Verse > Anthologies > The Oxford Book of English Mystical Verse > 64. From ‘The Excursion’
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Nicholson & Lee, eds.  The Oxford Book of English Mystical Verse. 1917.
  
64. From ‘The Excursion’
By William Wordsworth  (1770–1850)
  
I

SUCH was the Boy—but for the growing Youth
What soul was his, when, from the naked top
Of some bold headland, he beheld the sun
Rise up, and bathe the world in light! He looked—
Ocean and earth, the solid frame of earth        5
And ocean’s liquid mass, in gladness lay
Beneath him:—Far and wide the clouds were touched,
And in their silent faces could he read
Unutterable love. Sound needed none,
Nor any voice of joy; his spirit drank       10
The spectacle: sensation, soul, and form,
All melted into him; they swallowed up
His animal being; in them did he live,
And by them did he live; they were his life.
In such access of mind, in such high hour       15
Of visitation from the living God,
Thought was not; in enjoyment it expired.
No thanks he breathed, he proffered no request;
Rapt into still communion that transcends
The imperfect offices of prayer and praise,       20
His mind was a thanksgiving to the power
That made him; it was blessedness and love!
 
II

  Thou, who didst wrap the cloud
Of infancy around us, that thyself,
Therein, with our simplicity awhile       25
Might’st hold, on earth, communion undisturbed;
Who from the anarchy of dreaming sleep,
Or from its death-like void, with punctual care,
And touch as gentle as the morning light,
Restor’st us, daily, to the powers of sense       30
And reason’s steadfast rule—thou, thou alone
Art everlasting, and the blessed Spirits,
Which thou includest, as the sea her waves:
For adoration thou endur’st; endure
For consciousness the motions of thy will;       35
For apprehension those transcendent truths
Of the pure intellect, that stand as laws
(Submission constituting strength and power)
Even to thy Being’s infinite majesty!
This universe shall pass away—a work       40
Glorious! because the shadow of thy might,
A step, or link, for intercourse with thee.
Ah! if the time must come, in which my feet
No more shall stray where meditation leads,
By flowing stream, through wood, or craggy wild,       45
Loved haunts like these; the unimprisoned Mind
May yet have scope to range among her own,
Her thoughts, her images, her high desires.
If the dear faculty of sight should fail,
Still, it may be allowed me to remember       50
What visionary powers of eye and soul
In youth were mine; when, stationed on the top
Of some huge hill, expectant, I beheld
The sun rise up, from distant climes returned
Darkness to chase, and sleep; and bring the day       55
His bounteous gift! or saw him toward the deep
Sink, with a retinue of flaming clouds
Attended; then, my spirit was entranced
With joy exalted to beatitude;
The measure of my soul was filled with bliss,       60
And holiest love; as earth, sea, air, with light,
With pomp, with glory, with magnificence!
 
III

  I have seen
A curious child, who dwelt upon a tract
Of inland ground, applying to his ear       65
The convolutions of a smooth-lipped shell;
To which, in silence hushed, his very soul
Listened intensely; and his countenance soon
Brightened with joy; for from within were heard
Murmurings, whereby the monitor expressed       70
Mysterious union with its native sea.
Even such a shell the universe itself
Is to the ear of Faith; and there are times,
I doubt not, when to you it doth impart
Authentic tidings of invisible things;       75
Of ebb and flow, and ever-during power;
And central peace, subsisting at the heart
Of endless agitation.
 
IV

To every Form of being is assigned
An active Principle:—howe’er removed       80
From sense and observation, it subsists
In all things, in all natures; in the stars
Of azure heaven, the unenduring clouds,
In flower and tree, in every pebbly stone
That paves the brooks, the stationary rocks,       85
The moving waters, and the invisible air.
Whate’er exists hath properties that spread
Beyond itself, communicating good,
A simple blessing, or with evil mixed;
Spirit that knows no insulated spot,       90
No chasm, no solitude; from link to link
It circulates, the Soul of all the worlds.
This is the freedom of the universe;
Unfolded still the more, more visible,
The more we know; and yet is reverenced least,       95
And least respected in the human Mind,
Its most apparent home.

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