Tuesday, 9 April 2013

Reading Nature




Five years have past; five summers, with the length
Of five long winters! and again I hear
These waters, rolling from their mountain-springs
With a sweet inland murmur.—Once again
Do I behold these steep and lofty cliffs,
Which on a wild secluded scene impress
Thoughts of more deep seclusion; and connect
The landscape with the quiet of the sky.
The day is come when I again repose
Here, under this dark sycamore, and view
These plots of cottage-ground, these orchard-tufts,
Which, at this season, with their unripe fruits,
Among the woods and copses lose themselves,
Nor, with their green and simple hue, disturb
The wild green landscape. Once again I see
These hedge-rows, hardly hedge-rows, little lines
Of sportive wood run wild; these pastoral farms,
Green to the very door; and wreathes of smoke
Sent up, in silence, from among the trees,
With some uncertain notice, as might seem,
Of vagrant dwellers in the houseless woods,
Or of some hermit's cave, where by his fire
The hermit sits alone.
                                     Though absent long,
These forms of beauty have not been to me,
As is a landscape to a blind man's eye:
But oft, in lonely rooms, and mid the din
Of towns and cities, I have owed to them,
In hours of weariness, sensations sweet,
Felt in the blood, and felt along the heart,
And passing even into my purer mind
With tranquil restoration:—feelings too
Of unremembered pleasure; such, perhaps,
As may have had no trivial influence
On that best portion of a good man's life;
His little, nameless, unremembered acts
Of kindness and of love. Nor less, I trust,
To them I may have owed another gift,
Of aspect more sublime; that blessed mood,
In which the burthen of the mystery,
In which the heavy and the weary weight
Of all this unintelligible world
Is lighten'd:—that serene and blessed mood,
In which the affections gently lead us on,
Until, the breath of this corporeal frame,
And even the motion of our human blood
Almost suspended, we are laid asleep
In body, and become a living soul:
While with an eye made quiet by the power
Of harmony, and the deep power of joy,
We see into the life of things.
                                                If this
Be but a vain belief, yet, oh! how oft,
In darkness, and amid the many shapes
Of joyless day-light; when the fretful stir
Unprofitable, and the fever of the world,
Have hung upon the beatings of my heart,
How oft, in spirit, have I turned to thee
O sylvan Wye! Thou wanderer through the wood
How often has my spirit turned to thee!
And now, with gleams of half-extinguish'd though[t,]
With many recognitions dim and faint,
And somewhat of a sad perplexity,
The picture of the mind revives again:
While here I stand, not only with the sense
Of present pleasure, but with pleasing thoughts
That in this moment there is life and food
For future years. And so I dare to hope
Though changed, no doubt, from what I was, when first
I came among these hills; when like a roe
I bounded o'er the mountains, by the sides
Of the deep rivers, and the lonely streams,
Wherever nature led; more like a man
Flying from something that he dreads, than one
Who sought the thing he loved. For nature then
(The coarser pleasures of my boyish days,
And their glad animal movements all gone by,)
To me was all in all.—I cannot paint
What then I was. The sounding cataract
Haunted me like a passion: the tall rock,
The mountain, and the deep and gloomy wood,
Their colours and their forms, were then to me
An appetite: a feeling and a love,
That had no need of a remoter charm,
By thought supplied, or any interest
Unborrowed from the eye.—That time is past,
And all its aching joys are now no more,
And all its dizzy raptures. Not for this
Faint I, nor mourn nor murmur; other gifts
Have followed, for such loss, I would believe,
Abundant recompence. For I have learned
To look on nature, not as in the hour
Of thoughtless youth, but hearing oftentimes
The still, sad music of humanity,
Nor harsh nor grating, though of ample power
To chasten and subdue. And I have felt
A presence that disturbs me with the joy
Of elevated thoughts; a sense sublime
Of something far more deeply interfused,
Whose dwelling is the light of setting suns,
And the round ocean, and the living air,
And the blue sky, and in the mind of man,
A motion and a spirit, that impels
All thinking things, all objects of all thought,
And rolls through all things. Therefore am I still
A lover of the meadows and the woods,
And mountains; and of all that we behold
From this green earth; of all the mighty world
Of eye and ear, both what they half-create,
And what perceive; well pleased to recognize
In nature and the language of the sense,
The anchor of my purest thoughts, the nurse,
The guide, the guardian of my heart, and soul
Of all my moral being.
                                     Nor, perchance,
If I were not thus taught, should I the more
Suffer my genial spirits to decay:
For thou art with me, here, upon the banks
Of this fair river; thou, my dearest Friend,
My dear, dear Friend, and in thy voice I catch
The language of my former heart, and read
My former pleasures in the shooting lights
Of thy wild eyes. Oh! yet a little while
May I behold in thee what I was once,
My dear, dear Sister! And this prayer I make,
Knowing that Nature never did betray
The heart that loved her; 'tis her privilege,
Through all the years of this our life, to lead
From joy to joy: for she can so inform
The mind that is within us, so impress
With quietness and beauty, and so feed
With lofty thoughts, that neither evil tongues,
Rash judgments, nor the sneers of selfish men,
Nor greetings where no kindness is, nor all
The dreary intercourse of daily life,
Shall e'er prevail against us, or disturb
Our chearful faith that all which we behold
Is full of blessings. Therefore let the moon
Shine on thee in thy solitary walk;
And let the misty mountain winds be free
To blow against thee: and in after years,
When these wild ecstasies shall be matured
Into a sober pleasure, when thy mind
Shall be a mansion for all lovely forms,
Thy memory be as a dwelling-place
For all sweet sounds and harmonies; Oh! then,
If solitude, or fear, or pain, or grief,
Should be thy portion, with what healing thoughts
Of tender joy wilt thou remember me,
And these my exhortations! Nor, perchance,
If I should be, where I no more can hear
Thy voice, nor catch from thy wild eyes these gleams
Of past existence, wilt thou then forget
That on the banks of this delightful stream
We stood together; and that I, so long
A worshipper of Nature, hither came,
Unwearied in that service: rather say
With warmer love, oh! with far deeper zeal
Of holier love. Nor wilt thou then forget,
That after many wanderings, many years
Of absence, these steep woods and lofty cliffs,
And this green pastoral landscape, were to me
More dear, both for themselves and for thy sake.

