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     English Wordplay ~ Listen and Enjoy

These pages are dedicated to my beloved son, Seamus, because, like Wordsworth, we have enjoyed wandering together in wild and beautiful places.  I am sure Tate will share the same joy with his Mum and Dad.

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WILLIAM WORDSWORTH 1770 - 1850

Bayreuth Festspielhaus
William Wordworth
portrait by R Carruthers

Based on the 1914 biography by F. W. H. MYERS

CHAPTER IX. POETIC DICTION - "LAODAMIA" - "EVENING ODE".

The Excursion appeared in 1814, and in the course of the next year Wordsworth republished his minor poems, so arranged as to indicate the faculty of the mind which he considered to have been predominant in the composition of each. His desire was only to dwell on his own feelings in such a way as might make them useful to others.

In a Preface to this edition of 1815 he developed the theory on poetry, now accepted as truth. Poetry, like all the arts, is essentially a "mystery." Its charm depends upon qualities which we can neither define accurately nor reduce to rule nor create again at pleasure. Mankind, however, are unwilling to admit this; and they endeavour from time to time to persuade themselves that they have discovered the rules, which will enable them to produce the desired effect.

Alexander Pope
Alexander Pope

Pope, to take the instance which was prominent in Wordsworth's mind, was, by general admission, a poet. But his success seemed to depend on imitable peculiarities; and Pope's imitators were so like Pope that it was hard to draw a line and say where they ceased to be poets. If all the insipid verses which they wrote were poetry, what was the use of writing poetry at all?

A reaction succeeded, which asserted that poetry depends on emotion and not on polish; that it consists precisely in those things which frigid imitators lack.

Wordsworth, too, began with a tendency to imitate Pope, but only in the school exercises which he wrote as a boy. Poetry soon became to him the expression of his own deep and simple feelings. He rebelled against rhetoric and unreality and found for himself a director and truer voice,

"I have proposed to myself to imitate and, as far as is possible, to adopt the very language of men. I have taken as much pains to avoid what is usually called poetic diction as others ordinarily take to produce it."

To illustrate the merits of Wordsworth's own poetry, I select a stanza from one of his simplest and most characteristic poems - The Affliction of Margaret.

  Perhaps some dungeon hears thee groan,
  Maimed, mangled by inhuman men,
  Or thou upon a Desert thrown
  Inheritest the lion's Den;
  Or hast been summoned to the Deep,
  Thou, thou and all thy mates, to keep
  An incommunicable sleep.

Wordsworth wrote: "This was taken from the case of a poor widow who lived in the town of Penrith. Her sorrow was well known to the whole town. She kept a shop, and when she saw a stranger passing by, she was in the habit of going out into the street to inquire of him after her son."

These lines illustrate what Wordsworth calls "the language really spoken by men." we might add that he has given us an attractive music, lying in the rhythm and sound of the words, - a music whose complexity may be indicated here by drawing out some of its elements in detail. We observe:

  1. that the general movement of the lines is unusually slow. They contain a very large proportion of strong accents and long vowels, to suit the tone of deep and despairing sorrow. In six places only out of twenty-eight is the accent weak where it might be expected to be strong (in the second syllables, namely, of the Iambic foot), and in each of these cases the omission of a possible accent throws greater weight on the next succeeding accent - on the accents, that is to say, contained in the words inhuman, desert, lion, summoned, deep, and sleep,
  2. The first four lines contain subtle alliterations of the letters d, h, m, and th. If any one doubts the effectiveness of the unobvious alliterations here insisted on, let him read:
    1. "jungle" for "desert,"
    2. "maybe" for "perhaps,"
    3. "tortured" for "mangled,"
    4. "blown" for "thrown,"
    and he will become sensible of the lack of the metrical support which the existing consonants give one another.
  3. The words inheritest and summoned are by no means such as "a poor widow," even at Penrith, would employ; they are used to intensify the imagined relation which connects the missing man with
    1. the wild beasts who surround him, and
    2. the invisible Power which leads;
    so that something mysterious and awful is added to his fate.
  4. This impression is heightened by the use of the word incommunicable in an unusual sense, "incapable of being communicated with," instead of "incapable of being communicated;" while
  5. the expression "to keep an incommunicable sleep" for "to lie dead," gives dignity to the occasion.

