THE POETICAL WORKS
EDITED BY WILLIAM KNIGHT
Lines, composed a few miles above Tintern Abbey, on revisiting the Banks of the Wye during a tour, July 13, 1798
There was a Boy
The Two Thieves; or, the Last Stage of Avarice
Written with a Slate Pencil upon a Stone, the largest of a Heap lying near a Deserted Quarry, upon one of the Islands at Rydal
Influence of Natural Objects in calling forth and strengthening the Imagination in Boyhood and Early Youth
The Simplon Pass
Written in Germany, on one of the Coldest Days of the Century
A Poet's Epitaph
"Strange fits of passion have I known"
"She dwelt among the untrodden ways"
"I travelled among unknown men"
"Three years she grew in sun and shower"
"A slumber did my spirit seal"
Address to the Scholars of the Village School of——
The Two April Mornings
To a Sexton
The Danish Boy
Lucy Gray; or, Solitude
"On Nature's invitation do I come"
"Bleak season was it, turbulent and bleak"
Ellen Irwin; or, The Braes of Kirtle
The Idle Shepherd-Boys; or, Dungeon-Ghyll Force
The Farmer of Tilsbury Vale
Poems on the Naming of Places:
"It was an April morning: fresh and clear"
"There is an Eminence,—of these our hills"
"A narrow girdle of rough stones and crags"
To M. H.
The Waterfall and the Eglantine
The Oak and the Broom
"'Tis said, that some have died for love"
The Childless Father
Song for the Wandering Jew
The Seven Sisters; or, The Solitude of Binnorie
Inscription for the spot where the Hermitage stood on St. Herbert's Island, Derwent-Water
Written with a Pencil upon a Stone in the Wall of the House (an Out-House), on the Island at Grasmere
The Sparrow's Nest
"Pelion and Ossa flourish side by side"
Selections from Chaucer Modernised:
The Prioress' Tale
The Cuckoo and the Nightingale
Troilus and Cresida
The Sailor's Mother
Alice Fell; or, Poverty
Sequel to the Foregoing
To a Butterfly
The Emigrant Mother
To the Cuckoo
"My heart leaps up when I behold"
Written in March, while resting on the Bridge at the Foot of Brothers Water
The Redbreast chasing the Butterfly
To a Butterfly
To the Small Celandine
To the Same Flower
Stanzas written in my Pocket Copy of Thomson's "Castle of Indolence"
Resolution and Independence
"I grieved for Buonaparte"
"The sun has long been set"
Composed upon Westminster Bridge, September 3, 1802
Composed by the Sea-side, near Calais, August, 1802
Calais, August, 1802
Composed near Calais, on the Road leading to Ardres, August 7, 1802
Calais, August 15, 1802
"It is a beauteous evening, calm and free"
On the Extinction of the Venetian Republic
The King of Sweden
To Toussaint L'Ouverture
Composed in the Valley near Dover, on the Day of Landing
September 1, 1802
September, 1802, near Dover
Written in London, September, 1802
"Great men have been among us; hands that penned"
"It is not to be thought of that the Flood"
"When I have borne in memory what has tamed"
Composed after a Journey across the Hambleton Hills, Yorkshire
To H. C.
To the Daisy
To the Same Flower
To the Daisy
To a Young Lady, who had been Reproached for taking Long Walks in the Country
The Green Linnet
"Who fancied what a pretty sight"
"It is no Spirit who from heaven hath flown"
Memorials of a Tour in Scotland:
Departure from the Vale of Grasmere. August, 1803
At the Grave of Burns, 1803. Seven Years after his Death
Thoughts suggested the Day following, on the Banks of Nith, near the Poet's Residence
To the Sons of Burns, after Visiting the Grave of their Father
To a Highland Girl
Glen-Almain; or, The Narrow Glen
The Solitary Reaper
Address to Kilchurn Castle
Rob Roy's Grave
Sonnet composed at——Castle
The Matron of Jedborough and her Husband
"Fly, some kind Harbinger, to Grasmere-dale"
The Blind Highland Boy
"There is a bondage worse, far worse, to bear"
"England! the time is come when thou should'st wean"
To the Men of Kent. October, 1803
In the Pass of Killicranky
Anticipation. October, 1803
Lines on the Expected Invasion, 1803
* * * * *
WORDSWORTH'S POETICAL WORKS
* * * * *
PETER BELL: A TALE [A]
Composed 1798. [B]—Published 1819.
'What's in a Name?' [C]
'Brutus will start a Spirit as soon as Caesar!' [D]
To ROBERT SOUTHEY, ESQ., P.L., ETC., ETC.
MY DEAR FRIEND—The Tale of 'Peter Bell', which I now introduce to your notice, and to that of the Public, has, in its Manuscript state, nearly survived its minority:—for it first saw the light in the summer of 1798. During this long interval, pains have been taken at different times to make the production less unworthy of a favourable reception; or, rather, to fit it for filling permanently a station, however humble, in the Literature of our Country. This has, indeed, been the aim of all my endeavours in Poetry, which, you know, have been sufficiently laborious to prove that I deem the Art not lightly to be approached; and that the attainment of excellence in it, may laudably be made the principal object of intellectual pursuit by any man, who, with reasonable consideration of circumstances, has faith in his own impulses.
The Poem of 'Peter Bell', as the Prologue will show, was composed under a belief that the Imagination not only does not require for its exercise the intervention of supernatural agency, but that, though such agency be excluded, the faculty may be called forth as imperiously and for kindred results of pleasure, by incidents, within the compass of poetic probability, in the humblest departments of daily life. Since that Prologue was written, you have exhibited most splendid effects of judicious daring, in the opposite and usual course. Let this acknowledgment make my peace with the lovers of the supernatural; and I am persuaded it will be admitted, that to you, as a Master in that province of the art, the following Tale, whether from contrast or congruity, is not an unappropriate offering. Accept it, then, as a public testimony of affectionate admiration from one with whose name yours has been often coupled (to use your own words) for evil and for good; and believe me to be, with earnest wishes that life and health may be granted you to complete the many important works in which you are engaged, and with high respect, Most faithfully yours,
RYDAL MOUNT, April 7, 1819.
[Written at Alfoxden. Founded upon an anecdote which I read in a newspaper, of an ass being found hanging his head over a canal in a wretched posture. Upon examination a dead body was found in the water, and proved to be the body of its master. The countenance, gait, and figure of Peter were taken from a wild rover with whom I walked from Builth, on the river Wye, downwards, nearly as far as the town of Hay. He told me strange stories. It has always been a pleasure to me through life, to catch at every opportunity that has occurred in my rambles of becoming acquainted with this class of people. The number of Peter's wives was taken from the trespasses, in this way, of a lawless creature, who lived in the county of Durham, and used to be attended by many women, sometimes not less than half a dozen, as disorderly as himself, and a story went in the country that he had been heard to say, while they were quarrelling, "Why can't ye be quiet, there's none so many of you?" Benoni, or the child of sorrow, I knew when I was a schoolboy. His mother had been deserted by a gentleman in the neighbourhood, she herself being a gentlewoman by birth. The circumstances of her story were told me by my dear old dame, Ann Tyson, who was her confidante. The lady died broken-hearted. In the woods of Alfoxden I used to take great delight in noticing the habits, tricks, and physiognomy of asses; and I have no doubt that I was thus put upon writing the poem out of liking for the creature that is often so dreadfully abused. The crescent moon, which makes such a figure in the prologue, assumed this character one evening while I was watching its beauty in front of Alfoxden House. I intended this poem for the volume before spoken of, but it was not published for more than twenty years afterwards. The worship of the Methodists, or Ranters, is often heard during the stillness of the summer evening, in the country, with affecting accompaniments of rural beauty. In both the psalmody and voice of the preacher there is, not unfrequently, much solemnity likely to impress the feelings of the rudest characters under favourable circumstances.—I. F.]
Classed by Wordsworth among his "Poems of the Imagination."—ED.
