand he lies,


Fretted by sallies of his mother's kisses,


With light upon him from his father's eyes!


See, at his feet, some little plan or chart,


Some fragment from his dream of human life,


Shaped by himself with newly-learnèd art;


    A wedding or a festival,


    A mourning or a funeral;


        And this hath now his heart,


    And unto this he frames his song:


        Then will he fit his tongue


To dialogues of business, love, or strife;


        But it will not be long


        Ere this be thrown aside,


        And with new joy and pride


The little actor cons another part;


Filling from time to time his 'humorous stage'


With all the Persons, down to palsied Age,


That Life brings with her in her equipage;


        As if his whole vocation


        Were endless imitation.




Thou, whose exterior semblance doth belie


        Thy soul's immensity;


Thou best philosopher, who yet dost keep


Thy heritage, thou eye among the blind,


That, deaf and silent, read'st the eternal deep,


Haunted for ever by the eternal mind,—


        Mighty prophet! Seer blest!


        On whom those truths do rest,


Which we are toiling all our lives to find,


In darkness lost, the darkness of the grave;


Thou, over whom thy Immortality


Broods like the Day, a master o'er a slave,


A presence which is not to be put by;


          To whom the grave


Is but a lonely bed without the sense or sight


        Of day or the warm light,


A place of thought where we in waiting lie;


Thou little Child, yet glorious in the might


Of heaven-born freedom on thy being's height,


Why with such earnest pains dost thou provoke


The years to bring the inevitable yoke,


Thus blindly with thy blessedness at strife?


Full soon thy soul shall have her earthly freight,


And custom lie upon thee with a weight,


Heavy as frost, and deep almost as life!




        O joy! that in our embers


        Is something that doth live,


        That nature yet remembers


        What was so fugitive!


The thought of our past years in me doth breed


Perpetual benediction: not indeed


For that which is most worthy to be blest—


Delight and liberty, the simple creed


Of childhood, whether busy or at rest,


With new-fledged hope still fluttering in his breast:—


        Not for these I raise


        The song of thanks and praise;


    But for those obstinate questionings


    Of sense and outward things,


    Fallings from us, vanishings;


    Blank misgivings of a Creature


Moving about in worlds not realized,


High instincts before which our mortal Nature


Did tremble like a guilty thing surprised:


        But for those first affections,


        Those shadowy recollections,


      Which, be they what they may,


Are yet the fountain-light of all our day,


Are yet a master-light of all our seeing;


  Uphold us, cherish, and have power to make


Our noisy years seem moments in the being


Of the eternal Silence: truths that wake,


            To perish never:


Which neither listlessness, nor mad endeavour,


            Nor Man nor Boy,


Nor all that is at enmity with joy,


Can utterly abolish or destroy!


    Hence in a season of calm weather


        Though inland far we be,


Our souls have sight of that immortal sea


        Which brought us hither,


    Can in a moment travel thither,


And see the children sport upon the shore,


And hear the mighty waters rolling evermore.




Then sing, ye birds, sing, sing a joyous song!


        And let the young lambs bound


        As to the tabor's sound!


We in thought will join your throng,


      Ye that pipe and ye that play,


      Ye that through your hearts to-day


      Feel the gladness of the May!


What though the radiance which was once so bright


Be now for ever taken from my sight,


    Though nothing can bring back the hour


Of splendour in the grass, of glory in the flower;


      We will grieve not, rather find


      Strength in what remains behind;


      In the primal sympathy


      Which having been must ever be;


      In the soothing thoughts that spring


      Out of human suffering;


      In the faith that looks through death,


In years that bring the philosophic mind.




And O ye Fountains, Meadows, Hills, and Groves,


Forebode not any severing of our loves!


Yet in my heart of hearts I feel your might;


I only have relinquish'd one delight


To live beneath your more habitual sway.


I love the brooks which down their channels fret,


Even more than when I tripp'd lightly as they;


The innocent brightness of a new-born Day


            Is lovely yet;


The clouds that gather round the setting sun


Do take a sober colouring from an eye


That hath kept watch o'er man's mortality;


Another race hath been, and other palms are won.


Thanks to the human heart by which we live,


Thanks to its tenderness, its joys, and fears,


To me the meanest flower that blows can give


Thoughts that do often lie too deep for tears.





Samuel Taylor Coleridge. 1772–1834


549. The Rime of the Ancient Mariner




An ancient Mariner meeteth three gallants bidden to a wedding feast, and detaineth one.

 IT is an ancient Mariner,


 And he stoppeth one of three.


 'By thy long beard and glittering eye,


 Now wherefore stopp'st thou me?




 The Bridegroom's doors are opened wide,


 And I am next of kin;


 The guests are met, the feast is set:


 May'st hear the merry din.'




 He holds him with his skinny hand,


 'There was a ship,' quoth he.


 'Hold off! unhand me, grey-beard loon!'


 Eftsoons his hand dropt he.




The Wedding-Guest is spell-bound by the eye of the old seafaring man, and constrained to hear his tale.

 He holds him with his glittering eye—


 The Wedding-Guest stood still,


 And listens like a three years' child:


 The Mariner hath his will.




 The Wedding-Guest sat on a stone:


 He cannot choose but hear;


 And thus spake on that ancient man,


 The bright-eyed Mariner.




 'The ship was cheer'd, the harbour clear'd,


 Merrily did we drop


 Below the kirk, below the hill,


 Below the lighthouse top.




The Mariner tells how the ship sailed southward with a good wind and fair weather, till it reached the Line.

 The Sun came up upon the left,


 Out of the sea came he!


 And he shone bright, and on the right


 Went down into the sea.




 Higher and higher every day,


 Till over the mast at noon——'


 The Wedding-Guest here beat his breast,


 For he heard the loud bassoon.




The Wedding-Guest heareth the bridal music; but the Mariner continueth his tale.

 The bride hath paced into the hall,


 Red as a rose is she;


 Nodding their heads before her goes


 The merry minstrelsy.




 The Wedding-Guest he beat his breast,


 Yet he cannot choose but hear;


 And thus spake on that ancient man,


 The bright-eyed Mariner.




The ship drawn by a storm toward the South Pole.

 'And now the Storm-blast came, and he


 Was tyrannous and strong:


 He struck with his o'ertaking wings,


 And chased us south along.




 With sloping masts and dipping prow,


 As who pursued with yell and blow


 Still treads the shadow of his foe,


 And forward bends his head,


 The ship drove fast, loud roar'd the blast,


 The southward aye we fled.




 And now there came both mist and snow,


 And it grew wondrous cold:


 And ice, mast-high, came floating by,


 As green as emerald.





The land of ice, and of fearful sounds, where no living thing was to be seen.

 And through the drifts the snowy clifts


 Did send a dismal sheen:


 Nor shapes of men nor beasts we ken—


 The ice was all between.




 The ice was here, the ice was there,


 The ice was all around:


 It crack'd and growl'd, and roar'd and howl'd,


 Like noises in a swound!




Till a great sea-bird, called the Albatross, came through the snow-fog, and was received with great joy and hospitality.

 At length did cross an Albatross,


 Thorough the fog it came;


 As if it had been a Christian soul,


 We hail'd it in God's name.




 It ate the food it ne'er had eat,


 And round and round it flew.


 The ice did split with a thunder-fit;


 The helmsman steer'd us through!




And lo! the Albatross proveth a bird of good omen, and followeth the ship as it returned northward through fog and floating ice.

 And a good south wind sprung up behind;


 The Albatross did follow,


 And every day, for food or play,


 Came to the mariners' hollo!




 In mist or cloud, on mast or shroud,


 It perch'd for vespers nine;


 Whiles all the night, through fog-smoke white,


 Glimmer'd the white moonshine.'




The ancient Mariner inhospitably killeth the pious bird of good omen.

 'God save thee, ancient Mariner!


 From the fiends, that plague thee thus!—


 Why look'st thou so?'—'With my crossbow


 I shot the Albatross.






