Great poetry of Henry Wadsworth Longfellow
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Poem by William Wordsworth

When, to the attractions of the busy world,

Preferring studious leisure, I had chosen

A habitation in this peaceful Vale,

Sharp season followed of continual storm

In deepest winter; and, from week to week,

Pathway, and lane, and public road, were clogged

With frequent showers of snow. Upon a hill

At a short distance from my cottage, stands

A stately Fir-grove, whither I was wont

To hasten, for I found, beneath the roof

Of that perennial shade, a cloistral place

Of refuge, with an unincumbered floor.

Here, in safe covert, on the shallow snow,

And, sometimes, on a speck of visible earth,

The redbreast near me hopped; nor was I loth

To sympathise with vulgar coppice birds

That, for protection from the nipping blast,

Hither repaired. A single beech-tree grew

Within this grove of firs! and, on the fork

Of that one beech, appeared a thrush’s nest;

A last year’s nest, conspicuously built

At such small elevation from the ground

As gave sure sign that they, who in that house

Of nature and of love had made their home

Amid the fir-trees, all the summer long

Dwelt in a tranquil spot. And oftentimes,

A few sheep, stragglers from some mountain-flock,

Would watch my motions with suspicious stare,

From the remotest outskirts of the grove,

Some nook where they had made their final stand,

Huddling together from two fears the fear

Of me and of the storm. Full many an hour

Here did I lose. But in this grove the trees

Had been so thickly planted, and had thriven

In such perplexed and intricate array;

That vainly did I seek, beneath their stems

A length of open space, where to and fro

My feet might move without concern or care;

And, baffled thus, though earth from day to day

Was fettered, and the air by storm disturbed,

I ceased the shelter to frequent, and prized,

Less than I wished to prize, that calm recess.

The snows dissolved, and genial Spring returned

To clothe the fields with verdure. Other haunts

Meanwhile were mine; till, one bright April day,

By chance retiring from the glare of noon

To this forsaken covert, there I found

A hoary pathway traced between the trees,

And winding on with such an easy line

Along a natural opening, that I stood

Much wondering how I could have sought in vain

For what was now so obvious. To abide,

For an allotted interval of ease,

Under my cottage-roof, had gladly come

From the wild sea a cherished Visitant;

And with the sight of this same path begun,

Begun and ended, in the shady grove,

Pleasant conviction flashed upon my mind

That, to this opportune recess allured,

He had surveyed it with a finer eye,

A heart more wakeful; and had worn the track

By pacing here, unwearied and alone,

In that habitual restlessness of foot

That haunts the Sailor measuring o’er and o’er

His short domain upon the vessel’s deck,

While she pursues her course through the dreary sea.

When thou hadst quitted Esthwaite’s pleasant shore,

And taken thy first leave of those green hills

And rocks that were the play-ground of thy youth,

Year followed year, my Brother! and we two,

Conversing not, knew little in what mould

Each other’s mind was fashioned; and at length,

When once again we met in Grasmere Vale,

Between us there was little other bond

Than common feelings of fraternal love.

But thou, a Schoolboy, to the sea hadst carried

Undying recollections! Nature there

Was with thee; she, who loved us both, she still

Was with thee; and even so didst thou become

A ‘silent’ Poet; from the solitude

Of the vast sea didst bring a watchful heart

Still couchant, an inevitable ear,

And an eye practised like a blind man’s touch.

Back to the joyless Ocean thou art gone;

Nor from this vestige of thy musing hours

Could I withhold thy honoured name, and now

I love the fir-grove with a perfect love.

Thither do I withdraw when cloudless suns

Shine hot, or wind blows troublesome and strong;

And there I sit at evening, when the steep

Of Silver-how, and Grasmere’s peaceful lake,

And one green island, gleam between the stems

Of the dark firs, a visionary scene!

And, while I gaze upon the spectacle

Of clouded splendour, on this dream-like sight

Of solemn loveliness, I think on thee,

My Brother, and on all which thou hast lost.

Nor seldom, if I rightly guess, while Thou,

Muttering the verses which I muttered first

Among the mountains, through the midnight watch

Art pacing thoughtfully the vessel’s deck

In some far region, here, while o’er my head,

At every impulse of the moving breeze,

The fir-grove murmurs with a sea-like sound,

Alone I tread this path; for aught I know,

Timing my steps to thine; and, with a store

Of undistinguishable sympathies,

Mingling most earnest wishes for the day

When we, and others whom we love, shall meet

A second time, in Grasmere’s happy Vale.

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