There's something in a flying horse, There's something  in a huge balloon; But through the clouds I'll never float Until I have a little Boat, Shaped like  the crescent-moon. 5
And now I have a little Boat, In shape a very crescent-moon: Fast through the clouds my boat can sail; But if perchance your faith should fail, Look up—and you shall see me soon! 10
The woods, my Friends, are round you roaring, Rocking and roaring like a sea; The noise of danger's in  your ears, And ye have all a thousand fears Both for my little Boat and me! 15
Meanwhile untroubled I admire  The pointed horns of my canoe; And, did not pity touch my breast, To see how ye are all distrest, Till my ribs ached, I'd laugh at you! 20
Away we go, my Boat and I— Frail man ne'er sate in such another; Whether among the winds we strive, Or deep into the clouds  we dive, Each is contented with the other. 25
Away we go—and what care we For treasons, tumults, and for wars? We are as calm in our delight As is the crescent-moon so bright Among the scattered stars. 30
Up goes my Boat among  the stars Through many a breathless field of light, Through many a long blue field of ether, Leaving ten thousand stars beneath her: Up goes my little Boat so bright! 35
The Crab, the Scorpion, and the Bull— We pry among them all; have shot High o'er the red-haired race of Mars, Covered from top to toe with scars; Such company I like it not! 40
The towns in Saturn are decayed, And melancholy Spectres throng them;— The Pleiads, that appear to kiss Each other in the vast abyss, With joy I sail among  them, 45
Swift Mercury resounds with mirth, Great Jove is full of stately bowers; But these, and all that they contain, What are they to that tiny grain, That little Earth  of ours? 50
Then back to Earth, the dear green Earth:— Whole ages if I here should roam, The world for my remarks and me Would not a whit the better be; I've left my heart at home. 55
See! there she is,  the matchless Earth! There spreads the famed Pacific Ocean! Old Andes thrusts yon craggy spear Through the grey clouds; the Alps are here, Like waters in commotion! 60
Yon tawny slip is Libya's sands That silver thread the river Dnieper; And look, where clothed in brightest green Is a sweet Isle, of isles the Queen; Ye fairies, from all evil keep her! 65
And see the town where I was born! Around those happy fields we span In boyish gambols;—I was lost Where I have been, but on this coast I feel I am a man. 70
Never did fifty things at once Appear so lovely, never, never;— How tunefully the forests ring! To hear the earth's soft murmuring Thus could I hang for ever! 75
"Shame on you!" cried my little Boat, "Was ever such a homesick  Loon, Within a living Boat to sit, And make no better use of it; A Boat twin-sister of the crescent-moon! 80
"Ne'er in the breast of full-grown Poet Fluttered so faint a heart before;— Was it the music of the spheres That overpowered your mortal ears? —Such din shall trouble them no more. 85
"These nether precincts do not lack Charms of their own;—then come with me; I want a comrade, and for you There's nothing that I would not do; Nought is there that you shall not see. 90
"Haste! and above Siberian snows We'll sport amid the boreal morning; Will mingle with her lustres gliding Among the stars, the stars now hiding, And now the stars adorning. 95
"I know the secrets of a land Where human foot did never stray; Fair is that land  as evening skies, And cool, though in the depth it lies Of burning Africa. 100
"Or we'll into the realm of Faery, Among the lovely shades of things; The shadowy forms of mountains bare, And streams, and bowers, and ladies fair, The shades of palaces and kings! 105
"Or, if you thirst with hardy zeal Less quiet regions to explore, Prompt voyage shall to you reveal How earth and heaven are taught to feel The might of magic lore!" 110
"My little vagrant Form of light, My gay and beautiful Canoe, Well have you played your friendly part; As kindly take what from my heart Experience forces—then adieu! 115
"Temptation lurks among your words; But, while these pleasures you're pursuing Without impediment or let, No wonder if you quite forget  What on the earth is doing. 120
"There was a time when all mankind Did listen with a faith sincere To tuneful tongues in mystery versed; Then Poets fearlessly rehearsed The wonders of a wild career. 125
"Go—(but the world's a sleepy world, And 'tis, I fear, an age too late) Take with you some ambitious Youth! For, restless Wanderer! I, in truth,  Am all unfit to be your mate. 130
"Long have I loved what I behold, The night that calms, the day that cheers; The common growth of mother-earth Suffices me—her tears, her mirth, Her humblest mirth and tears. 135
"The dragon's wing, the magic ring, I shall not covet for my dower, If I along that lowly way With sympathetic heart may stray, And with a soul of power. 140
"These given, what more need I desire To stir, to soothe, or elevate? What nobler marvels than the mind May in life's daily prospect find, May find or there create? 145
"A potent wand doth Sorrow wield; What spell so strong as guilty Fear! Repentance is a tender Sprite; If aught on earth have heavenly might, 'Tis lodged within her silent tear. 150
"But grant my wishes,—let us now Descend from this ethereal height; Then take thy way, adventurous Skiff, More daring far than Hippogriff, And be thy own delight! 155
"To the stone-table in my garden, Loved haunt of many a summer hour, [E] The Squire is come: his daughter Bess Beside him in the cool recess Sits blooming like a flower. 160
"With these are many more convened; They know not I have been so far;— I see them there, in number nine, Beneath the spreading Weymouth-pine! I see them—there they are! 165
"There sits the Vicar and his Dame; And there my good friend, Stephen Otter; And, ere the light of evening fail, To them I must relate the Tale Of Peter Bell the Potter." 170
Off flew the Boat—away she flees, Spurning her freight with indignation!  "And I, as well as I was able, On two poor legs, toward my stone-table Limped on with sore vexation.  175
"O, here he is!" cried little Bess— She saw me at the garden-door; "We've waited anxiously and long," They cried, and all around me throng, Full nine of them or more! 180
"Reproach me not—your fears be still— Be thankful we again have met;— Resume, my Friends! within the shade Your seats, and quickly  shall be paid The well-remembered debt." 185
I spake with faltering voice, like one Not wholly rescued from the pale Of a wild dream, or worse illusion; But, straight, to cover my confusion, Began the promised Tale.  190
All by the moonlight river side Groaned the poor Beast—alas! in vain; The staff was raised to loftier height, And the blows fell with heavier weight As Peter struck—and struck again.  195
"Hold!" cried the Squire, "against the rules Of common sense you're surely sinning; This leap is for us all too bold;  Who Peter was, let that be told, And start from the beginning." 200
—"A Potter, [F] Sir, he was by trade," Said I, becoming quite collected; "And wheresoever he appeared, Full twenty times was Peter feared For once that Peter was respected. 205
"He two-and-thirty years or more, Had been a wild and woodland rover; Had heard the Atlantic surges roar On farthest Cornwall's rocky shore, And trod the cliffs of Dover. 210
"And he had seen Caernarvon's towers, And well he knew the spire of Sarum; And he had been where Lincoln bell Flings o'er the fen that ponderous knell— A far-renowned alarum.  215
"At Doncaster, at York, and Leeds, And merry Carlisle had he been; And all along the Lowlands fair, All through the bonny shire of Ayr; And far as Aberdeen. 220
"And he had been at Inverness; And Peter, by the mountain-rills, Had danced his round with Highland lasses; And he had lain beside his asses On lofty Cheviot Hills: 225
"And he had trudged through Yorkshire dales, Among the rocks and winding scars; Where deep and low the hamlets lie Beneath their little patch of sky And little lot of stars: 230
"And all along the indented coast, Bespattered with the salt-sea foam; Where'er a knot of houses lay On headland, or in hollow bay;— Sure never man like him did roam! 235
"As well might Peter, in the Fleet, Have been fast bound, a begging debtor;— He travelled here, he travelled there;— But not the value of a hair Was heart or head the better. 240
"He roved among the vales and streams, In the green wood and hollow dell; They were his dwellings night and day,— But nature ne'er could find the way Into the heart of Peter Bell. 245
"In vain, through every changeful year, Did Nature lead him as before; A primrose by a river's brim A yellow primrose was to him, And it was nothing more. 250
"Small change it made in Peter's heart To see his gentle panniered train With more than vernal pleasure feeding, Where'er the tender grass was leading Its earliest green along the lane. 255
"In vain, through water, earth, and air, The soul of happy sound was spread, When Peter on some April morn, Beneath the broom or budding thorn, Made the warm earth his lazy bed. 260
"At noon, when, by the forest's edge He lay beneath the branches high, The soft blue sky did never melt Into his heart; he never felt The witchery of the soft blue sky! 265
"On a fair prospect some have looked And felt, as I have heard them say, As if the moving time had been A thing as steadfast as the scene On which they gazed themselves away. 270
"Within the breast of Peter Bell These silent raptures found no place;  He was a Carl as wild and rude As ever hue-and-cry pursued, As ever ran a felon's race. 275
"Of all that lead a lawless life, Of all that love their lawless lives, In city or in village small, He was the wildest far of all;— He had a dozen wedded wives. 280
"Nay, start not!—wedded wives—and twelve! But how one wife could e'er come near him, In simple truth I cannot tell; For, be it said of Peter Bell, To see him was to fear him. 285
"Though Nature could not touch his heart By lovely forms, and silent  weather, And tender sounds, yet you might see At once, that Peter Bell and she Had often been together. 290
"A savage wildness round him hung As of a dweller out of doors; In his whole figure and his mien A savage character was seen Of mountains and of dreary moors. 295
"To all the unshaped half-human thoughts Which solitary Nature feeds 'Mid summer storms or winter's ice, Had Peter joined whatever vice The cruel city breeds. 300
