Jonathan Wordsworth, M. H. Abrams and Stephen Gill's

Transcription of MS JJ.

(Norton Critical Edition, 1979)

The Norton Critical Edition does not in fact create a single text called "MS JJ". Instead it presents the material as a series of "MS Drafts and Fragments 1798-1804" (487).

a. A connected sequence of 150 lines corresponding to 1799, I, 1-26 (with 4 extra lines), 50-66, 130-41, 186-98 (4 extra lines), 28-49, a twenty-five-line version of 375-90, 391-412 (5 extra lines). (487).

was it for this

That one, the fairest of all rivers, loved

To blend his murmurs with my nurse’s song,

And from his alder shades and rocky falls,

And from his fords and shallows sent a voice

To intertwine my dreams? For this didst thou

O Derwent, travelling over the green plains

Near my sweet birth-place, didst thou, beauteous stream,

Give ceaseless music to the night and day,

Which with its steady cadence tempering

Our human waywardness, compose[d] my thoughts

To more than infant softness, giving me

Amid the fretful tenements of man

A knowledge, a dim earnest, of the calm

That Nature breathes among her woodland h[aunts]?

Was it for this – and now I speak of things

That have been, and that are, no gentle dreams

Complacent fashioned fondly to adorn

The time of unrememberable being –

Was it for this that I, a four years' child,

Beneath thy scars & in thy silent pools

Made one long bathing of a summers day,

Basked in the sun, or plunged into thy streams,

Alternate, all a summers day, or coursed

Over thy sandy plains, and dashed the flowers

Of yellow grundsel; or, when the hill-tops,

The woods, and all the distant mountains,

Were bronzed with a deep radiance, stood alone

A naked savage in the thunder shower?

For this in springtime, when on southern banks

The shining sun had from his knot of leaves

Decoyed the primrose flower, and when the vales

And woods were warm, was I a rover then

In the high places, on the lonely peaks,

Among the mountains and the winds. Though mean

And though inglorious were my views, the end

Was not ignoble. Oh, when I have hung

Above the ravens nest, have hung alone

By half-inch fissures in the slippery rock

But ill sustained, and almost, as it seemed,

Suspended by the wind which blew amain

Against the naked cragg, ah, then,

While on the perilous edge I hung alone,

With what strange utterance did the loud dry wind

Blow through my ears; the sky seemed not a sky

Of earth, and with what motion moved the clouds!

Ah, not in vain ye beings of the hills,

And ye that walk the woods and open heaths

By moon or starlight, thus from my first day

Of childhood, did ye love to interweave

The passions [ ]

Not with the mean and vulgar works of man,

But with high objects, with eternal things,

With life and Nature, purifying thus

The elements of feeling and of thought,

And sanctifying by such discipline

Both pain and fear, untill we recognize

A grandeur in the beatings of the heart.

Ah, not in vain ye spirits of the springs,

And ye that have your voices in the clouds,

And ye that are familiars of the lakes

And standing pools, ah, not for trivial ends

Through snow and sunshine and the sparkling plains

Of moonlight frost, and through the stormy day,

Did ye with such assiduous love pursue

Your favourite and your joy. I may not think

A vulgar hope was yours when ye employed

Such ministry, when ye through many a year

Thus by the agency of boyish sports,

Impressed upon the streams, the woods, the hills –

Impressed upon all forms – the characters

Of danger and desire, and thus did make

The surface of the universal earth

With meanings of delight, of hope and fear,

Work like a sea.

For this, when on the withered mountain slope

The frost and breath of frosty wind had nipped

The last autumnal crocus, did I love

To range through half the night among the cliffs

And the smooth hollows where the woodcocks ran

Along the moonlight turf? In thought and wish

That time my shoulder all with springes hung,

I was a fell destroyer. Gentle powers,

Who give us happiness & call it peace,

When scudding on from snare to snare I plied

My anxious visitation, hurrying on,

Still hurrying, hurrying onward, how my heart

Panted: among the lonely eugh-trees and the crags

That looked upon me, how my bosom beat

With hope and fear! Sometimes strong desire

Resistless over came me and the bird

Th[at] was the captive of another’s toils

Became my prey, and when the deed [was done]

I heard among the solitary hills

Low breathings coming after me and sounds

Of indistinguishable motion, steps

Almost as silent as the turf they trod.

