The Poetical Works of William Wordsworth — Volume 1 eBook

This eBook from the Gutenberg Project consists of approximately 540 pages of information about The Poetical Works of William Wordsworth — Volume 1.

ACT II

SCENE—­A Chamber in the Hostel—­OSWALD alone, rising from a Table on which he had been writing.

OSWALD They chose him for their Chief!—­what covert part
              He, in the preference, modest Youth, might take,
              I neither know nor care.  The insult bred
              More of contempt than hatred; both are flown;
              That either e’er existed is my shame: 
              ’Twas a dull spark—­a most unnatural fire
              That died the moment the air breathed upon it. 
             —­These fools of feeling are mere birds of winter
              That haunt some barren island of the north,
              Where, if a famishing man stretch forth his hand,
              They think it is to feed them.  I have left him
              To solitary meditation;—­now
              For a few swelling phrases, and a flash
              Of truth, enough to dazzle and to blind,
              And he is mine for ever—­here he comes.

[Enter MARMADUKE.]

MARMADUKE These ten years she has moved her lips all day
              And never speaks!

OSWALD Who is it?

MARMADUKE I have seen her.

OSWALD Oh! the poor tenant of that ragged homestead,
              Her whom the Monster, Clifford, drove to madness.

MARMADUKE I met a peasant near the spot; he told me,
              These ten years she had sate all day alone
              Within those empty walls.

OSWALD I too have seen her;
              Chancing to pass this way some six months gone,
              At midnight, I betook me to the Churchyard: 
              The moon shone clear, the air was still, so still
              The trees were silent as the graves beneath them. 
              Long did I watch, and saw her pacing round
              Upon the self-same spot, still round and round,
              Her lips for ever moving.

MARMADUKE At her door
              Rooted I stood; for, looking at the woman,
              I thought I saw the skeleton of Idonea.

OSWALD But the pretended Father—­

MARMADUKE Earthly law
              Measures not crimes like his.

OSWALD We rank not, happily,
              With those who take the spirit of their rule
              From that soft class of devotees who feel
              Reverence for life so deeply, that they spare
              The verminous brood, and cherish what they spare
              While feeding on their bodies.  Would that Idonea
              Were present, to the end that we might hear
              What she can urge in his defence; she loves him.

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The Poetical Works of William Wordsworth — Volume 1 from Project Gutenberg. Public domain.
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