 'The Sun now rose upon the right:


 Out of the sea came he,


 Still hid in mist, and on the left


 Went down into the sea.




 And the good south wind still blew behind,


 But no sweet bird did follow,


 Nor any day for food or play


 Came to the mariners' hollo!




His shipmates cry out against the ancient Mariner for killing the bird of good luck.

 And I had done an hellish thing,


 And it would work 'em woe:


 For all averr'd, I had kill'd the bird


 That made the breeze to blow.


 Ah wretch! said they, the bird to slay,


 That made the breeze to blow!




But when the fog cleared off, they justify the same, and thus make themselves accomplices in the crime.

 Nor dim nor red, like God's own head,


 The glorious Sun uprist:


 Then all averr'd, I had kill'd the bird


 That brought the fog and mist.


 'Twas right, said they, such birds to slay,


 That bring the fog and mist.




The fair breeze continues; the ship enters the Pacific Ocean, and sails northward, even till it reaches the Line.

 The fair breeze blew, the white foam flew,


 The furrow follow'd free;


 We were the first that ever burst


 Into that silent sea.




The ship hath been suddenly becalmed.

 Down dropt the breeze, the sails dropt down,


 'Twas sad as sad could be;


 And we did speak only to break


 The silence of the sea!




 All in a hot and copper sky,


 The bloody Sun, at noon,


 Right up above the mast did stand,


 No bigger than the Moon.




 Day after day, day after day,


 We stuck, nor breath nor motion;


 As idle as a painted ship


 Upon a painted ocean.




And the Albatross begins to be avenged.

 Water, water, everywhere,


 And all the boards did shrink;


 Water, water, everywhere,


 Nor any drop to drink.




 The very deep did rot: O Christ!


 That ever this should be!


 Yea, slimy things did crawl with legs


 Upon the slimy sea.




 About, about, in reel and rout


 The death-fires danced at night;


 The water, like a witch's oils,


 Burnt green, and blue, and white.




A Spirit had followed them; one of the invisible inhabitants of this planet, neither departed souls nor angels; concerning whom the learned Jew, Josephus, and the Platonic Constantinopolitan, Michael Psellus, may be consulted. They are very numerous, and there is no climate or element without one or more.

 And some in dreams assuréd were


 Of the Spirit that plagued us so;


 Nine fathom deep he had followed us


 From the land of mist and snow.




 And every tongue, through utter drought,


 Was wither'd at the root;


 We could not speak, no more than if


 We had been choked with soot.




The shipmates in their sore distress, would fain throw the whole guilt on the ancient Mariner: in sign whereof they hang the dead sea-bird round his neck.

 Ah! well a-day! what evil looks


 Had I from old and young!


 Instead of the cross, the Albatross


 About my neck was hung.






 'There passed a weary time. Each throat


 Was parch'd, and glazed each eye.


 A weary time! a weary time!


 How glazed each weary eye!


The ancient Mariner beholdeth a sign in the element afar off.

 When looking westward, I beheld


 A something in the sky.




 At first it seem'd a little speck,


 And then it seem'd a mist;


 It moved and moved, and took at last


 A certain shape, I wist.




 A speck, a mist, a shape, I wist!


 And still it near'd and near'd:


 As if it dodged a water-sprite,


 It plunged, and tack'd, and veer'd.




At its nearer approach, it seemeth him to be a ship; and at a dear ransom he freeth his speech from the bonds of thirst.

 With throats unslaked, with black lips baked,


 We could nor laugh nor wail;


 Through utter drought all dumb we stood!


 I bit my arm, I suck'd the blood,


 And cried, A sail! a sail!




 With throats unslaked, with black lips baked,


 Agape they heard me call:


A flash of joy;

 Gramercy! they for joy did grin,


 And all at once their breath drew in,


 As they were drinking all.




And horror follows. For can it be a ship that comes onward without wind or tide?

 See! see! (I cried) she tacks no more!


 Hither to work us weal—


 Without a breeze, without a tide,


 She steadies with upright keel!




 The western wave was all aflame,


 The day was wellnigh done!


 Almost upon the western wave


 Rested the broad, bright Sun;


 When that strange shape drove suddenly


 Betwixt us and the Sun.




It seemeth him but the skeleton of a ship.

 And straight the Sun was fleck'd with bars


 (Heaven's Mother send us grace!),


 As if through a dungeon-grate he peer'd


 With broad and burning face.




 Alas! (thought I, and my heart beat loud)


 How fast she nears and nears!


 Are those her sails that glance in the Sun,


 Like restless gossameres?




And its ribs are seen as bars on the face of the setting Sun. The Spectre-Woman and her Death-mate, and no other on board the skeleton ship. Like vessel, like crew!

 Are those her ribs through which the Sun


 Did peer, as through a grate?


 And is that Woman all her crew?


 Is that a Death? and are there two?


 Is Death that Woman's mate?




 Her lips were red, her looks were free,


 Her locks were yellow as gold:


 Her skin was as white as leprosy,


 The Nightmare Life-in-Death was she,


 Who thicks man's blood with cold.




Death and Life-in-Death have diced for the ship's crew, and she (the latter) winneth the ancient Mariner.

 The naked hulk alongside came,


 And the twain were casting dice;


 "The game is done! I've won! I've won!"


 Quoth she, and whistles thrice.




No twilight within the courts of the Sun.

 The Sun's rim dips; the stars rush out:


 At one stride comes the dark;


 With far-heard whisper, o'er the sea,


 Off shot the spectre-bark.




 We listen'd and look'd sideways up!


 Fear at my heart, as at a cup,


 My life-blood seem'd to sip!


 The stars were dim, and thick the night,


 The steersman's face by his lamp gleam'd white;


 From the sails the dew did drip—


At the rising of the Moon,

 Till clomb above the eastern bar


 The hornéd Moon, with one bright star


 Within the nether tip.




One after another,

 One after one, by the star-dogg'd Moon,


 Too quick for groan or sigh,


 Each turn'd his face with a ghastly pang,


 And cursed me with his eye.




His shipmates drop down dead.

 Four times fifty living men


 (And I heard nor sigh nor groan),


 With heavy thump, a lifeless lump,


 They dropp'd down one by one.




But Life-in-Death begins her work on the ancient Mariner.

 The souls did from their bodies fly—


 They fled to bliss or woe!


 And every soul, it pass'd me by


 Like the whizz of my crossbow!'




Part Four


The Wedding-Guest feareth that a spirit is talking to him;

 'I fear thee, ancient Mariner!


 I fear thy skinny hand!


 And thou art long, and lank, and brown,


 As is the ribb'd sea-sand.




 I fear thee and thy glittering eye,


 And thy skinny hand so brown.'—


But the ancient Mariner assureth him of his bodily life, and proceedeth to relate his horrible penance.

 'Fear not, fear not, thou Wedding-Guest!


 This body dropt not down.




 Alone, alone, all, all alone,


 Alone on a wide, wide sea!


 And never a saint took pity on


 My soul in agony.




He despiseth the creatures of the calm.

 The many men, so beautiful!


 And they all dead did lie:


 And a thousand thousand slimy things


 Lived on; and so did I.




And envieth that they should live, and so many lie dead.

 I look'd upon the rotting sea,


 And drew my eyes away;


 I look'd upon the rotting deck,


 And there the dead men lay.




 I look'd to heaven, and tried to pray;


 But or ever a prayer had gusht,


 A wicked whisper came, and made


 My heart as dry as dust.




 I closed my lids, and kept them close,


 And the balls like pulses beat;


 For the sky and the sea, and the sea and the sky,


 Lay like a load on my weary eye,


 And the dead were at my feet.




But the curse liveth for him in the eye of the dead men.

 The cold sweat melted from their limbs,


 Nor rot nor reek did they:


 The look with which they look'd on me


 Had never pass'd away.




 An orphan's curse would drag to hell


 A spirit from on high;


 But oh! more horrible than that


 Is the curse in a dead man's eye!


