Sunday, September 15, 2013

September 1819 / William Wordsworth (2 poems)

          September 1819

          The sylvan slopes with corn-clad fields
          Are hung, as if with golden shields,
          Bright trophies of the sun!
          Like a fair sister of the sky,
          Unruffled doth the blue lake lie,
          The mountains looking on.

          And, sooth to say, yon vocal grove,
          Albeit uninspired by love,
          By love untaught to ring,
          May well afford to mortal ear                  
          An impulse more profoundly dear
          Than music of the Spring.

          For 'that' from turbulence and heat
          Proceeds, from some uneasy seat
          In nature's struggling frame,
          Some region of impatient life:
          And jealousy, and quivering strife,
          Therein a portion claim.

          This, this is holy;– while I hear
          These vespers of another year,                
          This hymn of thanks and praise,
          My spirit seems to mount above
          The anxieties of human love,
          And earth's precarious days.

          But list!– though winter storms be nigh,
          Unchecked is that soft harmony:
          There lives Who can provide
          For all his creatures; and in Him,
          Even like the radiant Seraphim,
          These choristers confide.                      


          Upon the Same Occasion

          Departing summer hath assumed
          An aspect tenderly illumed,
          The gentlest look of spring;
          That calls from yonder leafy shade
          Unfaded, yet prepared to fade,
          A timely carolling.

          No faint and hesitating trill,
          Such tribute as to winter chill
          The lonely redbreast pays!
          Clear, loud, and lively is the din,            
          From social warblers gathering in
          Their harvest of sweet lays.

          Nor doth the example fail to cheer
          Me, conscious that my leaf is sere,
          And yellow on the bough:–
          Fall, rosy garlands, from my head!
          Ye myrtle wreaths, your fragrance shed
          Around a younger brow!

          Yet will I temperately rejoice;
          Wide is the range, and free the choice        
          Of undiscordant themes;
          Which, haply, kindred souls may prize
          Not less than vernal ecstasies,
          And passion's feverish dreams.

          For deathless powers to verse belong,
          And they like Demi-gods are strong
          On whom the Muses smile;
          But some their function have disclaimed,
          Best pleased with what is aptliest framed
          To enervate and defile.                        

          Not such the initiatory strains
          Committed to the silent plains
          In Britain's earliest dawn:
          Trembled the groves, the stars grew pale,
          While all-too-daringly the veil
          Of nature was withdrawn!

          Nor such the spirit-stirring note
          When the live chords Alcaeus smote,
          Inflamed by sense of wrong;
          Woe! woe to Tyrants! from the lyre            
          Broke threateningly, in sparkles dire
          Of fierce vindictive song.

          And not unhallowed was the page
          By winged Love inscribed, to assuage
          The pangs of vain pursuit;
          Love listening while the Lesbian Maid
          With finest touch of passion swayed
          Her own Aeolian lute.

          O ye, who patiently explore
          The wreck of Herculanean lore,                
          What rapture! could ye seize
          Some Theban fragment, or unroll
          One precious, tender-hearted, scroll
          Of pure Simonides.

          That were, indeed, a genuine birth
          Of poesy; a bursting forth
          Of genius from the dust:
          What Horace gloried to behold,
          What Maro loved, shall we enfold?
          Can haughty Time be just!                                
William Wordsworth, 1819
from The Complete Poetical Works, 1888

[Poems are in the public domain worldwide]

William Wordsworth biography                                           

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