Verse > William Wordsworth > Complete Poetical Works
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TO DORA

          "'A little onward lend thy guiding hand
          To these dark steps, a little further on!'"
          --What trick of memory to 'my' voice hath brought
          This mournful iteration? For though Time,
          The Conqueror, crowns the Conquered, on this brow
          Planting his favourite silver diadem,
          Nor he, nor minister of his--intent
          To run before him--hath enrolled me yet,
          Though not unmenaced, among those who lean
          Upon a living staff, with borrowed sight.                   10
          --O my own Dora, my beloved child!
          Should that day come--but hark! the birds salute
          The cheerful dawn, brightening for me the east;
          For me, thy natural leader, once again
          Impatient to conduct thee, not as erst
          A tottering infant, with compliant stoop
          From flower to flower supported; but to curb
          Thy nymph-like step swift-bounding o'er the lawn,
          Along the loose rocks, or the slippery verge
          Of foaming torrents.--From thy orisons                      20
          Come forth; and, while the morning air is yet
          Transparent as the soul of innocent youth,
          Let me, thy happy guide, now point thy way,
          And now precede thee, winding to and fro,
          Till we by perseverance gain the top
          Of some smooth ridge, whose brink precipitous
          Kindles intense desire for powers withheld
          From this corporeal frame; whereon who stands,
          Is seized with strong incitement to push forth
          His arms, as swimmers use, and plunge--dread thought,       30
          For pastime plunge--into the "abrupt abyss,"--
          Where ravens spread their plumy vans, at ease!
            And yet more gladly thee would I conduct
          Through woods and spacious forests,--to behold
          There, how the Original of human art,
          Heaven-prompted Nature, measures and erects
          Her temples, fearless for the stately work,
          Though waves, to every breeze, its high-arched roof,
          And storms the pillars rock. But we such schools
          Of reverential awe will chiefly seek                        40
          In the still summer noon, while beams of light,
          Reposing here, and in the aisles beyond
          Traceably gliding through the dusk, recall
          To mind the living presences of nuns;
          A gentle, pensive, white-robed sisterhood,
          Whose saintly radiance mitigates the gloom
          Of those terrestrial fabrics, where they serve,
          To Christ, the Sun of righteousness, espoused.
            Now also shall the page of classic lore,
          To these glad eyes from bondage freed, again                50
          Lie open; and the book of Holy Writ,
          Again unfolded, passage clear shall yield
          To heights more glorious still, and into shades
          More awful, where, advancing hand in hand,
          We may be taught, O Darling of my care!
          To calm the affections, elevate the soul,
          And consecrate our lives to truth and love.
                                                              1816.


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