Imágenes de páginas
PDF
EPUB

PETER BELL.

A TALE.

What's in a name?
*

*
Brutus will start a spirit as soon as Cæsar!

TO ROBERT SOUTHEY, ESQ., P. L., ETC., ETC.

[ocr errors]

MY DEAR FRIEND: The Tale of Peter Bell, which I now introduce to your notice, and to that of the Public, has, in its manuscript state, nearly survived its minority; - for it first saw the light in the summer of 1798. During this long interval, pains have been taken at different times to make the production less unworthy of a favorable reception; or, rather, to fit it for filling permanently a station, however humble, in the literature of our country. This has, indeed, been the aim of all my endeavors in Poetry, which, you know, have been sufficiently laborious to prove that I deem the Art not lightly to be approached; and that the attainment of excellence in it may laudably be made the principal object of intellectual pursuit by any man, who, with reasonable consideration of circumstances, has faith in his own impulses.

The Poem of Peter Bell, as the Prologue will show, was composed under a belief that the Imagination not only does not require for its exercise the intervention of supernatural agency, but that, though such agency be excluded, the faculty may be called forth as imperiously, and for kindred results of pleasure, by incidents, within the compass of poetic probability, in the humblest departments of daily life. Since that Prologue was written, you have exhibited most splendid effects of judicious daring, in the opposite and usual course. Let this acknowledgment make my peace with the lovers of the supernatural; and I am persuaded it will be admitted, that to you, as a master in that province of the Art, the following Tale, whether from contrast or congruity, is not an unappropriate offering. Accept it, then, as a public testimony of affectionate admiration from one with whose name yours has been often coupled (to use your own words) for evil and for good; and believe me to be, with earnest wishes that life and health may be granted you to complete the many important works in which you are engaged, and with high respect,

Most faithfully yours,

WILLIAM WORDSWORTH. RYDAL MOUNT, April 7, 1819.

PROLOGUE.

THERE's something in a flying horse,
There's something in a huge balloon ;
But through the clouds I 'll never float
Until I have a little Boat,
Shaped like the crescent-moon.

And now I have a little Boat,
In shape a very crescent-

moon :
Fast through the clouds my Boat can sail;
But if perchance your faith should fail,
Look

up - and you shall see me soon!

The woods, my Friends, are round you roaring,
Rocking and roaring like a sea ;
The noise of danger's in your ears,
And

ye have all a thousand fears
Both for my little Boat and me!

[blocks in formation]

Meanwhile, untroubled I admire
The pointed horns of my canoe ;
And, did not pity touch my breast,
To see how ye are all distrest,
Till my ribs ached I'd laugh at you!

Away we go, my Boat and I,
Frail man ne'er sat in such another ;
Whether

among

the winds we strive, Or deep into the clouds we dive, Each is contented with the other.

Away we go,

and what care we
For treasons, tumults, and for wars ?
We are as calm in our delight
As is the crescent-moon so bright
Among the scattered stars.

Up goes my Boat among the stars Through many a breathless field of light, Through many a long blue field of ether, Leaving ten thousand stars beneath her: Up goes my little Boat so bright!

The Crab, the Scorpion, and the Bull,-
We pry among them all; have shot
High o'er the red-haired race of Mars,
Covered from top to toe with scars ;
Such company I like it not !

The towns in Saturn are decayed,
And melancholy Spectres throng them; -
The Pleiads, that appear to kiss
Each other in the vast abyss,
With joy I sail among them.

Swift Mercury resounds with mirth,
Great Jove is full of stately bowers ;
But these, and all that they contain,
What are they to that tiny grain,
That little Earth of ours ?

Then back to Earth, the dear green Earth:
Whole

ages

if I here should roam, The world of

my

remarks and me Would not a whit the better be: I've left my heart at home.

See! there she is, the matchless Earth !
There spreads the famed Pacific Ocean!
Old Andes thrusts yon craggy spear
Through the gray clouds; the Alps are here,
Like waters in commotion!

Yon tawny slip is Libya's sands;
That silver thread, the river Dnieper;
And look, where, clothed in brightest green,
Is a sweet Isle, of isles the Queen:
Ye Fairies, from all evil keep her!

And see the town where I was born !
Around those happy fields we span
In boyish gambols ; — I was lost
Where I have been, but on this coast
I feel I am a man.

Never did fifty things at once
Appear so lovely, never, never ;
How tunefully the forests ring!
To hear the Earth's soft murmuring,
Thus could I hang for ever!

“Shame on you !” cried my little Boat ;
“ Was ever such a homesick Loon,
Within a living Boat to sit,
And make no better use of it, -
A Boat twin-sister of the crescent-moon !

“ Ne'er in the breast of full-grown Poet
Fluttered so faint a heart before ;
Was it the music of the spheres
That overpowered your mortal ears ?

Such din shall trouble them no more.

“ These nether precincts do not lack
Charms of their own;— then come with me;
I want a comrade, and for you
There's nothing that I would not do ;
Naught is there that you shall not see.

« AnteriorContinuar »