Verse > William Wordsworth > Complete Poetical Works
  PREVIOUS NEXT  
CONTENTS      BIBLIOGRAPHIC RECORD


WRITTEN AFTER THE DEATH OF CHARLES LAMB

          TO a good Man of most dear memory
          This Stone is sacred. Here he lies apart
          From the great city where he first drew breath,
          Was reared and taught; and humbly earned his bread,
          To the strict labours of the merchant's desk
          By duty chained. Not seldom did those tasks
          Tease, and the thought of time so spent depress,
          His spirit, but the recompence was high;
          Firm Independence, Bounty's rightful sire;
          Affections, warm as sunshine, free as air;                  10
          And when the precious hours of leisure came,
          Knowledge and wisdom, gained from converse sweet
          With books, or while he ranged the crowded streets
          With a keen eye, and overflowing heart:
          So genius triumphed over seeming wrong,
          And poured out truth in works by thoughtful love
          Inspired--works potent over smiles and tears.
          And as round mountain-tops the lightning plays,
          Thus innocently sported, breaking forth
          As from a cloud of some grave sympathy,                     20
          Humour and wild instinctive wit, and all
          The vivid flashes of his spoken words.
          From the most gentle creature nursed in fields
          Had been derived the name he bore--a name,
          Wherever Christian altars have been raised,
          Hallowed to meekness and to innocence;
          And if in him meekness at times gave way,
          Provoked out of herself by troubles strange,
          Many and strange, that hung about his life;
          Still, at the centre of his being, lodged                   30
          A soul by resignation sanctified:
          And if too often, self-reproached, he felt
          That innocence belongs not to our kind,
          A power that never ceased to abide in him,
          Charity, 'mid the multitude of sins
          That she can cover, left not his exposed
          To an unforgiving judgment from just Heaven.
          Oh, he was good, if e'er a good Man lived!
             *     *     *     *     *     *     *
          From a reflecting mind and sorrowing heart
          Those simple lines flowed with an earnest wish,             40
          Though but a doubting hope, that they might serve
          Fitly to guard the precious dust of him
          Whose virtues called them forth. That aim is missed;
          For much that truth most urgently required
          Had from a faltering pen been asked in vain:
          Yet, haply, on the printed page received,
          The imperfect record, there, may stand unblamed
          As long as verse of mine shall breathe the air
          Of memory, or see the light of love.
            Thou wert a scorner of the fields, my Friend,             50
          But more in show than truth; and from the fields,
          And from the mountains, to thy rural grave
          Transported, my soothed spirit hovers o'er
          Its green untrodden turf, and blowing flowers;
          And taking up a voice shall speak (tho' still
          Awed by the theme's peculiar sanctity
          Which words less free presumed not even to touch)
          Of that fraternal love, whose heaven-lit lamp
          From infancy, through manhood, to the last
          Of threescore years, and to thy latest hour,                60
          Burnt on with ever-strengthening light, enshrined
          Within thy bosom.
                             "Wonderful" hath been
          The love established between man and man,
          "Passing the love of women;" and between
          Man and his help-mate in fast wedlock joined
          Through God, is raised a spirit and soul of love
          Without whose blissful influence Paradise
          Had been no Paradise; and earth were now
          A waste where creatures bearing human form,
          Direst of savage beasts, would roam in fear,                70
          Joyless and comfortless. Our days glide on;
          And let him grieve who cannot choose but grieve
          That he hath been an Elm without his Vine,
          And her bright dower of clustering charities,
          That, round his trunk and branches, might have clung
          Enriching and adorning. Unto thee,
          Not so enriched, not so adorned, to thee
          Was given (say rather, thou of later birth
          Wert given to her) a Sister--'tis a word
          Timidly uttered, for she 'lives', the meek,                 80
          The self-restraining, and the ever-kind;
          In whom thy reason and intelligent heart
          Found--for all interests, hopes, and tender cares,
          All softening, humanising, hallowing powers,
          Whether withheld, or for her sake unsought--
          More than sufficient recompence!
                                            Her love
          (What weakness prompts the voice to tell it here?)
          Was as the love of mothers; and when years,
          Lifting the boy to man's estate, had called
          The long-protected to assume the part                       90
          Of a protector, the first filial tie
          Was undissolved; and, in or out of sight,
          Remained imperishably interwoven
          With life itself. Thus, 'mid a shifting world,
          Did they together testify of time
          And season's difference--a double tree
          With two collateral stems sprung from one root;
          Such were they--such thro' life they 'might' have been
          In union, in partition only such;
          Otherwise wrought the will of the Most High;               100
          Yet thro' all visitations and all trials,
          Still they were faithful; like two vessels launched
          From the same beach one ocean to explore
          With mutual help, and sailing--to their league
          True, as inexorable winds, or bars
          Floating or fixed of polar ice, allow.
            But turn we rather, let my spirit turn
          With thine, O silent and invisible Friend!
          To those dear intervals, nor rare nor brief,
          When reunited, and by choice withdrawn                     110
          From miscellaneous converse, ye were taught
          That the remembrance of foregone distress,
          And the worse fear of future ill (which oft
          Doth hang around it, as a sickly child
          Upon its mother) may be both alike
          Disarmed of power to unsettle present good
          So prized, and things inward and outward held
          In such an even balance, that the heart
          Acknowledges God's grace, his mercy feels,
          And in its depth of gratitude is still.                    120
            O gift divine of quiet sequestration!
          The hermit, exercised in prayer and praise,
          And feeding daily on the hope of heaven,
          Is happy in his vow, and fondly cleaves
          To life-long singleness; but happier far
          Was to your souls, and, to the thoughts of others,
          A thousand times more beautiful appeared,
          Your 'dual' loneliness. The sacred tie
          Is broken; yet why grieve? for Time but holds
          His moiety in trust, till Joy shall lead                   130
          To the blest world where parting is unknown.
                                                              1835.


CONTENTS      BIBLIOGRAPHIC RECORD


  PREVIOUS NEXT  
 
Loading
Click here to shop the Bartleby Bookstore.

Shakespeare · Bible · Strunk · Anatomy · Nonfiction · Quotations · Reference · Fiction · Poetry
© 1993–2014 Bartleby.com · [Top 150] · Subjects · Titles · Authors