Verse > William Wordsworth > Complete Poetical Works


          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,                         10
          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                      20
          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.                                     30

          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          Of nature was withdrawn!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                          40
          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,                              50
          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!                                   60



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