Helen Darbishire and Ernest De Selincourt (eds), The Poetical Works of William Wordsworth, Vol. 3: Miscellaneous Sonnets; Memorials of Various Tours; Poems to National Independence and Liberty; The Egyptian Maid; The River Duddon Series; The White Doe and Other Narrative Poems; Ecclesiastical Sonnets (Second Edition)

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Editor’s NoteI

[Composed?—Published October 10, 1803 (Morning Post); never reprinted by W.]

  • 1I find it written of Simonides
  • 2That travelling in strange countries once he found
  • 3A corpse that lay expos'd upon the ground,
  • 4For which, with pains, he caused due obsequies
  • 5To be performed, and paid all holy fees.
  • 6Soon after, this man's Ghost unto him came
  • 7And told him not to sail as was his aim,
  • 8On board a ship then ready for the seas.
  • 9Simonides, admonished by the ghost,
  • 10Remained behind; the ship the following day
  • 11Set sail, was wrecked, and all on board were lost.
  • 12Thus was the tenderest Poet that could be,
  • 13Who sang in ancient Greece his moving lay,
  • 14Saved out of many by his piety.

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Editor’s Note
p. 408. A.I. I find it written of Simonides: Ascribed to W. by Coleridge in a letter to Poole, dated Oct. 14, 1803. W. tells the story again in his Essay on Epitaphs (init. 4th paragraph): he found it in either Valerius Maximus I. viii, or Cicero, de Divinatione, I, both of which were known to him. In both the Essay and in Poems of Sentiment and Reflection XXVIII, where he refers to Simonides, he uses the epithet "tender-hearted ". Mackail quotes the sonnet in his Lectures on Greek Poetry, p. 124, remarking that "it is written in something very near the Simonidean manner": it has "the same lucid straightforwardness that is almost like prose,—like but oh, how different!".
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