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PREFACE

The following collection has been entitled SIBYLLINE LEAVES; in allusion to the fragmentary and widely scattered state in which they have been long suffered to remain. It contains the whole of the author's poetical compositions, from 1793 to the present date, with the exception of a few works not yet finished, and those published in the first edition of his juvenile poems, over which he has no controul. They may be divided into three classes: First, A selection from the Poems added to the second and third editions, together with those originally published in the LYRICAL BALLAds, which after having remained many years out of print, have been omitted by Mr. Wordsworth in the recent collection of all his minor poems, and of course revert to the author. Second, Poems published at very different periods, in various obscure or perishable journals, &c. some with, some without the writer's consent; many imperfect, all incorrect. The third and last class is formed of Poems which have hitherto remained in manuscript. The whole is now presented to the reader collectively, with considerable additions and alterations, and as perfect as the author's judgment and powers could render

them.

In my Literary Life, it has been mentioned that, with the exception of this preface, the SIBYLLINE Leaves have been printed almost two years; and the necessity of troubling the reader with the list of errata, which follows this preface, alone induces me to refer again to the circumstance, at the risk of ungenial feelings, from the recollection of its worthless causes.

A few corrections of later date have been added.-Henceforward the author must be occupied by studies of a very different kind.

Ite hinc, CAMENÆl Vos quoque ite, suaves,
Dulces CAMÊNÆ! Nam (fatebimur verum)
Dulces fuistis!—Et tamen meas chartas
Revisitote: sed pudenter et raro!

VIRGIL. Catalect. vii.

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At the request of the friends of my youth, who still remain my friends, and who were pleased with the wildness of the compositions, I have added two school-boy poems—with a song modernized with some additions from one of our elder poets. Surely, malice itself will scarcely attribute their insertion to any other motive, than the wish to keep alive the recollections from early life.—I scarcely knew what title I should prefix to the first. By imaginary Time, I meant the state of a school boy's mind when on his return to school he projects his being in his day dreams, and lives in his next holidays, six months hence: and this I contrasted with real Time.

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On the wide level of a mountain's head,
(I knew not where, but 'twas some faery place)
Their pinions, ostrich-like for sails outspread,
Two lovely children run an endless race,

A sister and a brother!

This far outstript the other;
Yet ever runs she with reverted face,
And looks and listens for the boy behind:

For he, alas! is blindi
O'er rough and smooth, with even step he pass'd,
And knows not whether he be first or last.

THE RAVEN.

A CHRISTMAS TALE, TOLD BY A SCHOOL-BOY TO HIS LITTLE

BROTHERS AND SISTERS.

Underneath a huge oak tree
There was, of swine, a huge company,
That grunted as they crunch'd the mast:
For that was ripe, and fell full fast.
Then they trotted away, for the wind grew high:
One acorn they left, and no more might you spy.
Next came a raven, that liked not such folly:
He belonged, it was said, to the witch Melancholy!
Blacker was he than blackest jet,
Flew low in the rain, and his feathers not wet.
He pick'd up the acorn and buried it strait
By the side of a river both deep and great.

Where then did the raven go?

He went high and low,
Over hill, over dale, did the black raven go.

Many autumns, many springs
Traveli'd he* with wandering wings.
Many summers, many winters,
I can't tell half his adventures.

*

Seventeen or eighteen years ago, an artist of some celebrity was so pleased with this doggerel, that he amused himself with the thought of making a Child's Picture Book of it; but he could not hit on a picture for these four lines. I suggested a round-about with four seats, and the four seasons, as children, with Time for the shew

man.

At length he came back, and with him a she,
And the acorn was grown to a tall oak tree.

They built them a nest in the topmost bough,
And young ones they had, and were happy enow.
But soon came a woodman, in leathern guise,
His brow, like a pent-house, hung over his eyes.
He'd an ax in his hand, not a word he spoke,
But with many a hem! and a sturdy stroke,

At length he brought down the poor raven's own oak.
His

young ones were kill’d: for they could not depart, And their mother did die of a broken heart.

The boughs from the trunk the woodman did sever-
And they floated it down on the course of the river.
They saw'd it in planks, and its bark they did strip,
And with this tree and others they made a good ship.
The ship, it was launch'd; but in sight of the land
Such a storm there did rise as no ship could withstand.
It bulg'd on a rock, and the waves rush'd in fast:
The old raven flew round and round, and caw'd to the blast.

He heard the last shriek of the perishing souls
Seel seel o'er the topmast the mad water rollsl

Right glad was the raven, and off he went fleet,
And Death riding home on a cloud he did meet,
And he thank'd him again and again for this treat:

They had taken his all, and revenge was sweet!
We must not think so; but forget and forgive,
And what Heaven gives life to, we'll still let it live?

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