MS D Analysis

The Pasted-on Sheets in MS D

There are three pages within the final section of blue laid paper in MS D (copied out in 1821-32) which contain pasted-on sheets for further revision to the base text. The Cornell edition states that: "These revisions may carry Wordsworth's work on the poem beyond 1832, but it is impossible to date them with precision" (411). It is possible that the additional page on 19r is earlier than the other two, but the dates of none of them can be fixed.


The largest pasted-on sheet occurs on 19r. Beth Darlington suggests that the addition of p.25 (a verso redrafting of the base text) and of this pasted-on sheet might have occurred at around the same time (411). Both sheets are of the same paper as that of the base text at this point in the manuscript. This allows the possibility that they might have been added soon after the copy was completed, some time in 1832. The content of the sheet is the introduction of the only surviving Grasmere tale (the Dame with her grove of trees) (MS D, lines 384-402).


A smaller strip of cream coloured paper ("unmarked, gilt-edged, white wove paper" [411] according to Cornell) provides the pasted-on slip for 21v. The back of the slip with two scraps of writing looking like an address, as well as the folds, clearly show that it was from a letter or originally intended to be such. The content of the slip is a re-working of the image of the Traveller emerging from the fog (MS D, lines 474-483)


This is a half page sheet of cream coloured paper, similar in appearance to that on 21v but with no signs of previous use. Whilst the top of page 26r is reworked and expanded on the added leaf 25 opposite, the pasted-on sheet represents a further revision of the underlying base text (containing ink revisions in Mary's hand and pencil additions in Wordsworth's hand which are then incorporated). The content of the lines is a description of the Grasmere community as one family under God (MS D, 609-622).

Interpreting the Pasted-On Sheets

MS D, 19r

The entry on the pasted-on sheet is extremely messy. At first sight it looks like alternate lines are crossed through but in fact there must be two times of entry with the later version added between the crossed out lines (lines at the top of the page are spaced far further apart). This makes sense, since the original pasted-on sheet must have been reasonably clean, otherwise there would be no point in adding it. This also strongly suggests a later stage of revision after the creation of the full fair copy in 1832. The slip is attached so that the lines on the page run continuously on. Its lines replace redrafting on the page below.

The point within the text at which the first pasted-on slip is added is not an insignificant one within the Home at Grasmere manuscripts. It occurs in the manuscript after the line "And treads the mountains which his Fathers trod". This line in MS B (21r) marked the end of the 11 lines added to the copy of MS A and thus the linkage of MS A draft material to MS R. It stands therefore at the end of one kind of personal writing about Grasmere and before the start of the Grasmere tales. Two of the tales that occur at this point in MS B were removed to be put into The Excursion.

By the time of MS D the two most substantial of those tales have been removed, leaving only the tale of the old Dame and the grove of trees planted years ago with her husband. Even though Wordsworth has already taken out the two longer tales, he here resituates the unused material and redrafts it as well. In the context of MS D it now stands as the only example of local life and of the life of the valley given in detail within the poem. The planting of the grove of trees is adjusted and described as if done specifically in the interest of sheltering sheep. Thus, the story stands as an example of "what is done among the fields / Done truly there" (19v). The poet reflects on his difficulty in finding the words to convey such a life fully. In MS D, then, the story is a clearer tale of harmonious life within the valley (without the distractions of the other tales) than it was in MS B.

MS D, 21v

The second pasted-on sheet involves re-working of the image of a Traveller moving through the lifting fog. (See discussion of this in MS R Interactive: Just a Coincidence?). It represents a copy of the re-drafted lines underneath it and is integrated into the text which continues below it.

This image is unstable in all three manuscripts in which it appears – MS R(p.146); MS B (32r); MS D. Corrections of it in MS B may anticipate MS D, but then the MS D text itself also contains significant re-working. In MS B this image, which is related to the poet in the end, was related to Grasmere itself:

the passing Traveller, when his way

Lies through some region then first trod by him

(Say this fair Valley's self) . . .

(MS B Reading Text, 698-700).

However, the changes made in MS D distance this image from such a location, describing the "Stranger" as wandering "Through some Helvetian Vale". The landscape is also made more explicitly Alpine with its "dark pines". The dissociation of the image from the Lakes may be intended to lessen its direct connection to the poet, and its potentially negative image of the "Traveller's" situation.

MS D, 26r

The final pasted-on sheet is a cleaner re-writing of the draft lines below it which contain some ink revisions by Mary Wordsworth and, at the very bottom of the page, some pencil additions by Wordsworth. These in particular probably lead to the rewriting and to the new first four lines on the pasted-in paper. Workings on 25v opposite are an addition to the top of the page.

Again, the re-workings concern an image of isolation (that of the Forest Hermit) and of the integration of the individual with the world around him. Here the City is opposed to "A true Community", that of Grasmere as "One household, under God".