William Wordsworth

Helen Darbishire and Ernest De Selincourt (eds), The Poetical Works of William Wordsworth, Vol. 4: Evening Voluntaries; Itinerary Poems of 1833; Poems of Sentiment and Reflection; Sonnets Dedicated to Liberty and Order; Miscellaneous Poems; Inscriptions; Selections From Chaucer; Poems Referring to the Period of Old Age; Epitaphs and Elegiac Pieces; Ode-Intimations of Immortality (Second Edition)

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Editor’s NoteXVIIisle of man

  • 1A youth too certain of his power to wade
  • 2On the smooth bottom of this clear bright sea,
  • 3To sight so shallow, with a bather's glee,
  • Critical Apparatus4Leapt from this rock, and but for timely aid
  • Critical Apparatus5He, by the alluring element betrayed,
  • 6Had perished. Then might Sea-nymphs (and with sighs
  • 7Of self-reproach) have chanted elegies
  • 8Bewailing his sad fate, when he was laid
  • 9In peaceful earth: for, doubtless, he was frank,
  • 10Utterly in himself devoid of guile;
  • 11Knew not the double-dealing of a smile;
  • 12Nor aught that makes men's promises a blank,
  • 13Or deadly snare: and He survives to bless
  • 14The Power that saved him in his strange distress.

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Editor’s Note
p. 33. XVII. Isle of Man: "My son William is here the person alluded to as saving the life of the youth, and the circumstances were as mentioned in the sonnet."—I. F. But, as Dowden points out, John and not William was the poet's companion in the Isle of Man. William, however, was in the Isle of Man, with his aunt D. W. in 1828, and the incident may have occurred then.
Critical Apparatus
XVII. 4–8 so 1837:
  • … and surely, had not aid
  • Been near, must soon have breathed out life, betrayed
  • By fondly trusting to an element
  • Fair, and to others more than innocent;
  • Then had sea-nymphs sung dirges for him laid
MS., 1835
Critical Apparatus
5 He] Here C
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