 Seven days, seven nights, I saw that curse,


 And yet I could not die.




In his loneliness and fixedness he yearneth towards the journeying Moon, and the stars that still sojourn, yet still move onward; and everywhere the blue sky belongs to them, and is their appointed rest and their native country and their own natural homes, which they enter unannounced, as lords that are certainly expected, and yet there is a silent joy at their arrival.

 The moving Moon went up the sky,


 And nowhere did abide;


 Softly she was going up,


 And a star or two beside—




 Her beams bemock'd the sultry main,


 Like April hoar-frost spread;


 But where the ship's huge shadow lay,


 The charméd water burnt alway


 A still and awful red.




By the light of the Moon he beholdeth God's creatures of the great calm.

 Beyond the shadow of the ship,


 I watch'd the water-snakes:


 They moved in tracks of shining white,


 And when they rear'd, the elfish light


 Fell off in hoary flakes.




 Within the shadow of the ship


 I watch'd their rich attire:


 Blue, glossy green, and velvet black,


 They coil'd and swam; and every track


 Was a flash of golden fire.




Their beauty and their happiness.

 O happy living things! no tongue


 Their beauty might declare:


 A spring of love gush'd from my heart,


He blesseth them in his heart.

 And I bless'd them unaware:


 Sure my kind saint took pity on me,


 And I bless'd them unaware.




The spell begins to break.

 The selfsame moment I could pray;


 And from my neck so free


 The Albatross fell off, and sank


 Like lead into the sea.






 'O sleep! it is a gentle thing,


 Beloved from pole to pole!


 To Mary Queen the praise be given!


 She sent the gentle sleep from Heaven,


 That slid into my soul.




By grace of the holy Mother, the ancient Mariner is refreshed with rain.

 The silly buckets on the deck,


 That had so long remain'd,


 I dreamt that they were fill'd with dew;


 And when I awoke, it rain'd.




 My lips were wet, my throat was cold,


 My garments all were dank;


 Sure I had drunken in my dreams,


 And still my body drank.




 I moved, and could not feel my limbs:


 I was so light—almost


 I thought that I had died in sleep,


 And was a blesséd ghost.




He heareth sounds and seeth strange sights and commotions in the sky and the element.

 And soon I heard a roaring wind:


 It did not come anear;


 But with its sound it shook the sails,


 That were so thin and sere.




 The upper air burst into life;


 And a hundred fire-flags sheen;


 To and fro they were hurried about!


 And to and fro, and in and out,


 The wan stars danced between.




 And the coming wind did roar more loud,


 And the sails did sigh like sedge;


 And the rain pour'd down from one black cloud;


 The Moon was at its edge.




 The thick black cloud was cleft, and still


 The Moon was at its side;


 Like waters shot from some high crag,


 The lightning fell with never a jag,


 A river steep and wide.




The bodies of the ship's crew are inspired, and the ship moves on;

 The loud wind never reach'd the ship,


 Yet now the ship moved on!


 Beneath the lightning and the Moon


 The dead men gave a groan.




 They groan'd, they stirr'd, they all uprose,


 Nor spake, nor moved their eyes;


 It had been strange, even in a dream,


 To have seen those dead men rise.




 The helmsman steer'd, the ship moved on;


 Yet never a breeze up-blew;


 The mariners all 'gan work the ropes,


 Where they were wont to do;


 They raised their limbs like lifeless tools—


 We were a ghastly crew.




 The body of my brother's son


 Stood by me, knee to knee:


 The body and I pull'd at one rope,


 But he said naught to me.'




But not by the souls of the men, nor by demons of earth or middle air, but by a blessed troop of angelic spirits, sent down by the invocation of the guardian saint.

 'I fear thee, ancient Mariner!'


 Be calm, thou Wedding-Guest:


 'Twas not those souls that fled in pain,


 Which to their corses came again,


 But a troop of spirits blest:




 For when it dawn'd—they dropp'd their arms,


 And cluster'd round the mast;


 Sweet sounds rose slowly through their mouths,


 And from their bodies pass'd.




 Around, around, flew each sweet sound,


 Then darted to the Sun;


 Slowly the sounds came back again,


 Now mix'd, now one by one.




 Sometimes a-dropping from the sky


 I heard the skylark sing;


 Sometimes all little birds that are,


 How they seem'd to fill the sea and air


 With their sweet jargoning!




 And now 'twas like all instruments,


 Now like a lonely flute;


 And now it is an angel's song,


 That makes the Heavens be mute.




 It ceased; yet still the sails made on


 A pleasant noise till noon,


 A noise like of a hidden brook


 In the leafy month of June,


 That to the sleeping woods all night


 Singeth a quiet tune.




 Till noon we quietly sail'd on,


 Yet never a breeze did breathe:


 Slowly and smoothly went the ship,


 Moved onward from beneath.




The lonesome Spirit from the South Pole carries on the ship as far as the Line, in obedience to the angelic troop, but still requireth vengeance.

 Under the keel nine fathom deep,


 From the land of mist and snow,


 The Spirit slid: and it was he


 That made the ship to go.


 The sails at noon left off their tune,


 And the ship stood still also.




 The Sun, right up above the mast,


 Had fix'd her to the ocean:


 But in a minute she 'gan stir,


 With a short uneasy motion—


 Backwards and forwards half her length


 With a short uneasy motion.




 Then like a pawing horse let go,


 She made a sudden bound:


 It flung the blood into my head,


 And I fell down in a swound.




The Polar Spirit's fellow-demons, the invisible inhabitants of the element, take part in his wrong; and two of them relate, one to the other, that penance long and heavy for the ancient Mariner hath been accorded to the Polar Spirit, who returneth southward.

 How long in that same fit I lay,


 I have not to declare;


 But ere my living life return'd,


 I heard, and in my soul discern'd


 Two voices in the air.




 "Is it he?" quoth one, "is this the man?


 By Him who died on cross,


 With his cruel bow he laid full low


 The harmless Albatross.




 The Spirit who bideth by himself


 In the land of mist and snow,


 He loved the bird that loved the man


 Who shot him with his bow."




 The other was a softer voice,


 As soft as honey-dew:


 Quoth he, "The man hath penance done,


 And penance more will do."






 First Voice: '"But tell me, tell me! speak again,


 Thy soft response renewing—


 What makes that ship drive on so fast?


 What is the Ocean doing?"




 Second Voice: "Still as a slave before his lord,


 The Ocean hath no blast;


 His great bright eye most silently


 Up to the Moon is cast—




 If he may know which way to go;


 For she guides him smooth or grim.


 See, brother, see! how graciously


 She looketh down on him."




The Mariner hath been cast into a trance; for the angelic power causeth the vessel to drive northward faster than human life could endure.

 First Voice: "But why drives on that ship so fast,


 Without or wave or wind?"




 Second Voice: "The air is cut away before,


 And closes from behind.




 Fly, brother, fly! more high, more high!


 Or we shall be belated:


 For slow and slow that ship will go,


 When the Mariner's trance is abated.'




The supernatural motion is retarded; the Mariner awakes, and his penance begins anew.

 I woke, and we were sailing on


 As in a gentle weather:


 'Twas night, calm night, the Moon was high;


 The dead men stood together.




 All stood together on the deck,


 For a charnel-dungeon fitter:


 All fix'd on me their stony eyes,


 That in the Moon did glitter.




 The pang, the curse, with which they died,


 Had never pass'd away:


 I could not draw my eyes from theirs,


 Nor turn them up to pray.




The curse is finally expiated.

 And now this spell was snapt: once more


 I viewed the ocean green,


 And look'd far forth, yet little saw


 Of what had else been seen—




 Like one that on a lonesome road


 Doth walk in fear and dread,


 And having once turn'd round, walks on,


 And turns no more his head;


 Because he knows a frightful fiend


 Doth close behind him tread.




