Verse > Anthologies > T. H. Ward, ed. > The English Poets > Vol. IV. Wordsworth to Rossetti
Thomas Humphry Ward, ed.  The English Poets.  1880–1918.
Vol. IV. The Nineteenth Century: Wordsworth to Rossetti
Thoughts Suggested the Day Following
By William Wordsworth (1770–1850)
On the Banks of Nith, near the Poet’s Residence

TOO frail to keep the lofty vow
That must have followed when his brow
Was wreathed—‘The Vision’ tells us how—
    With holly spray,
He faltered, drifted to and fro,        5
    And passed away.
Well might such thoughts, dear Sister, throng
Our minds when, lingering all too long,
Over the grave of Burns we hung
    In social grief—        10
Indulged as if it were a wrong
    To seek relief.
But, leaving each unquiet theme
Where gentlest judgments may misdeem,
And prompt to welcome every gleam        15
    Of good and fair,
Let us beside this limpid Stream
    Breathe hopeful air.
Enough of sorrow, wreck, and blight;
Think rather of those moments bright        20
When to the consciousness of right
    His course was true,
When Wisdom prospered in his sight
    And virtue grew.
Yes, freely let our hearts expand,        25
Freely as in youth’s season bland,
When side by side, his Book in hand,
    We wont to stray,
Our pleasure varying at command
    Of each sweet Lay.        30
How oft inspired must he have trode
These pathways, yon far-stretching road!
There lurks his home; in that Abode,
    With mirth elate,
Or in his nobly-pensive mood,        35
    The Rustic sate.
Proud thoughts that Image overawes,
Before it humbly let us pause,
And ask of Nature, from what cause
    And by what rules        40
She trained her Burns to win applause
    That shames the Schools.
Through busiest street and loneliest glen
Are felt the flashes of his pen:
He rules mid winter snows, and when        45
    Bees fill their hives:
Deep in the general heart of men
    His power survives.
What need of fields in some far clime
Where Heroes, Sages, Bards sublime,        50
And all that fetched the flowing rhyme
    From genuine springs,
Shall dwell together till old Time
    Folds up his wings?
Sweet Mercy! to the gates of Heaven        55
This Minstrel lead, his sins forgiven;
The rueful conflict, the heart riven
    With vain endeavour,
And memory of Earth’s bitter leaven
    Effaced for ever.        60
But why to Him confine the prayer,
When kindred thoughts and yearnings bear
On the frail heart the purest share
    With all that live?—
The best of what we do and are,        65
    Just God, forgive!

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