We must not, of course, suppose that Wordsworth consciously sought these alliterations, arranged these accents or resolved to introduce an unusual word in the last line. But what the poet's brain does not do consciously it does unconsciously. On the degree of this unconscious suggestiveness the richness and melody of the poetry will depend.

Horatio Smith
Horatio Smith
Poet and Stockbroker

It is only to a few poems of his earlier years that the famous parody of the Rejected Addresses by James and Horace Smith fairly applies.

 My father's walls are made of brick,
  But not so tall and not so thick
    As these; and goodness me!
  My father's beams are made of wood,
  But never, never half so good
    As those that now I see!

A real epoch is marked in Wordsworth's poetical career by the mere re-reading of some Latin authors in 1814-16 with a view to preparing his eldest son for the University. Among the poets whom he thus studied was one in whom he might seem to discern his own spirit endowed with grander proportions, and meditating on sadder fates. Among the poets of the battlefield, of the study, of the boudoir, he encountered the first Priest of Nature, the first poet in Europe who had deliberately shunned the life of courts and cities for the mere joy in Nature's presence, for "sweet Parthenope and the fields beside Vesevus' hill."

Georgics Book III, Shepherd with Flocks,
Georgics Book III,
Shepherd with Flocks,

There are passages in Virgil's Georgics so Wordsworthian in tone, that it is hard to realize what centuries separated them from the Sonnet to Lady Beaumont or from Ruth. Such, for instance, is the picture of the Corycian old man, who had made himself independent of the seasons by his gardening skill, so that "when gloomy winter was still rending the stones with frost, still curbing with ice the rivers' onward flow, he even then was plucking the soft hyacinth's bloom, and chid the tardy summer and delaying airs of spring." Such, again, is the passage where the poet breaks from the glories of successful industry into the delight of watching the great processes which nature accomplishes untutored and alone, "the joy of gazing on Cytorus waving with boxwood, and on forests of Narycian pine, on tracts that never felt the harrow, nor knew the care of man."

Such thoughts as these the Roman and the English poet had in common; - the heritage of untarnished souls.

  The Coronet of Snowdrops

  I asked; 'twas whispered; The device
  To each and all might well belong:
  It is the Spirit of Paradise
  That prompts such work, a Spirit strong,
  That gives to all the self-same bent
  Where life is wise and innocent.

It is not only in tenderness but in dignity that the "wise and innocent" are wont to be at one. Strong in tranquillity, they can intervene amid great emotions with a master's voice, and project on the storm of passion the clear light of their unchanging calm. And thus it was that the study of Virgil, and especially of Virgil's solemn picture of the Underworld, prompted in Wordsworth's mind the most majestic of his poems, his one great utterance on heroic love.

Mary Hutchinson
Mary Hutchinson

He had as yet written little on any such topic as this. At Goslar he had composed the poems on Lucy to which allusion has already been made. And after his happy marriage he had painted in one of the best known of his poems the sweet transitions of wedded love, as it moves on from the first shock and agitation of the encounter of predestined souls through all tendernesses of intimate affection into a pervading permanency and calm.

Scattered, moreover, throughout his poems are several passages in which the passion is treated with similar force and truth. The poem which begins "'Tis said that some have died for love" depicts the enduring poignancy of bereavement with an "iron pathos" that is almost too strong for art.

'Tis said, that some have died for love:
And here and there a churchyard grave is found
In the cold north's unhallowed ground,
Because the wretched man himself had slain,
His love was such a grievous pain.
And there is one whom I five years have known;
He dwells alone
Upon Helvellyn's side:
He loved--the pretty Barbara died;
And thus he makes his moan:
Three years had Barbara in her grave been laid
When thus his moan he made:

"Oh, move, thou Cottage, from behind that oak!
Or let the aged tree uprooted lie,
That in some other way yon smoke
May mount into the sky!
The clouds pass on; they from the heavens depart.
I look--the sky is empty space;
I know not what I trace;
But when I cease to look, my hand is on my heart.

"Oh! what a weight is in these shades! Ye leaves,
That murmur once so dear, when will it cease?
Your sound my heart of rest bereaves,
It robs my heart of peace.
Thou Thrush, that singest loud--and loud and free,
Into yon row of willows flit,
Upon that alder sit;
Or sing another song, or choose another tree.

"Roll back, sweet Rill! back to thy mountain-bounds,
And there for ever be thy waters chained!
For thou dost haunt the air with sounds
That cannot be sustained;
If still beneath that pine-tree's ragged bough
Headlong yon waterfall must come,
Oh let it then be dumb!
Be anything, sweet Rill, but that which thou art now.

