Verse > William Wordsworth > Complete Poetical Works


Left upon a Seat in a Yew-tree, which stands near the lake of Esthwaite, on a desolate part of the shore, commanding a beautiful prospect.

      NAY, Traveller! rest. This lonely Yew-tree stands
      Far from all human dwelling: what if here
      No sparkling rivulet spread the verdant herb?
      What if the bee love not these barren boughs?
      Yet, if the wind breathe soft, the curling waves,
      That break against the shore, shall lull thy mind
      By one soft impulse saved from vacancy.
      --------------------Who he was
      That piled these stones and with the mossy sod
      First covered, and here taught this aged Tree                   10
      With its dark arms to form a circling bower,
      I well remember.--He was one who owned
      No common soul. In youth by science nursed,
      And led by nature into a wild scene
      Of lofty hopes, he to the world went forth
      A favoured Being, knowing no desire
      Which genius did not hallow; 'gainst the taint
      Of dissolute tongues, and jealousy, and hate,
      And scorn,--against all enemies prepared,
      All but neglect. The world, for so it thought,                  20
      Owed him no service; wherefore he at once
      With indignation turned himself away,
      And with the food of pride sustained his soul
      In solitude.--Stranger! these gloomy boughs
      Had charms for him; and here he loved to sit,
      His only visitants a straggling sheep,
      The stone-chat, or the glancing sand-piper:
      And on these barren rocks, with fern and heath,
      And juniper and thistle, sprinkled o'er,
      Fixing his downcast eye, he many an hour                        30
      A morbid pleasure nourished, tracing here
      An emblem of his own unfruitful life:
      And, lifting up his head, he then would gaze
      On the more distant scene,--how lovely 'tis
      Thou seest,--and he would gaze till it became
      Far lovelier, and his heart could not sustain
      The beauty, still more beauteous! Nor, that time,
      When nature had subdued him to herself,
      Would he forget those Beings to whose minds,
      Warm from the labours of benevolence,                           40
      The world, and human life, appeared a scene
      Of kindred loveliness: then he would sigh,
      Inly disturbed, to think that others felt
      What he must never feel: and so, lost Man!
      On visionary views would fancy feed,
      Till his eye streamed with tears. In this deep vale
      He died,--this seat his only monument.
        If Thou be one whose heart the holy forms
      Of young imagination have kept pure,
      Stranger! henceforth be warned; and know that pride,            50
      Howe'er disguised in its own majesty,
      Is littleness; that he, who feels contempt
      For any living thing, hath faculties
      Which he has never used; that thought with him
      Is in its infancy. The man whose eye
      Is ever on himself doth look on one,
      The least of Nature's works, one who might move
      The wise man to that scorn which wisdom holds
      Unlawful, ever. O be wiser, Thou!
      Instructed that true knowledge leads to love;                   60
      True dignity abides with him alone
      Who, in the silent hour of inward thought,
      Can still suspect, and still revere himself
      In lowliness of heart.



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