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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Editor’s NoteVuncertainty

  • Critical Apparatus1darkness surrounds us; seeking, we are lost
  • 2On Snowdon's wilds, amid Brigantian coves,
  • pg 3443Or where the solitary shepherd roves
  • 4Along the plain of Sarum, by the ghost
  • Critical Apparatus5Of Time and shadows of Tradition crost;
  • 6And where the boatman of the Western Isles
  • 7Slackens his course—to mark those holy piles
  • Editor’s Note8Which yet survive on bleak Iona's coast.
  • Critical Apparatus9Nor these, nor monuments of eldest name,
  • Editor’s Note10Nor Taliesin's unforgotten lays,
  • 11Nor characters of Greek or Roman fame,
  • Critical Apparatus12To an unquestionable Source have led;
  • 13Enough—if eyes, that sought the fountain-head
  • 14In vain, upon the growing Rill may gaze.

Notes Settings


Editor’s Note
p. 343. V. Uncertainty. 2. Brigantian] i.e. the coves of Yorkshire. The Brigantes inhabited Yorkshire, Cumberland, and Durham.
Critical Apparatus
V. 1–8
  • Yes if the patriot Sons of England turn
  • With a proud [votive] step to grassy Runnymede,
  • If Scotia's children tremble while they tread
  • Panting for chains to break, for foes to spurn,
  • The flowery brink of slender Banockburn,
  • Shall sympathy be wanting while I plead
  • For written evidence of place and [or] deed
  • And o'er the silent waste of ages mourn.
Critical Apparatus
5 so 1827: Of silently departed ages crossed; 1822
Critical Apparatus
9 name 1843: fame 1822–40
Critical Apparatus
9–11 Darkness etc. as app. crit. II. 9–11 MS.
Editor’s Note
10. Taliesin] a Welsh bard of the sixth century who celebrated the Celtic heroes who fell in the struggle against the Saxons.
The MS. of this sonnet (v. app. crit.) is really a wholly different treatment of the same theme; notice its relation with the sestet of II as given in app. crit., the two subjects, Conjectures and Uncertainty, being obviously akin.
Critical Apparatus
  • Of pristine temples yet mid mountain coves
  • Preserved, or traceable in masses strewn
  • Like wrecks far flung upon a lonely coast. MS.
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