The Enfolded Prelude: Book Twelfth

1805 text is in green 1850 text is in purple

Book EleventhTwelfth

Imagination, Imagination and Taste, How Impaired and Restored

    Long time hath man's unhappiness have human ignorance and guilt 2guilt
    Detained us: with us, on what dismal sights besetspectacles of woe
    For the outward view, Compelled to look, and inwardly oppressed
    With sorrow, disappointment, vexing thoughts,
    Confusion of the judgement, judgment, zeal decayed—
    And lastly, utter loss of hope itself
    And things to hope for.
    And, lastly, utter loss of hope itself
    And things to hope for!
Not with these began
    Our song, and not with these our song must end.
    Ye motions of delight, that through haunt the fieldssides
    Stir gently, Of the green hills; ye breezes and soft airs that breatheairs,
    Whose subtle intercourse with breathing flowers,
    Feelingly watched, might teach Man's haughty race
    How without Injury to take, to give
    Without offence; ye who, as if to show
The breath wondrous influence of paradise, and find your waypower gently used,
    To Bend the recesses complying heads of lordly pines,
    And, with a touch, shift
the soul; stupendous clouds
    Through the whole compass of the sky;
ye brooksbrooks,
    Muttering along the stones, a busy noise
    By day, a quiet one sound in silent night;
    Ye waves, that out of the great deep steal forth
    In a calm hour to kiss the pebbly shore,
    Not mute, and then retire, fearing no storm;
And you, ye groves, whose ministry it is
    To interpose the covert of your shades,
    Even as a sleep, betwixt between the heart of man
    And the uneasy world 'twixt outward troubles, between man himself,
    Not seldom, and his own unquiet heart—
    Oh, that I had a music and a voice
    Harmonious as your own, that I might tell
    What ye have done for me.
uneasy heart:
    Oh! that I had a music and a voice
    Harmonious as your own, that I might tell
    What ye have done for me.
The morning shines,
    Nor heedeth man's Man's perverseness; spring returns—
    I saw the spring return, when I was dead
    To deeper hope, yet had I joy for her
    And welcomed her benevolence, rejoiced
    In common with the children of her love,
    Plants, insects, beasts in field, and birds in bower.
Spring returns,
    I saw the Spring return, and could rejoice,
    In common with the children of her love,
    Piping on boughs, or sporting on fresh fields,
    Or boldly seeking pleasure nearer heaven
    On wings that navigate cerulean skies.
So neither were complacency, nor peace,
    Nor tender yearnings, wanting for my good
    Through those these distracted times: times; in Nature still
    Glorying, I found a counterpoise to in her,
    Which, when the spirit of evil was at reached its height,
    Maintained for me a secret happiness.
    Her I resorted to, This narrative, my Friend! hath chiefly told
    Of intellectual power, fostering love,
    Dispensing truth, and, over men
and loved so muchthings,
    Where reason yet might hesitate, diffusing
    Prophetic sympathies of genial faith:
    So was
I seemed to love as much as heretofore—
    And yet this passion, fervent as it was,
    Had suffered change; how could there fail to be
    Some change, if merely hence, that years of life
    Were going on, and with them loss or gain
    Inevitable, sure alternative?
    This history, my friend, hath chiefly told
    Of intellectual power from stage to stage
    Advancing hand in hand with love and joy,
    And of imagination teaching truth
    Until that natural graciousness of mind
    Gave way to over-pressure of the times
    And their disastrous issues.
favoured such my happy lot—
    Until that natural graciousness of mind
    Gave way to overpressure from the times
    And their disastrous issues.
What availed,
    When spells forbade the voyager to land,
    The fragrance which did ever and anon
That fragrant notice of the shore, a pleasant shore
    Wafted, at intervals,
from arbours breathedmany a bower
    Of blessed sentiment blissful gratitude and fearless love?
    What did such sweet remembrances avail—
    Perfidious then, as seemed what served they then?
    My business was upon the barren seas,
    My errand was to sail to other coasts.
