Verse > William Wordsworth > Complete Poetical Works
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UPON SEEING A COLOURED DRAWING OF THE BIRD OF PARADISE IN AN ALBUM

          WHO rashly strove thy Image to portray?
          Thou buoyant minion of the tropic air;
          How could he think of the live creature--gay
          With a divinity of colours, drest
          In all her brightness, from the dancing crest
          Far as the last gleam of the filmy train
          Extended and extending to sustain
          The motions that it graces--and forbear
          To drop his pencil! Flowers of every clime
          Depicted on these pages smile at time;                      10
          And gorgeous insects copied with nice care
          Are here, and likenesses of many a shell
          Tossed ashore by restless waves,
          Or in the diver's grasp fetched up from caves
          Where sea-nymphs might be proud to dwell:
          But whose rash hand (again I ask) could dare,
          'Mid casual tokens and promiscuous shows,
          To circumscribe this Shape in fixed repose;
          Could imitate for indolent survey,
          Perhaps for touch profane,                                  20
          Plumes that might catch, but cannot keep, a stain;
          And, with cloud-streaks lightest and loftiest, share
          The sun's first greeting, his last farewell ray!
            Resplendent Wanderer! followed with glad eyes
          Where'er her course; mysterious Bird!
          To whom, by wondering Fancy stirred,
          Eastern Islanders have given
          A holy name--the Bird of Heaven!
          And even a title higher still,
          The Bird of God! whose blessed will                         30
          She seems performing as she flies
          Over the earth and through the skies
          In never-wearied search of Paradise--
          Region that crowns her beauty with the name
          She bears for 'us'--for us how blest,
          How happy at all seasons, could like aim
          Uphold our Spirits urged to kindred flight
          On wings that fear no glance of God's pure sight,
          No tempest from his breath, their promised rest
          Seeking with indefatigable quest                            40
          Above a world that deems itself most wise
          When most enslaved by gross realities!
                                                              1835.


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