Verse > William Wordsworth > Complete Poetical Works
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PRESENTIMENTS

          PRESENTIMENTS! they judge not right
          Who deem that ye from open light
            Retire in fear of shame;
          All 'heaven-born' Instincts shun the touch
          Of vulgar sense,--and, being such,
            Such privilege ye claim.

          The tear whose source I could not guess,
          The deep sigh that seemed fatherless,
            Were mine in early days;
          And now, unforced by time to part                           10
          With fancy, I obey my heart,
            And venture on your praise.

          What though some busy foes to good,
          Too potent over nerve and blood,
            Lurk near you--and combine
          To taint the health which ye infuse;
          This hides not from the moral Muse
            Your origin divine.

          How oft from you, derided Powers!
          Comes Faith that in auspicious hours                        20
            Builds castles, not of air:
          Bodings unsanctioned by the will
          Flow from your visionary skill,
            And teach us to beware.

          The bosom-weight, your stubborn gift,
          That no philosophy can lift,
            Shall vanish, if ye please,
          Like morning mist: and, where it lay,
          The spirits at your bidding play
            In gaiety and ease.                                       30

          Star-guided contemplations move
          Through space, though calm, not raised above
            Prognostics that ye rule;
          The naked Indian of the wild,
          And haply, too, the cradled Child,
            Are pupils of your school.

          But who can fathom your intents,
          Number their signs or instruments?
            A rainbow, a sunbeam,
          A subtle smell that Spring unbinds,                         40
          Dead pause abrupt of midnight winds,
            An echo, or a dream.

          The laughter of the Christmas hearth
          With sighs of self-exhausted mirth
            Ye feelingly reprove;
          And daily, in the conscious breast,
          Your visitations are a test
            And exercise of love.

          When some great change gives boundless scope
          To an exulting Nation's hope,                               50
            Oft, startled and made wise
          By your low-breathed interpretings,
          The simply-meek foretaste the springs
            Of bitter contraries.

          Ye daunt the proud array of war,
          Pervade the lonely ocean far
            As sail hath been unfurled;
          For dancers in the festive hall
          What ghastly partners hath your call
            Fetched from the shadowy world.                           60

          'Tis said, that warnings ye dispense,
          Emboldened by a keener sense;
            That men have lived for whom,
          With dread precision, ye made clear
          The hour that in a distant year
            Should knell them to the tomb.

          Unwelcome insight! Yet there are,
          Blest times when mystery is laid bare,
            Truth shows a glorious face,
          While on that isthmus which commands                        70
          The councils of both worlds, she stands,
            Sage Spirits! by your grace.

          God, who instructs the brutes to scent
          All changes of the element,
            Whose wisdom fixed the scale
          Of natures, for our wants provides
          By higher, sometimes humbler, guides,
            When lights of reason fail.
                                                              1830.


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