Verse > William Wordsworth > Complete Poetical Works
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ODE TO DUTY

      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
      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:
      Oh! if through confidence misplaced
      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
      Even now, who, not unwisely bold,
      Live in the spirit of this creed;
      Yet seek thy firm support, according to their need.

      I, loving freedom, and untried;
      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 deferred                                  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 control;
      But in the quietness of thought:
      Me this unchartered 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
      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;
      Oh, let my weakness have an end!
      Give unto me, made lowly wise,
      The spirit of self-sacrifice;
      The confidence of reason give;
      And in the light of truth thy Bondman let me live!
                                                              1805.


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