 But soon there breathed a wind on me,


 Nor sound nor motion made:


 Its path was not upon the sea,


 In ripple or in shade.




 It raised my hair, it fann'd my cheek


 Like a meadow-gale of spring—


 It mingled strangely with my fears,


 Yet it felt like a welcoming.




 Swiftly, swiftly flew the ship,


 Yet she sail'd softly too:


 Sweetly, sweetly blew the breeze—


 On me alone it blew.




And the ancient Mariner beholdeth his native country.

 O dream of joy! is this indeed


 The lighthouse top I see?


 Is this the hill? is this the kirk?


 Is this mine own countree?




 We drifted o'er the harbour-bar,


 And I with sobs did pray—


 O let me be awake, my God!


 Or let me sleep alway.




 The harbour-bay was clear as glass,


 So smoothly it was strewn!


 And on the bay the moonlight lay,


 And the shadow of the Moon.




 The rock shone bright, the kirk no less


 That stands above the rock:


 The moonlight steep'd in silentness


 The steady weathercock.




The angelic spirits leave the dead bodies,

 And the bay was white with silent light


 Till rising from the same,


 Full many shapes, that shadows were,


 In crimson colours came.




And appear in their own forms of light.

 A little distance from the prow


 Those crimson shadows were:


 I turn'd my eyes upon the deck—


 O Christ! what saw I there!




 Each corse lay flat, lifeless and flat,


 And, by the holy rood!


 A man all light, a seraph-man,


 On every corse there stood.




 This seraph-band, each waved his hand:


 It was a heavenly sight!


 They stood as signals to the land,


 Each one a lovely light;




 This seraph-band, each waved his hand,


 No voice did they impart—


 No voice; but O, the silence sank


 Like music on my heart.




 But soon I heard the dash of oars,


 I heard the Pilot's cheer;


 My head was turn'd perforce away,


 And I saw a boat appear.




 The Pilot and the Pilot's boy,


 I heard them coming fast:


 Dear Lord in Heaven! it was a joy


 The dead men could not blast.




 I saw a third—I heard his voice:


 It is the Hermit good!


 He singeth loud his godly hymns


 That he makes in the wood.


 He'll shrieve my soul, he'll wash away


 The Albatross's blood.






The Hermit of the Wood.

 'This Hermit good lives in that wood


 Which slopes down to the sea.


 How loudly his sweet voice he rears!


 He loves to talk with marineres


 That come from a far countree.




 He kneels at morn, and noon, and eve—


 He hath a cushion plump:


 It is the moss that wholly hides


 The rotted old oak-stump.




 The skiff-boat near'd: I heard them talk,


 "Why, this is strange, I trow!


 Where are those lights so many and fair,


 That signal made but now?"




Approacheth the ship with wonder.

 "Strange, by my faith!" the Hermit said—


 "And they answer'd not our cheer!


 The planks looked warp'd! and see those sails,


 How thin they are and sere!


 I never saw aught like to them,


 Unless perchance it were




 Brown skeletons of leaves that lag


 My forest-brook along;


 When the ivy-tod is heavy with snow,


 And the owlet whoops to the wolf below,


 That eats the she-wolf's young."




 "Dear Lord! it hath a fiendish look—


 (The Pilot made reply)


 I am a-fear'd"—"Push on, push on!"


 Said the Hermit cheerily.




 The boat came closer to the ship,


 But I nor spake nor stirr'd;


 The boat came close beneath the ship,


 And straight a sound was heard.




The ship suddenly sinketh.

 Under the water it rumbled on,


 Still louder and more dread:


 It reach'd the ship, it split the bay;


 The ship went down like lead.




The ancient Mariner is saved in the Pilot's boat.

 Stunn'd by that loud and dreadful sound,


 Which sky and ocean smote,


 Like one that hath been seven days drown'd


 My body lay afloat;


 But swift as dreams, myself I found


 Within the Pilot's boat.




 Upon the whirl, where sank the ship,


 The boat spun round and round;


 And all was still, save that the hill


 Was telling of the sound.




 I moved my lips—the Pilot shriek'd


 And fell down in a fit;


 The holy Hermit raised his eyes,


 And pray'd where he did sit.




 I took the oars: the Pilot's boy,


 Who now doth crazy go,


 Laugh'd loud and long, and all the while


 His eyes went to and fro.


 "Ha! ha!" quoth he, "full plain I see


 The Devil knows how to row."




 And now, all in my own countree,


 I stood on the firm land!


 The Hermit stepp'd forth from the boat,


 And scarcely he could stand.




The ancient Mariner earnestly entreateth the Hermit to shrieve him; and the penance of life falls on him.

 "O shrieve me, shrieve me, holy man!"


 The Hermit cross'd his brow.


 "Say quick," quoth he, "I bid thee say—


 What manner of man art thou?"




 Forthwith this frame of mine was wrench'd


 With a woful agony,


 Which forced me to begin my tale;


 And then it left me free.




And ever and anon throughout his future life an agony constraineth him to travel from land to land;

 Since then, at an uncertain hour,


 That agony returns:


 And till my ghastly tale is told,


 This heart within me burns.




 I pass, like night, from land to land;


 I have strange power of speech;


 That moment that his face I see,


 I know the man that must hear me:


 To him my tale I teach.




 What loud uproar bursts from that door!


 The wedding-guests are there:


 But in the garden-bower the bride


 And bride-maids singing are:


 And hark the little vesper bell,


 Which biddeth me to prayer!




 O Wedding-Guest! this soul hath been


 Alone on a wide, wide sea:


 So lonely 'twas, that God Himself


 Scarce seeméd there to be.




 O sweeter than the marriage-feast,


 'Tis sweeter far to me,


 To walk together to the kirk


 With a goodly company!—




 To walk together to the kirk,


 And all together pray,


 While each to his great Father bends,


 Old men, and babes, and loving friends,


 And youths and maidens gay!




And to teach, by his own example, love and reverence to all things that God made and loveth.

 Farewell, farewell! but this I tell


 To thee, thou Wedding-Guest!


 He prayeth well, who loveth well


 Both man and bird and beast.




 He prayeth best, who loveth best





Kubla Khan


Coleridge's published note and another note on its composition


In Xanadu did Kubla Khan
A stately pleasure-dome decree :
Where Alph, the sacred river, ran
Through caverns measureless to man

Down to a sunless sea.

So twice five miles of fertile ground
With walls and towers were girdled round:
And there were gardens bright with sinuous rills,
Where blossomed many an incense-bearing tree;
And here were forests ancient as the hills,
Enfolding sunny spots of greenery.

But oh! that deep romantic chasm which slanted
Down the green hill athwart a cedarn cover!
A savage place! as holy and enchanted
As e'er beneath a waning moon was haunted
By woman wailing for her demon-lover!
And from this chasm, with ceaseless turmoil seething,
As if this earth in fast thick pants were breathing,
A mighty fountain momently was forced:
Amid whose swift half-intermitted burst
Huge fragments vaulted like rebounding hail,
Or chaffy grain beneath the thresher's flail:
And 'mid these dancing rocks at once and ever
It flung up momently the sacred river.
Five miles meandering with a mazy motion
Through wood and dale the sacred river ran,
Then reached the caverns measureless to man,
And sank in tumult to a lifeless ocean:
And 'mid this tumult Kubla heard from far
Ancestral voices prophesying war!

The shadow of the dome of pleasure
Floated midway on the waves;
Where was heard the mingled measure
From the fountain and the caves.

It was a miracle of rare device,
A sunny pleasure-dome with caves of ice!

