Lyrical Ballads, with other poems, by William Wordsworth

Lines written on a Tablet in a School

In the School of —— is a tablet on which are inscribed, in gilt letters, the names of the federal persons who have been Schoolmasters there since the foundation of the School, with the time at which they entered upon and quitted their office. Opposite one of those names the Author wrote the following lines.

If Nature, for a favorite Child

In thee hath temper’d so her clay,

That every hour thy heart runs wild

Yet never once doth go astray,

Read o’er these lines; and then review

This tablet, that thus humbly rears

In such diversity of hue

Its history of two hundred years.

— When through this little wreck of fame,

Cypher and syllable, thine eye

Has travell’d down to Matthew’s name,

Pause with no common sympathy.

And if a sleeping tear should wake

Then be it neither check’d nor stay’d:

For Matthew a request I make

Which for himself he had not made.

Poor Matthew, all his frolics o’er,

Is silent as a standing pool,

Far from the chimney’s merry roar,

And murmur of the village school.

The sighs which Matthew heav’d were sighs

Of one tir’d out with fun and madness;

The tears which came to Matthew’s eyes

Were tears of light, the oil of gladness.

Yet sometimes when the secret cup

Of still and serious thought went round

It seem’d as if he drank it up,

He felt with spirit so profound.

— Thou soul of God’s best earthly mould,

Thou happy soul, and can it be

That these two words of glittering gold

Are all that must remain of thee?

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