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Quotations from William Wordsworth


A multitude of causes unknown to former times are now acting with a combined force to blunt the discriminating powers of the mind, and unfitting it for all voluntary exertion to reduce it to a state of almost savage torpor.

Lyrical Ballads, Preface (2nd edition) (1801)

All good poetry is the spontaneous overflow of powerful feelings: it takes its origin from emotion recollected in tranquility.

Lyrical Ballads, Preface (2nd edition) (1801)

Bliss was it in that dawn to be alive,
But to be young was very heaven!

The Prelude, book 11

For by superior energies; more strict
Affiance in each other; faith more firm
In their unhallowed principles, the bad
Have fairly earned a victory o’er the weak,
The vacillating, inconsistent good.

The Excursion, book 4 (1814)

For I have learned
To look on nature, not as in the hour
Of thoughtless youth, but hearing oftentimes
The still, sad music of humanity,
Nor harsh nor grating, though of ample power
To chasten and subdue.

Lines Composed a Few Miles Above Tintern Abbey (1798)

Give all thou canst; high Heaven rejects the lore
Of nicely-calculated less or more.

Tax Not the Royal Saint

Heaven lies about us in our infancy!
Shades of the prison-house begin to close
Upon the growing boy.

Ode: Intimations of Immortality (1807)

I travelled among unknown men,
In lands beyond the sea;
Nor England! did I know till then
What love I bore to thee.

I Travelled Among Unknown Men (1807)

Is there not
An art, a music, and a stream of words
That shalt be life, the acknowledged voice of life?

Home at Grasmere (published as The Recluse, 1888) (1800)

My apprehensions come in crowds;
I dread the rustling of the grass;
The very shadows of the clouds
Have power to shake me as they pass:
I question things and do not find
One that will answer to my mind;
And all the world appears unkind.

The Affliction of Margaret

My friendship it is not in my power to give: this is a gift which no man can make, it is not in our own power: a sound and healthy friendship is the growth of time and circumstance, it will spring up and thrive like a wildflower when these favour, and when they do not, it is in vain to look for it.

Letter to Thomas De Quincey (July 29, 1803)

Neither evil tongues,
Rash judgements, nor the sneers of selfish men,
Nor greetings where no kindness is, nor all
The dreary intercourse of daily life,
Shall e'er prevail against us.

Lines Composed a Few Miles Above Tintern Abbey (1798)

One impulse from a vernal wood
May teach you more of man,
Of moral evil and of good,
Than all the ages can.

The Tables Turned, stanza 6

Our birth is but a sleep and a forgetting;
The soul that rises with us, our life’s star,
Hath had elsewhere its setting,
And cometh from afar:
Not in entire forgetfulness,
And not in utter nakedness,
But trailing clouds of glory do we come
From God, who is our home.

Ode: Intimations of Immortality (1807)

That best portion of a good man's life;
His little, nameless, unremembered acts
Of kindness and of love.

Lines Composed a Few Miles Above Tintern Abbey (1798)

That blessed mood
In which the burthen of the mystery,
In which the heavy and the weary weight
Of all this unintelligible world
Is lightened.

Lines Composed a Few Miles above Tintern Abbey (1798)

The Child is father of the Man;
And I could wish my days to be
Bound each to each by natural piety.

'My Heart Leaps Up…' (published 1807) (1802)

The darkest pit
Of the profoundest hell, chaos, night,
Nor aught of blinder vacancy scooped out
By help of dreams can breed such fear and awe
As fall upon us often when we look
Into our minds, into the mind of man.

Home at Grasmere (published as The Recluse, 1888) (1800)

The good die first,
And they whose hearts are dry as summer dust,
Burn to the socket.

The Excursion, book 1 (1814)

The human mind is capable of excitement without the application of gross and violent stimulants; and he must have a very faint perception of its beauty and dignity who does not know this.

Lyrical Ballads, Preface (2nd edition) (1801)

The thought of our past years in me doth breed
Perpetual benedictions.

Ode: Intimations of Immortality

The world is too much with us; late and soon,
Getting and spending, we lay waste our powers:
Little we see in Nature that is ours;
We have given our hearts away, a sordid boon!

Miscellaneous Sonnets, Sonnet 23 (1827)

Though nothing can bring back the hour
Of splendour in the grass, of glory in the flower;
We will grieve not, rather find
Strength in what remains behind.

Ode: Intimations of Immortality (1807)

To me the meanest flower that blows can give
Thoughts that do often lie too deep for tears.

Ode: Intimations of Immortality (1807)

We poets in our youth begin in gladness;
But thereof comes in the end despondency and madness.

Resolution and Independence, stanza 7

Where the statue stood
Of Newton with his prism and silent face,
The marble index of a mind for ever
Voyaging through strange seas of thought, alone.

On a statue of Newton, in The Prelude, book 3

With an eye made quiet by the power
Of harmony, and the deep power of joy,
We see into the life of things.

Lines Composed a Few Miles above Tintern Abbey (1798)

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