Wordsworth's Grave


The old rude church, with bare, bald tower, is here;
—Beneath its shadow high-born Rotha flows;
Rotha, remembering well who slumbers near,
—And with cool murmur lulling his repose.

Rotha, remembering well who slumbers near.
—His hills, his lakes, his streams are with him yet.
Surely the heart that reads her own heart clear
—Nature forgets not soon: 'tis we forget.

We that with vagrant soul his fixity
—Have slighted; faithless, done his deep faith wrong;
Left him for poorer loves, and bowed the knee
—To misbegotten strange new gods of song.

Yet, led by hollow ghost or beckoning elf
—Far from her homestead to the desert bourn,
The vagrant soul returning to herself
—Wearily wise, must needs to him return.

To him and to the powers that with him dwell:—
—Inflowings that divulged not whence they came;
And that secluded Spirit unknowable,
—The mystery we make darker with a name;

The Somewhat which we name but cannot know,
—Even as we name a star and only see
His quenchless flashings forth, which ever show
—And ever hide him, and which are noThe.


Poet who sleepest by this wandering wave!
—When thou wast born, what birth-gift hadst thou then?
To thee what wealth was that the Immortals gave,
—The wealth thou gavest in thy turn to men?

Not Milton's keen, translunar music thine;
—Not Shakespeare's cloudless, boundless human view;
Not Shelley's flush of rose on peaks divine;
—Nor yet the wizard twilight Coleridge knew.

What hadst thou that could make so large amends
—For all thou hadst not and thy peers possessed,
Motion and fire, swift means to radiant ends?—
—Thou hadst, for weary feet, the gift of rest.

From Shelley's dazzling glow or thunderous haze,
—From Byron's tempest-anger, tempest-mirth,
Men turned to thee and found—not blast and blaze,
—Tumult of tottering heavens, but peace on earth.

Nor peace that grows by Lethe, scentless flower,
—There in white languors to decline and cease;
But peace whose names are also rapture, power,
—Clear sight, and love: for these are parts of peace.


I hear it vowed the Muse is with us still;
—If less divinely frenzied than of yore,
In lieu of feelings she has wondrous skill
—To simulate emotion felt no more.

Not such the authentic Presence pure, that made
—This valley vocal in the great days gone!—
In his great days, while yet the spring-time played
—About him, and the mighty morning shone.

No word-mosaic artificer, he sang
—A lofty song of lowly weal and dole.
Right from the heart, right to the heart it sprang,
—Or from the soul leapt instant to the soul.

He felt the charm of childhood, grace of youth,
—Grandeur of age, insisting to be sung.
The impassioned argument was simple truth
—Half-wondering at its own melodious tongue.

Impassioned? ay, to the song's ecstatic core!
—But far removed were clangor, storm, and feud;
For plenteous health was his, exceeding store
—Of joy, and an impassioned quietude.


A hundred years ere he to manhood came,
—Song from celestial heights had wandered down,
Put off her robe of sunlight, dew, and flame,
—And donned a modish dress to charm the Town.

Thenceforth she but festooned the porch of things;
—Apt at life's lore, incurious what life meant.
Dextrous of hand, she struck her lute's few strings;
—Ignobly perfect, barrenly content.

Unflushed with ardor and unblanched with awe,
—Her lips in profitless derision curled,
She saw with dull emotion—if she saw—
—The vision of the glory of the world.

The human masque she watched, with dreamless eyes
—In whose clear shallows lurked no trembling shade:
The stars, unkenned by her, might set and rise;
—Unmarked by her, the daisies bloom and fade.

The age grew sated with her sterile wit.
—Herself waxed weary on her loveless throne.
Men felt life's tide, the sweep and surge of it,
—And craved a living voice, a natural tone.

For none the less, though song was but half true,
—The world lay common, one abounding theme.
Man joyed and wept, and fate was ever new,
—And love was sweet, life real, death no dream.

In sad, stern verse the rugged scholar-sage
—Bemoaned his toil unvalued, youth uncheered.
His numbers wore the vesture of the age,
—But, 'neath it beating, the greaTheart was heard.