"Thou Eglantine, so bright with sunny showers,
Proud as a rainbow spanning half the vale,
Thou one fair shrub, oh! shed thy flowers,
And stir not in the gale.
For thus to see thee nodding in the air,
To see thy arch thus stretch and bend,
Thus rise and thus descend,--
Disturbs me till the sight is more than I can dear."

The Man who makes this feverish complaint
Is one of giant stature, who could dance
Equipped from head to foot in iron mail.
Ah gentle Love! if ever thought was thine
To store up kindred hours for me, thy face
Turn from me, gentle Love! nor let me walk
Within the sound of Emma's voice, nor know
Such happiness as I have known to-day.

And something of the same power of clinging attachment is shown in the sonnet where the poet is stung with the thought that "even for the least division of an hour" he has taken pleasure in the life around him, without the accustomed tacit reference to one who has passed away. There is a brighter touch of constancy in that other sonnet where, after letting his fancy play over a glad imaginary past, he turns to his wife, ashamed that even in so vague a vision he could have shaped for himself a solitary joy.

  Let her be comprehended in the frame
  Of these Illusions, or they please no more.
Mary Wordsworth
Mary Wordsworth

In later years the two sonnets on his wife's picture set on that love the consecration of faithful age; and there are those who can recall his look as he gazed on the picture and tried to recognize in that aged face the Beloved who to him was ever young and fair, - a look as of one dwelling in life-long affections with the unquestioning single-heartedness of a child.

And here it might have been thought that as his experience ended his power of description would have ended too. But it was not so. Under the powerful stimulus of the sixth Aeneid - allusions to which pervade Laodamia throughout - with unusual labour, and by a strenuous effort of the imagination, Wordsworth was enabled to depict his own love in excelsis, to imagine what aspect it might have worn, if it had been its destiny to deny itself at some heroic call, and to confront with nobleness an extreme emergency, and to be victor (as Plato has it) in an Olympian contest of the soul. For, indeed, the "fervent, not ungovernable, love," which is the ideal that Protesilaus is sent to teach, is on a great scale the same affection which we have been considering in domesticity and peace; it is love considered not as a revolution but as a consummation; as a self-abandonment not to a laxer but to a sterner law; no longer as an invasive passion, but as the deliberate habit of the soul.

Laodamia
"Laodamia" by George William Joy
  Laodamia

"With sacrifice before the rising morn
Vows have I made by fruitless hope inspired;
And from the infernal Gods, 'mid shades forlorn
Of night, my slaughtered Lord have I required:
Celestial pity I again implore; -
Restore him to my sight - great Jove, restore!"

