Page:Poems and extracts - Wordsworth.djvu/23

From Wikisource
Jump to: navigation, search
This page has been validated.

The extract from Samuel—not William—Daniel is the longest in the volume, and in some respects the most Wordsworthian. Of the interest Wordsworth felt in Daniel's poems there are many traces. One such has not been noticed hitherto, in the Ode on Intimations of Immortality, where the line 'Filling from time to time his "hum'rous stage"' echoes Daniel's 'I do not here upon this hum'rous stage Bring my transformed muse' (Works, ed. Grosart, i. 223). Again, in the Inscriptions ('Beneath yon eastern ridge') a line is quoted from Daniel, to illustrate line 18 of the Inscription (1811)[1] So early as Oct. 24, 1801, Dorothy notes in her Grasmere Journal, 'We sat by the fire without work for some time, then Mary read a poem of Daniel.' In the Excursion (Book iv. II. 326–333) are quoted II. 89–96 (page 89 below) from this poem to the Countess of Cumberland, and commented on in Wordsworth's note.

Last comes Christopher Smart, the prosaic person who for one moment touched 'the superhuman poet pair,' Milton and Keats. Browning cannot understand the madness of Smart; at least he would know 'Why only once the fireflame was.' Wordsworth is not so inquisitive into souls, and accepts the legendary tale that Smart's lines were 'written whilst confined in a madhouse, with a key on a wainscot. The rest of them are lost.' The key and wainscot tradition comes from Hawkesworth, quoted in Anderson's British Poets, xi. 122, where (p. 203) are given five 'Stanzas, in a song to David.' Quite possibly Smart did write some stanzas on the

  1. See Knight's W., vol. iv. p. 82, and see notes on Eccles. Sonn., I. xi, on his obligations to various prose writers, Daniel included. See for above extract from D. W.'s Journal, Knight, ix. 280.