Updated: Dec 14, 2019
There is deep value in removing yourself from your own skin and entering the skin of another person. Only through poetry and literature and painting can we exercise this ability of humans. And in this poem, Wordsworth teaches you how. At the bottom is a poem by WIlliam Collins "Ode on the Death of Mr. Thomson," which Wordsworth alludes to heavily in his poem.
Lines Written Near Richmond, upon the Thames at Evening
By William Wordworth
How rich the wave, in front, imprest
With evening-twilight’s summer hues,
While, facing thus the crimson west,
The boat her silent path pursues!
And see how dark the backward stream!
A little moment past, so smiling!
And still, perhaps, with faithless gleam,
Some other loiterer beguiling.
Such views the youthful bard allure,
But, heedless of the following gloom,
He deems their colours shall endure
‘Till peace go with him to the tomb.
—And let him nurse his fond deceit,
And what if he must die in sorrow !
Who would not cherish dreams so sweet,
Though grief and pain may come to-morrow ?
Glide gently, thus for ever glide,
O Thames ! that other bards may see,
As lovely visions by thy side
As now, fair river! come to me.
Oh glide, fair stream! for ever so ;
Thy quiet soul on all bestowing,
‘Till all our minds for ever flow,
As thy deep waters now are flowing.
Vain though! yet be as now thou art,
That in thy waters may be seen
The image of a poet’s heart,
How bright, how solemn, how serene !
Such heart did once the poet bless,
Who, pouring here a* later ditty,
Could find no refuge from distress,
But in the milder grief of pity.
Remembrance! as we glide along,
For him suspend the dashing oar,
And pray that never child of Song
May know his freezing sorrows more.
How calm ! how still ! the only sound,
The dripping of the oar suspended !
—The evening darkness gathers round
By virtue’s holiest powers attended.
* Collin’s Ode on the death of Thomson, the last written, I believe, of the poems which were published during his life-time This Ode is alluded to in the next stanza.
ODE ON THE DEATH OF MR. THOMSON
THE SCENE OF THE FOLLOWING STANZAS IS SUPPOSED TO LIE ON THE THAMES, NEAR RICHMOND.
IN yonder grave a Druid lies, Where slowly winds the stealing wave!; The year's best sweets shall duteous rise, To deck its Poet's sylvan grave!
In yon deep bed of whispering reeds His airy harp shall now be laid; That he whose heart in sorrow bleeds May love through life the soothing shade.
Then maids and youths shall linger here; And, while its sounds at distance swell, Shall sadly seem in Pity's ear To hear the woodland pilgrim's knell.
Remembrance oft shall haunt the shore, When Thames in summer wreaths is drest; And oft suspend the dashing oar, To bid his gentle spirit rest!
And, oft as ease and health retire To breezy lawn, or forest deep, The friend shall view yon whitening spire,* And, 'mid the varied landscape weep.
But thou who own'st that earthly bed, Ah! what will every dirge avail! Or tears which Love and Pity shed, That mourn beneath the gliding sail!
Yet lives there one whose heedless eye Shall scorn thy pale shrine glimmering near! With him, sweet Bard, may fancy die; And Joy desert the blooming year.
But thou, lorn stream, whose sullen tide No sedge-crown'd sister now attend, Now waft me from the green hill's side Whose cold turf hides the buried friend!
And see the fairy valleys fade; Dun Night has veil'd the solemn view! Yet once again, dear parted shade, Meek Nature's Child, again adieu!
The genial meads, assign'd to bless Thy life, shall mourn thy early doom; Their hinds and shepherd-girls shall dress, With simple hands, thy rural tomb.
Long, long thy stone and pointed clay Shall melt the musing Briton's eyes; O! vales and wild woods, shall he say In yonder grave your Druid lies!