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.
... if his eyes have now Been doomed so long to settle on the earth That not without some effort they behold The countenance of the horizontal sun, 1815.]

[Variant 21: 

1837.

    ... or by the ... 1800.]

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FOOTNOTES ON THE TEXT

[Footnote A:  In an early MS. the title of this poem is ’Description of a Beggar’, and in the editions 1800 to 1820 the title was ’The Old Cumberland Beggar, a Description’.—­Ed.]

[Footnote B:  Wordsworth went to Racedown in 1795, when he was twenty-five years of age; and was at Alfoxden in his twenty-eighth year.—­Ed.]

[Footnote C:  Compare Ovid’s ‘Metamorphoses’ I. 84: 

  Os homini sublime dedit, coelumque videre
  Jussit et erectos ad sidera tollere vultus.

Ed.]

[Footnote D:  With this poem compare Frederick William Faber’s “Hymn,” which he called ‘The Old Labourer’, beginning: 

  What end doth he fulfil! 
  He seems without a will. 
Ed.]

[Footnote E:  In January 1801 Charles Lamb thus wrote to Wordsworth of his ‘Old Cumberland Beggar’: 

  “It appears to me a fault that the instructions conveyed in it are too
  direct, and like a lecture:  they don’t slide into the mind of the
  reader while he is imagining no such matter,”

At the same time he refers to

  “the delicate and curious feeling in the wish of the Beggar that he
  may have about him the melody of birds, although he hears them not.”

(’The Letters of Charles Lamb’, edited by Alfred Ainger, vol. i. p. 163.)—­Ed.]

* * * * *

ANIMAL TRANQUILLITY AND DECAY

Composed 1798.—­Published 1798.

  [If I recollect right, these verses were an overflowing from ’The Old
  Cumberland Beggar’.—­I.  F.]

They were published in the first edition of “Lyrical Ballads” (1798), but ‘The Old Cumberland Beggar’ was not published till 1800.  In an early MS., however, the two are incorporated.

In the edition of 1798, the poem was called, ’Old Man Travelling; Animal Tranquillity and Decay, a Sketch’.  In 1800, the title was ’Animal Tranquillity and Decay.  A Sketch’.  In 1845, it was ’Animal Tranquillity and Decay’.

It was included among the “Poems referring to the Period of Old Age.”—­Ed.

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THE POEM

  The little hedgerow birds,
  That peck along the road, regard him not. 
  He travels on, and in his face, his step,
  His gait, is one expression:  every limb,
  His look and bending figure, all bespeak 5
  A man who does not move with pain, but moves

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