"His face was keen as is the wind That cuts along the hawthorn-fence; Of courage you saw little there, But, in its stead, a medley air Of cunning and of impudence. 305
"He had a dark and sidelong walk, And long and slouching was his gait; Beneath his looks so bare and bold, You might perceive, his spirit cold Was playing with some inward bait. 310
"His forehead wrinkled was and furred; A work, one half of which was done By thinking of his 'whens,' and 'hows'; And half, by knitting of his brows Beneath the glaring sun. 315
"There was a hardness in his cheek, There was a hardness in his eye, As if the man had fixed his face, In many a solitary place, Against the wind and open sky!" 320
* * * * *
One night, (and now my little Bess! We've reached at last the promised Tale;) One beautiful November night, When the full moon was shining bright Upon the rapid river Swale, 325
Along the river's winding banks Peter was travelling all alone; Whether to buy or sell, or led By pleasure running in his head, To me was never known. 330
He trudged along through copse and brake, He trudged along o'er hill and dale; Nor for the moon cared he a tittle, And for the stars he cared as little, And for the murmuring river Swale. 335
But, chancing to espy a path That promised to cut short the way; As many a wiser man hath done, He left a trusty guide for one That might his steps betray. 340
To a thick wood he soon is brought Where cheerily  his course he weaves, And whistling loud may yet be heard, Though often buried, like a bird Darkling, among the boughs and leaves. 345
But quickly Peter's mood is changed, And on he drives with cheeks that burn In downright fury and in wrath;— There's little sign the treacherous path Will to the road return! 350
The path grows dim, and dimmer still; Now up, now down, the Rover wends, With all the sail that he can carry, Till brought to a deserted quarry— And there the pathway ends. 355
He paused—for shadows of strange shape, Massy and black, before him lay; But through the dark, and through the cold,  And through the yawning fissures old, Did Peter boldly press his way 360
Right through the quarry;—and behold A scene of soft and lovely hue! Where blue and grey, and tender green, Together make  as sweet a scene As ever human eye did view. 365
Beneath the clear blue sky he saw A little field of meadow ground; But field or meadow name it not; Call it of earth a small green plot, With rocks encompassed round. 370
The Swale flowed under the grey rocks, But he flowed quiet and unseen;— You need a strong and stormy gale To bring the noises of the Swale To that green spot, so calm and green! 375
And is there no one dwelling here, No hermit with his beads and glass? And does no little cottage look Upon this soft and fertile nook? Does no one live near this green grass? 380
Across the  deep and quiet spot Is Peter driving through the grass— And now has reached the skirting trees;  When, turning round his head, he sees A solitary Ass. 385
"A prize!" cries Peter—but he first Must spy about him far and near:  There's not a single house in sight, No woodman's hut, no cottage light— Peter, you need not fear! 390
There's nothing to be seen but woods, And rocks that spread a hoary gleam, And this one Beast, that from the bed Of the green meadow hangs his head Over the silent stream. 395
His head is with a halter bound; The halter seizing, Peter leapt Upon the Creature's back,  and plied With ready heels his shaggy side;  But still the Ass his station kept. 400
Then Peter gave a sudden jerk, A jerk that from a dungeon-floor Would have pulled up an iron ring; But still the heavy-headed Thing Stood just as he had stood before! 405
Quoth Peter, leaping from his seat, "There is some plot against me laid"; Once more the little meadow-ground And all the hoary cliffs around He cautiously surveyed. 410
All, all is silent—rocks and woods, All still and silent—far and near! Only the Ass, with motion dull, Upon the pivot of his skull Turns round his long left ear. 415
Thought Peter, What can mean all this? Some ugly witchcraft must be here! —Once more the Ass, with motion dull, Upon the pivot of his skull Turned round his long left ear. 420
Suspicion ripened into dread; Yet with deliberate action slow, His staff high-raising, in the pride Of skill, upon the sounding hide,  He dealt a sturdy blow. 425
The poor Ass staggered with the shock; And then, as if to take his ease,  In quiet uncomplaining mood, Upon the spot where he had stood, Dropped gently down upon his knees; 430
As gently on  his side he fell; And by the river's brink did lie; And, while  he lay like one that mourned, The patient Beast on Peter turned His shining hazel eye.  435
'Twas but one mild, reproachful look, A look more tender than severe; And straight in sorrow, not in dread, He turned the eye-ball in his head Towards the smooth river  deep and clear. 440
Upon the Beast the sapling rings; His lank sides heaved,  his limbs they stirred; He gave a groan, and then another, Of that which went before the brother, And then he gave a third. 445
All by the moonlight river side He gave three miserable groans; And not till now hath Peter seen How gaunt the Creature is,—how lean And sharp his staring bones!  450
With legs stretched out and stiff he lay:— No word of kind commiseration Fell at the sight from Peter's tongue; With hard contempt his heart was wrung, With hatred and vexation. 455
The meagre beast lay still as death; And Peter's lips with fury quiver; Quoth he, "You little mulish dog, I'll fling your carcass like a log Head-foremost down the river!" 460
An impious oath confirmed the threat— Whereat from the earth on which he lay  To all the echoes, south and north, And east and west, the Ass sent forth A long and clamorous bray!  465
This outcry, on the heart of Peter, Seems like a note of joy to strike,— Joy at  the heart of Peter knocks; But in the echo of the rocks Was something Peter did not like. 470
Whether to cheer his coward breast, Or that he could not break the chain, In this serene and solemn hour, Twined round him by demoniac power, To the blind work he turned again. 475
Among the rocks and winding crags; Among the mountains far away; Once more the Ass did lengthen out More ruefully a deep-drawn shout, The hard dry see-saw of his horrible bray!  480
What is there now in Peter's heart! Or whence the might of this strange sound? The moon uneasy looked and dimmer, The broad blue heavens appeared to glimmer, And the rocks staggered all around—485
From Peter's hand the sapling dropped! Threat has he none to execute; "If any one should come and see That I am here, they'll think," quoth he, "I'm helping this poor dying brute." 490
He scans the Ass from limb to limb, And ventures now to uplift his eyes; More steady looks the moon, and clear, More like themselves the rocks appear And touch more quiet skies.  495
His scorn returns—his hate revives; He stoops the Ass's neck to seize With malice—that again takes flight; For in the pool a startling sight Meets him, among the inverted trees.  500
Is it the moon's distorted face? The ghost-like image of a cloud? Is it a gallows  there portrayed? Is Peter of himself afraid? Is it a coffin,—or a shroud? 505
A grisly idol hewn in stone? Or imp from witch's lap let fall? Perhaps a ring of shining fairies? Such as pursue their feared vagaries  In sylvan bower, or haunted hall? 510
Is it a fiend that to a stake Of fire his desperate self is tethering? Or stubborn spirit doomed to yell In solitary ward or cell, Ten thousand miles from all his brethren? 515
Never did pulse so quickly throb, And never heart so loudly panted;  He looks, he cannot choose but look; Like some one reading in a book— A book that is enchanted. 520
Ah, well-a-day for Peter Bell! He will be turned to iron soon, Meet Statue for the court of Fear! His hat is up—and every hair Bristles, and whitens in the moon! 525
He looks, he ponders, looks again; He sees a motion—hears a groan; His eyes will burst—his heart will break— He gives a loud and frightful shriek, And back he falls,  as if his life were flown! 530
We left our Hero in a trance, Beneath the alders, near the river; The Ass is by the river-side, And, where the feeble breezes glide, Upon the stream the moonbeams quiver. 535
A happy respite! but at length He feels the glimmering of the moon; Wakes with glazed eye, and feebly sighing— To sink, perhaps, where he is lying, Into a second swoon!  540
He lifts his head, he sees his staff; He touches—'tis to him a treasure! Faint recollection seems to tell That he is yet where mortals dwell— A thought received with languid pleasure! 545
His head upon his elbow propped, Becoming less and less perplexed, Sky-ward he looks—to rock and wood— And then—upon the glassy  flood His wandering eye is fixed. 550
Thought he, that is the face of one In his last sleep securely bound! So toward the stream his head he bent, And downward thrust his staff, intent The river's depth to sound.  555
Now—like a tempest-shattered bark, That overwhelmed and prostrate lies, And in a moment to the verge Is lifted of a foaming surge— Full suddenly the Ass doth rise! 560
His staring bones all shake with joy, And close by Peter's side he stands: While Peter o'er the river bends, The little Ass his neck extends, And fondly licks his hands. 565
Such life is in the Ass's eyes, Such life is in his limbs and ears; That Peter Bell, if he had been The veriest coward ever seen, Must now have thrown aside his fears. 570
The Ass looks on—and to his work Is Peter quietly resigned; He touches here—he touches there— And now among the dead man's hair His sapling Peter has entwined. 575
He pulls—and looks—and pulls again; And he whom the poor Ass had lost, The man who had been four days dead, Head-foremost from the river's bed Uprises like a ghost! [G] 580
And Peter draws him to dry land; And through the brain of Peter pass Some poignant twitches, fast and faster; "No doubt," quoth he, "he is the Master Of this poor miserable Ass!" 585
The meagre shadow that looks on— What would he now?  what is he doing? His sudden fit of joy is flown,— He on his knees hath laid him down, As if he were his grief renewing; 590
But no—that Peter on his back Must mount, he shows well as he can:  Thought Peter then, come weal or woe I'll do what he would have me do, In pity to this poor drowned man. 595
With that resolve he boldly mounts  Upon the pleased and thankful Ass; And then, without a moment's stay, That  earnest Creature turned away, Leaving the body on the grass. 600
