Lines Written at a small distance from my House by William Wordsworth

Updated: Dec 9, 2019



in the spring of 1798 William Wordsworth was going through a reckoning. His work on his elusive life project, The Recluse, was draining him. He had set out to study ALL knowledge up to that point in human history, and use it in an epic poem greater than The Iliad, Aeneid, Paradise Lost and all epics before it.

But Wordsworth began to question the relevance of his project and his ability to accomplish it.

In this poem, “lines written a small distance from my house,” he challenges the idea of learning from books alone and advocates for putting down your books and leaving the joyless world of the mundane and entering an awe-filled, joyful world of nature and love.

Special thanks to Don Watkins for his article "The Reckoning: Why 'Serving a cause greater than yourself' cannot give life meaning."



LINES

Written at a small distance from my House, and sent by

my little boy to the person to whom they are addressed.


It is the first mild day of March:

Each minute sweeter than before,

The red-breast sings from the tall larch

That stands beside our door.


There is a blessing in the air,

Which seems a sense of joy to yield

To the bare trees, and mountains bare,

And grass in the green field.


My Sister! ('tis a wish of mine)

Now that our morning meal is done,

Make haste, your morning task resign;

Come forth and feel the sun.


Edward will come with you, and pray,

Put on with speed your woodland dress,

And bring no book, for this one day

We'll give to idleness.


No joyless forms shall regulate

Our living Calendar:

We from to-day, my friend, will date

The opening of the year.


Love, now an universal birth,

From heart to heart is stealing,

From earth to man, from man to earth,

--It is the hour of feeling.


One moment now may give us more

Than fifty years of reason;

Our minds shall drink at every pore

The spirit of the season.


Some silent laws our hearts may make,

Which they shall long obey;

We for the year to come may take

Our temper from to-day.


And from the blessed power that rolls

About, below, above;

We'll frame the measure of our souls,

They shall be tuned to love.


Then come, my sister I come, I pray,

With speed put on your woodland dress,

And bring no book; for this one day

We'll give to idleness.



-------------------------------------------------

Leisure

By W.H Davies


WHAT is this life if, full of care,

We have no time to stand and stare?—


No time to stand beneath the boughs,

And stare as long as sheep and cows:


No time to see, when woods we pass,

Where squirrels hide their nuts in grass:


No time to see, in broad daylight,

Streams full of stars, like skies at night:


No time to turn at Beauty's glance,

And watch her feet, how they can dance:


No time to wait till her mouth can

Enrich that smile her eyes began?


A poor life this if, full of care,

We have no time to stand and stare.