William Wordsworth Quotes

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About William Wordsworth

William Wordsworth (April 7, 1770 – April 23, 1850) was a major English poet who, with Samuel Taylor Coleridge, launched the Romantic Age in English literature with the 1798 publication of Lyrical Ballads.

Born: April 7th, 1770

Died: April 23rd, 1850

Categories: English poets, Romantic poets, Poets laureate, 1850s deaths

Quotes: 275 sourced quotes total (includes 7 misattributed)

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Words (count)273 - 220
Search Results6910 - 300
Come forth into the light of things, Let Nature be your teacher.
The world is too much with us; late and soon, Getting and spending, we lay waste our powers: Little we see in Nature that is ours; We have given our hearts away, a sordid boon!
Fill your paper with the breathings of your heart.
Continuous as the stars that shine And twinkle on the milky way.
To me the meanest flower that blows can give Thoughts that do often lie too deep for tears.
I wandered lonely as a cloud That floats on high o'er vales and hills, When all at once I saw a crowd, A host, of golden daffodils. Beside the lake, beneath the trees, Fluttering and dancing in the breeze.
Ten thousand saw I at a glance, Tossing their heads in sprightly dance.
Three years she grew in sun and shower, Then Nature said, "A lovelier flower On earth was never sown; This Child I to myself will take; She shall be mine, and I will make A Lady of my own."
In years that bring the philosophic mind.
A day Spent in a round of strenuous idleness.
A poet could not but be gay, In such a jocund company.
If we could read the secret history of our enemies, we should find in each man's life sorrow and suffering enough to disarm all hostility.
Ne'er saw I, never felt, a calm so deep! The river glideth at his own sweet will: Dear God! the very houses seem asleep; And all that mighty heart is lying still!
For old, unhappy, far-off things, And battles long ago.
Have I not reason to lament What man has made of man?
In that sweet mood when pleasant thoughts Bring sad thoughts to the mind.
And now I see with eye serene The very pulse of the machine.
Some natural sorrow, loss, or pain That has been, and may be again.
Earth has not anything to show more fair: Dull would he be of soul who could pass by A sight so touching in its majesty: This City now doth, like a garment, wear The beauty of the morning; silent, bare, Ships, towers, domes, theatres and temples lie Open unto the fields and to the sky; All bright and glittering in the smokeless air.
Stern Daughter of the Voice of God!
"A jolly place," said he, "in times of old! But something ails it now: the spot is cursed."
She lived unknown, and few could know When Lucy ceased to be; But she is in her grave, and, oh, The difference to me!
Great God! I'd rather be A Pagan suckled in a creed outworn; So might I, standing on this pleasant lea, Have glimpses that would make me less forlorn; Have sight of Proteus rising from the sea; Or hear old Triton blow his wreathèd horn.
My heart leaps up when I behold A rainbow in the sky: So was it when my life began; So is it now I am a man; So be it when I shall grow old, Or let me die! The Child is father of the Man; And I could wish my days to be Bound each to each by natural piety.
One impulse from a vernal wood May teach you more of man, Of moral evil and of good, Than all the sages can.
She dwelt among the untrodden ways Beside the springs of Dove, A maid whom there were none to praise And very few to love:
I listened, motionless and still; And, as I mounted up the hill, The music in my heart I bore, Long after it was heard no more.
Surprised by joy—impatient as the Wind.
A violet by a mossy stone Half hidden from the eye; Fair as a star, when only one Is shining in the sky.
William Wordsworth
She Dwelt Among the Untrodden Ways, st. ? (1799)
• Source: Wikiquote: "William Wordsworth" (Quotes, Bartlett's Familiar Quotations, 10th ed. (1919): John R. Bartlett)
Thy soul was like a Star, and dwelt apart: Thou hadst a voice whose sound was like the sea: Pure as the naked heavens, majestic, free, So didst thou travel on life's common way, In cheerful godliness.
A Creature not too bright or good For human nature's daily food; For transient sorrows, simple wiles, Praise, blame, love, kisses, tears and smiles.
That inward eye Which is the bliss of solitude.
Bliss was it in that dawn to be alive, But to be young was very heaven!
How does the Meadow-flower its bloom unfold? Because the lovely little flower is free Down to its root, and, in that freedom, bold.
The fretful stir Unprofitable, and the fever of the world Have hung upon the beatings of my heart.
William Wordsworth
Lines completed a few miles above Tintern Abbey
• Source: Wikiquote: "William Wordsworth" (Quotes, Bartlett's Familiar Quotations, 10th ed. (1919): John R. Bartlett)
What fond and wayward thoughts will slide Into a lover's head! "O mercy!" to myself I cried, "If Lucy should be dead!"
A multitude of causes unknown to former times are now acting with a combined force to blunt the discriminating powers of the mind, and unfitting it for all voluntary exertion to reduce it to a state of almost savage torpor.
