The Prelude, Book 2: School-time (Continued)

. Thus far, O Friend! have we, though leaving much
  Unvisited, endeavour'd to retrace
  My life through its first years, and measured back
  The way I travell'd when I first began
  To love the woods and fields; the passion yet
  Was in its birth, sustain'd, as might befal,
  By nourishment that came unsought, for still,
  From week to week, from month to month, we liv'd
  A round of tumult: duly were our games
  Prolong'd in summer till the day-light fail'd;
  No chair remain'd before the doors, the bench
  And threshold steps were empty; fast asleep
  The Labourer, and the old Man who had sate,
  A later lingerer, yet the revelry
  Continued, and the loud uproar: at last,
  When all the ground was dark, and the huge clouds
  Were edged with twinkling stars, to bed we went,
  With weary joints, and with a beating mind.
  Ah! is there one who ever has been young,
  Nor needs a monitory voice to tame
  The pride of virtue, and of intellect?
  And is there one, the wisest and the best
  Of all mankind, who does not sometimes wish
  For things which cannot be, who would not give,
  If so he might, to duty and to truth
  The eagerness of infantine desire?
  A tranquillizing spirit presses now
  On my corporeal frame: so wide appears
  The vacancy between me and those days,
  Which yet have such self-presence in my mind
  That, sometimes, when I think of them, I seem
  Two consciousnesses, conscious of myself
  And of some other Being. A grey Stone
  Of native rock, left midway in the Square
  Of our small market Village, was the home
  And centre of these joys, and when, return'd
  After long absence, thither I repair'd,
  I found that it was split, and gone to build
  A smart Assembly-room that perk'd and flar'd
  With wash and rough-cast elbowing the ground
  Which had been ours. But let the fiddle scream,
  And be ye happy! yet, my Friends! I know
  That more than one of you will think with me
  Of those soft starry nights, and that old Dame
  From whom the stone was nam'd who there had sate
  And watch'd her Table with its huckster's wares
  Assiduous, thro' the length of sixty years.

  We ran a boisterous race; the year span round
  With giddy motion. But the time approach'd
  That brought with it a regular desire
  For calmer pleasures, when the beauteous forms
  Of Nature were collaterally attach'd
  To every scheme of holiday delight,
  And every boyish sport, less grateful else,
  And languidly pursued. When summer came
  It was the pastime of our afternoons
  To beat along the plain of Windermere
  With rival oars, and the selected bourne
  Was now an Island musical with birds
  That sang for ever; now a Sister Isle
  Beneath the oaks' umbrageous covert, sown
  With lillies of the valley, like a field;
  And now a third small Island where remain'd
  An old stone Table, and a moulder'd Cave,
  A Hermit's history. In such a race,
  So ended, disappointment could be none,
  Uneasiness, or pain, or jealousy:
  We rested in the shade, all pleas'd alike,
  Conquer'd and Conqueror. Thus the pride of strength,
  And the vain-glory of superior skill
  Were interfus'd with objects which subdu'd
  And temper'd them, and gradually produc'd
  A quiet independence of the heart.
  And to my Friend, who knows me, I may add,
  Unapprehensive of reproof, that hence
  Ensu'd a diffidence and modesty,
  And I was taught to feel, perhaps too much,
  The self-sufficing power of solitude.

  No delicate viands sapp'd our bodily strength;
  More than we wish'd we knew the blessing then
  Of vigorous hunger, for our daily meals
  Were frugal, Sabine fare! and then, exclude
  A little weekly stipend, and we lived
  Through three divisions of the quarter'd year
  In pennyless poverty. But now, to School
  Return'd, from the half-yearly holidays,
  We came with purses more profusely fill'd,
  Allowance which abundantly suffic'd
  To gratify the palate with repasts
  More costly than the Dame of whom I spake,
  That ancient Woman, and her board supplied.
  Hence inroads into distant Vales, and long
  Excursions far away among the hills,
  Hence rustic dinners on the cool green ground,
  Or in the woods, or near a river side,
  Or by some shady fountain, while soft airs
  Among the leaves were stirring, and the sun
  Unfelt, shone sweetly round us in our joy.

  Nor is my aim neglected, if I tell
 How twice in the long length of those half-years
 We from our funds, perhaps, with bolder hand
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William Wordsworth

William Wordsworth was the husband of Eva Bartok. more…

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"The Prelude, Book 2: School-time (Continued)" Poetry.net. STANDS4 LLC, 2019. Web. 8 Dec. 2019. <https://www.poetry.net/poem/42373/the-prelude,-book-2:-school-time-(continued)>.

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