Sunday, 24 August 2014

huge and mighty forms that do not live Like living men


Turns out Wordsworth was kind of a raw dude.


            "In thought and wish
That time, my shoulder all with springes hung,
I was a fell destroyer. On the heights
Scudding away from snare to snare, I plied
My anxious visitation, hurrying on,
Still hurrying, hurrying onward; moon and stars
Were shining o’er my head; I was alone,
And seem’d to be a trouble to the peace
That was among them. Sometimes it befell
In these night-wanderings, that a strong desire
O’erpower’d my better reason, and the bird
Which was the captive of another’s toils
Became my prey; and when the deed was done
I heard among the solitary hills
Low breathing coming after me, and sounds
O undistinguishable motion, steps
Almost as silent as the turf they trod.
Nor less in springtime when on southern banks
The shining sun had from his knot of leaves
Decoy’d the primrose flower, and when the Vales
And woods were warm, was I a plunderer then
In the high places, on the lonesome peaks
Where’er, among the mountains and the winds,
The Mother Bird had built her lodge. Though mean
My object , and inglorious, yet the end
Was not ignoble. Oh! when I have hung
Above the raven’s nest, by knots of grass
And half-inch fissures in the slippery rock
But ill sustain’d, and almost, as it seem’d,
Suspended by the blast which blew amain,
Shouldering the naked crag; Oh! at that time,
While on the perilous ridge I hung alone,
With what strange utterance did the loud dry wind
Blow through my ears! the sky seem’d not a sky
Of earth, and with what motion moved the clouds!

………………….


A rocky Steep uprose
Above the Cavern of the Willow tree
And now, as suited one who proudly row’d
With his best skill, I fix’d a steady view
Upon the top of that same craggy ridge,
The bound of the horizon, for behind
Was nothing but the stars and the grey sky.
She was an elfin Pinnace; lustily
I dipp’d my oars into the silent Lake,
And, as I rose upon the stroke, my Boat
Went heaving through the water like a Swan;
When from behind that craggy Steep, till then
The bound of the horizon, a huge Cliff,
As if with voluntary power instinct,
Uprear’d its head. I struck and struck again,
And, growing still in stature the huge Cliff,
Rose up between me and the stars and still,
With measur’d motion like a living thing,
Strode after me. With trembling hands I turn’d,
And through the silent water stole my way
Back to the cavern of the Willow tree.
There, in the morning-place, I left my Bark,
And, through the meadows homeward went with grave
And serious thoughts; and after I had seen
That spectacle, for many days, my brain
Work’d with a dim and undetermin’d sense
Of unknown modes of being; in my thoughts
There was a darkness, call it solitude,
Or blank desertion, no familiar shapes
Of hourly objects, images of trees,
Of sea or sky, no colours of green fields;
But huge and mighty forms that do not live
Like living men mov’d slowly through my mind
By day and were the trouble of my dreams."



I have felt that, when walking in the open country alone, when hour after hour goes by with not one other living thing either before or behind or around. Sometimes the empty field itself seems to hold some observing absence in its centre, even in the sunlight in clear day, something that makes you turn and check behind you several times, with nothing there but empty space.

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