Intent upon his faithful watch, The Beast four days and nights had past; A sweeter meadow ne'er was seen, And there the Ass four days had been, Nor ever once did break his fast: 605
Yet firm his step, and stout his heart; The mead is crossed—the quarry's mouth Is reached; but there the trusty guide Into a thicket turns aside, And deftly ambles  towards the south. 610
When hark a burst of doleful sound! And Peter honestly might say, The like came never to his ears, Though he has been, full thirty years, A rover—night and day! 615
'Tis not a plover of the moors, 'Tis not a bittern of the fen; Nor can it be a barking fox, Nor night-bird chambered in the rocks, Nor wild-cat in a woody glen! 620
The Ass is startled—and stops short Right in the middle of the thicket; And Peter, wont to whistle loud Whether alone or in a crowd, Is silent as a silent cricket. 625
What ails you now, my little Bess? Well may you tremble and look grave! This cry—that rings along the wood, This cry—that floats adown the flood, Comes from the entrance of a cave: 630
I see a blooming Wood-boy there, And if I had the power to say How sorrowful the wanderer is, Your heart would be as sad as his Till you had kissed his tears away! 635
Grasping  a hawthorn branch in hand, All bright with berries ripe and red, Into the cavern's mouth he peeps; Thence back into the moonlight creeps; Whom seeks he—whom?—the silent dead:  640
His father!—Him doth he require— Him hath he sought  with fruitless pains, Among the rocks, behind the trees; Now creeping on his hands and knees, Now running o'er the open plains. 645
And hither is he come at last, When he through such a day has gone, By this dark cave to be distrest Like a poor bird—her plundered nest Hovering around with dolorous moan! 650
Of that intense and piercing cry The listening Ass conjectures well;  Wild as it is, he there can read Some intermingled notes that plead With touches irresistible. 655
But Peter—when he saw the Ass Not only stop but turn, and change The cherished tenor of his pace That lamentable cry  to chase— It wrought in him conviction strange; 660
A faith that, for the dead man's sake And this poor slave who loved him well, Vengeance upon his head will fall, Some visitation worse than all Which ever till this night befel. 665
Meanwhile the Ass to reach his home,  Is striving stoutly as he may; But, while he climbs the woody hill, The cry grows weak—and weaker still; And now at last it dies away. 670
So with his freight the Creature turns Into a gloomy grove of beech, Along the shade with footsteps  true Descending slowly, till the two The open moonlight reach. 675
And there, along the  narrow dell, A fair smooth pathway you discern, A length of green and open road— As if it from a fountain flowed— Winding away between the fern. 680
The rocks that tower on either side Build up a wild fantastic scene; Temples like those among the Hindoos, And mosques, and spires, and abbey-windows, And castles all with ivy green! 685
And, while the Ass pursues his way, Along this solitary dell, As pensively his steps advance, The mosques and spires change countenance, And look at Peter Bell! 690
That unintelligible cry Hath left him high in preparation,— Convinced that he, or soon or late, This very night will meet his fate— And so he sits in expectation! 695
The strenuous Animal hath clomb With the green path; and now he wends Where, shining like the smoothest sea, In undisturbed immensity A  level plain extends. 700
But whence this faintly-rustling sound By which the journeying pair are chased? —A withered leaf is close behind,  Light plaything for the sportive wind Upon that solitary waste. 705
When Peter spied the moving thing, It only doubled his distress;  "Where there is not a bush or tree, The very leaves they follow me— So huge hath been my wickedness!" 710
To a close lane they now are come, Where, as before, the enduring Ass Moves on without a moment's stop, Nor once turns round his head to crop A bramble-leaf or blade of grass. 715
Between the hedges as they go, The white dust sleeps upon the lane; And Peter, ever and anon Back-looking, sees, upon a stone, Or in the dust, a crimson stain. 720
A stain—as of a drop of blood By moonlight made more faint and wan; Ha! why these sinkings of despair?  He knows not how the blood comes there— And Peter is a wicked man. 725
At length he spies a bleeding wound, Where he had struck the Ass's head;  He sees the blood, knows what it is,— A glimpse of sudden joy was his, But then it quickly fled; 730
Of him whom sudden death had seized He thought,—of thee, O faithful Ass! And once again those ghastly pains, Shoot to and fro through heart and reins, And through his brain like lightning pass.  735
I've heard of one, a gentle Soul, Though given to sadness and to gloom, And for the fact will vouch,—one night It chanced that by a taper's light This man was reading in his room; 740
Bending, as you or I might bend At night o'er any pious book,  When sudden blackness overspread The snow white page on which he read, And made the good man round him look. 745
The chamber walls were dark all round,— And to his book he turned again; —The light had left the lonely taper,  And formed itself upon the paper Into large letters—bright and plain! 750
The godly book was in his hand— And, on the page, more black than coal, Appeared, set forth in strange array, A word—which to his dying day Perplexed the good man's gentle soul. 755
The ghostly word, thus plainly seen,  Did never from his lips depart; But he hath said, poor gentle wight! It brought full many a sin to light Out of the bottom of his heart. 760
Dread Spirits! to confound the meek  Why wander from your course so far, Disordering colour, form, and stature! —Let good men feel the soul of nature, And see things as they are. 765
Yet, potent Spirits! well I know, How ye, that play with soul and sense, Are not unused to trouble friends Of goodness, for most gracious ends— And this I speak in reverence! 770
But might I give advice to you, Whom in my fear I love so well; From men of pensive virtue go, Dread Beings! and your empire show On hearts like that of Peter Bell. 775
Your presence often have I  felt In darkness and the stormy night; And, with like force,  if need there be, Ye can put forth your agency When earth is calm, and heaven is bright. 780
Then, coming from the wayward world, That powerful world in which ye dwell, Come, Spirits of the Mind! and try, To-night, beneath the moonlight sky, What may be done with Peter Bell! 785
—O, would that some more skilful voice My further labour might prevent! Kind Listeners, that around me sit, I feel that I am all unfit For such high argument. 790
I've played, I've danced,  with my narration; I loitered long ere I began: Ye waited then on my good pleasure; Pour out indulgence still, in measure As liberal as ye can! 795
Our Travellers, ye remember well, Are thridding a sequestered lane; And Peter many tricks is trying, And many anodynes applying, To ease his conscience of its pain. 800
By this his heart is lighter far; And, finding that he can account So snugly  for that crimson stain, His evil spirit up again Does like an empty bucket mount. 805
And Peter is a deep logician Who hath no lack of wit mercurial; "Blood drops—leaves rustle—yet," quoth he, "This poor man never, but for me, Could have had Christian burial. 810
"And, say the best you can, 'tis plain, That here has  been some wicked dealing; No doubt the devil in me wrought; I'm not the man who could have thought An Ass like this was worth the stealing!" 815
So from his pocket Peter takes His shining horn tobacco-box; And, in a light and careless way, As men who with their purpose play, Upon the lid he knocks. 820
Let them whose voice can stop the clouds, Whose cunning eye can see the wind, Tell to a curious world the cause Why, making here a sudden pause, The Ass turned round his head, and grinned. 825
Appalling process! I have marked The like on heath, in lonely wood; And, verily, have seldom met A spectacle more hideous—yet It suited Peter's present mood. 830
And, grinning in his turn, his teeth He in jocose defiance showed— When, to upset  his spiteful mirth, A murmur, pent within the earth, In the dead earth beneath the road, 835
Rolled audibly! it swept along, A muffled noise—a rumbling sound!— 'Twas by a troop of miners made, Plying with gunpowder their trade, Some twenty fathoms underground. 840
Small cause of dire effect! for, surely, If ever mortal, King or Cotter, Believed that earth was charged to quake And yawn for his unworthy sake, 'Twas Peter Bell the Potter. 845
But, as an oak in breathless air Will stand though to the centre hewn; Or as the weakest things, if frost Have stiffened them, maintain their post; So he, beneath the gazing moon!—850
The Beast bestriding thus, he reached A spot where, in a sheltering cove,  A little chapel stands alone, With greenest ivy overgrown, And tufted with an ivy grove; 855
Dying insensibly away From human thoughts and purposes, It seemed—wall, window, roof and tower — To bow to some transforming power, And blend with the surrounding trees. 860
As ruinous a place it was, Thought Peter, in the shire of Fife That served my turn, when following still From land to land a reckless will  I married my sixth wife! 865
The unheeding Ass moves slowly on, And now is passing by an inn Brim-full of a carousing crew, That make,  with curses not a few, An uproar and a drunken din. 870
I cannot well express the thoughts Which Peter in those noises found;— A stifling power compressed his frame, While-as a swimming darkness came  Over that dull and dreary sound. 875
For well did Peter know the sound; The language of those drunken joys To him, a jovial soul, I ween, But a few hours ago, had been A gladsome and a welcome noise. 880
Now,  turned adrift into the past, He finds no solace in his course; Like planet-stricken men of yore, He trembles, smitten to the core By strong compunction and remorse. 885
But, more than all, his heart is stung To think of one, almost a child; A sweet and playful Highland girl, As light and beauteous as a squirrel, As beauteous and as wild! 890
Her dwelling was a lonely house,  A cottage in a heathy dell; And she put on her gown of green, And left her mother at sixteen, And followed Peter Bell. 895
But many good and pious thoughts Had she; and, in the kirk to pray, Two long Scotch miles, through rain or snow, To kirk she had been used to go, Twice every Sabbath-day. 900
