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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)
[Composed 1834.—Published 1835.]
- Editor’s NoteCritical Apparatus1The leaves that rustled on this oak-crowned hill,
- 2And sky that danced among those leaves, are still;
- Critical Apparatus3Rest smooths the way for sleep; in field and bower
- 4Soft shades and dews have shed their blended power
- 5On drooping eyelid and the closing flower;
- 6Sound is there none at which the faintest heart
- Critical Apparatus7Might leap, the weakest nerve of superstition start;
- Critical Apparatus8Save when the Owlet's unexpected scream
- 9Pierces the ethereal vault; and ('mid the gleam
- 10Of unsubstantial imagery, the dream,
- 11From the hushed vale's realities, transferred
- 12To the still lake) the imaginative Bird
- 13Seems, 'mid inverted mountains, not unheard.
- 14 Grave Creature!—whether, while the moon shines bright
- 15On thy wings opened wide for smoothest flight,
- pg 9Critical Apparatus16Thou art discovered in a roofless tower,
- 17Rising from what may once have been a lady's bower;
- 18Or spied where thou sitt'st moping in thy mew
- Critical Apparatus19At the dim centre of a churchyard yew;
- Critical Apparatus20Or from a rifted crag or ivy tod
- 21Deep in a forest, thy secure abode,
- 22Thou giv'st, for pastime's sake, by shriek or shout,
- Critical Apparatus23A puzzling notice of thy whereabout—
- 24May the night never come, nor day be seen,
- 25When I shall scorn thy voice or mock thy mien!
- 26 In classic ages men perceived a soul
- 27Of sapience in thy aspect, headless Owl!
- 28Thee Athens reverenced in the studious grove;
- 29And near the golden sceptre grasped by Jove,
- 30His Eagle's favourite perch, while round him sate
- 31The Gods revolving the decrees of Fate,
- 32Thou, too, wert present at Minerva's side:
- 33Hark to that second larum!—far and wide
- 34The elements have heard, and rock and cave replied.
VII. MS. has the title "Twilight"
p. 8. VII. The leaves that rustled on this oak-crowned hill: "Composed by the side of Grasmere Lake. The mountains that enclose the vale, especially towards Easedale, are most favourable to the reverberation of sound. There is a passage in The Excursion, towards the close of the fourth Book, where the voice of the raven in flight is traced through the modifications it undergoes, as I have often heard it in that vale and others of this district.
- 'Often, at the hour
- When issue forth the first pale stars, is heard,
- Within the circuit of this fabric huge
- One voice—the solitary raven.' "—I. F.
1–2 Ceased is the rustling … The sky … is still MS.
1–13. In one MS. these lines form the first part of a poem headed Twilight, of which the last lines are a first draft of IV, supra, ll. 20–31; v. app. crit.
- Advancing slowly from the faded West
- Sleep treads a way prepared for him by Rest.
7 superstition] fancy MS.
8 at intervals the Owlet's scream MS.
16 encountered in a moon-lit MS.
- Or in a glimmering Bam when thou dost chuse
- (Wishing the Sun good speed) to mope and muse
20 Or watch for food; or from an ivy tod MS.
- Or hast been robbed of liberty and joy
- The drooping Captive of a thoughtless boy