Up! up! my friend, and quit your books, Or surely you 'll grow double! Up! up! my friend, and clear your looks! Why all this toil and trouble?
For nature then (The coarser pleasures of my boyish days, And their glad animal movements all gone by) To me was all in all.— I cannot paint What then I was.
The stars of midnight shall be dear To her; and she shall lean her ear In many a secret place Where rivulets dance their wayward round, And beauty born of murmuring sound Shall pass into her face.
A slumber did my spirit seal; I had no human fears: She seemed a thing that could not feel The touch of earthly years. No motion has she now, no force; She neither hears nor sees; Rolled round in earth's diurnal course, With rocks, and stones, and trees.
Ocean is a mighty harmonist.
Habit rules the unreflecting herd.
The budding rose above the rose full blown.
The sweetest thing that ever grew Beside a human door!
A light to guide, a rod To check the erring, and reprove.
The cattle are grazing, Their heads never raising; There are forty feeding like one!
O sylvan Wye! thou wanderer thro' the woods, How often has my spirit turned to thee!
Poetry is the breath and finer spirit of all knowledge; it is the impassioned expression which is in the countenance of all Science.
And sings a solitary song That whistles in the wind.
Sweet childish days, that were as long As twenty days are now.
As high as we have mounted in delight, In our dejection do we sink as low.
Thou dost preserve the stars from wrong; And the most ancient heavens, through Thee, are fresh and strong.
Just for a handful of silver he left us, Just for a riband to stick in his coat.
But an old age serene and bright, And lovely as a Lapland night, Shall lead thee to thy grave.
Huge and mighty forms, that do not live Like living men, moved slowly through the mind By day, and were a trouble to my dreams.
Give unto me, made lowly wise, The spirit of self-sacrifice; The confidence of reason give, And in the light of truth thy bondman let me live!
The poet's darling.
A brotherhood of venerable trees.
No bird, but an invisible thing, A voice, a mystery.
Choice word and measured phrase, above the reach Of ordinary men.
And, through the heat of conflict, keeps the law In calmness made, and sees what he foresaw.
Type of the wise who soar, but never roam; True to the kindred points of Heaven and Home!
I travelled among unknown men, In lands beyond the sea; Nor, England! did I know till then What love I bore to thee.
Thou liest in Abraham's bosom all the year; And worship'st at the Temple's inner shrine, God being with thee when we know it not.
The eye— it cannot choose but see; we cannot bid the ear be still; our bodies feel, where'er they be, against or with our will.
Nor less I deem that there are Powers Which of themselves our minds impress; That we can feed this mind of ours In a wise passiveness.
The grim shape Towered up between me and the stars, and still, For so it seemed, with purpose of its own And measured motion like a living thing, Strode after me.
The human mind is capable of excitement without the application of gross and violent stimulants; and he must have a very faint perception of its beauty and dignity who does not know this.
The sounding cataract Haunted me like a passion: the tall rock, The mountain, and the deep and gloomy wood, 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.
Like—but oh, how different!
And mighty poets in their misery dead.
We feel that we are greater than we know.
To the solid ground Of Nature trusts the mind that builds for aye.
A primrose by a river's brim A yellow primrose was to him, And it was nothing more.
Who is the happy Warrior? Who is he That every man in arms should wish to be?
Men are we, and must grieve when even the Shade Of that which once was great, is passed away.
Scorn not the Sonnet; Critic, you have frowned, Mindless of its just honours; with this key Shakespeare unlocked his heart
We must be free or die, who speak the tongue That Shakespeare spake; the faith and morals hold Which Milton held.
The good old rule Sufficeth them, the simple plan, That they should take, who have the power, And they should keep who can.
It is a beauteous evening, calm and free, The holy time is quiet as a Nun Breathless with adoration; the broad sun Is sinking down in its tranquillity; The gentleness of heaven broods o'er the Sea.
In spite of difference of soil and climate, of language and manners, of laws and customs—in spite of things silently gone out of mind, and things violently destroyed, the Poet binds together by passion and knowledge the vast empire of human society, as it is spread over the whole earth, and over all time.
And now, with gleams of half-extinguished thought, 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 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;
Another morn Risen on mid-noon.
Something between a hindrance and a help.
The bane of all that dread the Devil.
How blessings brighten as they take their flight!
Misattributed to William Wordsworth
• Occasionally misattributed to Wordsworth, but in fact by Edward Young again. It is from his Night Thoughts, Night II, line 602
• Source: Wikiquote: "William Wordsworth" (Misattributed)
Pictures deface walls more often than they decorate them.
