Great poetry of William Wordsworth
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Humanity by William Wordsworth

What though the Accused, upon his own appeal

To righteous Gods when man has ceased to feel,

Or at a doubting Judge’s stern command,

Before the Stone of Power no longer stand

To take his sentence from the balanced Block,

As, at his touch, it rocks, or seems to rock;

Though, in the depths of sunless groves, no more

The Druid-priest the hallowed Oak adore;

Yet, for the Initiate, rocks and whispering trees

Do still perform mysterious offices!

And functions dwell in beast and bird that sway

The reasoning mind, or with the fancy play,

Inviting, at all seasons, ears and eyes

To watch for undelusive auguries:

Not uninspired appear their simplest ways;

Their voices mount symbolical of praise

To mix with hymns that Spirits make and hear;

And to fallen man their innocence is dear.

Enraptured Art draws from those sacred springs

Streams that reflect the poetry of things!

Where Christian Martyrs stand in hues portrayed,

That, might a wish avail, would never fade;

Borne in their hands the lily and the palm

Shed round the altar a celestial calm;

There, too, behold the lamb and guileless dove

Prest in the tenderness of virgin love

To saintly bosoms! Glorious is the blending

Of right affections climbing or descending

Along a scale of light and life, with cares

Alternate; carrying holy thoughts and prayers

Up to the sovereign seat of the Most High;

Descending to the worm in charity;

Like those good Angels whom a dream of night

Gave, in the field of Luz, to Jacob’s sight

All, while ‘he’ slept, treading the pendent stairs

Earthward or heavenward, radiant messengers,

That, with a perfect will in one accord

Of strict obedience, serve the Almighty Lord;

And with untired humility forbore

To speed their errand by the wings they wore.

What a fair world were ours for verse to paint,

If Power could live at ease with self-restraint!

Opinion bow before the naked sense

Of the great Vision, faith in Providence;

Merciful over all his creatures, just

To the least particle of sentient dust:

But, fixing by immutable decrees,

Seedtime and harvest for his purposes!

Then would be closed the restless oblique eye

That looks for evil like a treacherous spy;

Disputes would then relax, like stormy winds

That into breezes sink; impetuous minds

By discipline endeavour to grow meek

As Truth herself, whom they profess to seek.

Then Genius, shunning fellowship with Pride,

Would braid his golden locks at Wisdom’s side;

Love ebb and flow untroubled by caprice;

And not alone ‘harsh’ tyranny would cease,

But unoffending creatures find release

From qualified oppression, whose defense

Rests on a hollow plea of recompense;

Thought-tempered wrongs, for each humane respect

Oft worse to bear, or deadlier in effect.

Witness those glances of indignant scorn

From some high-minded Slave, impelled to spurn

The kindness that would make him less forlorn;

Or, if the soul to bondage be subdued,

His look of pitiable gratitude!

Alas for thee, bright Galaxy of Isles,

Whose day departs in pomp, returns with smiles

To greet the flowers and fruitage of a land,

As the sun mounts, by sea-born breezes fanned;

A land whose azure mountain-tops are seats

For Gods in council, whose green vales, retreats

Fit for the shades of heroes, mingling there

To breathe Elysian peace in upper air.

Though cold as winter, gloomy as the grave,

Stone-walls a prisoner make, but not a slave.

Shall man assume a property in man?

Lay on the moral will a withering ban?

Shame that our laws at distance still protect

Enormities, which they at home reject!

“Slaves cannot breathe in England” yet that boast

Is but a mockery! when from coast to coast,

Though ‘fettered’ slave be none, her floors and soil

Groan underneath a weight of slavish toil,

For the poor Many, measured out by rules

Fetched with cupidity from heartless schools,

That to an Idol, falsely called “the Wealth

Of Nations,” sacrifice a People’s health,

Body and mind and soul; a thirst so keen

Is ever urging on the vast machine

Of sleepless Labour, ‘mid whose dizzy wheels

The Power least prized is that which thinks and feels.

Then, for the pastimes of this delicate age,

And all the heavy or light vassalage

Which for their sakes we fasten, as may suit

Our varying moods, on human kind or brute,

‘Twere well in little, as in great, to pause,

Lest Fancy trifle with eternal laws.

Not from his fellows only man may learn

Rights to compare and duties to discern!

All creatures and all objects, in degree,

Are friends and patrons of humanity.

There are to whom the garden, grove, and field,

Perpetual lessons of forbearance yield;

Who would not lightly violate the grace

The lowliest flower possesses in its place;

Nor shorten the sweet life, too fugitive,

Which nothing less than Infinite Power could give.

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