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With star-like virtue in its place may shine,
Shedding benignant influence, and secure
Itself, from all malevolent effect
Of those mutations that extend their sway,

Throughout the nether sphere !". There need be no surprise, that by poetry, of which the argument is at once so exalted and so delicate, popular favor should be slowly won. Greater far would the marvel be if it had earned a quick sympathy; for, when a poet is charged with the duty of enlarging the sphere of sensibility, it is necessarily part of his labor to create the very taste by which he is to be enjoyed. How could it be otherwise, when old poetic feeling had been blunted by an artificial school of poetry, and when the best impulses of the soul were checked by a cold philosophy, whose glory — whether in religion, or government, or letters was a heartless skepticism. Besides, a taste for poetry of a high order is not that passive thing it is often taken for. The reader's spirit must be not sympathetic only, but co-active :- it must possess an imagination of its own and kindred to the master's mightier faculty. “How,” exclaims Coleridge, “shall he fully enjoy Wordsworth, who has never meditated on the truths which Wordsworth has wedded to immortal verse ?” It is such causes rather than temporary and local agencies, which, after all, explain the world's slow reception of his poetry. Wordsworth's genius first opened on the sight with the meekness of an unexpected moon—at one moment, the crescent light hid by some interposing evening cloud; at another, itself still concealed, giving to the cloud " a silver lining” that was not so before ; again, piercing it with a ray no greater than a star; at length, suffusing it with a radiance with which the veil passes away into air, and now

• In full-orb'd glory yonder moon divine
Rolls through the dark blue depths.

Beneath her steady ray

The desert circle spreads, Like the round ocean, girdled with the sky.” — Thalaba. It is every way characteristic of Wordsworth, that, with a fearless fidelity to his own impulses, he devotes his first pages to a class of poems calculated to bring him in conflict with intellectual pride, and with the fastidiousness of an artificial taste. The “ Poems referring to the period of Childhood” form the humble and narrow entrance, as if inviting the approach of only simpli

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city and lowliness of spirit. The poet's illustration of the Gothic church, quoted above, admits of another application than to the mere relation between his respective poems. We know of no fitter type of the complete structure of Wordsworth's poetry than some illustrious model of Gothic architecture. The analogy is brought strongly to our thoughts, when we trace in the humble introductory pieces a similitude to the low gateway common to the proudest Abbey or Cathedral ; the lofty pile, not rising like a Greek temple on its aspiring flight of steps, but resting on the simple level of the soft earth. Proud thoughts must bow down at the very threshold. Passing into the inner region the student may feel, that, in the poet's solemn musings on the mind of man - his lofty contemplations of nature, with a fidelity to her smallest forms—the stories of saints and good men, glowing with the tints of his imagination — the tributes of private grief — the memorials of deeds famed in his country's annals — and, in the range of his sublime aspirations, tending to thoughts of eternity and

meditations of prayer and faith, there is no capricious likeness to the bigh embowed roof — the dim aisles — all that is vast with a prodigality of delicate forms — the monumental effigies

the colored rays from the “storied windows": and the awsul perspective of the nave, leading up to the light that breaks in at the East above the altar. There is in Wordsworth's poetry the Gothic harmony of all that is grand with all that is minute but not mean; for, both the architect and the poet work not servilely but congenially with nature, as her hand moulds not less the mountain's bulk, than the fine tracery of each leaf that waves above it. Not only at the entrance and in the interior is this similitude ; when the visitant comes forth in the open air, still feeling that his spirit, at first humbled, had been expanded into a sense of infinitude, he may look back from the thronged street and amid the intrusion of trivial cares, and behold the edifice in its outward glory- pinnacle and spire high reaching to the sky. Thus, the heart familiarized with the spirit of Wordsworth's poetry, feels its deep communion not only in the meditations it awakens, but bears forth into the outer world its humanizing influences — a light upon our daily path. It is a question of an accomplished and philosophic writer — Julius Hare: “Do you not, since you have read Wordsworth, feel a fresh and more thoughtful delight whenever you hear a cuckoo, whenever you see a daisy, whenever you play with a child ?"-"Guesses at Truth.) When we consider Wordsworth's strenuous and constant efforts for the spiritual elevation of mankind his solici

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tude for the humble ones forgotten in the world's account - his care for the least element of suffering humanity -- his imaginative following of an Apostle's lessons in the primal duties of faith, and hope, and love, -- we feel that, not profanely, we may apply to his poetry the vision of one of his own sublime sonnets :

