Verse > Anthologies > Robert Bridges, ed. > The Spirit of Man: An Anthology
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Robert Bridges, ed. (1844–1930).  The Spirit of Man: An Anthology.  1916.
 
From the Ode on Intimations

William Wordsworth (1770–1850)
 
THERE 1 was a time when meadow, grove, and stream,
The earth, and every common sight
      To me did seem
    Apparell’d in celestial light,
The glory and the freshness of a dream.        5
It is not now as it hath been of yore;—
    Turn wheresoe’er I may,
      By night or day,
The things which I have seen I now can see no more …
 
Whither is fled the visionary gleam?        10
Where is it now, the glory and the dream?
 
Our birth is but a sleep and a forgetting;
The Soul that rises with us, our life’s Star,
    Hath had elsewhere its setting,
      And cometh from afar:        15
    Not in entire forgetfulness,
    And not in utter nakedness,
But trailing clouds of glory do we come
    From God, who is our home:
Heaven lies about us in our infancy!        20
Shades of the prison-house begin to close
    Upon the growing Boy,
But he beholds the light, and whence it flows,
    He sees it in his joy;
The Youth, who daily farther from the east        25
    Must travel, still is Nature’s Priest,
    And by the vision splendid
    Is on his way attended;
At length the Man perceives it die away,
And fade into the light of common day …        30
 
    O joy! that in our embers
    Is something that doth live,
    That nature yet remembers
    What was so fugitive!
The thought of our past years in me doth breed        35
Perpetual benediction: not indeed
For that which is most worthy to be blest;
Delight and liberty, the simple creed
Of Childhood, whether busy or at rest,
With new-fledged hope still fluttering in his breast:—        40
      Not for these I raise
      The song of thanks and praise;
    But for those obstinate questionings
    Of sense and outward things,
    Fallings from us, vanishings;        45
    Blank misgivings of a Creature
Moving about in worlds not realised,
High instincts before which our mortal Nature
Did tremble like a guilty Thing surprised:
      But for those first affections,        50
      Those shadowy recollections,
    Which, be they what they may,
Are yet the fountain-light of all our day,
Are yet a master-light of all our seeing;
  Uphold us, cherish, and have power to make        55
Our noisy years seem moments in the being
Of the eternal Silence: truths that wake,
      To perish never:
Which neither listlessness, nor mad endeavour,
      Nor Man nor Boy,        60
Nor all that is at enmity with joy,
Can utterly abolish or destroy!
    Hence in a season of calm weather
      Though inland far we be,
Our Souls have sight of that immortal sea        65
      Which brought us hither,
    Can in a moment travel thither,
And see the Children sport upon the shore,
And hear the mighty waters rolling evermore …
 
Note 1. Wordsworth. From the Ode on Intimations of Immortality from Recollections of early Childhood. The end is quoted No. 202. [back]
 
 
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