Misattributed to William Wordsworth
• This is only a slightly misquoted version of "Pictures deface walls oftener than they decorate them", written by Frank Lloyd Wright in the magazine Architectural Record in March 1908
• Source: Wikiquote: "William Wordsworth" (Misattributed)
How fast has brother followed brother, From sunshine to the sunless land!
William Wordsworth
Extempore Effusion upon the Death of James Hogg
• Source: Wikiquote: "William Wordsworth" (Quotes, Bartlett's Familiar Quotations, 10th ed. (1919): John R. Bartlett)
And 't is my faith, that every flower Enjoys the air it breathes.
The harvest of a quiet eye, That broods and sleeps on his own heart.
Come, blessed barrier between day and day, Dear mother of fresh thoughts and joyous health!
Three sleepless nights I passed in sounding on, Through words and things, a dim and perilous way.
Who, doomed to go in company with Pain, And Fear, and Bloodshed, miserable train! Turns his necessity to glorious gain.
Every great and original writer, in proportion as he is great and original, must himself create the taste by which he is to be relished.
Dust as we are, the immortal spirit grows Like harmony in music; there is a dark Inscrutable workmanship that reconciles Discordant elements, makes them cling together In one society.
When from our better selves we have too long Been parted by the hurrying world, and droop, Sick of its business, of its pleasures tired, How gracious, how benign, is Solitude.
Be wise to-day; 'tis madness to defer.
He murmurs near the running brooks A music sweeter than their own.
To be a Prodigal's favourite,—then, worse truth, A Miser's pensioner,—behold our lot!
Controls them and subdues, transmutes, bereaves Of their bad influence, and their good receives.
The light that never was, on sea or land, The consecration, and the poet's dream.
The common growth of Mother Earth Suffices me,—her tears, her mirth, Her humblest mirth and tears.
Milton! thou should'st be living at this hour: England hath need of thee: she is a fen Of stagnant waters.
I have said that poetry is the spontaneous overflow of powerful feelings: it takes its origin from emotion recollected in tranquility.
Me this unchartered freedom tires; I feel the weight of chance-desires: My hopes no more must change their name, I long for a repose that ever is the same.
But how can he expect that others should Build for him, sow for him, and at his call Love him, who for himself will take no heed at all?
Once did She hold the gorgeous east in fee; And was the safeguard of the west: the worth Of Venice did not fall below her birth, Venice, the eldest Child of Liberty.
Not Chaos, not The darkest pit of lowest Erebus, Nor aught of blinder vacancy, scooped out By help of dreams - can breed such fear and awe As fall upon us often when we look Into our Minds, into the Mind of Man.
From Stirling Castle we had seen The mazy Forth unravelled; Had trod the banks of Clyde and Tay, And with the Tweed had travelled; And when we came to Clovenford, Then said "my winsome marrow," "Whate'er betide, we'll turn aside, And see the braes of Yarrow."
Nature's old felicities.
A reasoning, self-sufficing thing, An intellectual All-in-all!
Bright gem instinct with music, vocal spark.
We take no note of time but from its loss.
The Eagle, he was lord above, And Rob was lord below.
We meet thee, like a pleasant thought, When such are wanted.
Whom neither shape of danger can dismay, Nor thought of tender happiness betray.
For the gods approve The depth, and not the tumult, of the soul.
And he is oft the wisest man Who is not wise at all.
And you must love him, ere to you He will seem worthy of your love.
Give all thou canst; high Heaven rejects the lore Of nicely calculated less or more.
Burn all the statutes and their shelves: They stir us up against our kind; And worse, against ourselves.
As in the eye of Nature he has lived, So in the eye of Nature let him die!
Is there not An art, a music, and a stream of words That shalt be life, the acknowledged voice of life?
I've heard of hearts unkind, kind deeds With coldness still returning; Alas! the gratitude of men Hath oftener left me mourning.
Wordsworth went to the lakes, but he was never a lake poet. He found in stones the sermons he had already hidden there.
And when a damp Fell round the path of Milton, in his hand The thing became a trumpet; whence he blew Soul-animating strains,—alas! too few.
There is a Yew-tree, pride of Lorton Vale, Which to this day stands single, in the midst Of its own darkness, as it stood of yore.
Much converse do I find in thee, Historian of my infancy! Float near me; do not yet depart! Dead times revive in thee: Thou bring'st, gay creature as thou art! A solemn image to my heart.
Drink, pretty creature, drink!
Stern Winter loves a dirge-like sound.
Dear Child of Nature, let them rail!
One of those heavenly days that cannot die.
Hunt half a day for a forgotten dream.
A famous man is Robin Hood, The English ballad-singer's joy.
The bosom-weight, your stubborn gift, That no philosophy can lift.
Pleasures newly found are sweet When they lie about our feet.
Lady of the Mere, Sole-sitting by the shores of old romance.
Oh, be wise, Thou! Instructed that true knowledge leads to love.