- William Wordsworth


  1. I could relate so much with this poem...and feel as if this was written for me.... I was also thinking of a "five years" that troubled me...

    And all my life I am also so in love with nature, even though I have never ever been personally present in any place with nature because like in the poem, "These forms of beauty have not been to me...But oft, in lonely rooms, and mid the din Of towns and cities, I have owed to them"

    Thank you sooOoo much for posting this poem, Joanna! It is quite a relief that I wasn't the only one who has experienced the same...

    I often think of nature and dream of her...and it is not a heartbreaking feeling like when one dreams of something unachievable.. On the contrary, even if I know that I cannot be with natuire, it does not break my heart and only makes me feel a kind of refuge :)

    Sometimes dreams could be more pwerful than reality... Sometimes the truth is less desirable when our imagined things could even be more healing than reality ...
    "Nature never did betray the heart that loved her. " :)

    I hope that you're always alright, and safe, and happy... I am just so blessed having known you who has a heart capable of feeling these deep things!
    In a world where most people are going under the sway of a culture simple and frivolous, I admire people like you who could delve into these kinds of emotions.. So I'm not alone, thank you for your inspiration :)

    1. I know exactly what you mean Ramon. I am now discovering Wordsworth like never before and when I first read him, I realised the exact same thing as you, that I truly was not the only one to see nature in such a way! It's incredible. Keep writing your poetry Ramon and I will too. It spoke to me to when he talks of the city and do you know that when Wordsworth went to college in Oxford he hated it and was totally uninspired because he was away from his blessed country side. And do you know that Coleridge lived only 10 mins drive from where I lived? Coleridge was best friends with William and shared the same dreams as him. He even wrote a poem called 'To the River Otter'- the river that my little red bridge is over, the river I call home:

