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William Wordsworth

Helen Darbishire and Ernest De Selincourt (eds), The Poetical Works of William Wordsworth, Vol. 3: Miscellaneous Sonnets; Memorials of Various Tours; Poems to National Independence and Liberty; The Egyptian Maid; The River Duddon Series; The White Doe and Other Narrative Poems; Ecclesiastical Sonnets (Second Edition)

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Editor’s NoteEditor’s NoteXXXIVsky-prospect—from the plain of france

  • 1Lo! in the burning west, the craggy nape
  • 2Of a proud Ararat! and, thereupon,
  • 3The Ark, her melancholy voyage done!
  • 4Yon rampant cloud mimics a lion's shape;
  • Critical Apparatus5There, combats a huge crocodile—agape
  • 6A golden spear to swallow! and that brown
  • 7And massy grove, so near yon blazing town,
  • 8Stirs and recedes—destruction to escape!
  • Critical Apparatus9Yet all is harmless—as the Elysian shades
  • 10Where Spirits dwell in undisturbed repose—
  • 11Silently disappears, or quickly fades:
  • Critical Apparatus12Meek Nature's evening comment on the shows
  • 13That for oblivion take their daily birth
  • 14From all the fuming vanities of Earth!

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Editor’s Note
p. 196. XXXIV. Sky Prospect: "The broad avenue [at Fontainebleau] which parts the gardens leads to the top of that slope (called the Mount of Henriquatre). We were told that we should have thence a fine view … . Having sate for some time facing this prospect, we walked forward on the sandy hill—nothing to be seen—when all unexpectedly, we looked down into a deep dell, rocky and stony with the naked channel of a stream at the bottom—deer chasing each other up the opposite steeps, and a few of their fellows thoughtfully (as it seemed) pausing beside the river's dry bed. In the very heart of the Alps I never saw a more wild and lonely spot—yet curious in the extreme, and even beautiful. Thousands of whitebleached rocks, mostly in appearance not much larger than sheep, lay on the steep declivities of the dell among bushes and low trees—hether, bilberies, and other forest plants. The effect of loneliness and desart wildness was indescribably increased by the remembrance of the Palace we had left not an hour before. The spot on which we stood is said to have been frequented by Henry the 4th when he wished to retire from his court and attendants. A few steps more brought us in view of fresh ranges of the forest,—hills—plains, and distant lonely dells. The sunset was brilliant—light clouds in the west, and overhead a spotless blue dome. As we wind along the top of the Steep, the views are still changing;—the plain expands eastward—and again appear the white buildings of Fontainebleau with something of romantic brightness in the fading light; for we had tarried till a star or two reminded us that it was time to move away."—D. W. Journal, Sept. 29.
The MS. readings in the app. crit., which preserve a sestet wholly different from that finally adopted, are quoted, like those of XIII, from Potts's ed. of the Eccl. Son.
Critical Apparatus
XXXIV. 5 See there a monstrous crocodile MS.
Critical Apparatus
  • Mimics of fancy—long my heart has bent
  • The servile map of history to explore;
  • By these wild feats such labour is upbraided.
  • Mine eyes were turned away; but when once more
  • They looked, so much had disappeared or faded,
  • That with my portion I was well content. MS.
  • Upon a River I have long been pent,
  • And captive holden betwixt shore and shore,
  • In shallows oft detained, by joys o'ershaded.
  • Mount, fancy, mount! these wonders to explore.
  • But quickly some dissolved and others faded,
  • And with my portion I was well content.
Critical Apparatus
  • As if produced in mockery of the shows
  • That for oblivion take their hourly birth
  • From the disorders of the wanton earth. MS.
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