William Wordsworth
• Quote reported in Hoyt's New Cyclopedia Of Practical Quotations (1922), p. 419-23
• Source: Wikiquote: "William Wordsworth" (Quotes, Lines (1795): Lines — Left upon a Seat in a Yew-tree, which stands near the Lake of Esthwaile, on a desolate part of the Shore, commanding a beautiful Prospect.)
Brothers all In honour, as in one community, Scholars and gentlemen.
A happy youth, and their old age Is beautiful and free.
The best of what we do and are, Just God, forgive!
William Wordsworth
Thoughts suggested on the Banks of the Nith
• Source: Wikiquote: "William Wordsworth" (Quotes, Bartlett's Familiar Quotations, 10th ed. (1919): John R. Bartlett)
Sweetest melodies Are those that are by distance made more sweet.
In truth the prison, unto which we doom Ourselves, no prison is.
Elysian beauty, melancholy grace, Brought from a pensive though a happy place.
Full twenty times was Peter feared, For once that Peter was respected.
Fair seedtime had my soul, and I grew up Fostered alike by beauty and by fear.
Never to blend our pleasure or our pride With sorrow of the meanest thing that feels.
Two Voices are there; one is of the sea, One of the mountains; each a mighty Voice.
Enough, if something from our hands have power To live, and act, and serve the future hour.
A youth to whom was given So much of earth—so much of heaven, And such impetuous blood.
And often, glad no more, We wear a face of joy because We have been glad of yore.
She hath smiles to earth unknown— Smiles that with motion of their own Do spread, and sink, and rise.
As if the man had fixed his face, In many a solitary place, Against the wind and open sky!
True beauty dwells in deep retreats, Whose veil is unremoved Till heart with heart in concord beats, And the lover is beloved.
O Reader! had you in your mind Such stores as silent thought can bring, O gentle Reader! you would find A tale in everything.
Where music dwells Lingering and wandering on as loth to die, Like thoughts whose very sweetness yieldeth proof That they were born for immortality.
Of all that is most beauteous, imaged there In happier beauty; more pellucid streams, An ampler ether, a diviner air, And fields invested with purpureal gleams.
He sang of love, with quiet blending, Slow to begin, and never ending; Of serious faith, and inward glee; That was the song,— the song for me!
And beauty, for confiding youth, Those shocks of passion can prepare That kill the bloom before its time; And blanch, without the owner's crime, The most resplendent hair.
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.
Blessings be with them, and eternal praise, Who gave us nobler loves, and nobler cares!— The Poets, who on earth have made us heirs Of truth and pure delight by heavenly lays.
Hail to thee, far above the rest In joy of voice and pinion! Thou, linnet! in thy green array, Presiding spirit here to-day, Dost lead the revels of the May; And this is thy dominion.
Happier of happy though I be, like them I cannot take possession of the sky, Mount with a thoughtless impulse, and wheel there One of a mighty multitude whose way Is a perpetual harmony and dance Magnificent.
Whether we be young or old, Our destiny, our being's heart and home, Is with infinitude, and only there; With hope it is, hope that can never die, Effort and expectation, and desire, And something evermore about to be.
I thought of Chatterton, the marvellous Boy, The sleepless Soul that perished in his pride; Of Him who walked in glory and in joy Following his plough, along the mountain-side: By our own spirits are we deified: We Poets in our youth begin in gladness; But thereof come in the end despondency and madness.
A soul so pitiably forlorn, If such do on this earth abide, May season apathy with scorn, May turn indifference to pride; And still be not unblest— compared With him who grovels, self-debarred From all that lies within the scope Of holy faith and christian hope; Or, shipwrecked, kindles on the coast False fires, that others may be lost.
Oh there is blessing in this gentle breeze, A visitant that while it fans my cheek Doth seem half-conscious of the joy it brings From the green fields, and from yon azure sky. Whate'er its mission, the soft breeze can come To none more grateful than to me; escaped From the vast city, where I long had pined A discontented sojourner: now free, Free as a bird to settle where I will.
A remnant of uneasy light.
Maidens withering on the stalk.
A power is passing from the earth.
William Wordsworth
Lines on the expected Dissolution of Mr. Fox
• Source: Wikiquote: "William Wordsworth" (Quotes, Bartlett's Familiar Quotations, 10th ed. (1919): John R. Bartlett)
The flower of sweetest smell is shy and lowly.
But he is risen, a later star of dawn.
Minds that have nothing to confer Find little to perceive.
What is pride? A whizzing rocket That would emulate a star.
May no rude hand deface it, And its forlorn Hic jacet!
A Briton even in love should be A subject, not a slave!
Turning, for them who pass, the common dust Of servile opportunity to gold.
The gentle Lady married to the Moor, And heavenly Una with her milk-white lamb.
A cheerful life is what the Muses love, A soaring spirit is their prime delight.