Dare I avow that I had hope wish was mine to seesee,
    (I mean And hope that future times would 'would' surely see)see,
    The man to come parted come, parted, as by a gulphgulph,
    From him who had been? been; that I could no more
    Trust the elevation which had made me one
    With the great family that here and therestill survives
    Is scattered through To illuminate the abyss of ages past,
    Sage, warrior, patriot, lover, hero; for it seemed
    That their best virtues were not free from taint
    Of something false and weak, which that could not stand
    The open eye of reason. Reason. Then I said,
    'Go "Go to the poets, Poets, they will speak to thee
    More perfectly of purer creatures yet
    If reason be nobility in man,
    Can aught be more ignoble than the man
    Whom they describe, would fasten if they may
    Upon our love by sympathies of truth?'
    Thus strangely did I war against myself;
    A bigot to a new idolatry,
    Did like a monk who hath forsworn the world
    If reason be nobility in man,
    Can aught be more ignoble than the man
    Whom they delight in, blinded as he is
    By prejudice, the miserable slave
    Of low ambition or distempered love?"
    In such strange passion, if I may once more
    Review the past, I warred against myself
    A bigot to a new idolatry—
    Like a cowled monk who hath forsworn the world,
    Zealously laboured to cut off my heart
    From all the sources of her former strength;
    And as, by simple waving of a wand,
    The wizard instantaneously dissolves
    Palace or grove, even so could I unsoul
    As readily by syllogistic words
    Those mysteries of being which have made,
    And shall continue evermore to make,
    Of the whole human race one brotherhood.

    Zealously labour What wonder, then, if, to cut off my heart
    From all the sources of her former strength;
    And, as by simple waving of
a wand,
    The wizard instantaneously dissolves
    Palace or grove, even
mind so did I unsoul
    As readily by syllogistic words
    (Some charm of logic, ever within reach)
    Those mysteries of passion which have made,
    And shall continue evermore to make
    In spite of all that reason hath performed,
    And shall perform, to exalt and to refine—
    One brotherhood of all the human race,
    Through all the habitations of past years,
    And those to come: and hence an emptiness
    Fell on the historian's page, and even on that
    Of poets, pregnant with more absolute truth.
    The works of both withered in my esteem,
    Their sentence was, I thought, pronounced their rights
    Seemed mortal, and their empire passed away.
    What then remained in such eclipse, what light
    To guide or chear? The laws of things which lie
    Beyond the reach of human will or power,
    The life of Nature, by the God of love
    Inspired celestial presence ever pure—
    These left, the soul of youth must needs be rich
    Whatever else be lost; and these were mine,
    Not a deaf echo merely of the thought
    (Bewildered recollections, solitary),
    But living sounds. Yet in despite of this.
    This feeling, which howe'er impaired or damped,
    Yet having been once born can never die
    'Tis true that earth with all her appanage
    Of elements and organs, storm and sunshine,
    With its pure forms and colours, pomp of clouds,
    Rivers, and mountains, objects among which
    It might be thought that no dislike or blame,
    No sense of weakness or infirmity
    Or aught amiss, could possibly have come,
    Yea, Perverted, even the visible universe was scanned
    With something of a kindred spirit, fell
    Beneath Fell under the domination dominion of a taste
    Less elevated, which did in my mind
    With its more noble influence interfere,
    Its animation and its deeper sway.
    There comes (if need be now to speak of this
    After such long detail of our mistakes),
    There comes a time when reason not the grand
    And simple reason, but that humbler power
    Which carries on its no inglorious work
    By logic and minute analysis.
    Is of all idols that which pleases most
    The growing mind. A trifler would he be
    Who on the obvious benefits should dwell
    That rise out of this process; but to speak
    Of all the narrow estimates of things
    Which hence originate were a worthy theme
    For philosophic verse. Suffice it here
    To hint that danger cannot but attend
    Upon a function rather proud to be
spiritual, with microscopic view
    The enemy of falsehood, than Was scanned, as I had scanned the friend
    Of truth to sit in judgement than to feel.
moral world?
    Oh soul O Soul of Nature, Nature! excellent and fair,fair!