A damsel with a dulcimer
In a vision once I saw:
It was an Abyssinian maid,
And on her dulcimer she played,
Singing of Mount Abora.
Could I revive within me
Her symphony and song,
To such a deep delight 'twould win me,

That with music loud and long,
I would build that dome in air,
That sunny dome! those caves of ice!
And all who heard should see them there,
And all should cry, Beware! Beware!
His flashing eyes, his floating hair!
Weave a circle round him thrice,
And close your eyes with holy dread,
For he on honey-dew hath fed,
And drunk the milk of Paradise. (1797)





Samuel Taylor Coleridge

This Lime-Tree Bower my Prison


Coleridge's published note

Well, they are gone, and here must I remain,
This lime-tree bower my prison ! I have lost
Beauties and feelings, such as would have been
Most sweet to my remembrance even when age
Had dimm'd mine eyes to blindness ! They, meanwhile,
Friends, whom I never more may meet again,
On springy heath, along the hill-top edge,
Wander in gladness, and wind down, perchance,
To that still roaring dell, of which I told ;
The roaring dell, o'erwooded, narrow, deep,
And only speckled by the mid-day sun ;
Where its slim trunk the ash from rock to rock
Flings arching like a bridge ;--that branchless ash,
Unsunn'd and damp, whose few poor yellow leaves
Ne'er tremble in the gale, yet tremble still,
Fann'd by the water-fall ! and there my friends
Behold the dark green file of long lank weeds,
That all at once (a most fantastic sight !)
Still nod and drip beneath the dripping edge
Of the blue clay-stone.

[spacer][spacer][spacer]Now, my friends emerge

Beneath the wide wide Heaven--and view again
The many-steepled tract magnificent
Of hilly fields and meadows, and the sea,
With some fair bark, perhaps, whose sails light up
The slip of smooth clear blue betwixt two Isles
Of purple shadow ! Yes ! they wander on
In gladness all ; but thou, methinks, most glad,
My gentle-hearted Charles ! for thou hast pined
And hunger'd after Nature, many a year,
In the great City pent, winning thy way
With sad yet patient soul, through evil and pain
And strange calamity ! Ah ! slowly sink
Behind the western ridge, thou glorious Sun !
Shine in the slant beams of the sinking orb,
Ye purple heath-flowers ! richlier burn, ye clouds !
Live in the yellow light, ye distant groves !
And kindle, thou blue Ocean ! So my friend
Struck with deep joy may stand, as I have stood,
Silent with swimming sense ; yea, gazing round
On the wide landscape, gaze till all doth seem
Less gross than bodily ; and of such hues
As veil the Almighty Spirit, when yet he makes
Spirits perceive his presence.

[spacer][spacer][spacer][spacer]A delight

Comes sudden on my heart, and I am glad
As I myself were there ! Nor in this bower,
This little lime-tree bower, have I not mark'd
Much that has sooth'd me. Pale beneath the blaze
Hung the transparent foliage ; and I watch'd
Some broad and sunny leaf, and lov'd to see
The shadow of the leaf and stem above
Dappling its sunshine ! And that walnut-tree
Was richly ting'd, and a deep radiance lay
Full on the ancient ivy, which usurps
Those fronting elms, and now, with blackest mass
Makes their dark branches gleam a lighter hue
Through the late twilight : and though now the bat
Wheels silent by, and not a swallow twitters,
Yet still the solitary humble-bee
Sings in the bean-flower ! Henceforth I shall know
That Nature ne'er deserts the wise and pure ;
No plot so narrow, be but Nature there,
No waste so vacant, but may well employ
Each faculty of sense, and keep the heart
Awake to Love and Beauty ! and sometimes
'Tis well to be bereft of promis'd good,
That we may lift the soul, and contemplate
With lively joy the joys we cannot share.
My gentle-hearted Charles ! when the last rook
Beat its straight path across the dusky air
Homewards, I blest it ! deeming its black wing
(Now a dim speck, now vanishing in light)
Had cross'd the mighty Orb's dilated glory,
While thou stood'st gazing ; or, when all was still,
Flew creeking o'er thy head, and had a charm
For thee, my gentle-hearted Charles, to whom
No sound is dissonant which tells of Life.

1797, published 1800, 1810, 1817, 1828, 1829, 1834












Samuel Taylor Coleridge

Frost at Midnight

The Frost performs its secret ministry,
Unhelped by any wind. The owlet's cry
Came loud--and hark, again! loud as before.
The inmates of my cottage, all at rest,
Have left me to that solitude, which suits
Abstruser musings : save that at my side
My cradled infant slumbers peacefully.
'Tis calm indeed! so calm, that it disturbs
And vexes meditation with its strange
And extreme silentness. Sea, hill, and wood,
This populous village! Sea, and hill, and wood,
With all the numberless goings-on of life,
Inaudible as dreams! the thin blue flame
Lies on my low-burnt fire, and quivers not ;
Only that film, which fluttered on the grate,
Still flutters there, the sole unquiet thing.
Methinks, its motion in this hush of nature
Gives it dim sympathies with me who live,
Making it a companionable form,
Whose puny flaps and freaks the idling Spirit
By its own moods interprets, every where
Echo or mirror seeking of itself,
And makes a toy of Thought.

[spacer][spacer][spacer][spacer]But O! how oft,

How oft, at school, with most believing mind,
Presageful, have I gazed upon the bars,
To watch that fluttering stranger! and as oft
With unclosed lids, already had I dreamt
Of my sweet birth-place, and the old church-tower,
Whose bells, the poor man's only music, rang
From morn to evening, all the hot Fair-day,
So sweetly, that they stirred and haunted me
With a wild pleasure, falling on mine ear
Most like articulate sounds of things to come!
So gazed I, till the soothing things, I dreamt,
Lulled me to sleep, and sleep prolonged my dreams!
And so I brooded all the following morn,
Awed by the stern preceptor's face, mine eye
Fixed with mock study on my swimming book :
Save if the door half opened, and I snatched
A hasty glance, and still my heart leaped up,
For still I hoped to see the stranger's face,
Townsman, or aunt, or sister more beloved,
My play-mate when we both were clothed alike!

Dear Babe, that sleepest cradled by my side,

Whose gentle breathings, heard in this deep calm,
Fill up the intersperséd vacancies
And momentary pauses of the thought!
My babe so beautiful! it thrills my heart
With tender gladness, thus to look at thee,
And think that thou shalt learn far other lore,
And in far other scenes ! For I was reared
In the great city, pent 'mid cloisters dim,
And saw nought lovely but the sky and stars.
But thou, my babe! shalt wander like a breeze
By lakes and sandy shores, beneath the crags
Of ancient mountain, and beneath the clouds,
Which image in their bulk both lakes and shores
And mountain crags : so shalt thou see and hear
The lovely shapes and sounds intelligible
Of that eternal language, which thy God
Utters, who from eternity doth teach
Himself in all, and all things in himself.
Great universal Teacher ! he shall mould
Thy spirit, and by giving make it ask.

Therefore all seasons shall be sweet to thee,

Whether the summer clothe the general earth
With greenness, or the redbreast sit and sing
Betwixt the tufts of snow on the bare branch
Of mossy apple-tree, while the nigh thatch
Smokes in the sun-thaw ; whether the eave-drops fall
Heard only in the trances of the blast,
Or if the secret ministry of frost
Shall hang them up in silent icicles,

Quietly shining to the quiet Moon.







I met a traveller from an antique land
Who said: "Two vast and trunkless legs of stone
Stand in the desert. Near them on the sand,
Half sunk, a shattered visage lies, whose frown
And wrinkled lip and sneer of cold command
Tell that its sculptor well those passions read
Which yet survive, stamped on these lifeless things,
The hand that mocked them and the heart that fed.
And on the pedestal these words appear:
'My name is Ozymandias, King of Kings:
Look on my works, ye mighty, and despair!'
Nothing beside remains. Round the decay
Of that colossal wreck, boundless and bare,
The lone and level sands stretch far away.





