The Author's Preface to 'The Sonnets of William Wordsworth'


SOME of my friends having expressed a wish to see all the Sonnets that are scattered through several volumes of my Poems, brought under the eye at once; this is done in the present publication, with the hope that the collection, made to please a few, may not be unacceptable to many others. Twelve new ones are added which were composed while the sheets were going through the press.

My admiration of some of the sonnets of Milton first tempted me to write in that form. The fact is not mentioned from a notion that it will be deemed of any importance by the reader, but merely as a public acknowledgment of one of the innumerable obligations which, as a poet and a man, I am under to our great fellowcountryman.


May 21st, 1838




HAPPY the feeling from the bosom thrown
In perfect shape (whose beauty Time shall spare
Though a breath made it) like a bubble blown
For summer pastime into wanton air;
Happy the thought best likened to a stone
Of the sea-beach, when, polished with nice care,
Veins it discovers exquisite and rare,
Which for the loss of that moist gleam atone
That tempted first to gather it. That here,
O chief of Friends! such feelings I present
To thy regard, with thoughts so fortunate,
Were a vain notion; but the hope is dear,
That thou, if not with partial joy elate,

Wilt smile upon this Gift with more than mild




The Sonnet- NUNS fret not at their convent's narrow room;
Prison And hermits are contented with their cells;
And students with their pensive citadels;

Maids at the wheel, the weaver at his loom,
Sit blithe and happy; bees that soar for bloom,
High as the highest Peak of Furness-fells,
Will murmur by the hour in foxglove bells:
In truth the prison, unto which we doom
Ourselves, no prison is: and hence for me,
In sundry moods, 'twas pastime to be bound
Within the Sonnet's scanty plot of ground;
Pleased if some Souls (for such there needs must be)
Who have felt the weight of too much liberty,
Should find brief solace there, as I have found.

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Admonition WELL may'st thou halt-and gaze with brightening eye!

The lovely Cottage in the guardian nook

Hath stirred thee deeply; with its own dear brook
Its own small pasture, almost its own sky!
But covet not the Abode ;-forbear to sigh,
As many do, repining while they look ;
Intruders-who would tear from Nature's book
This precious leaf, with harsh impiety.
Think what the Home must be if it were thine
Even thine, though few thy wants! -

window, door,


The very flowers are sacred to the Poor,
The roses to the porch which they entwine:
Yea, all, that now enchants thee, from the day
On which it should be touched, would melt away

"BELOVED Vale!" I said, "when I shall con





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records of my
Remembrance of myself and of my peers
Will press me down: to think of what is gone
Will be an awful thought, if life have one.
But, when into the Vale I came, no fears
Distressed me; from mine eyes escaped no tears;
Deep thought, or dread remembrance, had I none.
By doubts and thousand petty fancies crost
I stood, of simple shame the blushing Thrall;
So narrow seemed the brooks, the fields so small!
A Juggler's balls old Time about him tossed;
I looked, I stared, I smiled, I laughed; and all
The weight of sadness was in wonder lost.

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Old Haunts revisited

BEAUMONT! it was thy wish that I should rear At Apple-
A seemly Cottage in this sunny Dell,

On favoured ground, thy gift, where I might dwell
In neighbourhood with One to me most dear,
That undivided we from year to year
Might work in our high Calling-a bright hope
To which our fancies, mingling, gave free scope
Till checked by some necessities severe.

And should these slacken, honoured BEAUMONT !

Even then we may perhaps in vain implore
Leave of our fate thy wishes to fulfil.
Whether this boon be granted us or not,
Old Skiddaw will look down upon the Spot
With pride, the Muses love it evermore.

thwaite, near Keswick

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