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In a 2017 poll called ‘Literature in Britain today’, more people named Wordsworth as a ‘writer of literature’ than any other poet. Wordsworth poetry still speaks to us today.
New to Wordsworth? Scroll down to get started by reading some of our favourite poems.
There was a roaring in the wind all night;
The rain came heavily and fell in floods;
But now the sun is rising calm and bright;
The birds are singing in the distant woods;
Over his own sweet voice the Stock-dove broods;
The Jay makes answer as the Magpie chatters;
And all the air is filled with pleasant noise of waters.
– 1802 –
Samuel Taylor Coleridge described Dorothy Wordsworth as having an “eye watchful in minutest observation of nature”. I feel that here Wordsworth has been able to carry the essence of this appreciation for the small and touching interactions that man has with nature into his poem.
This plot of orchard-ground is ours;
My trees they are, my Sister’s flowers;
Here rest your wings when they are weary;
Here lodge as in a sanctuary!
– 1802 –
One impulse from a vernal wood
May teach you more of man,
Of moral evil and of good,
Than all the sages can.
Sweet is the lore which Nature brings;
Our meddling intellect
Mis-shapes the beauteous forms of things:—
We murder to dissect.
Enough of Science and of Art;
Close up those barren leaves;
Come forth, and bring with you a heart
That watches and receives.
– 1798 –
There is a comfort in the strength of love;
Twill make a thing endurable, which else
Would overset the brain, or break the heart:
I have conversed with more than one who well
Remember the old Man, and what he was
Years after he had heard this heavy news.
His bodily frame had been from youth to age
Of an unusual strength. Among the rocks
He went, and still looked up to sun and cloud,
And listened to the wind; and, as before,
Performed all kinds of labour for his sheep,
And for the land, his small inheritance.
And to that hollow dell from time to time
Did he repair, to build the Fold of which
His flock had need. ’Tis not forgotten yet
The pity which was then in every heart
For the old Man – and ’tis believed by all
That many and many a day he thither went,
And never lifted up a single stone.
– 1800 –
As I child I took it at face value, and learned the rhythms and the rhymes. As a teenager I began to understand the pessimism running through it. And as an adult I return to the simple message about nature and what it can teach us in these troubled times.
I heard a thousand blended notes
While in a grove I sat reclined,
In that sweet mood when pleasant thoughts
Bring sad thoughts to the mind.
To her fair works did Nature link
The human soul that through me ran;
And much it grieved my heart to think
What Man has made of Man.
Through primrose tufts, in that sweet bower,
The periwinkle trailed its wreaths;
And ’tis my faith that every flower
Enjoys the air it breathes.
The birds around me hopped and played,
Their thoughts I cannot measure —
But the least motion which they made
It seemed a thrill of pleasure.
The budding twigs spread out their fan
To catch the breezy air;
And I must think, do all I can,
That there was pleasure there.
If this belief from heaven be sent,
If such be Nature’s holy plan,
Have I not reason to lament
What Man has made of Man?
– 1798 –