So speaking, and by fervent love endowed
With faith, the Suppliant heavenward lifts her hands;
While, like the sun emerging from a cloud,
Her countenance brightens - and her eye expands;
Her bosom heaves and spreads, her stature grows;
As she expects the issue in repose.
Protesilaus
Hermes, Messenger
of the Gods
O terror! what hath she perceived? - O joy! What doth she look on? - whom doth she behold? Her Hero slain upon the beach of Troy? His vital presence? his corporeal mould? It is- if sense deceive her not - 'tis He! And a God leads him, wingèd Mercury! Mild Hermes spake - and touched her with his wand That calms all fear; "Such grace hath crowned thy prayer, Laodam’a! that at Jove's command Thy husband walks the paths of upper air: He comes to tarry with thee three hours' space; Accept the gift, behold him face to face!" Forth sprang the impassioned Queen her Lord to clasp; Again that consummation she essayed; But unsubstantial Form eludes her grasp As often as that eager grasp was made. The Phantom parts - but parts to re-unite, And re-assume his place before her sight.
Protesilaus
Protesilaus
"Protesiláus, lo! thy guide is gone! Confirm, I pray, the vision with thy voice: This is our palace, - yonder is thy throne; Speak, and the floor thou tread'st on will rejoice. Not to appal me have the gods bestowed This precious boon; and blest a sad abode." "Great Jove, Laodam’a! doth not leave His gifts imperfect: - Spectre though I be, I am not sent to scare thee or deceive; But in reward of thy fidelity. And something also did my worth obtain; For fearless virtue bringeth boundless gain. "Thou knowest, the Delphic oracle foretold That the first Greek who touched the Trojan strand Should die; but me the threat could not withhold: A generous cause a victim did demand; And forth I leapt upon the sandy plain; A self-devoted chief - by Hector slain."
Hector
Achilles and Hector
"Supreme of Heroes - bravest, noblest, best! Thy matchless courage I bewail no more, Which then, when tens of thousands were deprest By doubt, propelled thee to the fatal shore; Thou found'st - and I forgive thee - here thou art - A nobler counsellor than my poor heart. "But thou, though capable of sternest deed, Wert kind as resolute, and good as brave; And he, whose power restores thee, hath decreed Thou should'st elude the malice of the grave: Redundant are thy locks, thy lips as fair As when their breath enriched Thessalian air. "No spectre greets me, - no vain Shadow this; Come, blooming Hero, place thee by my side! Give, on this well-known couch, one nuptial kiss To me, this day a second time thy bride!" Jove frowned in heaven: the conscious Parc¾ threw Upon those roseate lips a Stygian hue.
Erebus
Erebus
"This visage tells thee that my doom is past: Nor should the change be mourned, even if the joys Of sense were able to return as fast And surely as they vanish. Earth destroys Those raptures duly - Erebus disdains: Calm pleasures there abide - majestic pains. "Be taught, O faithful Consort, to control Rebellious passion: for the Gods approve The depth, and not the tumult, of the soul; A fervent, not ungovernable love. Thy transports moderate; and meekly mourn When I depart, for brief is my sojourn - "
Hercules
Hercules
"Ah wherefore? - Did not Hercules by force Wrest from the guardian monster of the tomb Alcestis, a reanimated corse, Given back to dwell on earth in vernal bloom? Medea's spells dispersed the weight of years, And Aeson stood a youth 'mid youthful peers. "The Gods to us are merciful - and they Yet further may relent: for mightier far Than strength of nerve and sinew, or the sway Of magic potent over sun and star, Is love, though oft to agony distrest, And though his favourite seat be feeble woman's breast. "But if thou goest, I follow -" "Peace!" he said, - She looked upon him and was calmed and cheered; The ghastly colour from his lips had fled; In his deportment, shape, and mien, appeared Elysian beauty, melancholy grace, Brought from a pensive though a happy place. He spake of love, such love as Spirits feel In worlds whose course is equable and pure; No fears to beat away - no strife to heal - The past unsighed for, and the future sure; Spake of heroic arts in graver mood Revived, with finer harmony pursued; Of all that is most beauteous - imaged there In happier beauty; more pellucid streams, An ampler ether, a diviner air, And fields invested with purpureal gleams; Climes which the sun, who sheds the brightest day Earth knows, is all unworthy to survey. Yet there the Soul shall enter which hath earned That privilege by virtue. - "Ill," said he, "The end of man's existence I discerned, Who from ignoble games and revelry Could draw, when we had parted, vain delight, While tears were thy best pastime, day and night; "And while my youthful peers before my eyes (Each hero following his peculiar bent) Prepared themselves for glorious enterprise By martial sports, - or, seated in the tent, Chieftains and kings in council were detained; What time the fleet at Aulis lay enchained. "The wished-for wind was given: - I then revolved The oracle, upon the silent sea; And, if no worthier led the way, resolved That, of a thousand vessels, mine should be The foremost prow in pressing to the strand, - Mine the first blood that tinged the Trojan sand. "Yet bitter, oft-times bitter, was the pang When of thy loss I thought, belovèd Wife! On thee too fondly did my memory hang, And on the joys we shared in mortal life, - The paths which we had trod - these fountains, flowers: My new-planned cities, and unfinished towers. "But should suspense permit the Foe to cry, 'Behold they tremble! - haughty their array, Yet of their numbers no one dares to die?' In soul I swept the indignity away: Old frailties then recurred: - but lofty thought, In act embodied, my deliverance wrought. "And Thou, though strong in love, art all too weak In reason, in self-government too slow; I counsel thee by fortitude to seek Our blest re-union in the shades below. The invisible world with thee hath sympathised; Be thy affections raised and solemnised. "Learn, by a mortal yearning, to ascend - Seeking a higher object. Love was given, Encouraged, sanctioned, chiefly for that end; For this the passion to excess was driven - That self might be annulled: her bondage prove The fetters of a dream opposed to love. - Aloud she shrieked! for Hermes re-appears! Round the dear Shade she would have clung - 'tis vain: The hours are past - too brief had they been years; And him no mortal effort can detain: Swift, toward the realms that know not earthly day, He through the portal takes his silent way, And on the palace-floor a lifeless corse She lay.
Hero and Leander at the Hellespont
Hero and Leander
at the Hellespont
Thus, all in vain exhorted and reproved, She perished; and, as for a wilful crime, By the just Gods whom no weak pity moved, Was doomed to wear out her appointed time, Apart from happy Ghosts, that gather flowers Of blissful quiet 'mid unfading bowers. - Yet tears to human suffering are due; And mortal hopes defeated and o'erthrown Are mourned by man, and not by man alone, As fondly he believes. - Upon the side Of Hellespont (such faith was entertained) A knot of spiry trees for ages grew From out the tomb of him for whom she died; And ever, when such stature they had gained That Ilium's walls were subject to their view, The trees' tall summits withered at the sight; A constant interchange of growth and blight!