    That didst rejoice with me, with whom I tooI, too,
    Rejoiced, Rejoiced through early youth, before the winds
    And powerful roaring waters, and in lights and shades
    That marched and countermarched about the hills
    In glorious apparition, now all eyePowers on whom
    And I daily waited, now all ear, eye and now
    All ear;
but ever with never long without the heart
    Employed, and the majestic intellect!man's unfolding intellect:
    O soul Soul of Nature, that Nature! that, by laws divine
    Sustained and governed, still
dost overflow
    With passion and with an impassioned life, what feeble menones
    Walk on this earth, earth! how feeble have I been
    When thou wert in thy strength! Nor this through stroke
    Of human suffering, such as justifies
    Remissness and inaptitude of mind,
    But through presumption, presumption; even in pleasure pleased
    Unworthily, disliking here, and there
    Liking, Liking; by rules of mimic art transferred
    To things above all art. But more art; but more, for this,
    Although a strong infection of the age,
    Was never much my habit giving way
    To a comparison of scene with scene,
    Bent overmuch on superficial things,
    Pampering myself with meagre novelties
    Of colour and proportion, proportion; to the moods
    Of nature, time and season, to the moral power,
    The affections and the
spirit of the place,
    Less sensible. Insensible. Nor only did the love
    Of sitting thus in judgment interrupt
    My deeper feelings, but another cause,
    More subtle and less easily explained,
    That almost seems inherent in the creature,
    Sensuous and intellectual as he is,
A twofold frame of body and of mind:mind.
    The state to which I now allude was one
    In which the eye was master
speak in recollection of the heart,a time
    When that which is the bodily eye, in every stage of life
    The most despotic of our senses senses, gained
    Such strength in me 'me' as often held my mind
    In absolute dominion. Gladly here,
    Entering upon abstruser argument,
    Would Could I endeavour to unfold the means
    Which Nature studiously employs to thwart
    This tyranny, summons all the senses each
    To counteract the other other, and themselves,
    And makes them all, and the objects with which all
    Are conversant, subservient in their turn
    To the great ends of liberty Liberty and power.Power.
    But this is matter for another song;
    Here only let me add
leave we this: enough that my delights,delights
    Such (Such as they were, were) were sought insatiably.
    Though 'twas a transport Vivid the transport, vivid though not profound;
    I roamed from hill to hill, from rock to rock,
    Still craving combinations
of new forms,
    New pleasure, wider empire for
the outward sense,sight,
    Not Proud of her own endowments, and rejoiced
    To lay
the mind vivid but not profound—
    Yet was I often greedy in the chace,
    And roamed from hill to hill, from rock to rock,
    Still craving combinations of new forms,
    New pleasure, wider empire for the sight,
    Proud of its own endowments, and rejoiced
    To lay the inner faculties asleep.
inner faculties asleep.
    Amid the turns and counter-turns, counterturns, the strife
    And various trials of our complex beingbeing,
    As we grow up, such thraldom of that sense
    Seems hard to shun; and shun. And yet I knew a maid,
    Who, A young as I was then, conversed with things
    In higher style. From appetites like these
enthusiast, who escaped these bonds;
    She, gentle visitant, as well she might,Her eye was not the mistress of her heart;
    Was wholly free. Far less did critic rulesrules prescribed by passive taste,
    Or barren intermeddling subtletiessubtleties,
    Perplex her mind, mind; but, wise as women are
    When genial circumstance hath favored favoured them,
    She welcomed what was given, and craved no more.more;
    Whatever Whate'er the scene was present presented to her eyes,view
    That was the best, to that she was attuned
    Through By her humility and lowliness,benign simplicity of life,
    And through a perfect happiness of soulsoul,
    Whose variegated feelings were in this
    Sisters, that they were each some new delight.
    For she was Nature's inmate: her Birds in the birdsbower, and lambs in the green field,
    And every flower she met with, could Could they but
have known her, would have loved. Methought such charmloved; methought
    Of sweetness did her Her very presence breathe aroundsuch a sweetness breathed,
    That all the flowers, and trees, and all even the silent hills,
    And every thing everything she looked on, should have had
    An intimation how she bore herself
    Towards them and to all creatures. God delights
    In such a being, for being; for, her common thoughts
    Are piety, her life is blessedness.gratitude.
    Even like this maid, before I was called forth
    From the retirement of my native hillshills,
    I loved whate'er I saw, saw: nor lightly loved,
    But fervently did most intensely; never dream dreamt of aught
    More grand, more fair, more exquisitely framed,framed
    Than those few nooks to which my happy feet
    Were limited. I had not at that time
    Lived long enough, nor in the least survived
    The first diviner influence of this worldworld,
    As it appears to unaccustomed eyes.
    I worshipped then Worshipping them among the depths depth of thingsthings,
    As my soul bade me; piety ordained, could I then take partsubmit
    In aught but To measured admiration, or be pleasedto aught
    With any thing but humbleness That should preclude humility and love?
