Verse > Anthologies > Ralph Waldo Emerson, ed. > Parnassus: An Anthology of Poetry
Ralph Waldo Emerson, comp. (1803–1882).  Parnassus: An Anthology of Poetry.  1880.
Sonnet: ‘Alas! what boots the long’
By William Wordsworth (1770–1850)
ALAS! what boots the long, laborious quest
Of moral prudence, sought through good and ill;
Or pains abstruse, to elevate the will,
And lead us on to that transcendent rest
Where every passion shall the sway attest        5
Of Reason, seated on her sovereign hill?
What is it but a vain and curious skill,
If sapient Germany must lie depressed
Beneath the brutal sword? Her haughty schools
Shall blush; and may not we with sorrow say,        10
A few strong instincts and a few plain rules,
Among the herdsmen of the Alps, have wrought
More for mankind at this unhappy day,
Than all the pride of intellect and thought.

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