Even as Plato says that Beauty is the splendour of Truth, so such a Love as this is the splendour of Virtue; it is the unexpected spark that flashes from self-forgetful soul to soul, it is man's standing evidence that he "must lose himself to find himself," and that only when the veil of his personality has lifted from around him can he recognize that he is already in heaven.

Dion of Syracuse
Dion of Syracuse

In a second poem inspired by this revived study of classical antiquity Wordsworth has traced the career of Dion, - the worthy pupil of Plato, the philosophic ruler of Syracuse, who allowed himself to shed blood unjustly, though for the public good, and was haunted by a spectre symbolical of this fatal error. At last Dion was assassinated, and the words in which the poet tells his fate seem to me to breathe the very triumph of philosophy, to paint with a touch the greatness of a spirit which makes of Death himself a deliverer, and has its strength in the unseen.

  So were the hopeless troubles, that involved
  The soul of Dion, instantly dissolved.

I can only compare these lines to that famous passage of Sophocles where the lamentations of the dying Oedipus are interrupted by the impatient summons of an unseen accompanying god. In both places the effect is the same; to present to us with striking brevity the contrast between the visible and the invisible presences that may stand about a man's last hour; for he may feel with the desolate Oedipus that "all I am has perished" - he may sink like Dion through inextricable sadness to a disastrous death, and then in a moment the transitory shall disappear and the essential shall be made plain.

The translations and Laodamia are not the only indications of the influence which Virgil exercised over Wordsworth. Whether from mere similarity of feeling, or from more or less conscious recollection, there are frequent passages in the English which recall the Roman poet. Who can hear Wordsworth describe how a poet on the island in Grasmere At noon

      Spreads out his limbs, while, yet unshorn, the sheep
      Panting beneath the burthen of their wool,
      Lie round him, even as if they were a part
      Of his own Household: -

and not think of the stately tenderness of Virgil's

    Stant et oves circum; nostri nee poenitet illas - 

'and the flocks of Arcady that gather round in sympathy with the lovelorn Gallus' woe'

So again the well-known lines

   Not seldom, clad in radiant vest,
   Deceitfully goes forth the Morn;
   Not seldom Evening in the west
   Sinks smilingly forsworn, - 

are almost a translation of Palinurus' remonstrance with "the treachery of tranquil heaven." And when the poet wishes for any link which could bind him closer to the Highland maiden who has flitted across his path as a being of a different world from his own: -

   Thine elder Brother would I be,
   Thy Father, anything to thee! 

we hear the echo of the sadder plaint

   Atque utinam e vobis unus

when the Roman statesman longs to be made one with the simple life of shepherd or husbandman, and to know their undistracted joy. Still more impressive is the shock of surprise with which we read in Wordsworth's poem on Ossian the following lines: -

   Musaeus, stationed with his lyre
   Supreme among the Elysian quire,
   Is, for the dwellers upon earth,
   Mute as a lark ere morning's birth,

and perceive that he who wrote them has entered into the solemn pathos of Virgil's Musaeum ante omnis - ; where the singer whose very existence upon earth has become a legend and a mythic name is seen keeping in the underworld his old pre-eminence, and towering above the blessed dead.

We have reached the Indian summer of Wordsworth's genius; it can still shine at moments bright as ever, and with even a new majesty and calm; but we feel, nevertheless, that the melody is dying from his song; that he is hardening into self-repetition, into rhetoric, into sermonizing common-place, and is rigid where he was once profound.