There is One great society alone on earth: The noble Living and the noble Dead.
But who would force the soul tilts with a straw Against a champion cased in adamant.
Until a man might travel twelve stout miles, Or reap an acre of his neighbor's corn.
Those old credulities, to Nature dear, Shall they no longer bloom upon the stock Of history?
Oh for a single hour of that Dundee Who on that day the word of onset gave!
Soft is the music that would charm forever; The flower of sweetest smell is shy and lowly.
All men feel something of an honorable bigotry for the objects which have long continued to please them.
Life's cares are comforts; such by Heav'n design'd; He that hath none must make them, or be wretched.
Sad fancies do we then affect, In luxury of disrespect To our own prodigal excess Of too familiar happiness.
Oft on the dappled turf at ease I sit, and play with similes, Loose types of things through all degrees.
The soft blue sky did never melt Into his heart; he never felt The witchery of the soft blue sky!
But thou that didst appear so fair To fond imagination, Dost rival in the light of day Her delicate creation.
Thou unassuming Common-place Of Nature, with that homely face, And yet with something of a grace, Which Love makes for thee!
Behold, within the leafy shade, Those bright blue eggs together laid! On me the chance-discovered sight Gleamed like a vision of delight.
Yet tears to human suffering are due; And mortal hopes defeated and o'erthrown Are mourned by man, and not by man alone.
O Blithe newcomer! I have heard, I hear thee and rejoice. O Cuckoo! shall I call thee Bird, Or but a wandering Voice?
Often have I sighed to measure By myself a lonely pleasure,— Sighed to think I read a book, Only read, perhaps, by me.
Let beeves and home-bred kine partake The sweets of Burn-mill meadow; The swan on still St. Mary's Lake Float double, swan and shadow!
Where lies the Land to which yon Ship must go? Fresh as a lark mounting at break of day, Festively she puts forth in trim array.
Where the statue stood Of Newton with his prism and silent face, The marble index of a mind forever Voyaging through strange seas of thought, alone.
Yet was Rob Roy as wise as brave; Forgive me if the phrase be strong;— A Poet worthy of Rob Roy Must scorn a timid song.
Alas! how little can a moment show Of an eye where feeling plays In ten thousand dewy rays: A face o'er which a thousand shadows go!
Of vast circumference and gloom profound, This solitary Tree! A living thing Produced too slowly ever to decay; Of form and aspect too magnificent To be destroyed.
"What is good for a bootless bene?" With these dark words begins my tale; And their meaning is, Whence can comfort spring When prayer is of no avail?
Sweet Mercy! to the gates of Heaven This minstrel lead, his sins forgiven; The rueful conflict, the heart riven With vain endeavour, And memory of earth's bitter leaven Effaced forever.
But who, if he be called upon to face Some awful moment to which Heaven has joined Great issues, good or bad for human kind, Is happy as a Lover.
Small service is true service while it lasts. Of humblest friends, bright creature! scorn not one: The daisy, by the shadow that it casts, Protects the lingering dewdrop from the sun.
The monumental pomp of age Was with this goodly personage; A stature undepressed in size, Unbent, which rather seemed to rise In open victory o'er the weight Of seventy years, to loftier height.
Dreams, books, are each a world; and books, we know, Are a substantial world, both pure and good: Round these, with tendrils strong as flesh and blood, Our pastime and our happiness will grow.
Love had he found in huts where poor men lie; His daily teachers had been woods and rills, The silence that is in the starry sky, The sleep that is among the lonely hills.
Mightier far Than strength of nerve or sinew, or the sway Of magic potent over sun and star, Is Love, though oft to agony distrest, And though his favorite seat be feeble woman's breast.
He spake of love, such love as spirits feel In worlds whose course is equable and pure; No fears to beat away, no strife to heal,— The past unsighed for, and the future sure.
From the sweet thoughts of home And from all hope I was forever hurled. For me — farthest from earthly port to roam Was best, could I but shun the spot where man might come.
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.
One solace yet remains for us who came Into this world in days when story lacked Severe research, that in our hearts we know How, for exciting youth's heroic flame, Assent is power, belief the soul of fact.
Since every mortal power of Coleridge Was frozen at its marvellous source, The rapt one, of the godlike forehead, The heaven-eyed creature sleeps in earth: And Lamb, the frolic and the gentle, Has vanished from his lonely hearth.
William Wordsworth
Extempore Effusion upon the Death of James Hogg
• Source: Wikiquote: "William Wordsworth" (Quotes, Bartlett's Familiar Quotations, 10th ed. (1919): John R. Bartlett)
Rapine, avarice, expense This is idolatry; and these we adore: Plain living and high thinking are no more: The homely beauty of the good old cause Is gone; our peace, our fearful innocence, And pure religion breathing household laws.
