Lyrical Ballads, with other poems, by William Wordsworth

Lines written with a Slate–Pencil upon a Stone, the largest of a heap lying near a deserted Quarry, upon one of the Islands at Rydale.

Stranger! this hillock of mishapen stones

Is not a ruin of the ancient time,

Nor, as perchance thou rashly deem’st, the Cairn

Of some old British Chief: ’tis nothing more

Than the rude embryo of a little dome

Or pleasure-house, which was to have been built

Among the birch-trees of this rocky isle.

But, as it chanc’d, Sir William having learn’d

That from the shore a full-grown man might wade,

And make himself a freeman of this spot

At any hour he chose, the Knight forthwith

Desisted, and the quarry and the mound

Are monuments of his unfinish’d task. —

The block on which these lines are trac’d, perhaps,

Was once selected as the corner-stone

Of the intended pile, which would have been

Some quaint odd play-thing of elaborate skill,

So that, I guess, the linnet and the thrush,

And other little builders who dwell here,

Had wonder’d at the work. But blame him not,

For old Sir William was a gentle Knight

Bred in this vale to which he appertain’d

With all his ancestry. Then peace to him

And for the outrage which he had devis’d

Entire forgiveness. — But if thou art one

On fire with thy impatience to become

An Inmate of these mountains, if disturb’d

By beautiful conceptions, thou hast hewn

Out of the quiet rock the elements

Of thy trim mansion destin’d soon to blaze

In snow-white splendour, think again, and taught

By old Sir William and his quarry, leave

Thy fragments to the bramble and the rose,

There let the vernal slow-worm sun himself,

And let the red-breast hop from stone to stone.

Last updated Sunday, March 27, 2016 at 12:02