Lines Written in Early Spring by William Wordsworth

Updated: Dec 14, 2019

What does contemplation look like and how can we know it when we are doing it? This will be one of the themes to be explored on this episode.

On this Sunday Morning Poetry I'll be reading not only the Lines poem but a passage from Wordsworth's The Prelude and a poem from Robert Burns. We will learn much about a pivotal shift in the early Wordsworth's philosophy and poetry. It is the shift that made Romanticism... Well... Romanticism.

In Lyrical Ballads there are several poems by Wordsworth with the title simply "lines" and then a subtitle like (written in early spring) or (left upon a yew tree...). The most famous of these, and the most famous of all Wordsworth's poetry is the finale of the 1798 Lyrical Ballads, Lines (written a few miles above Tintern Abbey, on revisiting the banks of the Wy during a tour, July 13th, 1798).

These "lines" poems have at their core a certain way of contemplation reality. It is one that has changed English writing and thinking ever since. And it is a way of contemplation that will make your life worth living.



Written in Early Spring


I heard a thousand blended notes,

While in a grove I sate reclined,

In that sweet mood when pleasant thoughts

Bring sad thoughts to the mind.

To her fair works did Nature link

The human soul that through me ran;

And much it grieved my heart to think

What man has made of man.

Through primrose tufts, in that green bower,

The periwinkle trailed its wreaths;

And ’tis my faith that every flower

Enjoys the air it breathes.

The birds around me hopped and played,

Their thoughts I cannot measure:—

But the least motion which they made

It seemed a thrill of pleasure.

The budding twigs spread out their fan,

To catch the breezy air;

And I must think, do all I can,

That there was pleasure there.

If this belief from heaven be sent,

If such be Nature’s holy plan,

Have I not reason to lament

What man has made of man?


Man was Made to Mourn

By Robert Burns

When chill November's surly blast

Made fields and forests bare,

One ev'ning, as I wander'd forth

Along the banks of Ayr,

I spied a man, whose aged step

Seem'd weary, worn with care;

His face furrow'd o'er with years,

And hoary was his hair.

"Young stranger, whither wand'rest thou?"

Began the rev'rend sage;

"Does thirst of wealth thy step constrain,

Or youthful pleasure's rage?