Thou has left behind Powers that will work for thee,—air, earth, and skies! There 's not a breathing of the common wind That will forget thee; thou hast great allies; Thy friends are exultations, agonies, And love, and man's unconquerable mind.
In his youth Wordsworth sympathized with the French Revolution, went to France, wrote good poetry, and had a natural daughter. At this period he was called a 'bad' man. Then he became 'good,' abandoned his daughter, adopted correct principles, and wrote bad poetry.
Two voices are there: one is of the deep; It learns the storm-cloud's thunderous melody, Now roars, now murmurs with the changing sea, Now bird-like pipes, now closes soft in sleep: And one is of an old half-witted sheep Which bleats articulate monotony, And indicates that two and one are three, That grass is green, lakes damp, and mountains steep And, Wordsworth, both are thine.
Meek Walton's heavenly memory.
These feeble and fastidious times.
A noticeable man, with large gray eyes.
William Wordsworth
Stanzas written in Thomson's Castle of Indolence
• Source: Wikiquote: "William Wordsworth" (Quotes, Bartlett's Familiar Quotations, 10th ed. (1919): John R. Bartlett)
Earth helped him with the cry of blood.
Men who can hear the Decalogue, and feel To self-reproach.
And stepping westward seemed to be A kind of heavenly destiny.
Every gift of noble origin Is breathed upon by Hope's perpetual breath.
Every gift of noble origin Is breathed upon by Hope’s perpetual breath.
But hushed be every thought that springs From out the bitterness of things.
A fingering slave, One that would peep and botanize Upon his mother's grave.
But shapes that come not at an earthly call, Will not depart when mortal voices bid.
Yon foaming flood seems motionless as ice; Its dizzy turbulence eludes the eye, Frozen by distance.
O for a single hour of that Dundee, Who on that day the word of onset gave!
That heareth not the loud winds when they call, And moveth all together, if it moves at all.
Thou, while thy babes around thee cling, Shalt show us how divine a thing A Woman may be made.
The feather, whence the pen Was shaped that traced the lives of these good men, Dropped from an Angel's wing.
William Wordsworth
• Part III, No. 5 - Walton's Book of Lives. Compare: "The pen wherewith thou dost so heavenly sing / Made of a quill from an angel's wing", Henry Constable, Sonnet; "Whose noble praise / Deserves a quill pluckt from an angel's wing", Dorothy Berry, Sonnet
• Source: Wikiquote: "William Wordsworth" (Quotes, Ecclesiastical Sonnets (1821))
What we need is not the will to believe, but the wish to find out, which is its exact opposite.
Misattributed to William Wordsworth
• This was not Wordsworth's viewpoint at all. The words are in fact those of Bertrand Russell in his Sceptical Essays (1928), p. 157
• Source: Wikiquote: "William Wordsworth" (Misattributed)
The reason firm, the temperate will, Endurance, foresight, strength, and skill; perfect woman, nobly planned, To warn, to comfort, and command.
More skillful in self-knowledge, even more pure, As tempted more; more able to endure, As more exposed to suffering and distress.
Babylon, Learned and wise, hath perished utterly, Nor leaves her speech one word to aid the sigh That would lament her.
Meek Nature's evening comment on the shows That for oblivion take their daily birth From all the fuming vanities of earth.
When his veering gait And every motion of his starry train Seem governed by a strain Of music, audible to him alone.
Thought and theory must precede all action that moves to salutary purposes. Yet action is nobler in itself than either thought or theory.
Lives there a man whose sole delights Are trivial pomp and city noise, Hardening a heart that loathes or slights What every natural heart enjoys?
She gave me eyes, she gave me ears; And humble cares,and delicate fears; A heart, the fountain of sweet tears; And love, and thought, and joy.
Yet sometimes, when the secret cup Of still and serious thought went round, It seemed as if he drank it up, He felt with spirit so profound.
We bow our heads before Thee, and we laud And magnify thy name Almighty God! But man is thy most awful instrument In working out a pure intent.
'T is hers to pluck the amaranthine flower Of faith, and round the sufferer's temples bind Wreaths that endure affliction's heaviest shower, And do not shrink from sorrow's keenest wind.
The sightless Milton, with his hair Around his placid temples curled; And Shakespeare at his side,—a freight, If clay could think and mind were weight, For him who bore the world!
A few strong instincts and a few plain rules, Among the herdsmen of the Alps, have wrought More for mankind at this unhappy day Then all the pride of intellect and thought?
Myriads of daisies have shone forth in flower Near the lark's nest, and in their natural hour Have passed away; less happy than the one That by the unwilling ploughshare died to prove The tender charm of poetry and love.
Bright flower! whose home is everywhere Bold in maternal nature's care And all the long year through the heir Of joy or sorrow, Methinks that there abides in thee Some concord with humanity, Given to no other flower I see The forest through.
