Verse > William Wordsworth > Complete Poetical Works


          WHAT mischief cleaves to unsubdued regret,
          How fancy sickens by vague hopes beset;
          How baffled projects on the spirit prey,
          And fruitless wishes eat the heart away,
          The Sailor knows; he best, whose lot is cast
          On the relentless sea that holds him fast
          On chance dependent, and the fickle star
          Of power, through long and melancholy war.
          O sad it is, in sight of foreign shores,
          Daily to think on old familiar doors,                       10
          Hearths loved in childhood, and ancestral floors;
          Or, tossed about along a waste of foam,
          To ruminate on that delightful home
          Which with the dear Betrothed 'was' to come;
          Or came and was and is, yet meets the eye
          Never but in the world of memory;
          Or in a dream recalled, whose smoothest range
          Is crossed by knowledge, or by dread, of change,
          And if not so, whose perfect joy makes sleep
          A thing too bright for breathing man to keep.               20
          Hail to the virtues which that perilous life
          Extracts from Nature's elemental strife;
          And welcome glory won in battles fought
          As bravely as the foe was keenly sought.
          But to each gallant Captain and his crew
          A less imperious sympathy is due,
          Such as my verse now yields, while moonbeams play
          On the mute sea in this unruffled bay;
          Such as will promptly flow from every breast,
          Where good men, disappointed in the quest                   30
          Of wealth and power and honours, long for rest;
          Or, having known the splendours of success,
          Sigh for the obscurities of happiness.



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