The Faëry Chasm – A Poem by William Wordsworth

This is a poem by british poet William Wordsworth (1770-1850) and once again the themes are related to Nature and in this case mythological faeries and how they reveal themselves in Nature. Where can they be found? According to the Dictionary a Chasm is a very deep, narrow opening in a rock, ice, or the ground. In Wordsworth’s poem they appear dancing as they reveal their secrets. What are their secrets? The poem mentions a Babe, a stolen flower and weed left. Pay attention to what’s happening rather what is described.

Themes: Faeries, Elves, Nature and mythological mysticism.

The Faëry Chasm

No fiction was it of the antique age:

A sky-blue stone, within this sunless cleft,

Is of the very footmarks unbereft

Which tiny Elves impressed; – on that smooth stage

Dancing with all their brilliant equipage

In secret revels – haply after theft

Of some sweet Babe – Flower stolen, and coarse Weed left

For the distracted Mother to assuage

Her grief with, as she might! – But, where, oh! where

Is traceable a vestige of the notes

That ruled those dances wild in character? –

Deep underground? Or in the upper air,

On the shrill wind of midnight? or where floats

O’er twilight fields the autumnal gossamer?

Sources

wikipedia.org

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“To Sleep” – A poem by William Wordsworth

Context: William Wordsworth (1770-1850) is considered to be one of the most influential among the Romantic poets of British literature. Wikipedia states that “Wordsworth was Britain’s Poet Laureate from 1843 until his death from pleurisy on 23 April 1850.” In the 1790’s his career as a famous poet started and he wrote a lot of poetry. He also wrote autobiographical parts of poetry. Wikipedia once again: “The year 1793 saw the first publication of poems by Wordsworth, in the collections An Evening Walk and Descriptive Sketches. In 1795 he received a legacy of 900 pounds from Raisley Calvert and became able to pursue a career as a poet.” 

Themes: The major theme of this short poem (it’s considered short since Wordsworth usually wrote lenghty poems) is beyond any doubt sleeplessness or insomina. Follow the protagonist as he tries to count the sheep! We’ve all been there, we’ve all done that! This goes on in the first five lines. As he struggles to fall asleep he thinks of other sleepless nights and sadly there is no sleep this night either. Take notice once again on how Nature is present in the lines. Nature corresponds to the protagonist’s feeling throughout the poem.

To Sleep

 

A FLOCK of sheep that leisurely pass by 

One after one; the sound of rain, and bees 

Murmuring; the fall of rivers, winds and seas, 

Smooth fields, white sheets of water, and pure sky;— 

I’ve thought of all by turns, and still I lie

Sleepless; and soon the small birds’ melodies 

Must hear, first utter’d from my orchard trees, 

And the first cuckoo’s melancholy cry. 

Even thus last night, and two nights more I lay, 

And could not win thee, Sleep! by any stealth: 

So do not let me wear to-night away: 

Without Thee what is all the morning’s wealth? 

Come, blesséd barrier between day and day, 

Dear mother of fresh thoughts and joyous health! 

Sources

wikipedia.org (various entries)

Internet Archive (Wordsworth)

Early painting of Wordsworth at the start of his career as a poet in the 1790’s.