Verse > William Wordsworth > Complete Poetical Works
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WATER-FOWL

OBSERVED FREQUENTLY OVER THE LAKES OF RYDAL AND GRASMERE

          MARK how the feathered tenants of the flood,
          With grace of motion that might scarcely seem
          Inferior to angelical, prolong
          Their curious pastime! shaping in mid air
          (And sometimes with ambitious wing that soars
          High as the level of the mountain-tops)
          A circuit ampler than the lake beneath--
          Their own domain; but ever, while intent
          On tracing and retracing that large round,
          Their jubilant activity evolves                             10
          Hundreds of curves and circlets, to and fro,
          Upward and downward, progress intricate
          Yet unperplexed, as if one spirit swayed
          Their indefatigable flight. 'Tis done--
          Ten times, or more, I fancied it had ceased;
          But lo! the vanished company again
          Ascending; they approach--I hear their wings,
          Faint, faint at first; and then an eager sound,
          Past in a moment--and as faint again!
          They tempt the sun to sport amid their plumes;              20
          They tempt the water, or the gleaming ice,
          To show them a fair image; 'tis themselves,
          Their own fair forms, upon the glimmering plain,
          Painted more soft and fair as they descend
          Almost to touch;--then up again aloft,
          Up with a sally and a flash of speed,
          As if they scorned both resting-place and rest!
                                                              1812.


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