Nor while, thou[gh] doubting yet not lost, I tread

The mazes of this argument, and paint

How Nature by collateral interest

And by extrinsic passion peopled first

My mind with beauteous objects, may I well

Forget what might demand a loftier song,

How oft the eternal spirit – he that has

His life in unimaginable things,

And he who painting what he is in all

The visible imagery of all the worlds

Is yet apparent chiefly as the soul

Of our first sympathies – oh bounteous power,

In childhood, in rememberable days,

How often did thy love renew for me

Those naked feelings which when thou wouldst form

A living thing thou sendest like a breeze

Into its infant being. Soul of things,

How often did thy love renew for me

Those hallowed and pure motions of the sense

Which seem in their simplicity to own

An intellectual charm – that calm delight

Which if I err not surely must belong

To those first-born affinities which fit

Our new existence to existing things,

And in our dawn of being constitute

The bond of union betwixt life & joy.

Yes, I remember when the changeful earth

And twice five seasons on my mind had stamped

The faces of the changeful year, even then,

A child, I held unconscious intercourse

With the eternal beauty, drinking in

A pure organic pleasure from the lines

Of curling mist, or from the smooth expanse

Of waters coloured by the cloudless moon.

The sands of Westmoorland, the creeks and bays

Of Cumbria’s rocky limits, they can tell

How when the sea threw off his evening shade

And to the shepherd's hut beneath the craggs

Did send sweet notice of the rising moon,

How I have stood to images like this

A stranger, linking with the spectacle

No body of associated forms,

And bearing with [me] no peculiar sense

Of quietness or peace – yet I have stood

Even while my eye has moved o'er three long leagues

Of shining water, gathering, as it seemed,

[ ]

New pleasure like a bee among the flowers.

Nor unsubservient even to noblest ends

Are these primordial feelings. How serene

How calm those seem amid the swell

Of human passion – even yet I feel

Their tranquillizing power.

b. Revisions of (a), 102-15 towards 1799, I, 375-82, resulting en route in a version of I, 68-80. (490).


How while I ran where'er the working heat

Of passion drove me at that thoughtless time

A power unknown would open out the clouds

As with the touch of lightning, seeking me

With gentle visitation then unknown


Nor in that thoughtless season [?may I well]

Forget that other pleasures have been mine

And joys of purer origin, for oft

While thus I wandered doubting


for often-times

In that tempestuous season I have felt


Yes, there are genii which when they would form

A favoured spirit open out the clouds

As with the touch of lightning, seeking him

With gentle visitation. Others use,

Though haply aiming at the self-same end,

[?Severer] interference, ministry

Of grosser kind, and of their school was [I].

(c) Lines that became 1799, I, 82-129; presumably written for insertion in the consecutive text of (a), and perhaps – as finally in 1799 – to be introduced by (b), iv, above (however, see [e], below). Lines 26-46 below are presented in Wordsworth's second draft, since the first draft in the MS. breaks down before the sequence is established. (491).

I went alone into a shepherd’s boat,

A skiff, which to a willow-tree was tied

With [in] [ ], its usual home

The moon was up, the lake was shining clear

Among the hoary mountains; from the shore

I pushed, and struck the oars, and struck again

In cadence, and my little boat moved on

Just like a man who walks with stately step

Though bent on speed. It was an act of stealth

And troubled pleasure. Not without the voice

Of mountain echoes did my boat move on,

Leaving behind [her] still on either side

Small circles glittering idly in the moon,

Until they melted all into one track

Of sparkling light. A rocky steep uprose

Above the cavern of the willow-tree,

And as beseemed a man who proudly rowed

With his best speed, I fixed a steady view

Upon the top of that same shaggy ridge,

The bound of the horizon – for behind

Was nothing but the stars and the grey sky.

She was an elfin pinnace; twenty times

I dipped my oars into the silent lake,

And [as] I rose upon the stroke my boat

Went heaving through the water like a swan –

When from behind that rocky steep, till then

The bound of the horizon, a huge cliff

As if with voluntary power instinct,

Upreared its head. I struck, and struck again,

And growing still in stature, the huge cliff

Rose up between me and the stars, and still,

With measured motion, like a living thing

Strode after me. With trembling hands I turned,

And through the silent water stole my way

Back to the willow tree, the mooring-place

Of my small bark.

