Saturday, March 24, 2018

Poetry Sunday: Lines Written in Early Spring by William Wordsworth

When you think of spring, does any particular poet come to mind?

For me, that would be William Wordsworth. So many of his poems with which I am familiar seem set in spring. One suspects that perhaps he had a special affection for the season.

Here is one of those "spring" poems. It is, in some ways, a bittersweet look at the season. While the poet reflects on the happy thoughts brought by spring, as expressed in birdsong and in the beauty of spring flowers, this also brings to mind thoughts of how man has squandered that beauty. Mankind, he seems to say, has not lived up to the example of beauty and purity offered by Nature.

The poem was written in April 1798; the character of humankind has scarcely improved in the 220 years since.


Lines Written in Early Spring

by William Wordsworth


I heard a thousand blended notes, 
While in a grove I sate reclined, 
In that sweet mood when pleasant thoughts 
Bring sad thoughts to the mind. 

To her fair works did Nature link 
The human soul that through me ran; 
And much it grieved my heart to think 
What man has made of man. 

Through primrose tufts, in that green bower, 
The periwinkle trailed its wreaths; 
And ’tis my faith that every flower 
Enjoys the air it breathes. 

The birds around me hopped and played, 
Their thoughts I cannot measure:— 
But the least motion which they made 
It seemed a thrill of pleasure. 

The budding twigs spread out their fan, 
To catch the breezy air; 
And I must think, do all I can, 
That there was pleasure there. 

If this belief from heaven be sent, 
If such be Nature’s holy plan, 
Have I not reason to lament 
What man has made of man?

6 comments:

  1. Now that the rain is over I can go recline in a grove and see where my thoughts go.

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  2. The more we change, the more we remain the same. At our heart, we are today what we were 220 years ago. I can put myself right in his shoes, and also be chilled knowing madmen could end our world with a single push of a button.

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    Replies
    1. Human nature has not improved in the interim, but our weapons have become more deadly.

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  3. What a lovely poem! I doubt he had much to lament about "what man had made of man" back then. Apparently mankind has been lamenting that fact throughout its entire history. At least it was so lamented by Roman philosophers and thinkers, and a lot more has happened since then.

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