Bells for William Wordsworth
by Dom Moraes (1938-2004)
Today they brought me a message. Wordsworth was
‘My God, ‘I said. ‘My God. I can hardly believe it.’
‘Just as you like,’ they answered. ‘Take it or leave it,
He has sunk into April as into the depths of a lake,
Leaving his eyes ajar in the house of his head.’
‘Are you sure,’ I said, ‘ that you haven’t made a mistake?’
‘Oh no, ‘ they said, ‘not a hope. We knew him too well,
A ‘gloomy considering bloke with the nose of a preacher:
A poet in fact, with a charming affection for Nature:
Milkmaids (you know) and the shadows of clouds on the
His work is carefully studied in colleges still.
We shall not forget not forgo it, while colleges stand.’
And I said, ‘I grant you that Wordsworth lies chilly in
And his bones are absolved and dissolved in the tears of
I grant he is one with the plant and the fossil again,’
His flesh has gone back into soil and his eyes into stones
And the roots and shoots of a new life push each year
Through the sad rotten fragments of his bones.
‘But although each spring brings a newer death to those
I have seen him risen again with the crocus in Spring.
I have seen turned my ear to the wind, I have heard him
I shrank from the bony sorrow in his face.
Yet still I hear those pedagogic tones
Droning away the snow, our old disgrace.’