Wordsworth's Gratefulness

The next two passages of Wordsworth are remarkable both for their beauty and for a certain sense of homeliness that he conjures for the reader.  After long separation he is able to return to his childhood home and room:

from The Prelude Book IV
William Wordsworth

In this endeavour simply to relate
A Poet's history, may I leave untold
The thankfulness with which I laid me down
In my accustomed bed, more welcome now
Perhaps than if it had been more desired
Or been more often thought of with regret;
That lowly bed whence I had heard the wind
Roar and the rain beat hard, where I so oft
Had lain awake on summer nights to watch
The moon in splendour couched among the leaves
Of a tall ash, that near our cottage stood;
Had watched her with fixed eyes while to and fro
In the dark summit of the waving tree
She rocked with every impulse of the breeze.

What is delicious here is the perfect paradox of the opening phrase:  Wordsworth asks if he may "leave untold//The thankfulness with which I laid me down," thereby accomplishing what he claims to leave unaccomplished.

Another interesting fact is that the actuality exceeds the desire.  The bed in which he lays down is "more welcome now//Perhaps than if it had been more desired//Or been more often thought of with regret. . ."  I think many of us have experienced the "didn't know what I was missing until I had it again."

And we have an image hearkening back to Wordsworth's childhood--a memory within a memory, as it were, and a memory of a time that is key in Wordsworth's understanding of who a person is and how he or she became that way.

A short and simple passage, but worthy of a note all on its own.  Tomorrow (or more likely Wednesday)  Wordsworth's dog.


  1. Yesterday's WaPo had an article on Wordsworth country in the Travel section. I thought of you when I saw it. Unfortunately, that's all the commentary I can offer; the paper hit the recycling bin before I could read the article.


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