And, when she followed Peter Bell, It was to lead an honest life; For he, with tongue not used to falter, Had pledged his troth before the altar To love her as his wedded wife. 905
A mother's hope is hers;—but soon She drooped and pined like one forlorn; From Scripture she a name  did borrow; Benoni, or the child of sorrow, She called her babe unborn. 910
For she had learned how Peter lived, And took it in most grievous part; She to the very bone was worn, And, ere that little child was born, Died of a broken heart. 915
And now the Spirits of the Mind Are busy with poor Peter Bell; Upon the rights of visual sense Usurping, with a prevalence More terrible than magic spell.  920
Close by a brake of flowering furze (Above it shivering aspens play) He sees an unsubstantial creature, His very self in form and feature, Not four yards from the broad highway: 925
And stretched beneath the furze he sees The Highland girl—it is no other; And hears her crying as she cried, The very moment that she died, "My mother! oh my mother!" 930
The sweat pours down from Peter's face, So grievous is his heart's contrition; With agony his eye-balls ache While he beholds by the furze-brake This miserable vision! 935
Calm is the well-deserving brute, His peace hath no offence betrayed; But now, while down that slope he wends, A voice to Peter's ear  ascends, Resounding from the woody glade: 940
The voice, though clamorous as a horn Re-echoed by a naked rock, Comes from that tabernacle—List!  Within, a fervent  Methodist Is preaching to no heedless flock! 945
"Repent! repent!" he cries aloud, "While yet ye may find mercy;—strive To love the Lord with all your might; Turn to him, seek him day and night, And save your souls alive! 950
"Repent! repent! though ye have gone, Through paths of wickedness and woe, After the Babylonian harlot; And, though your sins be red as scarlet, They shall be white as snow!" 955
Even as he passed the door, these words Did plainly come to Peter's ears; And they such joyful tidings were, The joy was more than he could bear!— He melted into tears. 960
Sweet tears of hope and tenderness! And fast they fell, a plenteous shower! His nerves, his sinews seemed to melt; Through all his iron frame was felt A gentle, a relaxing, power! 965
Each fibre of his frame was weak; Weak all the animal within; But, in its helplessness, grew mild And gentle as an infant child, An infant that has known no sin. 970
'Tis said, meek Beast! that, through Heaven's grace, [H] He not unmoved did notice now The cross [I] upon thy shoulder scored, For lasting impress, by the Lord  To whom all human-kind shall bow; 975
Memorial of his touch—that day  When Jesus humbly deigned to ride, Entering the proud Jerusalem, By an immeasurable stream [J] Of shouting people deified! 980
Meanwhile the persevering Ass, Turned towards a gate that hung in view Across a shady lane;  his chest Against the yielding gate he pressed And quietly passed through. 985
And up the stony lane he goes; No ghost more softly ever trod; Among the stones and pebbles, he Sets down his hoofs inaudibly, As if with felt his hoofs were shod. 990
Along the lane the trusty Ass Went twice two hundred yards or more, And no one could have guessed his aim,— Till to a lonely house he came, And stopped beside the door.  995
Thought Peter, 'tis the poor man's home! He listens—not a sound is heard Save from the trickling household rill; But, stepping o'er the cottage-sill, Forthwith a little Girl appeared. 1000
She to the Meeting-house was bound In hopes  some tidings there to gather: No glimpse it is, no doubtful gleam; She saw—and uttered with a scream, "My father! here's my father!" 1005
The very word was plainly heard, Heard plainly by the wretched Mother— Her joy was like a deep affright: And forth she rushed into the light, And saw it was another! 1010
And, instantly, upon the earth, Beneath the full moon shining bright, Close to  the Ass's feet she fell; At the same moment Peter Bell Dismounts in most unhappy plight. 1015
As he beheld the Woman lie  Breathless and motionless, the mind Of Peter sadly was confused; But, though to such demands unused, And helpless almost as the blind, 1020
He raised her up; and, while he held Her body propped against his knee, The Woman waked—and when she spied The poor Ass standing by her side, She moaned most bitterly. 1025
"Oh! God be praised—my heart's at ease— For he is dead—I know it well!" —At this she wept a bitter flood; And, in the best way that he could, His tale did Peter tell. 1030
He trembles—he is pale as death; His voice is weak with perturbation; He turns aside his head, he pauses; Poor Peter from a thousand causes, Is crippled sore in his narration. 1035
At length she learned how he espied The Ass in that small meadow-ground; And that her Husband now lay dead, Beside that luckless river's bed In which he had been drowned. 1040
A piercing look the Widow  cast Upon the Beast that near her stands; She sees 'tis he, that 'tis the same; She calls the poor Ass by his name, And wrings, and wrings her hands. 1045
"O wretched loss—untimely stroke! If he had died upon his bed! He knew not one forewarning pain; He never will come home again— Is dead, for ever dead!" 1050
Beside the Woman Peter stands; His heart is opening more and more; A holy sense pervades his mind; He feels what he for human-kind Had never felt before. 1055
At length, by Peter's arm sustained, The Woman rises from the ground— "Oh, mercy! something must be done, My little Rachel, you must run,— Some willing neighbour must be found. 1060
"Make haste—my little Rachel—do, The first you meet with—bid him come, Ask him to lend his horse to-night, And this good Man, whom Heaven requite, Will help to bring the body home." 1065
Away goes Rachel weeping loud;— An Infant, waked by her distress, Makes in the house a piteous cry; And Peter hears the Mother sigh, "Seven are they, and all fatherless!" 1070
And now is Peter taught to feel That man's heart is a holy thing; And Nature, through a world of death, Breathes into him a second breath, More searching than the breath of spring. 1075
Upon a stone the Woman sits In agony of silent grief— From his own thoughts did Peter start; He longs to press her to his heart, From love that cannot find relief. 1080
But roused, as if through every limb Had past a sudden shock of dread, The Mother o'er the threshold flies, And up the cottage stairs  she hies, And on the pillow lays  her burning head. 1085
And Peter turns his steps aside Into a shade of darksome trees, Where he sits down, he knows not how, With his hands pressed against his brow, His elbows on  his tremulous knees. 1090
There, self-involved, does Peter sit Until no sign of life he makes, As if his mind were sinking deep Through years that have been long asleep! The trance is passed away—he wakes; 1095
He lifts  his head—and sees the Ass Yet standing in the clear moonshine; "When shall I be as good as thou? Oh! would, poor beast, that I had now A heart but half as good as thine!" 1100
But He—who deviously hath sought His Father through the lonesome woods, Hath sought, proclaiming to the ear Of night his grief and sorrowful fear— He comes, escaped from fields and floods;—1105
With weary pace is drawing nigh; He sees the Ass—and nothing living Had ever such a fit of joy As hath  this little orphan Boy, For he has no misgiving! 1110
Forth to  the gentle Ass he springs, And up about his neck he climbs; In loving words he talks to him, He kisses, kisses face and limb,— He kisses him a thousand times! 1115
This Peter sees, while in the shade He stood beside the cottage-door; And Peter Bell, the ruffian wild, Sobs loud, he sobs even like a child, "Oh! God, I can endure no more!" 1120
—Here ends my Tale: for in a trice Arrived a neighbour with his horse; Peter went forth with him straightway; And, with due care, ere break of day, Together they brought back the Corse. 1125
And many years did this poor Ass, Whom once it was my luck to see Cropping the shrubs of Leming-Lane, Help by his labour to maintain The Widow and her family. 1130
And Peter Bell, who, till that night, Had been the wildest of his clan, Forsook his crimes, renounced  his folly, And, after ten months' melancholy, Became a good and honest man. [K] 1135
* * * * *
VARIANTS ON THE TEXT
[Variant 1: 1827.
And something 1819.]
Whose shape is like 1819.
For shape just like 1845.]
The noise of danger fills 1819.]
Meanwhile I from the helm admire 1819.
... I soberly admire C.]
Or deep into the heavens 1819. Or into massy clouds 1820.]
... between ... 1819.]
... are ill-built, But proud let him be who has seen them; 1819.]
... between ... 1819.]
That darling speck ... 1819.]
And there it is, ... 1819.]
... heartless ... 1819.]
In the editions of 1819 and 1820 only.
Out—out—and, like a brooding hen, Beside your sooty hearth-stone cower; Go, creep along the dirt, and pick Your way with your good walking-stick, Just three good miles an hour!]
... the land ... 1819.]
My radiant Pinnace, you forget 1819.]
For I myself, in very truth, 1819.]
Off flew my sparkling Boat in scorn, Yea in a trance of indignation! 1819.
Spurning her freight with indignation! 1820.]
... to my stone-table Limp'd on with some vexation. 1819.
... tow'rd my stone-table 1827.]
... promptly ... 1819.]
Breath fail'd me as I spake—but soon With lips, no doubt, and visage pale, And sore too from a slight contusion, Did I, to cover my confusion, Begin the promised Tale. 1819.]
All by the moonlight river side It gave three miserable groans; "'Tis come then to a pretty pass," Said Peter to the groaning Ass, "But I will bang your bones!" 1819.]
In the two editions of 1819 only.
"Good Sir!"—the Vicar's voice exclaim'd, "You rush at once into the middle;" And little Bess, with accent sweeter, Cried, "O dear Sir! but who is Peter?" Said Stephen,—"'Tis a downright riddle!"]
The Squire said, "Sure as paradise Was lost to man by Adam's sinning, This leap is for us all too bold; 1819.
Like winds that lash the waves, or smite The woods, the autumnal foliage thinning— "Hold!" said the Squire, "I pray you, hold! 1820.
The woods, autumnal foliage thinning—1827.]
... its ponderous knell, Its far-renowned alarum! 1819.
... his ponderous knell, A far-renowned alarum! 1836.
... that ponderous knell— His far-renowned alarum! 1840.]
With Peter Bell, I need not tell That this had never been the case;—1819.]
... placid ... 1820.
The text of 1827 returns to that of 1819.]
1836. ... cheerfully ... 1819.]
Till he is brought to an old quarry, 1819.]
[Variant 28: In the two editions of 1819 only.