From dewy pastures, uplands sweet with thyme,
—A virgin breeze freshened the jaded day.
It wafted Collins' lonely vesper-chime,
—It breathed abroad the frugal note of Gray.

It fluttered here and there, nor swept in vain
—The dusty haunts where futile echoes dwell,—
Then, in a cadence soft as summer rain,
—And sad from Auburn voiceless, drooped and fell.

It drooped and fell, and one 'neath northern skies,
—With southern heart, who tilled his father's field,
Found Poesy a-dying, bade her rise
—And touch quick Nature's hem and go forth healed.

On life's broad plain the plowman's conquering share
—Upturned the fallow lands of truth anew,
And o'er the formal garden's trim parterre
—The peasant's team a ruthless furrow drew.

Bright was his going forth, but clouds ere long
—Whelmed him; in gloom his radiance set, and those
Twin morning stars of the new century's song,
—Those morning stars that sang together, rose.

In elvish speech the Dreamer told his tale
—Of marvelous oceans swept by fateful wings.—
The Seër strayed not from earth's human pale
—But the mysterious face of common things

He mirrored as the moon in Rydal Mere
—Is mirrored, when the breathless night hangs blue:
Strangely remote she seems and wondrous near,
—And by some nameless difference born anew.


Peace—peace—and rest! Ah, how the lyre is loth,
—Or powerless now, to give what all men seek!
Either it deadens with ignoble sloth
—Or deafens with shrill tumult, loudly weak.

Where is the singer whose large notes and clear
—Can heal, and arm, and plenish, and sustain?
Lo, one with empty music floods the ear,
—And one, the heart refreshing, tires the brain.

And idly tuneful, the loquacious throng
—Flutter and twitter, prodigal of time,
And little masters make a toy of song,
—Till grave men weary of the sound of rhyme.

And some go pranked in faded antique dress,
—Abhorring to be hale and glad and free;
And some parade a conscious naturalness,
—The scholar's not the child's simplicity.

Enough;—the wisest who from words forbear
—The gentle river rails not as it glides;
And suave and charitable, the winsome air
—Chides not at all, or only him who chides.


Nature! we storm thine ear with choric notes.
—Thou answerest through the calm great nights and days,
“Laud me who will: not tuneless are your throats;
—Yet if ye paused I should not miss the praise.”

We falter, half-rebuked, and sing again.
—We chant thy desertness and haggard gloom,
Or with thy splendid wrath inflate the strain,
—Or touch it with thy color and perfume.

One, his melodious blood aflame for thee,
—Wooed with fierce lust, his hoTheart world-defiled.
One, with the upward eye of infancy,
—Looked in thy face, and felt himself thy child.

Thee he approached without distrust or dread—
—Beheld thee throned, an awful queen, above—
Climbed to thy lap and merely laid his head
—Against thy warm wild heart of mother-love.

He heard that vasTheart beating—thou didst press
—Thy child so close, and lov'dst him unaware.
Thy beauty gladdened him; yeThe scarce less
—Had loved thee, had he never found thee fair!

For thou wast not as legendary lands
—To which with curious eyes and ears we roam.
Nor wast thou as a fane 'mid solemn sands,
—Where palmers halt at evening. Thou wast home.

And here, at home, still bides he; buThe sleeps;
—Not to be wakened even at thy word;
Though we, vague dreamers, dream he somewhere keeps
—An ear still open to thy voice still heard,—

Thy voice, as heretofore, about him blown,
—For ever blown about his silence now;
Thy voice, though deeper, yet so like his own
—That almost, when he sang, we deemed 'twas thou!


Behind Helm Crag and Silver Howe the sheen
—Of the retreating day is less and less.
Soon will the lordlier summits, here unseen,
—Gather the night about their nakedness.

The half-heard bleat of sheep comes from the hill.
—Faint sounds of childish play are in the air.
The river murmurs past. All else is still.
—The very graves seem stiller than they were.

Afar though nation be on nation hurled,
—And life with toil and ancient pain depressed,
Here one may scarce believe the whole wide world
—Is not at peace, and all man's heart at rest.

Rest! 'twas the gifThe gave, and peace! the shade
— He spread, for spirits fevered with the sun.
To him his bounties are come back—here laid
—In rest, in peace, his labor nobly done.
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