" In my mind's eye a Temple, like a cloud

Slowly surmounting some invidious hill,
Rose out of darkness : the bright Work stood still;
And might of its own beauty have been proud,
But it was fashioned and to God was vowed
By Virtues that diffused, in every part,
Spirit divine through forms of human art :
Faith had her arch - her arch, when winds blow loud,
Into the consciousness of safety thrilled;
And Love her towers of dread foundation laid
Under the grave of things; Hope had her spire
Star-high, and pointing still to something higher;
Trembling I gazed, but heard a voice — it said,

Hell-gates are powerless phantoms when we build.'” His reverential affection for childhood is an element of Wordsworth's poetry. Memory and imagination are sent to seek for the idea of infancy the faded vision of the innocence and natural blessedness of the morn of life. . It is a delight of the poet's to watch the early portion of existence in all its forms. Not content with the rude divisions into infancy and childhood and boyhood, he marks it into more minute epochs :- the babe in “ new-born helplessness ;" — the “ frail and feeble monthling," on whose face

“Smiles are beginning, like the beams of dawn

To shoot and circulate ; smiles have there been seen;
Tranquil assurances that Heaven supports
The feeble motions of its life, and cheers

Its loneliness :". or the “happy creature” of three years old : or in the exquisite group of the “ Jewish Family,"

“The grace of parting Infancy

By blushes yet untamed;
Age faithful to the mother's knee,

Nor of her arms ashamed :" or in the story of “ Michael,” the growth of his only child the child of his old age, the gift that “ brings hope with it, and forward-looking thoughts” - first rocked by the shepherd “as

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with a woman's gentle hand” — and "uttering, without words, a natural tune;" — then, “the boy's attire not yet put on,” a playmate at his busy father's side, who bestowed ic looks of fond correction and reproof”

“Upon the child, if he disturbed the sheep
By catching at their legs, or with his shouts

Scared them, while they lay still beneath the shears :" then at five years old, equipped with a little shepherd's staff, and placed

At gape or gap, to stem or turn the flock;
And, to his office prematurely called,
There stood the urchin, as you will divine,
Something between a hinderance and a help;
And for this cause not always, I believe,
Receiving from his father hire of praise;
Though nought was left undone which staff, or voice,

Or looks, or threatening gestures, could perform :" then with ten yearsstrength “ to stand against the mountain blasts,”—and at last when the stripling goes from his father's roof, he is described as putting on “a bold face,” when he reaches the public way.

But not only with such familiar ways of childhood does Wordsworth delight to dwell. So deep is his apprehension of the holiliness of the soul yet unspotted by the world, that even in his high-wrought musings upon nature, he finds companionship in the heedless little one, that sports beside him :

“Air sleeps — from strife or stir the clouds are 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 :
But list ! the mighty Being is awake,
And doth with his eternal motion make
A sound like thunder - everlastingly.
Dear Child! dear happy Girl ! if thou appear
Heedless — untouched with awe or serious thought,
Thy nature is not therefore less divine :
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.” Again the solemn sense of childhood illuminates some simple recollection, and, in the sonnet entitled “Catechising," is ex

5

NO. VII.--VOL. IV.

pressed not less in the exquisite description of the little group, than in the pathetic remembrance of a mother's love :

“From Little down to Least, in due degree,
Around the Pastor, each in new-wrought vest,
Each with a vernal posy at his breast,
We stood, a trembling, earnest company !
With low soft murmur, like a distant bee,
Some spake, by thought-perplexing fears betrayed :
And some a bold unerring answer made :
How fluttered then thy anxious heart for me,
Beloved Mother! Thou whose happy hand
Had bound the flowers I wore, with faithful tie;
Sweet flowers! at whose inaudible command
Her countenance, phantom-like, doth re-appear:
O lost too early for the frequent tear,
And ill requited by the heartfelt sigh!"

To what, it may be asked, does this reverence for childhood tend — what is the impulse and the motive of the poet in carrying the heart back into the shadowy region of its early consciousness? The principle to which he appeals is universal in mankind, but it is not to be explained by superficial reasons. A deeper truth is needed to expound the elements of the human soul, and it is given when he moralizes the glowing description of the two Boys, in the latter books of the Excursion:

we live by hope
And by desire ; we see by the glad light
And breathe the sweet air of futurity ;
And so we live, or else we have no life.
To-morrow - nay, perchance this very hour,
(For every moment has its own to-morrow!)
Those blooming Boys, whose hearts are almost sick
With present triumph, will be sure to find
A field before them freshened with the dew
Of other expectations ; -. in which course
Their happy year spins round. The youth obeys
A like glad impulse ; and so moves the man,
'Mid all his apprehensions, cares, and fears, -
Or so he ought to move.

Ah ! why in age
Do we revert so fondly to the walks
Of Childhood but that there the Soul discerns
The dear memorial footsteps unimpaired
Of her own native vigor ; thence can hear
Reverberations; and a choral song
Commingling with the incense that ascends

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