Verse > William Wordsworth > Complete Poetical Works
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SUGGESTED BY A PICTURE OF THE BIRD OF PARADISE

          THE gentlest Poet, with free thoughts endowed,
          And a true master of the glowing strain,
          Might scan the narrow province with disdain
          That to the Painter's skill is here allowed.
          This, this the Bird of Paradise! disclaim
          The daring thought, forget the name;
          This the Sun's Bird, whom Glendoveers might own
          As no unworthy Partner in their flight
          Through seas of ether, where the ruffling sway
          Of nether air's rude billows is unknown;                    10
          Whom Sylphs, if e'er for casual pastime they
          Through India's spicy regions wing their way,
          Might bow to as their Lord. What character,
          O sovereign Nature! I appeal to thee,
          Of all thy feathered progeny
          Is so unearthly, and what shape so fair?
          So richly decked in variegated down,
          Green, sable, shining yellow, shadowy brown,
          Tints softly with each other blended,
          Hues doubtfully begun and ended;                            20
          Or intershooting, and to sight
          Lost and recovered, as the rays of light
          Glance on the conscious plumes touched here and there?
          Full surely, when with such proud gifts of life
          Began the pencil's strife,
          O'erweening Art was caught as in a snare.
            A sense of seemingly presumptuous wrong
          Gave the first impulse to the Poet's song;
          But, of his scorn repenting soon, he drew
          A juster judgment from a calmer view;                       30
          And, with a spirit freed from discontent,
          Thankfully took an effort that was meant
          Not with God's bounty, Nature's love to vie,
          Or made with hope to please that inward eye
          Which ever strives in vain itself to satisfy,
          But to recall the truth by some faint trace
          Of power ethereal and celestial grace,
          That in the living Creature find on earth a place.
                                                              1845.


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