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Lines written as a School Exercise at Hawkshead, Anno Aetatis Analysis

Author: Poetry of William Wordsworth Type: Poetry Views: 343

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"And has the Sun his flaming chariot driven

Two hundred times around the ring of heaven,

Since Science first, with all her sacred train,

Beneath yon roof began her heavenly reign?

While thus I mused, methought, before mine eyes,

The Power of EDUCATION seemed to rise;

Not she whose rigid precepts trained the boy

Dead to the sense of every finer joy;

Nor that vile wretch who bade the tender age

Spurn Reason's law and humour Passion's rage;

But she who trains the generous British youth

In the bright paths of fair majestic Truth:

Emerging slow from Academus' grove

In heavenly majesty she seemed to move.

Stern was her forehead, but a smile serene

'Softened the terrors of her awful mien.'

Close at her side were all the powers, designed

To curb, exalt, reform the tender mind:

With panting breast, now pale as winter snows,

Now flushed as Hebe, Emulation rose;

Shame followed after with reverted eye,

And hue far deeper than the Tyrian dye;

Last Industry appeared with steady pace,

A smile sat beaming on her pensive face.

I gazed upon the visionary train,

Threw back my eyes, returned, and gazed again.

When lo! the heavenly goddess thus began,

Through all my frame the pleasing accents ran.

"'When Superstition left the golden light

And fled indignant to the shades of night;

When pure Religion reared the peaceful breast

And lulled the warring passions into rest,

Drove far away the savage thoughts that roll

In the dark mansions of the bigot's soul,

Enlivening Hope displayed her cheerful ray,

And beamed on Britain's sons a brighter day;

So when on Ocean's face the storm subsides,

Hushed are the winds and silent are the tides;

The God of day, in all the pomp of light,

Moves through the vault of heaven, and dissipates the


Wide o'er the main a trembling lustre plays,

The glittering waves reflect the dazzling blaze

Science with joy saw Superstition fly

Before the lustre of Religion's eye;

With rapture she beheld Britannia smile,

Clapped her strong wings, and sought the cheerful isle,

The shades of night no more the soul involve,

She sheds her beam, and, lo! the shades dissolve;

No jarring monks, to gloomy cell confined,

With mazy rules perplex the weary mind;

No shadowy forms entice the soul aside,

Secure she walks, Philosophy her guide.

Britain, who long her warriors had adored,

And deemed all merit centred in the sword;

Britain, who thought to stain the field was fame,

Now honoured Edward's less than Bacon's name.

Her sons no more in listed fields advance

To ride the ring, or toss the beamy lance;

No longer steel their indurated hearts

To the mild influence of the finer arts;

Quick to the secret grotto they retire

To court majestic truth, or wake the golden lyre;

By generous Emulation taught to rise,

The seats of learning brave the distant skies.

Then noble Sandys, inspired with great design,

Reared Hawkshead's happy roof, and called it mine.

There have I loved to show the tender age

The golden precepts of the classic page;

To lead the mind to those Elysian plains

Where, throned in gold, immortal Science reigns;

Fair to the view is sacred Truth displayed,

In all the majesty of light arrayed,

To teach, on rapid wings, the curious soul

To roam from heaven to heaven, from pole to pole,

From thence to search the mystic cause of things

And follow Nature to her secret springs;

Nor less to guide the fluctuating youth

Firm in the sacred paths of moral truth,

To regulate the mind's disordered frame,

And quench the passions kindling into flame;

The glimmering fires of Virtue to enlarge,

And purge from Vice's dross my tender charge.

Oft have I said, the paths of Fame pursue,

And all that Virtue dictates, dare to do;

Go to the world, peruse the book of man,

And learn from thence thy own defects to scan;

Severely honest, break no plighted trust,

But coldly rest not here--be more than just;

Join to the rigours of the sires of Rome

The gentler manners of the private dome;

When Virtue weeps in agony of woe,

Teach from the heart the tender tear to flow;

If Pleasure's soothing song thy soul entice,

Or all the gaudy pomp of splendid Vice,

Arise superior to the Siren's power,

The wretch, the short-lived vision of an hour;

Soon fades her cheek, her blushing beauties fly,

As fades the chequered bow that paints the sky,

So shall thy sire, whilst hope his breast inspires,

And wakes anew life's glimmering trembling fires, 0

Hear Britain's sons rehearse thy praise with joy,

Look up to heaven, and bless his darling boy.

If e'er these precepts quelled the passions' strife,

If e'er they smoothed the rugged walks of life,

If e'er they pointed forth the blissful way

That guides the spirit to eternal day,

Do thou, if gratitude inspire thy breast,

Spurn the soft fetters of lethargic rest.

Awake, awake! and snatch the slumbering lyre,

Let this bright morn and Sandys the song inspire.'

"I looked obedience: the celestial Fair

Smiled like the morn, and vanished into air."


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