Reference > Anthologies > Warner, et al., eds. > The Library > Verse

C.D. Warner, et al., comp.  The Library of the World’s Best Literature.
An Anthology in Thirty Volumes.  1917.
Resolution and Independence
By William Wordsworth (1770–1850)
  THERE was a roaring in the wind all night;
    The rain came heavily and fell in floods;
  But now the sun is rising calm and bright;
    The birds are singing in the distant woods;
    Over his own sweet voice the stock-dove broods;        5
  The jay makes answer as the magpie chatters;
And all the air is filled with pleasant noise of waters.
  All things that love the sun are out of doors;
    The sky rejoices in the morning’s birth;
  The grass is bright with raindrops;—on the moors        10
    The hare is running races in her mirth;
    And with her feet she from the plashy earth
  Raises a mist, that, glittering in the sun,
Runs with her all the way, wherever she doth run.
  I was a traveler then upon the moor:        15
    I saw the hare that raced about with joy;
  I heard the woods and distant waters roar;
    Or heard them not, as happy as a boy:
    The pleasant season did my heart employ:
  My old remembrances went from me wholly,        20
And all the ways of men, so vain and melancholy.
  But as it sometimes chanceth, from the might
    Of joy in minds that can no further go,
  As high as we have mounted in delight
    In our dejection do we sink as low:        25
    To me that morning did it happen so;
  And fears and fancies thick upon me came;
Dim sadness—and blind thoughts I knew not, nor could name.
  I heard the skylark warbling in the sky;
    And I bethought me of the playful hare:        30
  Even such a happy child of earth am I;
    Even as these blissful creatures do I fare;
    Far from the world I walk, and from all care:
  But there may come another day to me,—
Solitude, pain of heart, distress, and poverty.        35
  My whole life I have lived in pleasant thought,
    As if life’s business were a summer mood;
  As if all needful things would come unsought
    To genial faith, still rich in genial good:
    But how can he expect that others should        40
  Build for him, sow for him, and at his call
Love him, who for himself will take no heed at all?
  I thought of Chatterton, the marvelous boy,
    The sleepless soul that perished in his pride;
  Of him who walked in glory and in joy        45
    Following his plow, along the mountain-side.
    By our own spirits are we deified:
  We poets in our youth begin in gladness;
But thereof come in the end despondency and madness.
  Now, whether it were by peculiar grace,        50
    A leading from above, a something given,
  Yet it befell that in this lonely place,
    When I with these untoward thoughts had striven,
    Beside a pool bare to the eye of heaven
  I saw a man before me unawares;        55
The oldest man he seemed that ever wore gray hairs.
  As a huge stone is sometimes seen to lie
    Couched on the bald top of an eminence:
  Wonder to all who do the same espy,
    By what means it could thither come, and whence;        60
    So that it seems a thing endued with sense:
  Like a sea-beast crawled forth, that on a shelf
Of rock or sand reposeth, there to sun itself;—
  Such seemed this man, not all alive nor dead,
    Nor all asleep—in his extreme old age:        65
  His body was bent double, feet and head
    Coming together in life’s pilgrimage;
    As if some dire constraint of pain, or rage
  Of sickness felt by him in times long past,
A more than human weight upon his frame had cast.        70
  Himself he propped, limbs, body, and pale face,
    Upon a long gray staff of shaven wood;
  And still as I drew near with gentle pace,
    Upon the margin of that moorish flood
    Motionless as a cloud the old man stood,        75
  That heareth not the loud winds when they call,
And moveth all together, if it move at all
  At length, himself unsettling, he the pond
    Stirred with his staff, and fixedly did look
  Upon the muddy water, which he conned,        80
    As if he had been reading in a book:
    And now a stranger’s privilege I took;
  And drawing to his side, to him did say,
“This morning gives us promise of a glorious day.”
  A gentle answer did the old man make,        85
    In courteous speech which forth he slowly drew;
  And him with further words I thus bespake,—
    “What occupation do you there pursue?
    This is a lonesome place for one like you.”
  Ere he replied, a flash of mild surprise        90
Broke from the sable orbs of his yet-vivid eyes;
  His words came feebly, from a feeble chest,
    But each in solemn order followed each,
  With something of a lofty utterance drest—
    Choice word and measured phrase, above the reach        95
    Of ordinary men; a stately speech;
  Such as grave livers do in Scotland use,—
Religious men, who give to God and man their dues.
  He told that to these waters he had come
    To gather leeches, being old and poor;—        100
  Employment hazardous and wearisome!—
    And he had many hardships to endure:
    From pond to pond he roamed, from moor to moor;
  Housing, with God’s good help, by choice or chance:
And in this way he gained an honest maintenance.        105
  The old man still stood talking by my side;
    But now his voice to me was like a stream
  Scarce heard; nor word from word could I divide;
    And the whole body of the man did seem
    Like one whom I had met with in a dream;        110
  Or like a man from some far region sent,
To give me human strength, by apt admonishment.
  My former thoughts returned: the fear that kills;
    And hope that is unwilling to be fed;
  Cold, pain, and labor, and all fleshly ills;        115
    And mighty poets in their misery dead.
    Perplexed, and longing to be comforted,
  My question eagerly did I renew,
“How is it that you live, and what is it you do?”
  He with a smile did then his words repeat;        120
    And said that gathering leeches, far and wide
  He traveled; stirring thus about his feet
    The waters of the pools where they abide.
    “Once I could meet with them on every side;
  But they have dwindled long by slow decay;        125
Yet still I persevere, and find them where I may.”
  While he was talking thus, the lonely place,
    The old man’s shape and speech—all troubled me:
  In my mind’s eye I seemed to see him pace
    About the weary moors continually,        130
    Wandering about alone and silently.
  While I these thoughts within myself pursued,
He, having made a pause, the same discourse renewed.
  And soon with this he other matter blended,
    Cheerfully uttered, with demeanor kind,        135
  But stately in the main; and when he ended,
    I could have laughed myself to scorn to find
    In that decrepit man so firm a mind.
  “God,” said I, “be my help and stay secure;
I’ll think of the leech-gatherer on the lonely moor!”        140

Shakespeare · Bible · Strunk · Anatomy · Nonfiction · Quotations · Reference · Fiction · Poetry
© 1993–2015 · [Top 150] · Subjects · Titles · Authors · World Lit.