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"A Narrow Girdle of Rough Stones and Crags," Analysis

Author: Poetry of William Wordsworth Type: Poetry Views: 457

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A narrow girdle of rough stones and crags,

A rude and natural causeway, interposed

Between the water and a winding slope

Of copse and thicket, leaves the eastern shore

Of Grasmere safe in its own privacy:

And there myself and two beloved Friends,

One calm September morning, ere the mist

Had altogether yielded to the sun,

Sauntered on this retired and difficult way.

----Ill suits the road with one in haste; but we

Played with our time; and, as we strolled along,

It was our occupation to observe

Such objects as the waves had tossed ashore--

Feather, or leaf, or weed, or withered bough,

Each on the other heaped, along the line

Of the dry wreck. And, in our vacant mood,

Not seldom did we stop to watch some tuft

Of dandelion seed or thistle's beard,

That skimmed the surface of the dead calm lake,

Suddenly halting now--a lifeless stand!

And starting off again with freak as sudden;

In all its sportive wanderings, all the while,

Making report of an invisible breeze

That was its wings, its chariot, and its horse,

Its playmate, rather say, its moving soul.

--And often, trifling with a privilege

Alike indulged to all, we paused, one now,

And now the other, to point out, perchance

To pluck, some flower or water-weed, too fair

Either to be divided from the place

On which it grew, or to be left alone

To its own beauty. Many such there are,

Fair ferns and flowers, and chiefly that tall fern,

So stately, of the queen Osmunda named;

Plant lovelier, in its own retired abode

On Grasmere's beach, than Naiad by the side

Of Grecian brook, or Lady of the Mere,

Sole-sitting by the shores of old romance.

--So fared we that bright morning: from the fields

Meanwhile, a noise was heard, the busy mirth

Of reapers, men and women, boys and girls.

Delighted much to listen to those sounds,

And feeding thus our fancies, we advanced

Along the indented shore; when suddenly,

Through a thin veil of glittering haze was seen

Before us, on a point of jutting land,

The tall and upright figure of a Man

Attired in peasant's garb, who stood alone,

Angling beside the margin of the lake.

"Improvident and reckless," we exclaimed,

"The Man must be, who thus can lose a day

Of the mid harvest, when the labourer's hire

Is ample, and some little might be stored

Wherewith to cheer him in the winter time."

Thus talking of that Peasant, we approached

Close to the spot where with his rod and line

He stood alone; whereat he turned his head

To greet us--and we saw a Mam worn down

By sickness, gaunt and lean, with sunken cheeks

And wasted limbs, his legs so long and lean

That for my single self I looked at them,

Forgetful of the body they sustained.--

Too weak to labour in the harvest field,

The Man was using his best skill to gain

A pittance from the dead unfeeling lake

That knew not of his wants. I will not say

What thoughts immediately were ours, nor how

The happy idleness of that sweet morn,

With all its lovely images, was changed

To serious musing and to self-reproach.

Nor did we fail to see within ourselves

What need there is to be reserved in speech,

And temper all our thoughts with charity.

--Therefore, unwilling to forget that day,

My Friend, Myself, and She who then received

The same admonishment, have called the place

By a memorial name, uncouth indeed

As e'er by mariner was given to bay

Or foreland, on a new-discovered coast;

And POINT RASH-JUDGMENT is the name it bears.


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