Poems (Wordsworth, 1815)/Volume 2/French Revolution

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For works with similar titles, see French Revolution.

XXXI.

FRENCH REVOLUTION,

AS IT APPEARED TO ENTHUSIASTS AT ITS COMMENCEMENT[1].

Reprinted from "The Friend."

 


 

Oh! pleasant exercise of hope and joy!
For mighty were the Auxiliars, which then stood
Upon our side, we who were strong in love!
Bliss was it in that dawn to be alive,
But to be young was very heaven!—Oh! times,
In which the meagre, stale, forbidding ways
Of custom, law, and statute, took at once
The attraction of a country in Romance!
When Reason seemed the most to assert her rights,
When most intent on making of herself
A prime Enchantress—to assist the work,
Which then was going forward in her name!
Not favoured spots alone, but the whole earth
The beauty wore of promise—that which sets
(To take an image which was felt no doubt
Among the bowers of paradise itself)
The budding rose above the rose full blown.
What Temper at the prospect did not wake
To happiness unthought of? The inert
Were roused, and lively Natures rapt away!
They who had fed their childhood upon dreams,
The play-fellows of fancy, who had made
All powers of swiftness, subtilty and strength
Their ministers,—who in lordly wise had stirred
Among the grandest objects of the sense,
And dealt with whatsoever they found there
As if they had within some lurking right
To wield it;—they, too, who of gentle mood
Had watched all gentle motions, and to these
Had fitted their own thoughts, schemers more mild,
And in the region of their peaceful selves;—
Now was it that both found, the Meek and Lofty,
Did both find helpers to their heart's desire;
And stuff at hand, plastic as they could wish!
Were called upon to exercise their skill,
Not in Utopia, subterraneous Fields,
Or some secreted Island, heaven knows where!
But in the very world, which is the world
Of all of us,—the place where in the end
We find our happiness, or not at all!

  1. This, and the Extract, vol. I. page 44, and the first Piece of this Class, are from the unpublished Poem of which some account is given in the Preface to the Excursion.