      Dear native Brook! wild Streamlet of the West!
      How many various-fated years have past,
      What happy and what mournful hours, since last
      I skimm'd the smooth thin stone along thy breast,
      Numbering its light leaps! yet so deep imprest
      Sink the sweet scenes of childhood, that mine eyes
      I never shut amid the sunny ray,
      But straight with all their tints thy waters rise,
      Thy crossing plank, thy marge with willows grey,
      And bedded sand that vein'd with various dyes
      Gleam'd through thy bright transparence! On my way,
      Visions of Childhood! oft have ye beguil'd
      Lone manhood's cares, yet waking fondest sighs:
      Ah! that once more I were a careless Child!

    2. ¬Hi dear Joanna! =)

      So Wordsworth and Coleridge were kindred spirits too! =)

      It’s astonishing that Coleridge lived in the same area where you live! =) Thank you for letting me know about these! Through what you tell me and through your videos, East Devon has become my favorite place in all of England! =) (Was the little red bridge already there during the time of Coleridge and Wordsworth?)

      The poem “The River Otter” is so moving! =) It is moving for me, how much more to you who has that place in your heart, specially reserved for the little red bridge and the river itself! =)

      If, like in the poem, you’d be having your adulthood’s cares, I hope you’d never feel that you wish you were once more a careless child… It’s because---there’s absolutely nothing wrong in being a “careless child” all throughout our lives!
      I’m talking about inspiration and imagination =)
      Someone said that “it is not children who are in need of imagination, but adults.” Many people, once they become adults, lose their inspired imaginations. I hope it would never happen to us.
      I would always stay like this, having the inspired imaginations of a “careless child.” =)
      Let us not allow the burdens of adult life to remove those from us!


  2. Joanna, I have been watching your accent videos for some time now and they are really good. Your singing is also beautiful! Now I have read parts of your blog and you really appear to be quite well read in Literature. :)

    I am trying to get myself accustomed to some good, classic literature and I was wondering if you could suggest some stuff to read. It would be better if it is a bit old as that way I can get it from internet for free.:)

    Your four part series "Wives and Daughters" was quite entertaining. It had a nice story and a happy ending. I was curious as how did you plan the whole production, it must have been fairly complex to manage and edit all of it.

    I apologize for my inefficient English as it is not my first language but I believe that one day it will be. :)

    1. That's great! What could I recommend? Well there are so many wonderful works of art I would hardly know where to begin. But how about Jane Eyre by Charlotte Bronte, and then Wuthering heights by Emily and Tenant of Wildfell Hall by Anne, then you would have read the major works of each of the Bronte sister whom I adore. North and South by Elizabeth Gaskell is good so is Jane Austin's Pride and Prejudice. And one of my favourite authors is Daphne Du Maurier and her Rebecca or Jamaica Inn. That may be enough to keep you going. Oh you might like some of Dickens's writing, Oliver Twist or Little Dorrit or Nicholas Nickleby.

      We managed wives and daughters by cutting out all that we could to make it shorter and then wrote out the script and decided when we needed to film this or that- basically working through our script book until all the scenes were done. But it did take time and alot of editing time too, but its worth it, we love to look back on them.
      Glad to be of help.
      Take care :)

    2. Thank you for your suggestions. You have prepared quite a formidable list there, I think it will keep me busy for quite some time.

      When we are passionate about something then we overcome even the hardest challenges to do those things. Looks like you are passionate about what you do and this is quite commendable.

      Thanks again
      Taking care:D

    3. One more thing that I have to ask is about Wives and Daughters part-1. At it's end you show a steam train do these still run in Britain or was it a result of clever editing? :)

    4. That was a real steam train up in Yorkshire, the North of England. And yes there are still steams that run, though it's more of a tourist attraction than for proper travel. There is one near by where I live though that can take you to other parts of the country. It is so very sweet! I love trains :)