 Ode to the West Wind

1     O wild West Wind, thou breath of Autumn's being,
2     Thou, from whose unseen presence the leaves dead
3     Are driven, like ghosts from an enchanter fleeing,

4     Yellow, and black, and pale, and hectic red,
5     Pestilence-stricken multitudes: O thou,
6     Who chariotest to their dark wintry bed

7     The winged seeds, where they lie cold and low,
8     Each like a corpse within its grave, until
9     Thine azure sister of the Spring shall blow

10   Her clarion o'er the dreaming earth, and fill
11   (Driving sweet buds like flocks to feed in air)
12   With living hues and odours plain and hill:

13   Wild Spirit, which art moving everywhere;
14   Destroyer and preserver; hear, oh hear!


15   Thou on whose stream, mid the steep sky's commotion,
16   Loose clouds like earth's decaying leaves are shed,
17   Shook from the tangled boughs of Heaven and Ocean,

18   Angels of rain and lightning: there are spread
19   On the blue surface of thine aëry surge,
20   Like the bright hair uplifted from the head

21   Of some fierce Maenad, even from the dim verge
22   Of the horizon to the zenith's height,
23   The locks of the approaching storm. Thou dirge

24   Of the dying year, to which this closing night
25   Will be the dome of a vast sepulchre,
26   Vaulted with all thy congregated might

27   Of vapours, from whose solid atmosphere
28   Black rain, and fire, and hail will burst: oh hear!


29   Thou who didst waken from his summer dreams
30   The blue Mediterranean, where he lay,
31   Lull'd by the coil of his crystàlline streams,

32   Beside a pumice isle in Baiae's bay,
33   And saw in sleep old palaces and towers
34   Quivering within the wave's intenser day,

35   All overgrown with azure moss and flowers
36   So sweet, the sense faints picturing them! Thou
37   For whose path the Atlantic's level powers

38   Cleave themselves into chasms, while far below
39   The sea-blooms and the oozy woods which wear
40   The sapless foliage of the ocean, know

41   Thy voice, and suddenly grow gray with fear,
42   And tremble and despoil themselves: oh hear!


43   If I were a dead leaf thou mightest bear;
44   If I were a swift cloud to fly with thee;
45   A wave to pant beneath thy power, and share

46   The impulse of thy strength, only less free
47   Than thou, O uncontrollable! If even
48   I were as in my boyhood, and could be

49   The comrade of thy wanderings over Heaven,
50   As then, when to outstrip thy skiey speed
51   Scarce seem'd a vision; I would ne'er have striven

52   As thus with thee in prayer in my sore need.
53   Oh, lift me as a wave, a leaf, a cloud!
54   I fall upon the thorns of life! I bleed!

55   A heavy weight of hours has chain'd and bow'd
56   One too like thee: tameless, and swift, and proud.


57   Make me thy lyre, even as the forest is:
58   What if my leaves are falling like its own!
59   The tumult of thy mighty harmonies

60     Will take from both a deep, autumnal tone,
61   Sweet though in sadness. Be thou, Spirit fierce,
62   My spirit! Be thou me, impetuous one!

63   Drive my dead thoughts over the universe
64   Like wither'd leaves to quicken a new birth!
65   And, by the incantation of this verse,

66   Scatter, as from an unextinguish'd hearth
67   Ashes and sparks, my words among mankind!
68   Be through my lips to unawaken'd earth

69   The trumpet of a prophecy! O Wind,
70   If Winter comes, can Spring be far behind?






terza rima in sonnet units: aba bcb cdc ded ee

Composition Date:

autumn 1819


According to Shelley's note, "this poem was conceived and chiefly written in a wood that skirts the Arno, near Florence, and on a day when that tempestuous wind, whose temperature is at once mild and animating, was collecting the vapours which pour down the autumnal rains. They began, as I foresaw, at sunset with a violent tempest of hail and rain, attended by that magnificent thunder and lightning peculiar to the Cisalpine regions."


Maenad: a participant in the rites of Bacchus, a Bacchante.


Having taken a boat trip from Naples to the Bay of Baiae on December 8, 1818, Shelley wrote to T. L. Peacock about sailing over a sea "so translucent that you could see the hollow caverns clothed with glaucous sea-moss, and the leaves and branches of those delicate weeds that pave the unequal bottom of the water," and about "passing the Bay of Baiae, and observing the ruins of its antique grandeur standing like rocks in the transparent sea under our boat."


"The phenomenon alluded to at the conclusion of the third stanza is well known to naturalists. The vegetation at the bottom of the sea, of rivers, and of lakes, sympathizes with that of the land in the change of seasons, and is consequently influenced by the winds which announce it" (Shelley's note).






JOHN KEATS (1795-1821)


First Publication Date: 1817.


    Much have I travell'd in the realms of gold,
2         And many goodly states and kingdoms seen;
3         Round many western islands have I been
4     Which bards in fealty to Apollo hold.
5     Oft of one wide expanse had I been told
6         That deep-brow'd Homer ruled as his demesne;
7         Yet did I never breathe its pure serene
8     Till I heard Chapman speak out loud and bold:
9     Then felt I like some watcher of the skies
10       When a new planet swims into his ken;
11   Or like stout Cortez when with eagle eyes
12       He star'd at the Pacific--and all his men
13   Look'd at each other with a wild surmise--
14       Silent, upon a peak in Darien.





Composition Date:

Oct. 1816


Keats knew very little Greek, and read Homer only in translation.


pure serene. This phrase is to be found in Coleridge'sHymn before Sun-rise, in the Vale of Chamouni, 72, and also in Cary's translation of Dante's Paradiso, XV, 11.


Keats perhaps had in mind Sir William Herschel's discovery of Uranus in 1781.


Cortez. Actually it was Balboa, not Cortez, who first crossed the isthmus to the Pacific. Keats had read Robertson's History of America and apparently confused two scenes there described: Balboa's discovery of the Pacific and Cortez' first view of Mexico City. The two passages read as follows: "At length the Indians assured them, that from the top of the next mountain they should discover the ocean which was the object of their wishes. When, with infinite toil, they had climbed up the greater part of the steep ascent, Balboa commanded his men to halt, and advanced alone to the summit, that he might be the first who should enjoy a spectacle which he had so long desired. As soon as he beheld the South Sea stretching in endless prospect below him, he fell on his knees, and lifting up his hands to Heaven, returned thanks to God, who had conducted him to a discovery so beneficial to his country, and so honourable to himself. His followers, observing his transports of joy, rushed forward to join in his wonder, exultation, and gratitude" (Bk. III). "In descending from the mountains of Chalco, across which the road lay, the vast plain of Mexico opened gradually to their view. When they first beheld this prospect, one of the most striking and beautiful on the face of the earth; when they observed fertile and cultivated fields, stretching farther than the eye could reach; when they saw a lake resembling the sea in extent, encompassed with large towns, and discovered the capital city rising upon an island in the middle, adorned with its temples and turrets; the scene so far exceeded their imagination, that some believed the fanciful descriptions of romance were realized, and that its enchanted palaces and gilded domes were presented to their sight; others could hardly persuade themselves that this wonderful spectacle was any thing more than a dream. As they advanced, their doubts were removed, but their amazement increased. They were now fully satisfied that the country was rich beyond any conception which they had formed of it" (Bk. V).






On Seeing the Elgin Marbles for the First Time

My spirit is too weak; mortality
Weighs heavily on me like unwilling sleep,
And each imagined pinnacle and steep
Of godlike hardship tells me I must die
Like a sick eagle looking at the sky.
Yet 'tis a gentle luxury to weep,
That I have not the cloudy winds to keep
Fresh for the opening of the morning's eye.
Such dim-conceived glories of the brain
Bring round the heart an indescribable feud;
So do these wonders a most dizzy pain,
That mingles Grecian grandeur with the rude
Wasting of old Time -with a billowy main,
A sun, a shadow of a magnitude.









JOHN KEATS (1795-1821)


First Publication Date: 1820.

1     Thou still unravish'd bride of quietness,
2         Thou foster-child of silence and slow time,
3     Sylvan historian, who canst thus express
4         A flowery tale more sweetly than our rhyme:
5     What leaf-fring'd legend haunts about thy shape
6         Of deities or mortals, or of both,
7             In Tempe or the dales of Arcady?
8         What men or gods are these? What maidens loth?
9     What mad pursuit? What struggle to escape?
10           What pipes and timbrels? What wild ecstasy?

