William Wordsworth

Here you will find the Long Poem The Prelude, Book 2: School-time (Continued) of poet William Wordsworth

The Prelude, Book 2: School-time (Continued)

. Thus far, O Friend! have we, though leaving much
 Unvisited, endeavour'd to retrace
 My life through its first years, and measured back
 The way I travell'd when I first began
 To love the woods and fields; the passion yet
 Was in its birth, sustain'd, as might befal,
 By nourishment that came unsought, for still,
 From week to week, from month to month, we liv'd
 A round of tumult: duly were our games
 Prolong'd in summer till the day-light fail'd;
 No chair remain'd before the doors, the bench
 And threshold steps were empty; fast asleep
 The Labourer, and the old Man who had sate,
 A later lingerer, yet the revelry
 Continued, and the loud uproar: at last,
 When all the ground was dark, and the huge clouds
 Were edged with twinkling stars, to bed we went,
 With weary joints, and with a beating mind.
 Ah! is there one who ever has been young,
 Nor needs a monitory voice to tame
 The pride of virtue, and of intellect?
 And is there one, the wisest and the best
 Of all mankind, who does not sometimes wish
 For things which cannot be, who would not give,
 If so he might, to duty and to truth
 The eagerness of infantine desire?
 A tranquillizing spirit presses now
 On my corporeal frame: so wide appears
 The vacancy between me and those days,
 Which yet have such self-presence in my mind
 That, sometimes, when I think of them, I seem
 Two consciousnesses, conscious of myself
 And of some other Being. A grey Stone
 Of native rock, left midway in the Square
 Of our small market Village, was the home
 And centre of these joys, and when, return'd
 After long absence, thither I repair'd,
 I found that it was split, and gone to build
 A smart Assembly-room that perk'd and flar'd
 With wash and rough-cast elbowing the ground
 Which had been ours. But let the fiddle scream,
 And be ye happy! yet, my Friends! I know
 That more than one of you will think with me
 Of those soft starry nights, and that old Dame
 From whom the stone was nam'd who there had sate
 And watch'd her Table with its huckster's wares
 Assiduous, thro'the length of sixty years.

 We ran a boisterous race; the year span round
 With giddy motion. But the time approach'd
 That brought with it a regular desire
 For calmer pleasures, when the beauteous forms
 Of Nature were collaterally attach'd
 To every scheme of holiday delight,
 And every boyish sport, less grateful else,
 And languidly pursued. When summer came
 It was the pastime of our afternoons
 To beat along the plain of Windermere
 With rival oars, and the selected bourne
 Was now an Island musical with birds
 That sang for ever; now a Sister Isle
 Beneath the oaks'umbrageous covert, sown
 With lillies of the valley, like a field;
 And now a third small Island where remain'd
 An old stone Table, and a moulder'd Cave,
 A Hermit's history. In such a race,
 So ended, disappointment could be none,
 Uneasiness, or pain, or jealousy:
 We rested in the shade, all pleas'd alike,
 Conquer'd and Conqueror. Thus the pride of strength,
 And the vain-glory of superior skill
 Were interfus'd with objects which subdu'd
 And temper'd them, and gradually produc'd
 A quiet independence of the heart.
 And to my Friend, who knows me, I may add,
 Unapprehensive of reproof, that hence
 Ensu'd a diffidence and modesty,
 And I was taught to feel, perhaps too much,
 The self-sufficing power of solitude.

 No delicate viands sapp'd our bodily strength;
 More than we wish'd we knew the blessing then
 Of vigorous hunger, for our daily meals
 Were frugal, Sabine fare! and then, exclude
 A little weekly stipend, and we lived
 Through three divisions of the quarter'd year
 In pennyless poverty. But now, to School
 Return'd, from the half-yearly holidays,
 We came with purses more profusely fill'd,
 Allowance which abundantly suffic'd
 To gratify the palate with repasts
 More costly than the Dame of whom I spake,
 That ancient Woman, and her board supplied.
 Hence inroads into distant Vales, and long
 Excursions far away among the hills,
 Hence rustic dinners on the cool green ground,
 Or in the woods, or near a river side,
 Or by some shady fountain, while soft airs
 Among the leaves were stirring, and the sun
 Unfelt, shone sweetly round us in our joy.

 Nor is my aim neglected, if I tell
 How twice in the long length of those half-years
 We from our funds, perhaps, with bolder hand
 Drew largely, anxious for one day, at least,
 To feel the motion of the galloping Steed;
 And with the good old Inn-keeper, in truth,
 On such occasion sometimes we employ'd
 Sly subterfuge; for the intended bound
 Of the day's journey was too distant far
 For any cautious man, a Structure famed
 Beyond its neig