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And with the heart of May
Thou Child of Joy,
Shout round me, let me hear thy shouts, thou happy Shepherd-boy I
Ye blessed Creatures, I have heard the call
Ye to each other make; I see
O evil day! if I were sullen
This sweet May-morning,
On every side,
In a thousand valleys far and wide,
1 hear, I hear, with joy I hear! —
A single Field which I have looked upon,
Our birth is but a sleep and a forgetting:
Hath had elsewhere its setting,
Not in entire forgetful ness,
And not in utter nakedness,
From God, who is our home:
Upon the growing Boy,
He sees it in his joy;
The Youth, who daily further from the East
And by the vision splendid
Is on his way attended;
Earth fills her lap with pleasures of her own;
The homely Nurse doth all she can
Forget the glories he hath known,
Behold the Child among his new-born blisses,
A wedding or a festival,
A mourning or a funeral;
And this hath now his heart,
And unto this he frames his song:
Then will he fit his tongue
But it will not be long
Ere this be thrown aside,
And with new joy and pride
As if his whole vocation
Were endless imitation.
Thou, whoso exterior semblance doth belie
Thy soul's immensity;
t "Humorous stage" is stase whereon humours, that is, whims, erotehet?, OT fancies aru displayed. This is the old meaning of humour. So in Shakespeare ana Ben Jonsou, passim.
Thy heritage, thou Eye among the blind,
Mighty Prophet! Seer blest!
On whom those truths do rest,
4 As the matter is here viewed, the child, from the strength or instinctive action of an inward law, rests in the full conviction or assurance of that truth, namely, the immortality of the sonl, which the mature mind is ever struggling to make good by external proof and inference; becanse the latter, as the stern facts of our eondition press upon it, gets lost in the " dark valley;" that is, the grave cuts off froir it the vision of a life beyond.
5 The preceding part of this stanza has always been something of a poser to me. I have never been quite able to get over Coleridge's comment upon it: "Jn wh:it sense is a child of that age a philosopher I In what sense does he read ' th' eternal
scionsness? These would be tidings indeed; but such as would presuppose an immediate revelation to the inspired communicator, and require miracles to authenticate his inspiration. But if this be too wild and exorbitant to be suspected as having been the poet's meaning; if these mysterious gifts, faculties, and operaiions are ,iot accompanied with consciousness, who else is conscious of them? or how can it be called the child, if it be up part of the child's conscious being? " And ag.iin : " In what sense can the magnificent attributes, above quoted, be appropriated to ii child, which would not make them equally suitable toabcc,orildoiI,(>rajieldoffor-iI or even to a ship, or to the wind and waves that propel it? The omnipresent" Spirit works equally in them as in the child; and the child is equally unconscious of it as they."—On the other hand, Wordsworth, in his Essay upon Epitaphs, pursues the theme in a high strain of discourse from which I must be content to give a short extract: "forlorn, and cut off from communication with the best part of his nature, must that man be, who should derive the sense of immortalitjr, as it exists in the i.iiml of a child, from the same unthinking gaiety or liveliness of animal spirits with Which the lamb in the meadow, or any other irrational ereature is endowed; \vho should aseribe it, in short, to blank ignorance in the child; to an inability arising from the imperfect state of his faculties to come, in any point of his being, mto contaet wirh a notion of death: or to an unreflecting acquiescence in what had he:,n instilled into him! Has such an unfolder of the mysteries of nature, though he may have forgotten his former self, ever noticed the early, obstinate, and unappeasable inquisitiveness of children upon the subject of origination? This single fact proves outwardly the monstronsness of those suppositions: for, if we had no direct external testimony that the minds of very young children meditate feelingly upon (loi'.th and immortality, these inquiries, which we all know they are perpetually making concerning the whence, do necessarily include corresponding habits of interrogation concerning the whither. Origin and tendency are notions inseparably co-relative. We may, then, be justified in asserting, that the sense of immortality, if not a coexistent and twin birth with Reason, is among the earliest of her offspring: and wo nay further as ert, that from these conjoined, and under their countenance, tna unau affections are gradually formed and opened out."
O joy! that in our embers
The thought of pur past years in me doth breed
Not for these I raise
To perish never;
Nor Man nor Boy,
6 These "questionings of sense and outward things" are, I suppose, the qnes. faons which the soul puts to its visible surroundings, ever seeking from them what they have not to give: that is, the soul is so unahle to acquiesce in death as the end of its being, that it cannot choose but keep interrogating the world of sense lor answers which must come from a higher souree; and this is taken as arguing that the soul is itself framed and attuned to a world above and beyond the present. Thus the poet flnds canse to rejoice in the moral disappointments he has sustained,— to rejoice th.it the glories he saw in childhood have fallen away from him, and van. ished under the pressure of experience; becanse all this is a sort of pledge that hia being has in it something greater and better than this world; that the soul's true home is in a world where life is unfailing and death is unknown. And so, in his view, for the purpose in question, the " philosophic mind " move than compensates the loss of the instinctive faith of childhood. Wordsworth hcru shows that the thought is at least a good one for poetical use; and I think it may be shown to be a good one for practical use. For, in fact, the strongest natural argument for a future life is, that the higher needs and instincts of our moral being are not met in this world: in other words, conscience and the present state of thing do not go together; the one does not answer to the other; nnd the world is full of beginnings that ar4 to be finished elsewhere, if finished at all. See page Mil, note 4.
Hence in a season of calm weather,
Though inland far we be,
Which brought us hither,
Then sing, ye Birds, sing, sing a joyous song!
And let the young Lambs bound
As to the tabor's sound!
Ye that pipe and ye that play,
Ye that through your hearts to-day
Feel the gladness of the May!
What though the radiance which was once so bright
Though nothing can bring back the hour
We will grieve not, rather rind
Strength in what remains behind;
In the primal sympathy
Which having been must ever be;
In the soothing thoughts that spring
Out of human suffering ;
In the faith that looks through death,
And O, ye Fountains, Meadows, Hills, and Groves,
Forebode not any severing of our loves!
Yet in my heart of hearts I feel your might;
I only have rclinquish'd one delight
To live beneath your more habitual sway.
I love the Brooks which down their channels fret,
Even more than when I tripp'd lightly as they;
The innocent brightness of a new-born Day
Is lovely yet;
The Clouds that gather round the setting Sun