William Wordsworth

The Wishing-gate

In the vale of Grasmere, by the side of the old highway leading to Ambleside, is a gate which, time out of mind, has been called the Wishing-gate, from a belief that wishes formed or indulged there have a favorable issue.

HOPE rules a land forever green:
All powers that serve the bright-eyed queen
    Are confident and gay;
Clouds at her bidding disappear;
Points she to aught?—the bliss draws near,
    And Fancy smooths the way.

Not such the land of Wishes,—there
Dwell fruitless day-dreams, lawless prayer,
    And thoughts with things at strife;
Yet how forlorn, should ye depart,
Ye superstitions of the heart,
    How poor, were human life!

When magic lore abjured its might,
Ye did not forfeit one dear right,
    One tender claim abate;
Witness this symbol of your sway,
Surviving near the public way,
    The rustic Wishing-gate!

Inquire not if the faery race
Shed kindly influence on the place,
    Ere northward they retired;
If here a warrior left a spell,
Panting for glory as he fell;
    Or here a saint expired.

Enough that all around is fair,
Composed with Nature’s finest care,
    And in her fondest love,—
Peace to embosom and content,—
To overawe the turbulent,
    The selfish to reprove.

Yea! even the stranger from afar,
Reclining on this moss-grown bar,
    Unknowing and unknown,
The infection of the ground partakes,
Longing for his beloved, who makes
    All happiness her own.

Then why should conscious spirits fear
The mystic stirrings that are here,
    The ancient faith disclaim?
The local genius ne’er befriends
Desires whose course in folly ends,
    Whose just reward is shame.

Smile if thou wilt, but not in scorn,
If some, by ceaseless pains outworn,
    Here crave an easier lot;
If some have thirsted to renew
A broken vow, or bind a true
    With firmer, holier knot.

And not in vain, when thoughts are cast
Upon the irrevocable past,
    Some penitent sincere
May for a worthier future sigh,
While trickles from his downcast eye
    No unavailing tear.

The worldling, pining to be freed
From turmoil, who would turn or speed
    The current of his fate,
Might stop before this favored scene,
At Nature’s call, nor blush to lean
    Upon the Wishing-gate.

The sage, who feels how blind, how weak
Is man, though loath such help to seek,
    Yet, passing, here might pause,
And thirst for insight to allay
Misgiving, while the crimson day
    In quietness withdraws;

Or when the church-clock’s knell profound
To Time’s first step across the bound
    Of midnight makes reply;
Time pressing on with starry crest,
To filial sleep upon the breast
    Of dread Eternity.

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