Elegiac Stanzas Suggested by a Picture of Peele Castle in a Storm, Painted by Sir George Beaumont
William Wordsworth, Poems in Two Volumes (1807). See The Manuscript of William Wordsworth's Poems, in Two Volumes (1807): A Facsimile (London: British Library, 1984). bib MASS (Massey College, Toronto).
2Four summer weeks I dwelt in sight of thee:
3I saw thee every day; and all the while
4Thy Form was sleeping on a glassy sea.
5So pure the sky, so quiet was the air!
6So like, so very like, was day to day!
7Whene'er I looked, thy Image still was there;
8It trembled, but it never passed away.
9How perfect was the calm! it seemed no sleep;
10No mood, which season takes away, or brings:
11I could have fancied that the mighty Deep
12Was even the gentlest of all gentle things.
13Ah! then , if mine had been the Painter's hand,
14To express what then I saw; and add the gleam,
15The light that never was, on sea or land,
16The consecration, and the Poet's dream;
17I would have planted thee, thou hoary Pile
18Amid a world how different from this!
19Beside a sea that could not cease to smile;
20On tranquil land, beneath a sky of bliss.
21Thou shouldst have seemed a treasure-house divine
22Of peaceful years; a chronicle of heaven;--
23Of all the sunbeams that did ever shine
24The very sweetest had to thee been given.
25A Picture had it been of lasting ease,
26Elysian quiet, without toil or strife;
27No motion but the moving tide, a breeze,
28Or merely silent Nature's breathing life.
29Such, in the fond illusion of my heart,
30Such Picture would I at that time have made:
31And seen the soul of truth in every part,
32A steadfast peace that might not be betrayed.
33So once it would have been,--'tis so no more;
34I have submitted to a new control:
35A power is gone, which nothing can restore;
36A deep distress hath humanised my Soul.
37Not for a moment could I now behold
38A smiling sea, and be what I have been:
39The feeling of my loss will ne'er be old;
40This, which I know, I speak with mind serene.
41Then, Beaumont, Friend! who would have been the Friend,
42If he had lived, of Him whom I deplore,
43This work of thine I blame not, but commend;
44This sea in anger, and that dismal shore.
45O 'tis a passionate Work!--yet wise and well,
46Well chosen is the spirit that is here;
47That Hulk which labours in the deadly swell,
48This rueful sky, this pageantry of fear!
49And this huge Castle, standing here sublime,
50I love to see the look with which it braves,
51Cased in the unfeeling armour of old time,
52The lightning, the fierce wind, the trampling waves.
53Farewell, farewell the heart that lives alone,
54Housed in a dream, at distance from the Kind!
55Such happiness, wherever it be known,
56Is to be pitied; for 'tis surely blind.
57But welcome fortitude, and patient cheer,
58And frequent sights of what is to be borne!
59Such sights, or worse, as are before me here.--
60Not without hope we suffer and we mourn.
1] Composed in 1806; mentioned in a letter of August 1, 1806 to Beaumont which indicates that Wordsworth had first seen the picture of Peele Castle when staying at the London house of the painter in April-May 1806. Sir George Beaumont was a wealthy landowner who was an admiring friend of Wordsworth and Coleridge, and had a considerable reputation in his day as a landscape painter. The Peele Castle of the poem is on the coast of Lancashire, opposite the village of Rampside where Wordsworth had spent the month of August 1794 on a visit to a cousin. Wordsworth's youngest brother, Captain John Wordsworth of the East India Company, was drowned when his ship foundered off the Bill of Portland on February 5, 1805. Back to Line
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RPO poem Editors:
J. R. MacGillivray