11   Heard melodies are sweet, but those unheard
12       Are sweeter; therefore, ye soft pipes, play on;
13   Not to the sensual ear, but, more endear'd,
14       Pipe to the spirit ditties of no tone:
15   Fair youth, beneath the trees, thou canst not leave
16       Thy song, nor ever can those trees be bare;
17           Bold Lover, never, never canst thou kiss,
18   Though winning near the goal yet, do not grieve;
19       She cannot fade, though thou hast not thy bliss,
20           For ever wilt thou love, and she be fair!

21   Ah, happy, happy boughs! that cannot shed
22       Your leaves, nor ever bid the Spring adieu;
23   And, happy melodist, unwearied,
24       For ever piping songs for ever new;
25   More happy love! more happy, happy love!
26       For ever warm and still to be enjoy'd,
27           For ever panting, and for ever young;
28   All breathing human passion far above,
29       That leaves a heart high-sorrowful and cloy'd,
30           A burning forehead, and a parching tongue.

31   Who are these coming to the sacrifice?
32       To what green altar, O mysterious priest,
33   Lead'st thou that heifer lowing at the skies,
34       And all her silken flanks with garlands drest?
35   What little town by river or sea shore,
36       Or mountain-built with peaceful citadel,
37           Is emptied of this folk, this pious morn?
38   And, little town, thy streets for evermore
39       Will silent be; and not a soul to tell
40           Why thou art desolate, can e'er return.

41   O Attic shape! Fair attitude! with brede
42       Of marble men and maidens overwrought,
43   With forest branches and the trodden weed;
44       Thou, silent form, dost tease us out of thought
45   As doth eternity: Cold Pastoral!
46       When old age shall this generation waste,
47           Thou shalt remain, in midst of other woe
48   Than ours, a friend to man, to whom thou say'st,
49       "Beauty is truth, truth beauty,--that is all
50           Ye know on earth, and all ye need to know."








Composition Date:

May 1819


No Greek vase has been found which corresponds to Keats's description; it is supposed to be based rather on his general recollection of various works of Greek art as found in the British Museum and as depicted in engravings.


Tempe: a valley in Thessaly famous for its beauty.

Arcady: Arcadia, a district of the Peloponnesus, a pastoral country; associated with pastoral poetry.


brede: a variant of "braid," an interweaving.


tease us out of thought: draw us out beyond the limits of thought. This phrase occurs also in Keats's Epistle to Reynolds, written in March 1818: "Things cannot to the will/Be settled, but they tease us out of thought."


Beauty and truth are associated several times in Keats's letters: "What the imagination seizes as Beauty must be truth" (Nov. 22, 1817); ". . . in close relationship of Beauty and Truth" (Dec. 21, 1817); "I can never feel certain of a truth but from a clear perception of its Beauty" (Dec. 31, 1818). When the poem was first published in Annals of the Fine Arts, the last two lines were without quotation marks. In Lamia, etc., "Beauty is truth, truth beauty" was set in quotation marks as words of the urn, the rest being comment by the poet. This reading has caused unnecessary grammatical confusion. Keats was ill when Lamia, etc., was being prepared for the press, and we do not know who introduced the limited quotation. Our text follows the example of the Riverside edition (Douglas Bush, ed.) in putting the last two lines in quotation marks.






































































JOHN KEATS (1795-1821)


First Publication Date: 1820.

     Season of mists and mellow fruitfulness,
         Close bosom-friend of the maturing sun;
     Conspiring with him how to load and bless
         With fruit the vines that round the thatch-eves run;
     To bend with apples the moss'd cottage-trees,
         And fill all fruit with ripeness to the core;
             To swell the gourd, and plump the hazel shells
         With a sweet kernel; to set budding more,
     And still more, later flowers for the bees,
     Until they think warm days will never cease,
            For Summer has o'er-brimm'd their clammy cells.

    Who hath not seen thee oft amid thy store?
        Sometimes whoever seeks abroad may find
    Thee sitting careless on a granary floor,
        Thy hair soft-lifted by the winnowing wind;
    Or on a half-reap'd furrow sound asleep,
        Drows'd with the fume of poppies, while thy hook
            Spares the next swath and all its twined flowers:
    And sometimes like a gleaner thou dost keep
        Steady thy laden head across a brook;
        Or by a cyder-press, with patient look,
            Thou watchest the last oozings hours by hours.

    Where are the songs of Spring? Ay, where are they?
        Think not of them, thou hast thy music too,--
    While barred clouds bloom the soft-dying day,
        And touch the stubble-plains with rosy hue;
    Then in a wailful choir the small gnats mourn
        Among the river sallows, borne aloft
            Or sinking as the light wind lives or dies;
    And full-grown lambs loud bleat from hilly bourn;
        Hedge-crickets sing; and now with treble soft
        The red-breast whistles from a garden-croft;
            And gathering swallows twitter in the skies.





Composition Date:

Sept. 1819


The poem seems to have been just composed when Keats wrote to Reynolds from Winchester on September 22, 1819. He says: "How beautiful the season is now--How fine the air--A temperate sharpness about it. Really, without joking, chaste weather--Dian skies--I never lik'd stubble-fields so much as now--Aye, better than the chilly green of the Spring. Somehow a stubble-plain looks warm--in the same way that some pictures look warm--This struck me so much in my Sunday's walk that I composed upon it."


sallows: willows.















































JOHN KEATS (1795-1821)


First Publication Date: 1820.

     No, no, go not to Lethe, neither twist
         Wolf's-bane, tight-rooted, for its poisonous wine;
     Nor suffer thy pale forehead to be kiss'd
         By nightshade, ruby grape of Proserpine;
             Make not your rosary of yew-berries,
         Nor let the beetle, nor the death-moth be
             Your mournful Psyche, nor the downy owl
     A partner in your sorrow's mysteries;
         For shade to shade will come too drowsily,
            And drown the wakeful anguish of the soul.

    But when the melancholy fit shall fall
        Sudden from heaven like a weeping cloud,
    That fosters the droop-headed flowers all,
        And hides the green hill in an April shroud;
    Then glut thy sorrow on a morning rose,
        Or on the rainbow of the salt sand-wave,
            Or on the wealth of globed peonies;
    Or if thy mistress some rich anger shows,
        Emprison her soft hand, and let her rave,
            And feed deep, deep upon her peerless eyes.

    She dwells with Beauty--Beauty that must die;
        And Joy, whose hand is ever at his lips
    Bidding adieu; and aching Pleasure nigh,
        Turning to poison while the bee-mouth sips:
    Ay, in the very temple of Delight
        Veil'd Melancholy has her sovran shrine,
            Though seen of none save him whose strenuous tongue
        Can burst Joy's grape against his palate fine;
    His soul shalt taste the sadness of her might,
            And be among her cloudy trophies hung.





Composition Date:

May or June 1819


The original first stanza of the poem, suppressed before publication ended: "you would fail/To find the Melancholy--whether she/Dreameth in any isle of Lethe dull."


death moth: the Death's-head moth.






JOHN KEATS (1795-1821)


First Publication Date: 1820.

1     My heart aches, and a drowsy numbness pains
2         My sense, as though of hemlock I had drunk,
3     Or emptied some dull opiate to the drains
4         One minute past, and Lethe-wards had sunk:
5     'Tis not through envy of thy happy lot,
6         But being too happy in thine happiness,--
7             That thou, light-winged Dryad of the trees
8                 In some melodious plot
9         Of beechen green, and shadows numberless,
10           Singest of summer in full-throated ease.

