William Wordsworth

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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Critical ApparatusXXVIIII

[Composed?—Published 1807.]

  • 1Methought I saw the footsteps of a throne
  • 2Which mists and vapours from mine eyes did shroud—
  • 3Nor view of who might sit thereon allowed;
  • 4But all the steps and ground about were strown
  • 5With sights the ruefullest that flesh and bone
  • 6Ever put on; a miserable crowd,
  • 7Sick, hale, old, young, who cried before that cloud,
  • 8"Thou art our king, O Death! to thee we groan."
  • Critical Apparatus9Those steps I clomb; the mists before me gave
  • 10Smooth way; and I beheld the face of one
  • 11Sleeping alone within a mossy cave,
  • 12With her face up to heaven; that seemed to have
  • 13Pleasing remembrance of a thought foregone;
  • 14A lovely Beauty in a summer grave!

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Critical Apparatus
pp. 16–17. XXVIII and XXIX. "The latter part of the first of these was a great favourite with my Sister Sara Hutchinson. When I saw her lying in death I could not resist the impulse to compose the sonnet that follows."—I. F. S. H. died on June 23, 1835, and as Sonnet XXIX was not written till Nov. 1836, W.'s statement in the I. F. note cannot be accepted literally. But that the idea on which the sonnet was based came to him at her death-bed is proved by his letter to Southey the day after her death: "I saw her within an hour after her decease, in the silence and peace of death, with as heavenly an expression on her countenance as ever human creature had. Surely there is food for faith in these appearances; for myself, I can say that I have passed a wakeful night, more in joy than sorrow, with that blessed face before my eyes perpetually, as I lay in bed." (L.Y., p. 747.) XXVIII is found in both MS. M and MS. W.
Critical Apparatus
9 so 1845:
  • I seem'd to mount those steps: the vapours gave MS.-1832
  • Those steps I mounted while [as 1837] the vapours gave 1838
  • Those steps I clomb; the opening vapours gave 1840
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