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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 NoteVTO MY SISTER

[Composed 1798.—Published 1798.]

  • 1It is the first mild day of March:
  • 2Each minute sweeter than before,
  • 3The redbreast sings from the tall larch
  • 4That stands beside our door.
  • 5There is a blessing in the air,
  • 6Which seems a sense of joy to yield
  • 7To the bare trees, and mountains bare,
  • 8And grass in the green field.
  • Critical Apparatus9My sister! ('tis a wish of mine)
  • 10Now that our morning meal is done,
  • 11Make haste, your morning task resign;
  • 12Come forth and feel the sun.
  • pg 6013Edward will come with you;—and, pray,
  • 14Put on with speed your woodland dress;
  • 15And bring no book: for this one day
  • 16We'll give to idleness.
  • 17No joyless forms shall regulate
  • 18Our living calendar:
  • 19We from to-day, my Friend, will date
  • 20The opening of the year.
  • 21Love, now a universal birth,
  • 22From heart to heart is stealing,
  • 23From earth to man, from man to earth:
  • 24—It is the hour of feeling.
  • 25One moment now may give us more
  • Critical Apparatus26Than years of toiling reason:
  • 27Our minds shall drink at every pore
  • 28The spirit of the season.
  • Critical Apparatus29Some silent laws our hearts will make,
  • 30Which they shall long obey:
  • 31We for the year to come may take
  • 32Our temper from to-day.
  • 33And from the blessed power that rolls
  • 34About, below, above,
  • 35We'll frame the measure of our souls:
  • 36They shall be tuned to love.
  • 37Then come, my Sister! come, I pray,
  • 38With speed put on your woodland dress;
  • 39And bring no book: for this one day
  • 40We'll give to idleness.

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Editor’s Note
p. 59. V. To My Sister: "Composed in front of Alfoxden House. My little boy-messenger on this occasion was the son of Basil Montagu. The larch mentioned in the first stanza was standing when I revisited the place in May, 1841, more than forty years after. I was disappointed that it had not improved in appearance as to size, nor had it acquired anything of the majesty of age, which, even though less perhaps than any other tree, the larch sometimes does. A few score yards from this tree grew, when we inhabited Alfoxden, one of the most remarkable beech-trees ever seen. The ground sloped both towards and from it. It was of immense size, and threw out arms that struck into the soil, like those of the banyan tree, and rose again from it. Two of the branches thus inserted themselves twice, which gave to each the appearance of a serpent moving along by gathering itself up in folds. One of the large boughs of this tree had been tom off by the wind before we left Alfoxden, but five remained. In 1841 we could barely find the spot where the tree had stood. So remarkable a production of nature could not have been wilfully destroyed."—I. F.
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V. 9 My] Dear C
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26 so 1837: Than fifty years of reason 1798–1832
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29 will 1820 may 1798–1815
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