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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 NoteEditor’s NoteIVA CHARACTER

[Composed probably September or October, 1800.—Published 1800.]

  • 1I marvel how Nature could ever find space
  • Critical Apparatus2For so many strange contrasts in one human face:
  • 3There's thought and no thought, and there's paleness and bloom
  • Critical Apparatus4And bustle and sluggishness, pleasure and gloom.
  • pg 595There's weakness, and strength both redundant and vain;
  • 6Such strength as, if ever affliction and pain
  • Critical Apparatus7Could pierce through a temper that's soft to disease,
  • 8Would be rational peace—a philosopher's ease.
  • Critical Apparatus9There's indifference, alike when he fails or succeeds,
  • 10And attention full ten times as much as there needs;
  • 11Pride where there's no envy, there's so much of joy;
  • 12And mildness, and spirit both forward and coy.
  • 13There's freedom, and sometimes a diffident stare
  • 14Of shame scarcely seeming to know that she's there,
  • 15There's virtue, the title it surely may claim,
  • 16Yet wants heaven knows what to be worthy the name.
  • Critical Apparatus17This picture from nature may seem to depart,
  • Critical Apparatus18Yet the Man would at once run away with your heart;
  • 19And I for five centuries right gladly would be
  • 20Such an odd such a kind happy creature as he.

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Editor’s Note
p. 58. IV. A Character: "The principal features are taken from that of my friend Robert Jones."—I. F. For Jones v. Vol. III, Sonnets, pp. 41 and 110 and Notes. A Character was omitted from edd. 1802–32. In 1800 it had the title A Character, in the Antithetical Manner.
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IV. 2 so 1837: For all the expression (the things and the nothings) you see in his MS. Cl: For the weight and the levity seen in his 1800 MS. 18a.
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4 sluggishness] indolence MS.
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7–8 Could pierce through his temper as soft as a fleece
Would surely be fortitude, sister of peace. MS. Cl.
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9–12, 13–16 transposed in MS.
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17 so 1837 This picture, you say, has nor nature nor art MS.; What a picture! 'tis drawn without nature or art 1800 This sketch 'tis a thing which you do not approve
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18 Yet the man would at once run away with your love MS. Cl.
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