Verse > William Wordsworth > Complete Poetical Works
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GOLD AND SILVER FISHES IN A VASE

          THE soaring lark is blest as proud
            When at heaven's gate she sings;
          The roving bee proclaims aloud
            Her flight by vocal wings;
          While Ye, in lasting durance pent,
            Your silent lives employ
          For something more than dull content,
            Though haply less than joy.

          Yet might your glassy prison seem
            A place where joy is known,                               10
          Where golden flash and silver gleam
            Have meanings of their own;
          While, high and low, and all about,
            Your motions, glittering Elves!
          Ye weave--no danger from without,
            And peace among yourselves.

          Type of a sunny human breast
            Is your transparent cell;
          Where Fear is but a transient guest,
            No sullen Humours dwell;                                  20
          Where, sensitive of every ray
            That smites this tiny sea,
          Your scaly panoplies repay
            The loan with usury.

          How beautiful!--Yet none knows why
            This ever-graceful change,
          Renewed--renewed incessantly--
            Within your quiet range.
          Is it that ye with conscious skill
            For mutual pleasure glide;                                30
          And sometimes, not without your will,
            Are dwarfed, or magnified?

          Fays, Genii of gigantic size!
            And now, in twilight dim,
          Clustering like constellated eyes,
            In wings of Cherubim,
          When the fierce orbs abate their glare;--
            Whate'er your forms express,
          Whate'er ye seem, whate'er ye are--
            All leads to gentleness.                                  40

          Cold though your nature be, 'tis pure,
            Your birthright is a fence
          From all that haughtier kinds endure
            Through tyranny of sense.
          Ah! not alone by colours bright
            Are Ye to heaven allied,
          When, like essential Forms of light,
            Ye mingle, or divide.

          For day-dreams soft as e'er beguiled
            Day-thoughts while limbs repose;                          50
          For moonlight fascinations mild,
            Your gift, ere shutters close--
          Accept, mute Captives! thanks and praise;
            And may this tribute prove
          That gentle admirations raise
            Delight resembling love.
                                                              1829.


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