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Helen Darbishire and Ernest De Selincourt (eds), The Poetical Works of William Wordsworth, Vol. 1: Poems Written in Youth; Poems Referring to the Period of Childhood (Second Edition)
Editor’s NoteEditor’s NoteXXIINSCRIPTION FOR A SEAT BY THE PATHWAY SIDE ASCENDING TO WINDY BROW
- 1Ye, Who with buoyant spirits blessed
- 2And rich in vigour need not rest,
- 3Look on this slighted seat—repose
- 4From thoughtless joy and sigh for those
- 5Who, bowed with age or sickness, quit
- 6With thankfulness this timely seat;
- 7And well admonished ponder here
- 8On the last resting place so near
- 9To you. Tho' Time his prey yet spares,
- 10Your fervid blood shall be as theirs;
- 11Your motion light, your spirits high,
- 12Shall turn to feeble, cold, and dry.
- 13Then go with watchful care, sustain
- 14The languid steps of age and pain;
- 15The thorny bed of sickness smooth;
- 16So shall ye give new joys to youth,
- 17And for your future selves prepare,
- 18Through every change of years and care,
- 19That rest which Virtue still must know,
- 20And only Virtue can bestow.
p. 300. XXI and XXII. Inscription for a Seat, etc.: Written when W. was staying with his sister at Windy Brow, on the slopes of Latrigg, Keswick, in April–May, 1794: the date of its revision in blank verse is determined by the fact that it is found in a notebook in use at Racedown, and that some of it is in the hand of Mary Hutchinson, who left Racedown early in June 1797, after a visit of some months. In August 1800 the W.s spent a few days with Coleridge at Keswick, and in D. W.'s Journal for Aug. 13 is the entry: "Made the Windy Brow seat." This incident may have led W. to produce the poem from his drawer, and it was sent, most probably by Coleridge, to The Morning Post, where it appeared on Oct. 21, with some changes in the text of which the only two of importance are recorded in my app. crit. Neither is an improvement. It is hard to see why the "weary homeless vagrants of the earth", natural occupants of the seat, should be ousted from it in favour of an improbable soldier with a still more improbable son, who, though only eight years old, is already garbed like a soldier, and bound to his father's trade. Whether W. or C. was responsible for this we cannot say, but the change in the conclusion of the poem, with its rather obvious piety, is far more like C. than W. in 1800.
The poem is attributed, but doubtfully, to Coleridge in Ernest Hartley C.'s edition of the Poems (i. 349).