Verse > William Wordsworth > Complete Poetical Works
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MEMORY

          A PEN--to register; a key--
          That winds through secret wards
          Are well assigned to Memory
          By allegoric Bards.

          As aptly, also, might be given
          A Pencil to her hand;
          That, softening objects, sometimes even
          Outstrips the heart's demand;

          That smooths foregone distress, the lines
          Of lingering care subdues,                                  10
          Long-vanished happiness refines,
          And clothes in brighter hues;

          Yet, like a tool of Fancy, works
          Those Spectres to dilate
          That startle Conscience, as she lurks
          Within her lonely seat.

          Oh! that our lives, which flee so fast,
          In purity were such,
          That not an image of the past
          Should fear that pencil's touch!                            20

          Retirement then might hourly look
          Upon a soothing scene,
          Age steal to his allotted nook
          Contented and serene;

          With heart as calm as lakes that sleep,
          In frosty moonlight glistening;
          Or mountain rivers, where they creep
          Along a channel smooth and deep,
          To their own far-off murmurs listening.
                                                              1823.


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