Such was the Boy--but for the growing Youth (from The Excursion, Book 1)

by William Wordsworth


Original Language English

Such was the Boy--but for the growing Youth
What soul was his, when, from the naked top
Of some bold headland, he beheld the sun
Rise up, and bathe the world in light! He looked--
Ocean and earth, the solid frame of earth
And ocean's liquid mass, in gladness lay
Beneath him:--Far and wide the clouds were touched,
And in their silent faces could he read
Unutterable love. Sound needed none,
Nor any voice of joy; his spirit drank
The spectacle: sensation, soul, and form,
All melted into him; they swallowed up
His animal being; in them did he live,
And by them did he live; they were his life.
In such access of mind, in such high hour
Of visitation from the living God,
Thought was not; in enjoyment it expired.
No thanks he breathed, he proffered no request;
Rapt into still communion that transcends
The imperfect offices of prayer and praise,
His mind was a thanksgiving to the power
That made him; it was blessedness and love!

-- from Complete Poetical Works, by William Wordsworth

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Commentary by Ivan M. Granger

No commentary. Nothing to say. Except to urge you not to rush through these lines. Take them phrase by phrase and drink them in.

Lines that stand out to me:

Of some bold headland, he beheld the sun
Rise up, and bathe the world in light!

Ocean and earth, the solid frame of earth
And ocean's liquid mass, in gladness lay
Beneath him

Far and wide the clouds were touched,
And in their silent faces could he read
Unutterable love.

All melted into him

In such access of mind, in such high hour
Of visitation from the living God,
Thought was not; in enjoyment it expired.

Rapt into still communion that transcends
The imperfect offices of prayer and praise,
His mind was a thanksgiving to the power
That made him


That's better prayer than a memorized formula.

Awe before the living majesty all around us that throws us into blissful silence, that is true prayer. When the heart, viewing the vastness and diversity of form is opened so wide it witnesses the Formless, that is true prayer.

We are all bathed in that light, we just need to look from some bold headland.



Recommended Books: William Wordsworth

Poetry for the Spirit: Poems of Universal Wisdom and Beauty The Oxford Book of Mystical Verse Complete Poetical Works William Wordsworth: Selected Poems William Wordsworth: The Major Works -- Including the Prelude
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Such was the Boy