"What! would'st thou daunt me grisly den? Back must I, having come so far? Stretch as thou wilt thy gloomy jaws, I'll on, nor would I give two straws For lantern or for star!"]
And so, where on the huge rough stones The black and massy shadows lay, And through the dark, ... 1819.]
... made ... 1819.]
[Variant 31: In the two editions of 1819 only.
Now you'll suppose that Peter Bell Felt small temptation here to tarry, And so it was,—but I must add, His heart was not a little glad When he was out of the old quarry.]
Across that ... 1819.]
And now he is among the trees; 1819.]
"No doubt I'm founder'd in these woods— For once," quoth he, "I will be wise, With better speed I'll back again— And, lest the journey should prove vain, Will take yon Ass, my lawful prize!"
Off Peter hied,—"A comely beast! Though not so plump as he might be; My honest friend, with such a platter, You should have been a little fatter, But come, Sir, come with me!" 1819.
(The first of these stanzas was omitted in 1827 and afterwards; the second was withdrawn in 1820.)]
But first doth Peter deem it fit To spy about him far and near; 1819.
"A prize," cried Peter, stepping back To spy ... 1827.]
... Ass's back, ... 1819.]
With ready heel the creature's side; 1819.
With ready heel his shaggy side; 1827.]
[Variant 38: In the editions of 1819 to 1832 only.
"What's this!" cried Peter, brandishing A new-peel'd sapling white as cream; The Ass knew well what Peter said, But, as before, hung down his head Over the silent stream. 1819.
A new-peeled sapling;—though, I deem, The Ass knew well what Peter said, He, as before, ... 1820.
...—though I deem, This threat was understood full well, Firm, as before, the Sentinel Stood by the silent stream. 1827.]
"I'll cure you of these desperate tricks"— And, with deliberate action slow, His staff high-raising, in the pride Of skill, upon the Ass's hide C. and 1819.]
What followed?—yielding to the shock The Ass, as if ... 1819.]
And then upon ... 1819.]
... as ... 1819.]
The Beast on his tormentor turned A shining hazel eye. 1827.
His shining ... 1832.
The edition of 1836 returns to the text of 1819.]
Towards the river ... 1819.]
Heav'd his lank sides, ... 1819.]
[Variant 46: 1836. In the two editions of 1819 this stanza formed two stanzas, thus:
All by the moonlight river side He gave three miserable groans, "'Tis come then to a pretty pass," Said Peter to the groaning ass, "But I will bang your bones!"
And Peter halts to gather breath, And now full clearly was it shown (What he before in part had seen) How gaunt was the poor Ass and lean, Yea wasted to a skeleton! 1819.
In the editions of 1820-1832, only the second of these stanzas is retained, with the following change of text in 1827:
And, while he halts, was clearly shown (What he before in part had seen) How gaunt the Creature was, and lean, 1827.
In the final text of 1836 the two stanzas of 1819 are compressed into one (ll. 446-50).]
But, while upon the ground he lay, 1819.
That instant, while outstretched he lay, 1827.]
A loud and piteous bray! 1819.]
Joy on ... 1819.]
... an endless shout, The long dry see-saw ... 1819.]
And Peter now uplifts his eyes; Steady the moon doth look and clear, And like themselves the rocks appear, And tranquil are the skies, 1819.
And quiet are the skies. 1820.]
Whereat, in resolute mood, once more He stoops the Ass's neck to seize— Foul purpose, quickly put to flight! For in the pool a startling sight Meets him, beneath the shadowy trees. 1819.]
... the gallows ... 1832.
The text of 1836 returns to that of 1819.]
Or a gay ring of shining fairies, Such as pursue their brisk vagaries 1819.]
[Variant 55: In the two editions of 1819 only.
Is it a party in a parlour? Cramm'd just as they on earth were cramm'd— Some sipping punch, some sipping tea, But, as you by their faces see, All silent and all damn'd! [a]]
A throbbing pulse the Gazer hath— Puzzled he was, and now is daunted; 1819.]
Like one intent upon a book—1819.]
And drops, a senseless weight, ... 1819.]
A happy respite!—but he wakes;— And feels the glimmering of the moon— And to stretch forth his hands is trying;— Sure, when he knows where he is lying, He'll sink into a second swoon. 1819.]
... placid ... 1819.]
So, faltering not in this intent, He makes his staff an instrument The river's depth to sound—1819.
So toward the stream his head he bent, And downward thrust his staff, intent To reach the Man who there lay drowned.—1820.]
The meagre Shadow all this while— What aim is his? ... 1819.]
That Peter on his back should mount He shows a wish, well as he can, "I'll go, I'll go, whate'er betide— He to his home my way will guide, The cottage of the drowned man." 1819.]
But no—his purpose and his wish The Suppliant shews, well as he can; Thought Peter whatsoe'er betide I'll go, and he my way will guide To the cottage of the drowned man. 1820.]
This utter'd, Peter mounts forthwith 1819.
This hoping, 1820.
Encouraged by this hope, he mounts 1827.
This hoping, Peter boldly mounts 1832.]
And takes his way ... 1819.]
Holding ... 1819.]
1840 and c.
What seeks the boy?—the silent dead! 1819.
Seeking for whom?—... 1836.]
Whom he hath sought ... 1819.]
... doth rightly spell; 1819.]
... noise ... 1819.]
... to gain his end 1819.]
... footstep ... 1819.]
... along a ... 1819.]
[Variant 75: In the editions of 1819 and 1820 the following stanza occurs:
The verdant pathway, in and out, Winds upwards like a straggling chain; And, when two toilsome miles are past, Up through the rocks it leads at last Into a high and open plain.]
The ... 1819.]
How blank!—but whence this rustling sound Which, all too long, the pair hath chased! —A dancing leaf is close behind, 1819.
But whence that faintly-rustling sound 1820.
But whence this faintly rustling sound By which the pair have long been chased? c.]
When Peter spies the withered leaf, It yields no cure to his distress—1819.]
Ha! why this comfortless despair? 1819.]
... the Creature's head; 1827.
The text of 1845 returns to that of 1819.]
... those darting pains, As meteors shoot through heaven's wide plains, Pass through his bosom—and repass! 1819.]
Reading, as you or I might read At night in any pious book, 1819.]
... the good man's taper, 1819.]
The ghostly word, which thus was fram'd, 1819.
... full plainly seen, 1827.]
... to torment the good 1819.]
I know you, potent Spirits! well, How with the feeling and the sense Playing, ye govern foes or friends. Yok'd to your will, for fearful ends—1819.]
... I have often ... 1819.]
And well I know ... 1819.]
... and danc'd ... 1819.]
... clearly ... 1819.]
... hath ... 1819.]
... to confound ... 1819.]
But now the pair have reach'd a spot Where, shelter'd by a rocky cove, 1819.
Meanwhile the pair 1820.]
The building seems, wall, roof, and tower, 1819.]
Deep sighing as he pass'd along, Quoth Peter, "In the shire of Fife, 'Mid such a ruin, following still From land to land a lawless will, 1819.]
Making, ... 1819.]
As if confusing darkness came 1819.
And a confusing 1832.
While clouds of swimming darkness came Over his eyesight with the sound. C.]
[Variant 98: Italics were first used in the edition of 1820.]
A lonely house her dwelling was, 1819.]
... her name ... 1820.
The edition of 1827 returns to the text of 1819.]
Distraction reigns in soul and sense, And reason drops in impotence From her deserted pinnacle! 1819.]
... ears ... 1819.]
Though clamorous as a hunter's horn Re-echoed from a naked rock, 'Tis from that tabernacle—List! 1819.
The voice, though clamorous as a horn Re-echoed by a naked rock, Is from .... 1832.]
... pious ... c.]
'Tis said, that through prevailing grace 1819.]
... shoulders scored Meek beast! in memory of the Lord 1819.
Faithful memorial of the Lord c.]
In memory of that solemn day 1819.]
Towards a gate in open view Turns up a narrow lane; ... 1819.]
Had gone two hundred yards, not more; When to a lonely house he came; He turn'd aside towards the same And stopp'd before the door. 1819.]
In hope ... 1819.]
Close at ... 1819.]
What could he do?—The Woman lay 1819.]
... the sufferer ... 1819.]
... stair ... 1820.
The edition of 1827 returns to the text of 1819.]
And to the pillow gives ... 1819.]
And resting on ... 1819.]
He turns ... 1819.]
... his inward grief and fear—1819.
... his sorrow and his fear—C.]
... had ... 1819.]
Towards ... 1819.]
... repressed ... 1819.]
* * * * *
FOOTNOTES ON THE TEXT
[Footnote A: The title in the two editions of 1819 was 'Peter Bell: A Tale in Verse.'—Ed.]
[Footnote B: In Dorothy Wordsworth's Alfoxden Journal the following occurs, under date April 20, 1798: "The moon crescent. 'Peter Bell' begun."—Ed.]
[Footnote C: 'Romeo and Juliet', act II. scene ii. l. 44. This motto first appeared on the half-title of 'Peter Bell', second edition, 1819, under the advertisement of 'Benjamin the Waggoner', its first line being "What's a Name?" When 'The Waggoner' appeared, a few days afterwards, the motto stood on its title-page. In the collective edition of the Poems (1820), it disappeared; but reappeared, in its final position, in the edition of 1827.—Ed.]
[Footnote D: 'Julius Caesar', act I. scene ii. l. 147.—Ed.]