The Thanksgiving Ode (1816) strikes death to the heart. The accustomed patriotic sentiments - the accustomed virtuous aspirations - are still there; but the accent is like that of a ghost who calls to us in hollow mimicry of a voice that once we loved.

           O Britain! dearer far than life is dear,
                If one there be
                Of all thy progeny
          Who can forget thy prowess, never more
          Be that ungrateful Son allowed to hear
          Thy green leaves rustle or thy torrents roar.
          As springs the lion from his den,
                 As from a forest-brake
                 Upstarts a glistering snake,
          The bold Arch-despot re-appeared;--again
          Wide Europe heaves, impatient to be cast,
              With all her armed Powers,
              On that offensive soil, like waves upon a thousand shores.
          The trumpet blew a universal blast!
          But Thou art foremost in the field:--there stand:
          Receive the triumph destined to thy hand!
          All States have glorified themselves;--their claims
          Are weighed by Providence, in balance even;
          And now, in preference to the mightiest names,
          To Thee the exterminating sword is given.
          Dread mark of approbation, justly gained!
          Exalted office, worthily sustained!

And yet Wordsworth's poetic life was not to close without a great symbolical spectacle, a solemn farewell. Sunset among the Cumbrian hills, often of remarkable beauty, once or twice, perhaps, in a score of years, reaches a pitch of illusion and magnificence which indeed seems nothing less than the commingling of earth and heaven. Such a sight - seen from Rydal Mount in 1818 - afforded once more the needed stimulus, and evoked that "Evening Ode, composed on an evening of extraordinary splendour and beauty," which is the last considerable production of Wordsworth's genius. In this ode we recognize the peculiar gift of reproducing with magical simplicity as it were the inmost virtue of natural phenomena.

    No sound is uttered, but a deep?
   And solemn harmony pervades
   The hollow vale from steep to steep,
   And penetrates the glades.
   Far distant images draw nigh,
   Called forth by wondrous potency
   Of beamy radiance, that imbues
   Whate'er it strikes, with gem-like hues!
   In vision exquisitely clear
   Herds range along the mountain side;
   And glistening antlers are descried,
   And gilded flocks appear.

Once more the poet brings home to us that sense of belonging at once to two worlds, which gives to human life so much of mysterious solemnity.

   Wings at my shoulder seem to play
   But, rooted here, I stand and gaze
   On those bright steps that heavenward raise
   Their practicable way.

And the poem ends - with a deep personal pathos - in an allusion, repeated from the Ode on Immortality, to the light which "lay about him in his infancy,"

                                                      - the light
  Full early lost, and fruitlessly deplored;
  Which at this moment, on my waking sight
  Appears to shine, by miracle restored!
  My soul, though yet confined to earth,
  Rejoices in a second birth;
  - 'Tis past, the visionary splendour fades;
  And night approaches with her shades.

For those to whom the mission of Wordsworth appears before all things as a religious one there is something solemn in the spectacle of the seer standing at the close of his own apocalypse, with the consciousness that the stiffening brain would never permit him to drink again that overflowing sense of glory and revelation; never, till he should drink it new in the kingdom of God. He lived, in fact, through another generation of men, but the vision came to him no more.

   Or if some vestige of those gleams
   Survived, 'twas only in his dreams.

We look on a man's life for the most part as forming in itself a completed drama. We love to see the interest maintained to the close, the pathos deepened at the departing hour. To die on the same day is the prayer of lovers, to vanish at Trafalgar is the ideal of heroic souls.

And yet - so wide and various are the issues of life - there is a solemnity as profound in a quite different lot. For if we are moving among eternal emotions we should have time to bear witness that they are eternal. Even Love left desolate may feel with a proud triumph that it could never have rooted itself so immutably amid the joys of a visible return as it can do through the constancies of bereavement, and the lifelong memory which is a lifelong hope.

And Vision, Revelation, Ecstasy, - it is not only while these are kindling our way that we should speak of them to men, but rather when they have passed from us and left us only their record in our souls, whose permanence confirms the fiery finger which wrote it long ago. For as the Greeks would end the first drama of a trilogy with a hush of concentration, and with declining notes of calm, so to us the narrowing receptivity and persistent steadfastness of age suggest not only decay but expectancy, and not death so much as sleep; or seem, as it were, the beginning of operations which are not measured by our hurrying time, nor tested by any achievement to be accomplished here.

CHAPTER X. NATURAL RELIGION.

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