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 NoteVIII

[Composed 1839.—Published: vol. of 1842.]

  • 1Men of the Western World! in Fate's dark book
  • 2Whence these opprobrious leaves of dire portent?
  • 3Think ye your British Ancestors forsook
  • Critical Apparatus4Their native Land, for outrage provident;
  • Editor’s NoteCritical Apparatus5From unsubmissive necks the bridle shook
  • 6To give, in their Descendants, freer vent
  • 7And wider range to passions turbulent,
  • 8To mutual tyranny a deadlier look?
  • Critical Apparatus9Nay, said a voice, soft as the south wind's breath,
  • 10Dive through the stormy surface of the flood
  • 11To the great current flowing underneath;
  • Critical Apparatus12Explore the countless springs of silent good;
  • Editor’s NoteCritical Apparatus13So shall the truth be better understood,
  • 14And thy grieved Spirit brighten strong in faith.

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Editor’s Note
p. 131. VIII. Men of the Western World: These lines were written several years ago, when reports prevailed of cruelties committed in many parts of America, by men making a law of their own passions. A far more formidable, as being a more deliberate mischief, has appeared among those States, which have lately broken faith with the public creditor in a manner so infamous. I cannot, however, but look at both evils under a similar relation to inherent good, and hope that the time is not distant when our brethren of the West will wipe off this stain from their name and nation.—W. 1842.
Additional Note: I am happy to add that this anticipation is already partly realised; and that the reproach addressed to the Pennsylvanians in the next sonnet is no longer applicable to them. I trust that those other States to which it may yet apply will soon follow the example now set them by Philadelphia, and redeem their credit with the world.—W. 1850. v. note to next sonnet. The MS. readings in app. crit. are from W.'s letter to H. Reed, Dec. 23, 1839.
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VIII.4 native Land] narrow Isle MS.
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5 Think ye they fled restraints they ill could brook MS.
Editor’s Note
5. (app. crit.) "altered … not in the hope of substituting a better verse, but merely to avoid the repetition of the word 'brook' which occurs as a Rhyme in the Pilgrim Fathers".—W. to H. Reed, Sept. 4, 1842.
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9 voice more soft than Zephyr's MS.
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12 Explore] Think on MS. 1; Mark well MS. 2
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13 be known and understood MS.
Editor’s Note
13. Cf. Sonnet, Vol. III, p. 119. England! the time is come … l. 3. "The truth should now be better understood."
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