[Footnote E: Compare 'The Prelude', book iv. l. 47:
'the sunny seat Round the stone table under the dark pine.'
[Footnote F: In the dialect of the North, a hawker of earthen-ware is thus designated.—W. W. 1819 (second edition).]
[Footnote G: Compare 'The Prelude', book v. l. 448:
'At last, the dead man, 'mid that beauteous scene Of trees and hills and water, bolt upright Rose, with his ghastly face, a spectre shape Of terror.'
[Footnote H: This and the next stanza were omitted from the edition of 1827, but restored in 1832.—Ed.]
[Footnote I: The notion is very general, that the Cross on the back and shoulders of this Animal has the origin here alluded to.—W. W. 1819.]
[Footnote J: I cannot suffer this line to pass, without noticing that it was suggested by Mr. Haydon's noble Picture of Christ's Entry into Jerusalem.—W. W. 1820. Into the same picture Haydon "introduced Wordsworth bowing in reverence and awe." See the essay on "The Portraits of Wordsworth" in a later volume, and the portrait itself, which will be reproduced in the volume containing the 'Life' of the poet.—Ed.]
[Footnote K: The first and second editions of 'Peter Bell' (1819) contained, as frontispiece, an engraving by J.C. Bromley, after a picture by Sir George Beaumont. In 1807, Wordsworth wrote to Sir George:
"I am quite delighted to hear of your picture for 'Peter Bell' .... But remember that no poem of mine will ever be popular, and I am afraid that the sale of 'Peter' would not carry the expense of engraving .... The people would love the poem of 'Peter Bell', but the public (a very different thing) will never love it."
Some days before Wordsworth's 'Peter Bell' was issued in 1819, another 'Peter Bell' was published by Messrs. Taylor and Hessey. It was a parody written by J. Hamilton Reynolds, and issued as 'Peter Bell, a Lyrical Ballad', with the sentence on its title page, "I do affirm that I am the real Simon Pure." The preface, which follows, is too paltry to quote; and the stanzas which make up the poem contain allusions to the more trivial of the early "Lyrical Ballads" (Betty Foy, Harry Gill, etc.). Wordsworth's 'Peter Bell' was published about a week later; and Shelley afterwards published his 'Peter Bell the Third'. Charles Lamb wrote to Wordsworth, in May 1819:
"Dear Wordsworth—I received a copy of 'Peter Bell' a week ago, and I hope the author will not be offended if I say I do not much relish it. The humour, if it is meant for humour, is forced; and then the price!—sixpence would have been dear for it. Mind, I do not mean your 'Peter Bell', but a Peter Bell, which preceded it about a week, and is in every bookseller's shop window in London, the type and paper nothing differing from the true one, the preface signed W. W., and the supplementary preface quoting, as the author's words, an extract from the supplementary preface to the 'Lyrical Ballads.' Is there no law against these rascals? I would have this Lambert Simnel whipt at the cart's tail." ('The Letters of Charles Lamb', edited by A. Ainger, vol. ii. p. 20.)
Barron Field wrote on the title-page of his copy of the edition of 'Peter Bell', 1819,
"And his carcase was cast in the way, and the ass stood by it."
1 Kings xiii. 24.—Ed.]
* * * * *
SUB-FOOTNOTES ON THE TEXT
[Sub-Footnote a: This stanza, which was deleted from every edition of 'Peter Bell' after the two of 1819, was prefixed by Shelley to his poem of 'Peter Bell the Third', and many of his contemporaries thought that it was an invention of Shelley's. See the note which follows this poem, p. 50. Crabb Robinson wrote in his 'Diary', June 6, 1812:
"Mrs. Basil Montagu told me she had no doubt she had suggested this image to Wordsworth by relating to him an anecdote. A person, walking in a friend's garden, looking in at a window, saw a company of ladies at a table near the window, with countenances fixed. In an instant he was aware of their condition, and broke the window. He saved them from incipient suffocation."
Wordsworth subsequently said that he had omitted the stanza only in deference to the "unco guid." Crabb Robinson remonstrated with him against its exclusion.—Ed.]
* * * * *
LINES,[A] COMPOSED A FEW MILES ABOVE TINTERN ABBEY, ON REVISITING THE BANKS OF THE WYE DURING A TOUR, JULY 13, 1798 [B]
Composed July 1798.—Published 1798
[July 1798. No poem of mine was composed under circumstances more pleasant for me to remember than this. I began it upon leaving Tintern, after crossing the Wye, and concluded it just as I was entering Bristol in the evening, after a ramble of four or five days, with my sister. Not a line of it was altered, and not any part of it written down till I reached Bristol. It was published almost immediately after in the little volume of which so much has been said in these Notes, the "Lyrical Ballads," as first published at Bristol by Cottle.—I.F.]
Included among the "Poems of the Imagination."—Ed.
Five years have past; five summers, with the length Of five long winters![C] and again I hear These waters, rolling from their mountain-springs With a soft  inland murmur. [D]—Once again Do I behold these steep and lofty cliffs, 5 That  on a wild secluded scene impress Thoughts of more deep seclusion; and connect The landscape with the quiet of the sky. The day is come when I again repose Here, under this dark sycamore, and view 10 These plots of cottage-ground, these orchard-tufts, Which at this season, with their unripe fruits, Are clad in one green hue, and lose themselves 'Mid groves and copses.  Once again I see These hedge-rows, hardly hedge-rows, little lines 15 Of sportive wood run wild: these pastoral farms, Green to the very door; and wreaths of smoke Sent up, in silence, from among the trees! [E] With some uncertain notice, as might seem Of vagrant dwellers in the houseless woods, 20 Or of some Hermit's cave, where by his fire The Hermit sits alone. These beauteous forms, Through a long absence, have not been to me  As is a landscape to a blind man's eye: 25 But oft, in lonely rooms, and 'mid the din Of towns and cities, I have owed to them, In hours of weariness, sensations sweet, Felt in the blood, and felt along the heart; And passing even into my purer mind,  30 With tranquil restoration:—feelings too Of unremembered pleasure: such, perhaps, As have no slight or trivial influence  On that best portion of a good man's life, His little, nameless, unremembered, acts 35 Of kindness and of love. Nor less, I trust, To them I may have owed another gift, Of aspect more sublime; that blessed mood, In which the burthen of the mystery, In which the heavy and the weary weight 40 Of all this unintelligible world, Is lightened:—that serene and blessed mood, In which the affections gently lead us on,— Until, the breath of this corporeal frame And even the motion of our human blood 45 Almost suspended, we are laid asleep In body, and become a living soul: While with an eye made quiet by the power Of harmony, and the deep power of joy, We see into the life of things. 50 If this Be but a vain belief, yet, oh! how oft— In darkness and amid the many shapes Of joyless daylight; when the fretful stir Unprofitable, and the fever of the world, 55 Have hung upon the beatings of my heart— How oft, in spirit, have I turned to thee, O sylvan Wye! thou wanderer thro' the woods,  How often has my spirit turned to thee! And now, with gleams of half-extinguished thought, 60 With many recognitions dim and faint, And somewhat of a sad perplexity, The picture of the mind revives again: While here I stand, not only with the sense Of present pleasure, but with pleasing thoughts 65 That in this moment there is life and food For future years. And so I dare to hope, Though changed, no doubt, from what I was when first I came among these hills; when like a roe I bounded o'er the mountains, by the sides 70 Of the deep rivers, and the lonely streams, Wherever nature led: more like a man Flying from something that he dreads, than one Who sought the thing he loved. For nature then (The coarser pleasures of my boyish days, 75 And their glad animal movements all gone by) To me was all in all.—I cannot paint What then I was. The sounding cataract Haunted me like a passion: the tall rock, The mountain, and the deep and gloomy wood, 80 Their colours and their forms, were then to me An appetite; a feeling and a love, That had no need of a remoter charm, By thought supplied, nor  any interest Unborrowed from the eye.—That time is past, 85 And all its aching joys are now no more, And all its dizzy raptures. [F] Not for this Faint I, nor mourn nor murmur; other gifts Have followed; for such loss, I would believe, Abundant recompence. For I have learned 90 To look on nature, not as in the hour Of thoughtless youth; but hearing oftentimes The still, sad music of humanity, Nor  harsh nor grating, though of ample power To chasten and subdue. And I have felt 95 A presence that disturbs me with the joy Of elevated thoughts; a sense sublime Of something far more deeply interfused, Whose dwelling is the light of setting suns, And the round ocean and the living air, 100 And the blue sky, and in the mind of man: A motion and a spirit, that impels All thinking things, all objects of all thought, And rolls through all things. Therefore am I still A lover of the meadows and the woods, 105 And mountains; and of all that we behold From this green earth; of all the mighty world Of eye, and ear,—both what they half create, [G] And what perceive; well pleased to recognise In nature and the language of the sense, 110 The anchor of my purest thoughts, the nurse, The guide, the guardian of my heart, and soul Of all my moral being. Nor perchance, If I were not thus taught, should I the more 115 Suffer my genial spirits to decay: For thou art with me here upon the banks Of this fair river; thou my dearest Friend, My dear, dear Friend; and in thy voice I catch The language of my former heart, and read 120 My former pleasures in the shooting lights Of thy wild eyes, [H] Oh! yet a little while May I behold in thee what I was once, My dear, dear Sister! and this prayer I make, Knowing that Nature never did betray 125 The heart that loved her; 'tis her privilege, Through all the years of this our life, to lead From joy to joy: for she can so inform The mind that is within us, so impress With quietness and beauty, and so feed 130 With lofty thoughts, that neither evil tongues, Rash judgments, nor the sneers of selfish men, Nor greetings where no kindness is, nor all The dreary intercourse of daily life, Shall e'er prevail against us, or disturb 135 Our cheerful faith, that all which we behold Is full of blessings. Therefore let the moon Shine on thee in thy solitary walk; And let the misty mountain-winds be free To blow against thee: and, in after years, 140 When these wild ecstasies shall be matured Into a sober pleasure; when thy mind Shall be a mansion for all lovely forms, Thy memory be as a dwelling-place For all sweet sounds and harmonies; oh! then, 145 If solitude, or fear, or pain, or grief, Should be thy portion, with what healing thoughts Of tender joy wilt thou remember me, And these my exhortations! Nor, perchance— If I should be where I no more can hear 150 Thy voice, nor catch from thy wild eyes these gleams Of past existence [B]—wilt thou then forget That on the banks of this delightful stream We stood together; and that I, so long A worshipper of Nature, hither came 155 Unwearied in that service: rather say With warmer love—oh! with far deeper zeal Of holier love. Nor wilt thou then forget, That after many wanderings, many years Of absence, these steep woods and lofty cliffs, 160 And this green pastoral landscape, were to me More dear, both for themselves and for thy sake!
