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)

Find Location in text

Main Text


[Composed September, 1819.—Published 1820.]

  • 1Departing summer hath assumed
  • 2An aspect tenderly illumed,
  • 3The gentlest look of spring;
  • 4That calls from yonder leafy shade
  • 5Unfaded, yet prepared to fade,
  • Critical Apparatus6A timely carolling.
  • 7No faint and hesitating trill,
  • 8Such tribute as to winter chill
  • 9The lonely redbreast pays!
  • 10Clear, loud, and lively is the din,
  • 11From social warblers gathering in
  • 12Their harvest of sweet lays.
  • 13Nor doth the example fail to cheer
  • Editor’s Note14Me, conscious that my leaf is sere,
  • 15And yellow on the bough:—
  • 16Fall, rosy garlands, from my head!
  • Critical Apparatus17Ye myrtle wreaths, your fragrance shed
  • 18Around a younger brow!
  • 19Yet will I temperately rejoice;
  • 20Wide is the range, and free the choice
  • 21Of undiscordant themes;
  • 22Which, haply, kindred souls may prize
  • 23Not less than vernal ecstasies,
  • 24And passion's feverish dreams.
  • pg 10025For deathless powers to verse belong,
  • 26And they like Demi-gods are strong
  • 27On whom the Muses smile;
  • Critical Apparatus28But some their function have disclaimed,
  • 29Best pleased with what is aptliest framed
  • Critical Apparatus30To enervate and defile.
  • 31Not such the initiatory strains
  • 32Committed to the silent plains
  • 33In Britain's earliest dawn:
  • 34Trembled the groves, the stars grew pale,
  • 35While all-too-daringly the veil
  • 36Of nature was withdrawn!
  • 37Nor such the spirit-stirring note
  • 38When the live chords Alcæus smote,
  • 39Inflamed by sense of wrong;
  • 40Woe! woe to Tyrants! from the lyre
  • 41Broke threateningly, in sparkles dire
  • Editor’s Note42Of fierce vindictive song.
  • Editor’s Note43And not unhallowed was the page
  • 44By wingèd Love inscribed, to assuage
  • 45The pangs of vain pursuit;
  • 46Love listening while the Lesbian Maid
  • Critical Apparatus47With finest touch of passion swayed
  • 48Her own Æolian lute.
  • 49O ye, who patiently explore
  • Editor’s Note50The wreck of Herculanean lore,
  • 51What rapture! could ye seize
  • 52Some Theban fragment, or unroll
  • 53One precious, tender-hearted, scroll
  • Critical Apparatus54Of pure Simonides.
  • pg 10155That were, indeed, a genuine birth
  • 56Of poesy; a bursting forth
  • 57Of genius from the dust:
  • Critical Apparatus58What Horace gloried to behold,
  • 59What Maro loved, shall we enfold?
  • 60Can haughty Time be just!

Notes Settings


Critical Apparatus
XXVIII. 6 timely] tuneful MS.
Editor’s Note
p. 99. XXVIII. 14. my leaf is sere] Macbeth, v. iii. 23.
Critical Apparatus
  • Your flowers, ye wreaths of myrtle shed,
  • Ye cannot keep them now.
Critical Apparatus
28 function] Patrons MS.
Critical Apparatus
  • And surely of the (tuneful) industrious band
  • Who spread along their native land (Whose filmy verse o'erspreads the land)
  • The (With) snares of soft desire
  • There are who might be taught to spurn
  • The task, more clearly to discern,
  • More nobly to aspire.
Editor’s Note
42. fierce vindictive song] H. T. Rhoades has suggested that here, perhaps, W. was recalling Horace, Odes, iv. ix. 7, "Alcaei minaces Camenae."
Editor’s Note
43–8. A reference to Sappho's ode to Aphrodite.
Critical Apparatus
47 With passion's fervent finger swayed MS.
Editor’s Note
50. The wreck of Herculanean lore] K. notes that during the excavations in Herculaneum in 1752, 1,800 charred rolls of papyri were discovered, and it was hoped that they would add greatly to the corpus of classical literature. Simonides, born in Ceos, 556 b.c., one of the most celebrated of Greek lyric poets, was endeared to W. by the story told of him to which W. refers in his sonnet, "I find it written of Simonides" (v. Vol. III, p. 408, and note, p. 573), and in his Essay on Epitaphs.
Critical Apparatus
54 pure] sweet MS.
Critical Apparatus
58 gloried] boasted MS.
logo-footer Copyright © 2019. All rights reserved. Access is brought to you by Log out