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First Line: Beautiful poet! As thou art
Last Line: And live in history's latest page.
Alternate Author Name(s): Quaker Poet
Subject(s): Poetry & Poets; Wordsworth, William (1770-1850)

BEAUTIFUL Poet! as thou art,
In spite of all that critics tell,
I thank thee, even from my heart,
For this, thy tale of "PETER BELL."
It is a story worthy one
Who thinks, feels, loves, as thou hast done.

It is a story worthy too
Of a more simple, primal age,
When feelings, natural, tender, true,
Hallow'd the poet's humblest page,
Ere trick'ry had usurp'd the place
Of unsophisticated grace.

I quarrel not with those who deem
Essential to poetic mood,
High-sounding phrase, and lofty theme,
And "ready arts to freeze the blood;"
Intent to dazzle, or appal;
But nature still is best of all.

To be by taste's and fashion's laws
The favourite of this fickle day;
To win the drawing-room's applause,
To strike, to startle, to display,
And give effect, would seem the aim
Of most who bear the poet's name.

For this, one idol of the hour,
Brilliant and sparkling as the beams
Of the glad sun, culls every flower,
And scatters round dews, gems, and streams,
Until the wearied, aching sight,
Is "blasted with excess of light."

Another leads his readers on
With scenery, narrative, and tales
Of legends wild, and battles won—
Of craggy rocks, and verdant vales;
Till, always on amazement's brink,
We find we have no time to think.

And last, not least, a master mind,
Around whose proud and haughty brow,
Had he but chosen, might have twin'd
The muses' brightest, greenest bough,
Who, would he his own victor be,
Might seize on immortality.

He too, forsooth, with morbid vein,
Must fling a glorious fame away;
Instruction and delight disdain,
And make us own, yet loathe his sway:
From Helicon he might have quaff'd,
Yet turn'd to Acheron's deadly draught.

O shame and glory of our age!
With talents such as scarcely met
In bard before: thy magic page
Who can peruse without regret?
Or think, with cold, unpitying mein,
Of what thou art, and might'st have been?

No more of such: from these I turn,
From sparkling wit, and amorous lays:
From glooms that chill, and "words that burn,"
And gorgeous pomp of feudal days;
I turn from such, as things that move
Wonder and awe, but wake not love.

To thee, and to thy page despis'd
By worldly hearts, I turn with joy,
To ponder o'er the lays I priz'd,
When once a careless, happy boy;
And all that fascinated then,
More understood, delights again.

Nor is it, Wordsworth, trivial test
Of thy well-earn'd poetic fame,
That the untutor'd youthful breast
Should cherish with delight thy name:
If feeling be the test of truth,
That touchstone is best prov'd in youth

Thine is no complicated art,
Which after-life alone can give
The power to appreciate: in the heart
Its purest, holiest canons live;
And nature's tact is most intense
In the soul's early innocence.

'Tis then the sun, the sky, the air,
The sparkling stream, the leafy wood,
The verdant fields, the mountains bare,
Are felt, though little understood:
We care not, seek not then to prove
Effect, or cause: we feel, and love.

And in that day of love and feeling,
Poetry is a heavenly art;
Its genuine principles revealing
In their own glory to the heart,
Nature's resistless, artless tone
Awakes an echo of its own.

These truths, for such they are, by thee,
Illustrious Poet! well are seen;
And to thy wise simplicity
Most sacred have they ever been;
Therefore shalt thou, before the NINE
Officiate, in their inmost shrine!

Then journey on thy way: though lowly,
And simple, and despis'd it be;
Yet shall it yield thee visions holy,
And such as worldlings never see
Majestic, simple, meek, sublime,
And worthy of an earlier time.

Continue still to cultivate,
In thy sequester'd solitude,
Those high conceptions which await
The musings of the wise and good;
Conceptions lofty, pure, and bright,
Which fill thy soul with heavenly light.

Thou need'st not stoop to win applause
By petty artifice of style;
Or studied wit, that coldly draws
From fops or fools a vapid smile:
And still less need'st thou stoop to borrow
Affected gloom, or mimic sorrow.

But take thee to thy groves and fields,
Thy rocky vales, and mountains bare,
And give us all that nature yields
Of manners, feelings, habits there:
Please and instruct the present age,
And live in history's latest page.

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