* * * * *
VARIANTS ON THE TEXT
... sweet ... 1798.]
Which ... 1798.]
... with their unripe fruits, Among the woods and copses lose themselves, Nor, with their green and simple hue, disturb The wild green landscape ... 1798.
Are clad in one green hue, and lose themselves Among the woods and copses, nor disturb 1802.]
... Though absent long, These forms of beauty have not been to me, 1798.]
... inmost mind, MS.]
As may have had no trivial influence 1798.]
... wood, 1798 (some copies).]
... or ... 1798.]
Not ... 1798.]
* * * * *
FOOTNOTES ON THE TEXT
[Footnote A: I have not ventured to call this Poem an Ode; but it was written with a hope that in the transitions, and the impassioned music of the versification would be found the principal requisites of that species of composition.—W. W. 1800.]
[Footnote B: The title in 1798 was 'Lines, written a few miles', etc. In 1815 it assumed its final form.—Ed.]
[Footnote C: Compare the Fenwick note to the poem 'Guilt and Sorrow' (vol. i. p.78) This visit, five years before, was on his way from "Sarum plain," on foot and alone—after parting with his friend William Calvert—to visit another friend, Robert Jones, in Wales.—Ed.]
[Footnote D: The river is not affected by the tides a few miles above Tintern.—W. W. 1798.]
[Footnote E: In the edition of 1798, an additional line is here introduced, but it is deleted in the 'errata'. It is
'And the low copses—coming from the trees.'
[Footnote F: Compare 'The Prelude', book xi. l. 108:
'Bliss was it in that dawn to be alive, But to be young was very Heaven.'
[Footnote G: This line has a close resemblance to an admirable line of Young, the exact expression of which I cannot recollect.—W. W. 1798.
It is the line:
'And half-create the wondrous world they see.'
'Night Thoughts', (Night vi. l. 427).—Ed.]
[Footnote H: Compare, in The Recluse, canto "Home at Grasmere," l. 91:
Her voice was like a hidden Bird that sang, The thought of her was like a flash of light, Or an unseen companionship.
* * * * *
THERE WAS A BOY
Composed 1798.—Published 1800
[Written in Germany, 1799. This is an extract from the Poem on my own poetical education. This practice of making an instrument of their own fingers is known to most boys, though some are more skilful at it than others. William Raincock of Rayrigg, a fine spirited lad, took the lead of all my schoolfellows in this art.—I. F.]
This "extract" will be found in the fifth book of 'The Prelude', ll. 364-397. It was included among the "Poems of the Imagination." In the editions of 1800 to 1832 it had no title, except in the table of contents. In 1836, the finally adopted title of the poem was given in the text, as well as in the table of contents.—Ed.
There was a Boy; ye knew him well, ye cliffs And islands of Winander!—many a time, At evening, when the earliest stars began  To move along the edges of the hills, Rising or setting, would he stand alone, 5 Beneath the trees, or by the glimmering lake; And there, with fingers interwoven, both hands Pressed closely palm to palm and to his mouth Uplifted, he, as through an instrument, Blew mimic hootings to the silent owls, 10 That they might answer him.—And they would shout Across the watery vale, and shout again, Responsive to his call,—with quivering peals, And long halloos, and screams, and echoes loud Redoubled and redoubled; concourse wild 15 Of jocund din!  And, when there came a pause Of silence such as baffled his best skill:  Then, sometimes, in that silence, while he hung Listening, a gentle shock of mild surprise Has carried far into his heart the voice 20 Of mountain-torrents; or the visible scene Would enter unawares into his mind With all its solemn imagery, its rocks, Its woods, and that uncertain heaven received Into the bosom of the steady lake. 25
This boy was taken from his mates, and died  In childhood, ere he was full twelve years old.  Pre-eminent in beauty is the vale Where he was born and bred: the church-yard hangs  Upon a slope above the village-school; 30 And, through that church-yard when my way has led On summer-evenings, I believe, that there  A long half-hour together I have stood Mute—looking at the grave in which he lies![A] 
Wordsworth sent this fragment in MS. to Coleridge, who was then living at Ratzeburg, and Coleridge wrote in reply on the 10th Dec. 1798:
"The blank lines gave me as much direct pleasure as was possible in the general bustle of pleasure with which I received and read your letter. I observed, I remember, that the 'fingers woven,' etc., only puzzled me; and though I liked the twelve or fourteen first lines very well, yet I liked the remainder much better. Well, now I have read them again, they are very beautiful, and leave an affecting impression. That
'uncertain heaven received Into the bosom of the steady lake,'
I should have recognised anywhere; and had I met these lines, running wild in the deserts of Arabia, I should have instantly screamed out 'Wordsworth'!"
The MS. copy of this poem sent to Coleridge probably lacked the explanatory line,
'Pressed closely palm to palm and to his mouth,'
as another MS., in the possession of the poet's grandson, lacks it; and the line was possibly added—as the late Mr. Dykes Campbell suggested—"in deference to S. T. C.'s expression of puzzlement."
Fletcher Raincock—an elder brother of the William Raincock referred to in the Fenwick note to this poem, as Wordsworth's schoolfellow at Hawkshead—was with him also at Cambridge. He attended Pembroke College, and was second wrangler in 1790. [B] John Fleming of Rayrigg, his half-brother—the boy with whom Wordsworth used to walk round the lake of Esthwaite, in the morning before school-time, ("five miles of pleasant wandering")—was also at St. John's College, Cambridge, at this time, and had been fifth Wrangler in the preceding year, 1789. He is referred to both in the second and the fifth books of 'The Prelude' (see notes to that poem). It is perhaps not unworthy of note that Wrangham, whose French stanzas on "The Birth of Love" Wordsworth translated into English, was in the same year—1789—third Wrangler, second Smith's prizeman, and first Chancellor's medallist; while Robert Greenwood, "the Minstrel of the Troop," who "blew his flute, alone upon the rock" in Windermere,—also one of the characters referred to in the second book of 'The Prelude',—was sixteenth Wrangler in Wordsworth's year, viz. 1791. William Raincock was at St. John's College, Cambridge.—Ed.
* * * * *
VARIANTS ON THE TEXT
... when the stars had just begun 1800.]
... a wild scene Of mirth and jocund din! ... 1800.
... concourse wild 1805.]
... And, when it chanced That pauses of deep silence mock'd his skill, 1800.
... and, when a lengthened pause Of silence came and baffled his best skill, 'The Prelude', 1850.]
[Variant 4: This and the following line were added in 1805.]
... ere he was ten years old. 1805.]
Fair are the woods, and beauteous is the spot, The vale where he was born: the Church-yard hangs 1800.
Fair is the spot, most beautiful the Vale Where he was born: the grassy Church-yard hangs 1827.
The text of 1840 returns to that of 1800.]
And there along that bank when I have pass'd At evening, I believe, that near his grave 1800.
... I believe, that oftentimes 1805.
And through that Church-yard when my way has led 1827.]
A full half-hour together I have stood, Mute—for he died when he was ten years old. 1800.
Mute—looking at the grave in which he lies. 1805.]
* * * * *
FOOTNOTES ON THE TEXT
[Footnote A: In 'The Prelude' the version of 1827 is adopted for the most part.—Ed.]
[Footnote B: See 'Graduati Cantabrigienses' (1850), by Joseph Romily, the Registrar to the University 1832-1862.—Ed.]
* * * * *
THE TWO THIEVES; OR, THE LAST STAGE OF AVARICE
Composed 1798.—Published 1800
[This is described from the life, as I was in the habit of observing when a boy at Hawkshead School. Daniel was more than eighty years older than myself when he was daily, thus occupied, under my notice. No books have so early taught me to think of the changes to which human life is subject, and while looking at him I could not but say to myself—we may, one of us, I or the happiest of my playmates, live to become still more the object of pity, than this old man, this half-doating pilferer.—I.F.]