    I felt, observed, and nothing else; I pondered; did not judge,
    I Yea, never thought of judging, judging; with the gift
    Of all this glory filled and satisfiedsatisfied.
    And afterwards, when through the gorgeous Alps
    Roaming, I carried with me the same heart.heart:
    In truth, this the degradation howsoe'er
    Induced, effect effect, in whatsoe'er degreedegree,
    Of custom that prepares such wantonnessa partial scale
    As makes In which the greatest things give way to least,little oft outweighs the great;
    Or any other cause that hath been named,named;
    Or, Or lastly, aggravated by the times,times
    Which with And their passionate sounds impassioned sounds, which well might often make
    The milder minstrelsies of rural scenes
    Inaudible was transient. transient; I had feltknown
    Too forcibly, too early in my life,
    Visitings of imaginative power
    For this to last: I shook the habit off
    Entirely and for ever, and again
    In Nature's presence stood, as now I stand now,stand,
    A sensitive, and sensitive being, a creative 'creative' soul.
    There are in our existence spots of time,
    Which That with distinct preeminence pre-eminence retain
    A renovating virtue, whence, whence depressed
    By false opinion and contentious thought,
    Or aught of heavier or more deadly weightweight,
    In trivial occupations occupations, and the round
    Of ordinary intercourse, intercourse our minds
    Are nourished and invisibly repairedrepaired;
    A virtue, by which pleasure is enhanced,
    That penetrates, enables us to mountmount,
    When high, more high, and lifts us up when fallen.
    This efficacious spirit chiefly lurks
    Among those passages of life in whichthat give
    We have had deepest feeling that the mindProfoundest knowledge to what point, and how,
    Is The mind is lord and master, and that master outward sense
    Is but the The obedient servant of her will.
will. Such moments, worthy of all gratitude,moments
    Are scattered everywhere, taking their date
    From our first childhood in our childhood even
    Perhaps are most conspicuous. Life with me,
    As far as memory can look back, is full
    Of this beneficent influence.
childhood. I remember well,
    At a timeThat once, while yet my inexperienced hand
    When Could scarcely (I was then not six years old)
    My hand could
hold a bridle, with proud hopes
    I mounted, and we rode journeyed towards the hills:
    We were a pair An ancient servant of horsemen honest Jamesmy father's house
    Was with me, my encourager and
    We had not travelled long long, ere some mischance
    Disjoined me from my comrade, comrade; and, through fear
    Dismounting, down the rough and stony moor
    I led my horse, and and, stumbling on, at length
    Came to a bottom bottom, where in former times
    A murderer had been hung in iron chains.
    The gibbet-mast was had mouldered down, the bones
    And iron case was gone, were gone; but on the turfturf,
    Hard by, soon after that fell deed was wrought,
    Some unknown hand had carved the murderer's name.
    The monumental writing was engravenletters were inscribed
    In times long past, and still past; but still, from year to year
    By superstition of the neighbourhoodneighbourhood,
    The grass is cleared away; away, and to this hour
    The letters characters are all fresh and visible.visible:
    Faltering, A casual glance had shown them, and ignorant where I was, at length
    I chanced to espy those characters inscribed
    On the green sod: forthwith I left Faltering and faint, and ignorant of the spot,road:
    And, Then, reascending the bare common, saw
    A naked pool that lay beneath the hills,
    The beacon on the summit, and and, more near,
    A girl girl, who bore a pitcher on her headhead,
    And seemed with difficult steps to force her way
    Against the blowing wind. It was, in truth,
    An ordinary sight, sight; but I should need
    Colours and words that are unknown to manman,
    To paint the visionary dreariness
    Which, while I looked all round for my lost guide,
    Did at that time invest the Invested moorland waste and naked pool,
    The beacon on crowning the lonely lone eminence,
    The woman, female and her garments vexed and tossed
    By the strong wind. When, in the blessed season,hours
    With those two dear ones to Of early love, the loved one at my heart so dear—
    When, in the blessed time of early love,
    Long afterwards I roamed about
    In daily presence of this very scene,
    Upon the naked pool and dreary crags,
    And on the melancholy beacon, fell
    The spirit of pleasure and youth's golden gleam.