11   O, for a draught of vintage! that hath been
12       Cool'd a long age in the deep-delved earth,
13   Tasting of Flora and the country green,
14       Dance, and Provençal song, and sunburnt mirth!
15   O for a beaker full of the warm South,
16       Full of the true, the blushful Hippocrene,
17           With beaded bubbles winking at the brim,
18               And purple-stained mouth;
19       That I might drink, and leave the world unseen,
20           And with thee fade away into the forest dim:

21   Fade far away, dissolve, and quite forget
22       What thou among the leaves hast never known,
23   The weariness, the fever, and the fret
24       Here, where men sit and hear each other groan;
25   Where palsy shakes a few, sad, last gray hairs,
26       Where youth grows pale, and spectre-thin, and dies;
27           Where but to think is to be full of sorrow
28               And leaden-eyed despairs,
29       Where Beauty cannot keep her lustrous eyes,
30           Or new Love pine at them beyond to-morrow.

31   Away! away! for I will fly to thee,
32       Not charioted by Bacchus and his pards,
33   But on the viewless wings of Poesy,
34       Though the dull brain perplexes and retards:
35   Already with thee! tender is the night,
36       And haply the Queen-Moon is on her throne,
37           Cluster'd around by all her starry Fays;
38               But here there is no light,
39       Save what from heaven is with the breezes blown
40           Through verdurous glooms and winding mossy ways.

41   I cannot see what flowers are at my feet,
42       Nor what soft incense hangs upon the boughs,
43   But, in embalmed darkness, guess each sweet
44       Wherewith the seasonable month endows
45   The grass, the thicket, and the fruit-tree wild;
46       White hawthorn, and the pastoral eglantine;
47           Fast fading violets cover'd up in leaves;
48               And mid-May's eldest child,
49       The coming musk-rose, full of dewy wine,
50           The murmurous haunt of flies on summer eves.

51   Darkling I listen; and, for many a time
52       I have been half in love with easeful Death,
53   Call'd him soft names in many a mused rhyme,
54       To take into the air my quiet breath;
55           Now more than ever seems it rich to die,
56       To cease upon the midnight with no pain,
57           While thou art pouring forth thy soul abroad
58               In such an ecstasy!
59       Still wouldst thou sing, and I have ears in vain--
60             To thy high requiem become a sod.

61   Thou wast not born for death, immortal Bird!
62       No hungry generations tread thee down;
63   The voice I hear this passing night was heard
64       In ancient days by emperor and clown:
65   Perhaps the self-same song that found a path
66       Through the sad heart of Ruth, when, sick for home,
67           She stood in tears amid the alien corn;
68               The same that oft-times hath
69       Charm'd magic casements, opening on the foam
70           Of perilous seas, in faery lands forlorn.

71   Forlorn! the very word is like a bell
72       To toll me back from thee to my sole self!
73   Adieu! the fancy cannot cheat so well
74       As she is fam'd to do, deceiving elf.
75   Adieu! adieu! thy plaintive anthem fades
76       Past the near meadows, over the still stream,
77           Up the hill-side; and now 'tis buried deep
78               In the next valley-glades:
79       Was it a vision, or a waking dream?
80           Fled is that music:--Do I wake or sleep?





Composition Date:

spring 1819


hemlock: a poisonous plant which produces death by paralysis.


Lethe: a river of the lower world from which the shades drank, and thus obtained forgetfulness of the past.


Dryad: a wood nymph.


Flora: the goddess of flowers, here used for flowers themselves.


Provençcal song. In the early Middle Ages the poets of southern France, the troubadours of Provence, were particularly famous for their love lyrics.


Hippocrene: a fountain on Mount Helicon in Boeotia, sacred to the Muses.


viewless: invisible.


embalmed: full of balms, or perfumes.


pastoral eglantine. Eglantine is properly the sweet-briar, though popularly applied to various varieties of the wild rose. "Pastoral" presumably because often referred to in pastoral poetry.


Darkling: in the dark; cf Milton, Paradise Lost, III, 38-40: "As the wakeful Bird/Sings darkling, and in shadiest Covert hid/Tunes her nocturnal Note."


alien corn: alien because Ruth was not an Israelite but a Moabitess.















































































































First Publication Date: 1842.

1     It little profits that an idle king,
2     By this still hearth, among these barren crags,
3     Match'd with an aged wife, I mete and dole
4     Unequal laws unto a savage race,
5     That hoard, and sleep, and feed, and know not me.
6     I cannot rest from travel: I will drink
7     Life to the lees: All times I have enjoy'd
8     Greatly, have suffer'd greatly, both with those
9     That loved me, and alone, on shore, and when
10   Thro' scudding drifts the rainy Hyades
11   Vext the dim sea: I am become a name;
12   For always roaming with a hungry heart
13   Much have I seen and known; cities of men
14   And manners, climates, councils, governments,
15   Myself not least, but honour'd of them all;
16   And drunk delight of battle with my peers,
17   Far on the ringing plains of windy Troy.
18   I am a part of all that I have met;
19   Yet all experience is an arch wherethro'
20   Gleams that untravell'd world whose margin fades
21   For ever and forever when I move.
22   How dull it is to pause, to make an end,
23   To rust unburnish'd, not to shine in use!
24   As tho' to breathe were life! Life piled on life
25   Were all too little, and of one to me
26   Little remains: but every hour is saved
27   From that eternal silence, something more,
28   A bringer of new things; and vile it were
29   For some three suns to store and hoard myself,
30   And this gray spirit yearning in desire
31   To follow knowledge like a sinking star,
32   Beyond the utmost bound of human thought.

33       This is my son, mine own Telemachus,
34   To whom I leave the sceptre and the isle,--
35   Well-loved of me, discerning to fulfil
36   This labour, by slow prudence to make mild
37   A rugged people, and thro' soft degrees
38   Subdue them to the useful and the good.
39   Most blameless is he, centred in the sphere
40   Of common duties, decent not to fail
41   In offices of tenderness, and pay
42   Meet adoration to my household gods,
43   When I am gone. He works his work, I mine.

44       There lies the port; the vessel puffs her sail:
45   There gloom the dark, broad seas. My mariners,
46   Souls that have toil'd, and wrought, and thought with me--
47   That ever with a frolic welcome took
48   The thunder and the sunshine, and opposed
49   Free hearts, free foreheads--you and I are old;
50   Old age hath yet his honour and his toil;
51   Death closes all: but something ere the end,
52   Some work of noble note, may yet be done,
53   Not unbecoming men that strove with Gods.
54   The lights begin to twinkle from the rocks:
55   The long day wanes: the slow moon climbs: the deep
56   Moans round with many voices. Come, my friends,
57   'T is not too late to seek a newer world.
58   Push off, and sitting well in order smite
59   The sounding furrows; for my purpose holds
60     To sail beyond the sunset, and the baths
61   Of all the western stars, until I die.
62   It may be that the gulfs will wash us down:
63   It may be we shall touch the Happy Isles,
64   And see the great Achilles, whom we knew.
65   Tho' much is taken, much abides; and tho'
66   We are not now that strength which in old days
67   Moved earth and heaven, that which we are, we are;
68   One equal temper of heroic hearts,
69   Made weak by time and fate, but strong in will
70   To strive, to seek, to find, and not to yield.






"Ulysses was written soon after Arthur Hallam's death, and gave my feeling about the need of going forward, and braving the struggle of life perhaps more simply than anything in In Memoriam" (Tennyson). Based on a passage in Dante's Inferno, canto XXVI. Hallam had drawn Tennyson to a study of Dante. Tennyson exalts his hero's eternally restless aspiration, whereas Dante condemned his curiosity and presumption. Both poets recalled Odyssey, XI, 100-37, where the ghost foretold Ulysses' fortune.


Rainy Hyades: a group of stars which rise with the sun in spring at the rainy season.


the isle: Ithaca, of which Ulysses was king.


the baths: the place where the stars seem to plunge into the ocean.


wash us down: The ocean was imagined by Homer as a river encompassing the earth, and on the west plunging down a vast chasm where was the entrance of Hades.


the Happy Isles: the islands of the blessed, supposed to lie to the west of the Pillars of Hercules, i.e., in the Atlantic.