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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pg 116Editor’s NoteXXXVIIIODE

composed on may morning

[Composed 1826.—Published 1835.]

  • 1While from the purpling east departs
  • 2  The star that led the dawn,
  • 3Blithe Flora from her couch upstarts,
  • 4  For May is on the lawn.
  • 5A quickening hope, a freshening glee,
  • 6  Foreran the expected Power,
  • 7Whose first-drawn breath, from bush and tree,
  • Critical Apparatus8  Shakes off that pearly shower.
  • Critical Apparatus9All Nature welcomes Her whose sway
  • 10  Tempers the year's extremes;
  • Critical Apparatus11Who scattereth lustres o'er noon-day,
  • 12  Like morning's dewy gleams;
  • 13While mellow warble, sprightly trill,
  • 14  The tremulous heart excite;
  • Critical Apparatus15And hums the balmy air to still
  • 16  The balance of delight.
  • Critical Apparatus17Time was, blest Power! when youths and maids
  • Critical Apparatus18  At peep of dawn would rise,
  • Critical Apparatus19And wander forth, in forest glades
  • 20  Thy birth to solemnize.
  • 21Though mute the song—to grace the rite
  • 22  Untouched the hawthorn bough,
  • 23Thy Spirit triumphs o'er the slight;
  • 24  Man changes, but not Thou!
  • 25Thy feathered Lieges bill and wings
  • 26  In love's disport employ;
  • 27Warmed by thy influence, creeping things
  • 28  Awake to silent joy:
  • 29Queen art thou still for each gay plant
  • pg 11730  Where the slim wild deer roves;
  • 31And served in depths where fishes haunt
  • 32  Their own mysterious groves.
  • Critical Apparatus33Cloud-piercing peak, and trackless heath,
  • Critical Apparatus34  Instinctive homage pay;
  • 35Nor wants the dim-lit cave a wreath
  • 36  To honour thee, sweet May!
  • Critical Apparatus37Where cities fanned by thy brisk airs
  • 38  Behold a smokeless sky,
  • 39Their puniest flower-pot-nursling dares
  • 40  To open a bright eye.
  • Critical Apparatus41And if, on this thy natal morn,
  • 42  The pole, from which thy name
  • 43Hath not departed, stands forlorn
  • 44  Of song and dance and game;
  • 45Still from the village-green a vow
  • 46  Aspires to thee addrest,
  • 47Wherever peace is on the brow,
  • 48  Or love within the breast.
  • 49Yes! where Love nestles thou canst teach
  • 50  The soul to love the more;
  • 51Hearts also shall thy lessons reach
  • 52  That never loved before.
  • Critical Apparatus53Stript is the haughty one of pride,
  • 54  The bashful freed from fear,
  • 55While rising, like the ocean-tide,
  • 56  In flows the joyous year.
  • 57Hush, feeble lyre! weak words refuse
  • 58  The service to prolong!
  • 59To yon exulting thrush the Muse
  • 60  Entrusts the imperfect song;
  • 61His voice shall chant, in accents clear,
  • 62  Throughout the live-long day,
  • 63Till the first silver star appear,
  • 64  The sovereignty of May.

Notes Settings


Editor’s Note
p. 116. XXXVIII. Ode composed on May Morning: "This and the following poem originated in the lines 'How delicate the leafy veil', etc. [To May XXXIX, l. 81]—My daughter and I left Rydal Mount upon a tour through our mountains with Mr. and Mrs. Carr in the month of May, 1826, and as we were going up the vale of Newlands I was struck with the appearance of the little Chapel gleaming through the veil of half-opened leaves; and the feeling which was then conveyed to my mind was expressed in the stanza that follows. As in the case of 'Liberty' and 'Humanity', my first intention was to write only one poem, but subsequently I broke it into two, making additions to each part so as to produce a consistent and appropriate whole."—I. F.
An early draft in D. W.'s hand with additions by W. W. contains stanzas from both this poem and the next.
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XXXVIII. 8/9 Here follows XXXIX 17–24 MS.
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  • What month can rival thee, sweet May,
  • Tempering … And scattering …
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11 And breathes a freshness o'er MS. 1
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15 And a soothing hum prevails. MS. 1
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17 blest Power! when] when courtly MS.
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18 peep] blush MSS.
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19 in forest] blest Power! in MS.
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33 trackless] desart MS.
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34 homage] tribute MSS.
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  • But most some little favorite nook
  • That our own hands have drest
  • Upon thy train delights to look
  • And seems to love thee best.
MSS. v. To May XXXIX. 45–8 infra
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41 And what if on thy birthday MS.
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53 The haughty Ones are stripped MS.
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