Verse > Anthologies > Harvard Classics > English Poetry II: From Collins to Fitzgerald
   English Poetry II: From Collins to Fitzgerald.
The Harvard Classics.  1909–14.
385. Ode to Duty
William Wordsworth (1770–1850)
  STERN Daughter of the voice of God!
  O Duty! if that name thou love
  Who art a light to guide, a rod
  To check the erring, and reprove;
  Thou who art victory and law        5
  When empty terrors overawe;
  From vain temptations dost set free,
And calm’st the weary strife of frail humanity!
  There are who ask not if thine eye
  Be on them; who, in love and truth        10
  Where no misgiving is, rely
  Upon the genial sense of youth:
  Glad hearts! without reproach or blot,
  Who do thy work, and know it not:
  O! if through confidence misplaced        15
They fail, thy saving arms, dread Power! around them cast.
  Serene will be our days and bright
  And happy will our nature be
  When love is an unerring light,
  And joy its own security.        20
  And they a blissful course may hold
  Ev’n now, who, not unwisely bold,
  Live in the spirit of this creed;
Yet find that other strength according to their need.
  I, loving freedom, and untried,        25
  No sport of every random gust,
  Yet being to myself a guide,
  Too blindly have reposed my trust:
  And oft, when in my heart was heard
  Thy timely mandate, I deferr’d        30
  The task, in smoother walks to stray;
But thee I now would serve more strictly, if I may.
  Through no disturbance of my soul
  Or strong compunction in me wrought,
  I supplicate for thy controul,        35
  But in the quietness of thought:
  Me this uncharter’d freedom tires;
  I feel the weight of chance-desires:
  My hopes no more must change their name;
I long for a repose that ever is the same.        40
  Stern Lawgiver! yet thou dost wear
  The Godhead’s most benignant grace;
  Nor know we anything so fair
  As is the smile upon thy face:
  Flowers laugh before thee on their beds,        45
  And fragrance in thy footing treads;
  Thou dost preserve the Stars from wrong;
And the most ancient Heavens, through thee, are fresh and strong.
  To humbler functions, awful Power!
  I call thee: I myself commend        50
  Unto thy guidance from this hour;
  O let my weakness have an end!
  Give unto me, made lowly wise,
  The spirit of self-sacrifice;
  The confidence of reason give;        55
And in the light of Truth thy bondman let me live.


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