Monday, July 22, 2013

Wordsworth's pedlar

What makes human life feel blessed? For William Wordsworth the experience of being deeply connected to nature brought about such a feeling. This experience was open to all, even to those of humble rank. The following lines are from the poem The Pedlar and the Ruined Cottage:

Claude Lorrain

From early childhood, even, as I have said,
From his sixth year, he had been sent abroad
In summer, to tend herds: such was his task
Henceforward till the later day of youth.
Oh! then what soul was his when on the tops
Of the high mountains he beheld the sun
Rise up, and bathe the world in light. He looked;
The ocean and the earth beneath him lay
In gladness and deep joy. The clouds were touched
And in their silent faces did he read
Unutterable love. Sound needed none,
Nor any voice of joy; his spirit drank
The spectacle; sensation, soul, and form
All melted into him; they swallowed up
His animal being: in them did he live,
And by them did he live: they were his life.
In such access of mind, in such high hour
Of visitation from the living God,
Thought was not. In enjoyment it expired.
No thanks he breathed, he proffered no request;
Rapt into still communion that transcends
The imperfect offices of prayer and praise,
His mind was a thanksgiving to the Power
That made him: it was blessedness and love.
A Herdsman on the lonely mountain tops,
Such intercourse was his, and in this sort
Was his existence oftentimes possessed.
Oh! then how beautiful, how bright appeared
The written Promise! He had early learned
To reverence the Volume which displays
The mystery, the life which cannot die:
But in the mountains did he feel his faith.
There did he see the writing. All things there
Breathed immortality, revolving life,
And greatness still revolving: infinite.
There littleness was not; the least of things
Seemed infinite, and there his spirit shaped
Her prospects, nor did he believe - he saw.
What wonder if his being thus became
Sublime and comprehensive! Low desires,
Low thoughts had there no place, yet was his mind
Lowly; for he was meek in gratitude
Oft as he called to mind those ecstasies
And whence they flowed, and from them he acquired
Wisdom which works through patience; thence he learned
In many a calmer hour of sober thought
To look on nature with an humble heart
Self-questioned where it did not understand
And with a superstitious eye of love.

No comments:

Post a Comment