William Wordsworth

September, 1819

Departing summer hath assumed An aspect tenderly illumed, The gentlest look of spring; That calls from yonder leafy shade Unfaded, yet prepared to fade, A timely carolling. No faint and hesitating trill, Such tribute as to winter chill The lonely redbreast pays! Clear, loud, and lively is the din, From social warblers gathering in Their harvest of sweet lays. Nor doth the example fail to cheer Me, conscious that my leaf is sere, And yellow on the bough:- Fall, rosy garlands, from my head! Ye myrtle wreaths, your fragrance shed Around a younger brow! Yet will I temperately rejoice; Wide is the range, and free the choice Of undiscordant themes; Which, haply, kindred souls may prize Not less than vernal ecstasies, And passion's feverish dreams. For deathless powers to verse belong, And they like Demi-gods are strong On whom the Muses smile; But some their function have disclaimed, Best pleased with what is aptliest framed To enervate and defile. Not such the initiatory strains Committed to the silent plains In Britain's earliest dawn: Trembled the groves, the stars grew pale, While all-too-daringly the veil Of nature was withdrawn! Nor such the spirit-stirring note When the live chords Alcæus smote, Inflamed by sense of wrong; Woe! woe to Tyrants! from the lyre Broke threateningly, in sparkles dire Of fierce vindictive song. And not unhallowed was the page By wingèd Love inscribed, to assuage The pangs of vain pursuit; Love listening while the Lesbian Maid With finest touch of passion swayed Her own Æolian lute. O ye, who patiently explore The wreck of Herculanean lore, What rapture! could ye seize Some Theban fragment, or unroll One precious, tender-hearted scroll Of pure Simonides. That were, indeed, a genuine birth Of poesy; a bursting forth Of genius from the dust: What Horace gloried to behold, What Maro loved, shall we enfold? Can haughty Time be just!

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