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["This poem is a favorite among the Quakers, as I have learnt on many occasions. It was composed in front of the house at Alfoxden, in the spring of 1798." - Wordsworth's note:]
[Ed. note: There is evidence that the "Matthew" of this and other poems represents William Taylor, headmaster of the school at Hawkshead, which Wordsworth attended from his eighth year to his sixteenth. Lines 21-24 are those which specially harmonize with Quaker beliefs. --Susan Barr]
- "Why, William, on that old gray stone,
- Thus for the length of half a day,
- Why, William, sit you thus alone,
- And dream your time away?
- "Where are your books? -- that light bequeathed
- To Beings else forlorn and blind!
- Up! up! and drink the spirit breathed
- From dead men to their kind.
- "You look round on your Mother Earth,
- As if she for no purpose bore you;
- As if you were her first-born birth,
- And none had lived before you!"
- One morning thus, by Esthwaite lake,
- When life was sweet, I knew not why,
- To me my good friend Matthew spake,
- And thus I made reply:--
- "The eye -- it cannot choose but see;
- We cannot bid the ear be still;
- Our bodies feel, where'er they be,
- Against or with our will.
- "Nor less I deem that there are Powers
- Which of themselves our minds impress;
- That we can feed this mind of ours
- In a wise passiveness.
- "Think you, 'mid all this mighty sum
- Of things forever speaking,
- That nothing of itself will come
- But we must still be seeking?
- "Then ask not wherefore, here, alone,
- Conversing as I may,
- I sit upon this old gray stone,
- And dream my time away."
- William Wordsworth
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