What a beastly and pitiful wretch that Wordsworth! That such a man should be a poet! I can compare him with no one but Simonides, that flatter of Sicilian tyrants, and at the same time the most natural and tender of lyric poets.
She was a Phantom of delight When first she gleamed upon my sight; A lovely Apparition, sent To be a moment's ornament; Her eyes as stars of twilight fair, Like twilights too her dusky hair, But all things else about her drawn From May-time and the cheerful dawn.
My eyes are dim with childish tears, My heart is idly stirred, For the same sound is in my ears Which in those days I heard. Thus fares it still in our decay: And yet the wiser mind Mourns less for what age takes away Than what it leaves behind.
As thou these ashes, little brook! will bear Into the Avon, Avon to the tide Of Severn, Severn to the narrow seas, Into main ocean they, this deed accurst, An emblem yields to friends and enemies How the bold teacher's doctrine, sanctified By truth, shall spread throughout the world dispersed.
William Wordsworth
• Part II, No. 17 - Wicliffe. In obedience to the order of the Council of Constance (1415), the remains of Wickliffe were exhumed and burned to ashes, and these cast into the Swift, a neighbouring brook running hard by; and "thus this brook hath conveyed his ashes into Avon, Avon into Severn, Severn into the narrow seas, they into the main ocean. And thus the ashes of Wickliffe are the emblem of his doctrine, which now is dispersed all the world over", Thomas Fuller, Church History, section ii, book iv, paragraph 53; Compare also: "What Heraclitus would not laugh, or what Democritus would not weep?… For though they digged up his body, burned his bones, and drowned his ashes, yet the word of God and truth of his doctrine, with the fruit and success thereof, they could not burn", Fox, Book of Martyrs, vol. i. p. 606 (edition, 1611); "Some prophet of that day said,—
"'The Avon to the Severn runs, / The Severn to the sea; / And Wickliffe's dust shall spread abroad / Wide as the waters be'", Daniel Webster, Address before the Sons of New Hampshire (1849), and similarly quoted by the Rev. John Cumming in the Voices of the Dead
• Source: Wikiquote: "William Wordsworth" (Quotes, Ecclesiastical Sonnets (1821))
Like an army defeated The snow hath retreated, And now doth fare ill On the top of the bare hill; The Ploughboy is whooping — anon — anon! There's joy in the mountains: There's life in the fountains; Small clouds are sailing, Blue sky prevailing; The rain is over and gone.
Five years have passed; five summers, with the length Of five long winters! and again I hear These waters, rolling from their mountain-springs With a sweet inland murmur. —Once again Do I behold these steep and lofty cliffs, Which on a wild secluded scene impress Thoughts of more deep seclusion; and connect The landscape with the quiet of the sky.
The languid way in which he gives you a handful of numb unresponsive fingers is very significant. It seems also rather to grieve him that you have any admiration for anybody but him. No man that I ever met has give me less, has disappointed me less. My peace be with him, and a happy evening to his, on the whole, respectable life.
He lived amidst th'untrodden ways To Rydal Lake that lead:- A bard whom there were none to praise, And very few to read. Behind a cloud his mystic sense, Deep-hidden, who can spy? Bright as the night, when not a star Is shining in the sky. Unread his works – his "Milk-white Doe" With dust is dark and dim; It's still in Longman's shop, and Oh! The difference to him!
But that which Wordsworth knew, even the old man When poetry had failed like desire, was something I have yet to learn, and you, Duddon, Have learned and re-learned to forget and forget again. Not the radical, the poet and heretic, To whom the water-forces shouted and the fells Were like a blackboard for the scrawls of God, But the old man, inarticulate and humble, Knew that eternity flows in a mountain beck.
And oft I thought (my fancy was-so strong) That I, at last, a resting-place had found: 'Here: will I dwell,' said I,' my whole life long, Roaming the illimitable waters round; Here will I live, of all but heaven disowned. And end my days upon the peaceful flood — To break my dream the vessel reached its bound; And homeless near a thousand homes I stood, And near a thousand tables pined and wanted food.
He is in this sense the most original poet now living, and the one whose writings could the least be spared: for they have no substitute elsewhere. The vulgar do not read them; the learned, who see all things through books, do not understand them; the great despise. The fashionable may ridicule them: but the author has created himself an interest in the heart of the retired and lonely student of nature, which can never die.
He wasn't a man as was thowte a deal o' for his potry when he was hereabout. It hed no laugh in it same as Lile Hartley [Coleridge]'s, bided a deal o makkin I darsay. It was kept oer long in his heead mappen. But then for aw that, he had best eye to mountains and streams, and buildings in the daale, notished ivvry stean o' the fellside, and we nin on us durst bang a bowder stean a bit or cut a bit coppy or raase an old wa' doon when he was astir.
