Alfred Austin

Wordsworth At Dove Cottage

Wise Wordsworth, to avert your ken,
From half of human fate.
What is there in the ways of men,
Their struggles, or their state,
To make the calm recluse forswear
The garden path, the fire-side chair,
To journey with the Great?

The narrowest hamlet lends the heart
A realm as rich and wide
As kingdoms do, to play its part;
Who reaps not, that hath tried,
More rapture from the wayside flower
Than all the stairs and robes of power
And avenues of pride?

Whether we scan it from below,
Or bask in it above,
We weary of life's glittering show;
We tire of all save Love.
As, when fatigued with wood-notes shrill,
We listen with contentment still
To cooings of the dove.

In this low cottage nested near
Mountain and lake, you dwelt;
'Twas here you tilled the ground, 'twas here
You loved, and wrote, and knelt.
Hence, wheresoe'er your kindred dwell,
Your songs sincere our hearts compel
To feel the thing you felt.

Glory there is that lives entombed
In spacious-soaring shrine;
A tenement more narrow-roomed
Sufficient is for thine.
A homely temple haply found
Where peasants toil and streamlets sound,
Adorned not, but divine.

Your sacred music still is heard,
When notes profane have died;
Like some familiar home-bred word,
You in our lives abide.
And when with trackless feet we rove
By meadow, mountain, mere, or grove,
We feel you at our side.

Thrice-happy bard! who found at home
All joys that needful be;
Whose longings were not forced to roam
Beyond your household Three:-
Your own proud genius, steadfast, calm,
A wife whose faith was household balm,
And heavenly Dorothy.

What is it sweetens tasteless Fame?
Makes shadowy Glory bliss?
What is the guerdon poets claim?
What should it be but this?-
A heart attuned to understand,
A listening ear, a loving hand,
A smile, a tear, a kiss!

Leave them but these, and let who will
Crave plaudits from the crowd,
Its vapid incense, aves shrill,
And favour of the proud.
The sweetest minister of Fame
Is she who broods upon one's name,
But calls it not aloud.

And this at least, in full, you had,
From sister, and from wife:
They made your gravest moments glad,
They havened you from strife;
Hallowed your verse, revered your tread,
Maintained a nimbus round your head,
And deified your life.

Hence, long as gentle brows shall bend
Over your rustic page,
Their pious love shall still befriend
The poet and the sage;
For, when we cross your cottage sill,
Virtue, no less than Genius, will
Invite the Pilgrimage.

The tallest tower that ever rose
Hath but a span to soar;
Palace and fane are passing shows,
But Time will be no more,
When Wordsworth's home no longer leads
Men's far-off feet to Grasmere's meads,
And sanctifies its shore. 

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