Our Wordsworthian Interlude

A domestic moment:

from The Prelude Book IV
William Wordsworth

With new delight,
This chiefly, did I note my grey-haired Dame;
Saw her go forth to church or other work
Of state, equipped in monumental trim;
Short velvet cloak, (her bonnet of the like),
A mantle such as Spanish Cavaliers
Wore in old time. Her smooth domestic life,
Affectionate without disquietude,
Her talk, her business, pleased me; and no less
Her clear though shallow stream of piety
That ran on Sabbath days a fresher course;
With thoughts unfelt till now I saw her read
Her Bible on hot Sunday afternoons,
And loved the book, when she had dropped asleep
And made of it a pillow for her head.
I don't think this passage requires any gloss other than why I liked enough to pluck it out and share it with you.  I love the image of the woman who served for so many years as his mother in her finery--a velvet cloak and bonnet, old fashioned and elaborate, but in good repair--the finery for the work of state and the admission into Church.  And particularly the tenderness of the image of loving the Bible she was reading more when it became a pillow for her head.  There is something almost painfully tender in this image of Wordsworth observing his sleeping mother.


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