Unusual was the power

Of that strange sight: for many days my brain

Worked with a dim & undetermined sense

Of unknown modes of being. In my thoughts

There was a darkness – call it solitude,

Or [?strange] desertion – no familiar shapes

Of hourly objects, images of trees,

Of sea or sky, no colours of green fields,

But huge and mighty forms that do not live

Like living men moved slowly through my mind

By day, and were the trouble of my dreams.

(d) Lines that finally became 1805, V, 389-413; probably written for 1799, but excluded on grounds no longer obvious. (492).

There was a boy – ye knew him well, ye rocks

And islands of Winander, and ye green

Peninsulas of Esthwaite – many a time

[ ] when the stars began

To move along the edges of the hills,

Rising or setting, would he stand alone

Beneath the trees or by the glimmering lakes,

And through his fingers woven in one close knot

Blow mimic hootings to the silent owls,

And bid them answer him. And they would shout

Across the wat'ry vale, and shout again,

Responsive to my call, with tremulous sobs

And long halloos, and screams, and echoes loud,

Redoubled and redoubled – a wild scene

Of mirth and jocund din. And when it chanced

That pauses of deep silence mocked my skill,

Then often in that silence, while I hung

Listening, a sudden shock of mild surprize

Would carry far into my heart the voice

Of mountain torrents; or the visible scene

Would enter unawares into my mind

With all its solemn imagery, its rocks,

Its woods, and that uncertain heaven, received

Into the bosom of the steady lake.

(e) Version of 1799, I, 67-80, copied by Dorothy from dictation in state intermediate between (b), iv, above and the final text, and leading at this stage into I, 28ff. (492).

The soul of man is fashioned and built up

Just like a strain of music. I believe

That there are spirits which, when they would form

A favored being, open out the clouds

As at the touch of lightning, seeking him

With gentle visitation; and with such,

Though rarely, in my wanderings I have held

Communion. Others too there are who use,

Yet haply aiming at the self-same end,

Severer interventions, ministry

Of grosser kind – and of their school was I.

And oft when on the withered mountain slope

The frost and breath

(f) Eight-line version of 1799, I, 460-64 (conclusion of Part I). (493)


Those beauteous colours of my early years

Which make the starting-place of being fair

And worthy of the goal to which the[y] tend –

Those recollected hours that have the charm

Of visionary things, and lovely forms

And sweet sensations, which throw back our life

And make our infancy a visible scene

On which the sun is shining.


islands in the unnavigable depth

Of our departed time

(g) "I would not strike a flower" (Oxford "Prelude," pp. 612-14), lines 1-12, with five additional lines, plus two separate drafts, the second contributing to "I would not strike," 14-15. A connection between these passages and 1799 is not to be ruled out.


I would not strike a flower

As many a man would strike his horse; at least

If from the wantonness in which we play

With things we love, or from a freak of power,

Or from involuntary act of hand,

Or foot unruly with excess of life,

It e'er should chance that I ungently used

A tuft of [ ], or snapped the stem

Of foxglove bending o'er his native rill,

I should be loth to pass along my road

With unreproved indifference – I would stop

Self-questioned, asking wherefore that was done.

For, seeing little worthy or sublime

In what we blazon with the names of power

And action, I was early taught to love

Those unassuming things, that occupy

A silent station in this beauteous world.


Let each thing have

Its little lot of life, but more than all,

The things that live in peace


Then dearest maiden on whose lap I rest

My head [ ], do not deem that these

Are idle sympathies

(h) Six separate jottings made probably during the composition of (a), above, numbers i-iii providing finally lines 20 and 43-47 of the Glad Preamble (1805, I, 1-54), v contributing, less certainly, to 1805, III, 546-49, and vi becoming (a) lines 61-62, above.


a mild creative breeze,

A vital breeze which passes gently on

O'er things which it has made, and soon becomes

A tempest, a redundant energy,

Creating not but as it may [ ],

Disturbing things created


a storm not terrible but strong,

With lights and shades, and with a rushing power


trances of thought

And mountings of the mind, compared to which

The wind that drives along th'autumnal leaf

Is meekness


what there is

Of subtler feeling, of remembered joy,

Of soul and spirit, in departed sound

That cannot be remembered


a plain of leaves

Whose matted surface spreads for many leagues,

A level prospect such as shepherds view

From some high promontory when the sea

Flames, and the sun is setting


familiars of the standing pools