What is a Poet?...He is a man speaking to men: a man, it is true, endowed with more lively sensibility, more enthusiasm and tenderness, who has a greater knowledge of human nature, and a more comprehensive soul, than are supposed to be common among mankind; a man pleased with his own passions and volitions, and who rejoices more than other men in the spirit of life that is in him; delighting to contemplate similar volitions and passions as manifested in the goings-on of the Universe, and habitually impelled to create them where he does not find them.
— A simple child, That lightly draws its breath, And feels its life in every limb, What should it know of death?
Action is transitory — a step, a blow— The motion of a muscle— this way or that— 'Tis done; and in the after-vacancy We wonder at ourselves like men betrayed.
If I should be, where I no more can hear Thy voice, nor catch from thy wild eyes these gleams Of past existence, 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, Unwearied in that service: rather say With warmer love, oh! with far deeper zeal Of holier love. Now wilt thou then forget, That after many wanderings, many years Of absence, these steep woods and lofty cliffs, And this green pastoral landscape, were to me More dear, both for themselves, and for thy sake.
But, whenever a portion of this facility we may suppose even the greatest Poet to possess, there cannot be a doubt that the language which it will suggest of him, must, in liveliness and truth, fall far short of that with is uttered by men in real life, under the actual pressure of these passions, certain shadows of which the poet thus produced, or feels to be produced, in himself. However exalted a notion we would wish to cherish of the character of a Poet, it is obvious, that, while he describes and imitates passions, his situation is altogether slavish and mechanical, compared with the freedom and power of real and substantial action and suffering.
—Who he was That piled these stones, and with the mossy sod First covered, and here taught this aged Tree With its dark arms to form a circling bower, I well remember. — He was one who owned No common soul. In youth by science nursed. And led by nature into a wild scene Of lofty hopes, he to the world went forth A favoured Being, knowing no desire Which genius did not hallow; 'gainst the taint Of dissolute tongues, and jealousy, and hate, And scorn,— against all enemies prepared, All but neglect. The world, for so it thought, Owed him no service; wherefore he at once With indignation turned himself away, And with the food of pride sustained his soul In solitude.
William Wordsworth
• Source: Wikiquote: "William Wordsworth" (Quotes, Lines (1795): Lines — Left upon a Seat in a Yew-tree, which stands near the Lake of Esthwaile, on a desolate part of the Shore, commanding a beautiful Prospect.)
If Thou be one whose heart the holy forms Of young imagination have kept pure Stranger! henceforth be warned; and know that pride, Howe'er disguised in its own majesty, Is littleness; that he who feels contempt For any living thing, hath faculties Which he has never used; that thought with him Is in its infancy. The man whose eye Is ever on himself doth look on one, The least of Nature's works, one who might move The wise man to that scorn which wisdom holds Unlawful, ever. O be wiser, thou ! Instructed that true knowledge leads to love; True dignity abides with him alone Who, in the silent hour of inward thought, Can still suspect, and still revere himself, In lowliness of heart.
William Wordsworth
• Source: Wikiquote: "William Wordsworth" (Quotes, Lines (1795): Lines — Left upon a Seat in a Yew-tree, which stands near the Lake of Esthwaile, on a desolate part of the Shore, commanding a beautiful Prospect.)
A morbid pleasure nourished, tracing here An emblem of his own unfruitful life: And, lifting up his head, he then would gaze On the more distant scene,— how lovely 'tis Thou seest,—and he would gaze till it became Far lovelier, and his heart could not sustain The beauty, still more beauteous! Nor, that time, When nature had subdued him to herself, Would he forget those Beings to whose minds, Warm from the labours of benevolence, The world and human life appeared a scene Of kindred loveliness: then he would sigh, Inly disturbed, to think that others felt What he must never feel: and so, lost Man! On visionary views would fancy feed, Till his eye streamed with tears. In this deep vale He died, — this seat his only monument.
William Wordsworth
• Source: Wikiquote: "William Wordsworth" (Quotes, Lines (1795): Lines — Left upon a Seat in a Yew-tree, which stands near the Lake of Esthwaile, on a desolate part of the Shore, commanding a beautiful Prospect.)
Nor, perchance, If I were not thus taught, Should I the more 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 My former pleasures in the shooting lights Of thy wild eyes. 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 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 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 Our cheerful faith that all which we behold Is full of blessings.
These beauteous forms, Through a long absence, have not been to me As is a landscape to a blind man's eye: 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, 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 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 Of all this unintelligible world Is lighten'd:— 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 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.
That time is past, And all its aching joys are now no more, And all its dizzy raptures. 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 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 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, 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, 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, And what perceive; well pleased to recognise In nature and the language of the sense, The anchor of my purest thoughts, the nurse, The guide, the guardian of my heart, and soul Of all my moral being.

End William Wordsworth Quotes