The Gladness of the May

There was a time when meadow, grove, and stream,
  The earth, and every common sight,
       To me did seem
  Aparell’d in celestial light,
The glory and the freshness of a dream.
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. . . . . . . . . .

    The rainbow comes and goes,
    And lovely is the rose;
    The moon doth with delight
  Look round her when the heavens are bare;
    Waters on a starry night
    Are beautiful and fair;
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  The sunshine is a glorious birth;
  But yet I know, where’er I go,
That there hath pass’d away a glory from the earth.
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. . . . . . . . . .

    But for those first affections,
    Those shadowy recollections,
   Which, be they what they may,
Are yet the fountain-light of all our day,
Are yet a master-light of all our seeing;
 Uphold us, cherish, and have power to make
Our noisy years seem moments in the being
Of the eternal Silence: truths that wake,
       To perish never:
Which neither listlessness, nor mad endeavor,
       Nor Man nor Boy,
Nor all that is at enmity with joy,
Can utterly abolish or destroy!
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  Hence in a season of calm weather
    Though inland far we be,
Our souls have sight of that immortal sea
    Which brought us hither,
  Can in a moment travel thither,
And see children sport upon the shore,
And hear the mighty waters rolling evermore.
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Then sing, ye birds, sing, sing a joyous song!
     And let the young lambs bound
     As to the tabor’s sound!
We in thought will join your throng,
   Ye that pipe and ye that play,
   Ye that through your hearts to-day
   Feel the gladness of the May!
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What though the radiance which was once so bright
Be now for ever taken from my sight,
  Though nothing can bring back the hour
Of splendor in the grass, of glory in the flower;
   We will grieve not, rather find
   Strength in what remains behind;
   In the primal sympathy
   Which having been must ever be;
   In the soothing thoughts that spring
   Out of human suffering;
   In the faith that looks through death,
In years that bring the philosophic mind.
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And O ye Fountains, Meadows, Hills, and Groves,
Forbode not any severing of our loves!
Yet in my heart of hearts I feel your might;
I only have relinquish’d one delight
To live beneath your more habitual sway.
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I love the brooks which down their channels fret,
Even more than when I tripp’d lightly as they;
The innocent brightness of a new-born Day
       Is lovely yet;
The clouds that gather round the setting sun
Do take a sober colouring from an eye
That hath kept watch o’er man’s mortality;
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Another race hath been, and other palms are won.
Thanks to the human heart by which we live,
Thanks to its tenderness, its joys, and fears,
To me the meanest flower that blows can give
Thoughts that do often lie too deep for tears.

—excerpted from “Ode: Intimations of Immortality
from Recollections of Early Childhood
,”
by William Wordsworth

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