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Romanticism Writing and Sexual DifferenceEssays on The Prelude$

Mary Jacobus

Print publication date: 1989

Print ISBN-13: 9780198129691

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: October 2011

DOI: 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780198129691.001.0001

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(p.295) Appendix ‘Even yet thou wilt vouchsafe an ear’ (The ‘Analogy’ passage from MS W Of The Prelude)

(p.295) Appendix ‘Even yet thou wilt vouchsafe an ear’ (The ‘Analogy’ passage from MS W Of The Prelude)

Romanticism Writing and Sexual Difference
Oxford University Press

  • Even yet thou wilt vouchsafe an ear, O friend,
  • And something too of a submissive mind,
  • As in thy mildness thou I know hast done,
  • While with a winding but no devious song
  • Through [] processes I make my way 5
  • By links of tender thought. My present aim
  • Is to contemplate for a needful while
  • (Passage which will conduct in season due
  • Back to the tale which I have left behind)
  • The diverse manner in which Nature works 10
  • Oft times upon the outward face of things,
  • I mean so moulds, exalts, endues, combines,
  • Impregnates, separates, adds, takes away,
  • And makes one object sway another so
  • By unhabitual influence or abrupt, 15
  • That even the grossest minds must see and hear
  • And cannot chuse but feel. The power which these
  • Are touched by, being so moved—which Nature thus
  • Puts forth upon the senses (not to speak
  • Of finer operations)—is in kind 20
  • A brother of the very faculty
  • Which higher minds bear with them as their own.
  • These from their native selves can deal about
  • Like transformation, to one life impart
  • The functions of another, shift, create, 25
  • Trafficking with immeasurable thoughts.
  • Oft tracing this analogy betwixt
  • The mind of man and Nature, doth the scene
  • Which from the side of Snowdon I beheld
  • Rise up before me, followed too in turn 30
  • By sundry others, whence I will select
  • A portion, living pictures, to embody
  • This pleasing argument.
  • It was a day
  • Upon the edge of autumn, fierce with storm;
  • The wind blew down the vale of Coniston 35
  • (p.296) Compressed as in a tunnel; from the lake
  • Bodies of foam took flight, and every thing
  • Was wrought into commotion high and low,
  • A roaring wind, mist, and bewildered showers,
  • Ten thousand thousand waves, mountains and crags, 40
  • And darkness and the sun's tumultuous light.
  • Green leaves were rent in handfuls from the trees;
  • The mountains all seemed silent, din so near
  • Pealed in the traveller's ear, the clouds [? ?],
  • The horse and rider staggered in the blast, 45
  • And he who looked upon the stormy lake
  • Had fear for boat or vessel where none was.
  • Meanwhile, by what strange chance I cannot tell,
  • What combination of the wind and clouds,
  • A large unmutilated rainbow stood 50
  • Immoveable in heaven, [?] [? been] [?]
  • With stride colossal bridging the whole vale.
  • The substance thin as dreams, lovelier than day,
  • Amid the deafening uproar stood unmoved,
  • Sustained itself through many minutes space, 55
  • As if it were pinned down by adamant.
  • One evening, walking in the public way,
  • A peasant of the valley where I dwelt
  • Being my chance companion, he stopped short
  • And point to an object full in view 60
  • At a small distance. ’Twas a horse, that stood
  • Alone upon a little breast of ground
  • With a clear silver moonlight sky behind.
  • With one leg from the ground the creature stood,
  • Insensible and still; breath, motion gone, 65
  • Hairs, colour, all but shape and substance gone,
  • Mane, ears, and tail, as lifeless as the trunk
  • That had no stir of breath. We paused awhile
  • In pleasure of the sight, and left him there,
  • With all his functions silently sealed up, 70
  • Like an amphibious work of Nature's hand,
  • A borderer dwelling betwixt life and death,
  • A living statue or a statued life.
  • Add others still more obvious, those I mean
  • Which Nature forces on the sight when she 75
  • Takes man into the bosom of her works—
  • Man suffering or enjoying. Meanest minds
  • Want not these moments, if they would look
  • (p.297) Back on the past, and books are full of them.
  • Such power to pass at once from daily life, 80
  • Such power was with Columbus and his crew
  • When first, far travelled into unknown seas,
  • They saw the needle faltering in its office,
  • Turn from the Pole. What chivalry was seen
  • With English heroes in thy golden times 85
  • Elizabeth—such perhaps to those behind
  • That followed closely in a second ship,
  • Tried comrades in his perils, did present
  • Sir Humphrey Gilbert, that bold voyager,
  • When they beheld him in the furious storm 90
  • Upon the deck of his small pinnace sitting
  • In calmness, with a book upon his knee—
  • The ship and he a moment afterwards
  • Engulphed and seen no more
  • Like spectacle 95
  • That traveller yet living doth appear
  • To the mind's eye, when from the Moors escaped,
  • Alone, and in the heart of Africa,
  • And overcome with weariness and pain
  • That he [?] at length the sense of life,
  • Sunk to the earth, did find when he awaked 100
  • His horse in quiet standing at his side,
  • His arm within the bridle, and the sun
  • Setting upon the desart. Kindred power
  • Was present for the suffering and distress
  • In those who read the story at their ease 105
  • When, flying in his Nicobar canoe
  • With three Malayan helpers, Dampier saw
  • Well in those portents of the broken wheel
  • Girding the sun, and afterwards the sea
  • Roaring and whitening at the night's approach, 110
  • And danger coming on, not in a shape
  • Which in the heat and mettle of the blood
  • He oft had welcomed, but deliberate,
  • With dread and leisurely solemnity. 115
  • Bitter repentance for his roving life
  • Seized then upon the vent'rous mariner,
  • Made calm at length by prayer and trust in God.
  • Meanwhile the bark went forward like an arrow,
  • For many hours abandoned to the wind,
  • Her steersman. But a slackening of the storm 120
  • Encouraged them at length to cast a look
  • (p.298) Upon the compass, by a lighted match
  • Made visible, which they in their distress
  • Kept burning for the purpose. Thus they fared
  • Sitting all night upon the lap of death 125
  • In wet and starveling plight, wishing for dawn,
  • A dawn that came at length, with gloomy clouds
  • Blackening the horizon; the first glimpse
  • Far from the horizon's edge, high up in heaven—
  • High dawn, prognosticating winds as high. 130
  • (Prel. 496–9)