Littell's Living Age/Volume 169/Issue 2182/The Primrose of the Rock

Comp. 1831. Pub. 1835.

[Written at Rydal Mount. The rock stands on the right hand a little way leading up the middle road from Rydal to Grasmere. We have been in the habit of calling it the glow-worm rock from the number of glow-worms we have often seen hanging on it as described. The tuft of primrose has, I fear, been washed away by the heavy rains.]

A rock there is whose homely front
     The passing traveller slights;
Yet there the glow-worms hang their lamps,
     Like stars, at various heights:
And one coy primrose to that rock
     The vernal breeze invites.

What hideous warfare hath been waged
     What kingdoms overthrown,
Since first I spied that Primrose tuft
     And marked it for my own; [1]
A lasting link in Nature's chain
     From highest heaven let down!

The flowers, still faithful to the stems,
     Their fellowship renew:
The stems are faithful to the root,
     That worketh out of view;
And to the rock the root adheres
     In every fibre true.

Close clings to earth the living rock,
     Though threatening still to fall;
The earth is constant to her sphere;
     And God upholds them all:
So blooms this lonely plant, nor dreads
     Her annual funeral.

     * * * *

Here closed the meditative strain;
     But air breathed soft that day,
The hoary mountain-heights were cheered,
     The sunny vale looked gay,
And to the Primrose of the Rock
     I give this after-lay.

I sang — Let myriads of bright flowers,
     Like thee, in field and grove
Revive unenvied; mightier far,
     Than tremblings that reprove
Our vernal tendencies to hope,
     Is God's redeeming love;

That love which changed — for wan disease,
     For sorrow that had bent
O'er hopeless dust, for withered age —
     Their moral element,
And turned the thistles of a curse
     To types beneficent.

Sin-blighted though we are, we too,
     The reasoning Sons of Men,
From one oblivious winter called
     Shall rise, and breathe again;
And in eternal Summer lose
     Our threescore years and ten.

To humbleness of heart descends
     This prescience from on high,
The faith that elevates the just,
     Before and when they die;
And makes each soul a separate heaven,
     A court for Deity.

Notes Edit

  1. In Dorothy Wordsworth's "Grasmere Journal" the following occurs: — April 24th, 1802 — "We walked in the evening to Rydal. Coleridge and I lingered behind. We all stood to look at Glow-worm Rock — a primrose that grew there, and just looked out on the road from its own sheltered bower." The primrose had disappeared when the Fenwick note was dictated, and the glow-worms have almost deserted the district; but the Rock is unmistakable, and is one of the most interesting of the spots connected with Wordsworth in the Lake District. — Ed

This work was published before January 1, 1928, and is in the public domain worldwide because the author died at least 100 years ago.

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