    I roamed, in daily presence of this scene,
    Upon the naked pool and dreary crags,
And on the melancholy beacon, fell
    A spirit of pleasure and youth's golden gleam;
think ye not with radiance more divinesublime
    From For these remembrances, and from for the power
    They had left behind? So feeling comes in aid
    Of feeling, and diversity of strength
    Attends us, if but once we have been strong.
    Oh Oh! mystery of man, from what a depth
    Proceed thy honours! honours. I am lost, but see
    In simple childhood something of the base
    On which thy greatness stands stands; but this I feel,
    That from thyself it is comes, that thou must give,
    Else never canst receive. The days gone by
    Come back Return upon me almost from the dawn almostdawn
    Of life; life: the hiding-places of my man's power
    Seem open, Open; I approach, and then would approach them, but they close;close.
    I see by glimpses now, now; when age comes onon,
    May scarcely see at all; and I would givegive,
    While yet we may, as far as words can give,
    A substance Substance and a life to what I feel:feel, enshrining,
    I would enshrine Such is my hope, the spirit of the pastPast
    For future restoration. Yet another
    Of these to me affecting incidents,
    With which we will conclude.
    One Christmas-time,
    The day before the holidays began,
    Feverish, and tired, and restless, I went forth
    Into the fields, impatient for the sight
    Of those two horses which should bear us home,
    My brothers and myself.
    One Christmas-time,
    On the glad eve of its dear holidays,
    Feverish, and tired, and restless, I went forth
    Into the fields, impatient for the sight
    Of those led palfreys that should bear us home;
    My brothers and myself.
There was rose a crag,
    An eminence, which That, from the meeting-point
meeting-point of two highways ascending overlookedhighways
    At least a long half-mile of those two roads,Ascending, overlooked them both, far stretched;
    By each of Thither, uncertain on which the expected steeds might come—
    The choice uncertain. Thither
road to fix
    My expectation, thither
I repairedrepaired,
    Up to Scout-like, and gained the highest summit. 'Twas summit; 'twas a day
    Stormy, and rough, Tempestuous, dark, and wild, and on the grass
    I sate half sheltered half-sheltered by a naked wall.wall;
    Upon my right hand was couched a single sheep,
    A whistling hawthorn on Upon my left, and there,left a blasted hawthorn stood;
    With those companions at my side, I watched,watched
    Straining my eyes intensely intensely, as the mist
    Gave intermitting prospect of the woodcopse
    And plain beneath. Ere I we to school returned
    That dreary time, ere I had been ten days
    A dweller in my father's house, he died,
    And I and my two brothers, orphans then,
    Followed his body to the grave.
    That dreary time, ere we had been ten days
    Sojourners in my father's house, he died;
    And I and my three brothers, orphans then,
    Followed his body to the grave.
The event,
    With all the sorrow which that it brought, appeared
    A chastisement; and when I called to mind
    That day so lately past, when from the crag
    I looked in such anxiety of hope,hope;
    With trite reflections of morality,
    Yet in the deepest passion, I bowed low
    To God who God, Who thus corrected my desires.desires;
    And afterwards And, afterwards, the wind and sleety rain,
    And all the business of the elements,
    The single sheep, and the one blasted tree,
    And the bleak music of from that old stone wall,
    The noise of wood and water, and the mist
    Which That on the line of each of those two roads
    Advanced in such indisputable shapes—
    All these were spectacles and sounds to which
    I often would repair, and thence would drink
    As at a fountain. And
    All these were kindred spectacles and sounds
    To which
I do not doubtoft repaired, and thence would drink,
    That in As at a fountain; and on winter nights,
    Down to
this later very time, when storm and rain
    Beat on my roof roof, or, haply, at midnight, or by daynoon-day,
    When I am While in the woods, unknown to mea grove I walk, whose lofty trees,
    The workings Laden with summer's thickest foliage, rock
    In a strong wind, some working
of my spirit thence are brought.the spirit,
    Thou wilt not languish here, O friend, for whomSome inward agitations thence are brought,
    I travel in these dim uncertain ways—
    Thou wilt assist me, as a pilgrim gone
    In quest of highest truth. Behold me then
Whate'er their office, whether to beguile
    Once more Thoughts over busy in Nature's presence, thus restored,the course they took,
    Or otherwise, and strengthened once again
    (With memory left of what had been escaped)
    To habits
animate an hour of devoutest sympathy.vacant ease.