Influence of Natural Objects in Calling Forth and Strengthening the Imagination in Boyhood and Early Youth

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Wisdom and Spirit of the universe!Thou Soul, that art the Eternity of thought!And giv'st to forms and images a breathAnd everlasting motion! not in vain,By day or star-light, thus from my first dawnOf childhood didst thou intertwine for meThe passions that build up our human soul;Not with the mean and vulgar works of Man;But with high objects, with enduring things,With life and nature; purifying thusThe elements of feeling and of thought,And sanctifying by such disciplineBoth pain and fear,--until we recogniseA grandeur in the beatings of the heart.

Nor was this fellowship vouchsafed to meWith stinted kindness. In November days,When vapours rolling down the valleys madeA lonely scene more lonesome; among woodsAt noon; and 'mid the calm of summer nights,When, by the margin of the trembling lake,Beneath the gloomy hills, homeward I wentIn solitude, such intercourse was mine:Mine was it in the fields both day and night,And by the waters, all the summer long.And in the frosty season, when the sunWas set, and, visible for many a mile,The cottage-windows through the twilight blazed,I heeded not the summons: happy timeIt was indeed for all of us; for meIt was a time of rapture! Clear and loudThe village-clock tolled six--I wheeled about,Proud and exulting like an untired horseThat cares not for his home.--All shod with steelWe hissed along the polished ice, in gamesConfederate, imitative of the chaseAnd woodland pleasures,--the resounding horn,The pack loud-chiming, and the hunted hare.So through the darkness and the cold we flew,And not a voice was idle; with the dinSmitten, the precipices rang aloud;The leafless trees and every icy cragTinkled like iron; while far-distant hillsInto the tumult sent an alien soundOf melancholy, not unnoticed while the stars,Eastward, were sparkling clear, and in the westThe orange sky of evening died away.

Not seldom from the uproar I retiredInto a silent bay, or sportivelyGlanced sideway, leaving the tumultuous throng,To cut across the reflex of a star;Image, that, flying still before me, gleamedUpon the glassy plain: and oftentimes,When we had given our bodies to the wind,And all the shadowy banks on either sideCame sweeping through the darkness, spinning stillThe rapid line of motion, then at onceHave I, reclining back upon my heels,Stopped short; yet still the solitary cliffsWheeled by me--even as if the earth had rolledWith visible motion her diurnal round!Behind me did they stretch in solemn train,Feebler and feebler, and I stood and watchedTill all was tranquil as a summer sea.

© William Wordsworth