Title: The Deserted Cottage, also known as The Wanderer/The Solitary
Author: William Wordsworth, with 21 illustrations by Myles Birket Foster, Sir John Gilbert, engraved by Edward Dalziel and George Dalziel
Publisher: George Routledge & Co, 1859. First edition of the book. Scarce!
Condition: Hardcover, decorative cloth. Shows due wear, dulling of cloth, some strain of binding. But still a very handsome book (the very fine decorations on every inch of the cover are not visible in the photograph), and firmly bound. Gorgeous illustrations. Contains an inscription from 1861.
The Deserted Cottage is a collection of two long poems by Wordsworth, which were previously published under the collection “The Excursion”. However, his friend Samuel Taylor Coleridge wished to see the first two parts of the collection published separately as “The Deserted Cottage”, and Wordsworth obliged.
’twas summer, and the sun had mounted high:
Southward the landscape indistinctly glared
Through a pale steam; but all the northern downs,
In clearest air ascending, showed far off
A surface dappled o’er with shadows flung
From brooding clouds; shadows that lay in spots
Determined and unmoved, with steady beams
Of bright and pleasant sunshine interposed;
To him most pleasant who on soft cool moss
Extends his careless limbs along the front
Of some huge cave, whose rocky ceiling casts
A twilight of its own, an ample shade,
Where the wren warbles, while the dreaming man,
Half conscious of the soothing melody,
With side-long eye looks out upon the scene,
By power of that impending covert, thrown
To finer distance. Mine was at that hour
Far other lot, yet with good hope that soon
Under a shade as grateful I should find
Rest, and be welcomed there to livelier joy.
Across a bare wide Common I was toiling
With languid steps that by the slippery turf
Were baffled; nor could my weak arm disperse
The host of insects gathering round my face,
And ever with me as I paced along.
Upon that open moorland stood a grove,
The wished-for port to which my course was bound.
Thither I came, and there, amid the gloom
Spread by a brotherhood of lofty elms,
Appeared a roofless Hut; four naked walls
That stared upon each other!–I looked round,
And to my wish and to my hope espied
The Friend I sought; a Man of reverend age,
But stout and hale, for travel unimpaired.
There was he seen upon the cottage-bench,
Recumbent in the shade, as if asleep;
An iron-pointed staff lay at his side.
The appearance, instantaneously disclosed,
Was of a mighty city–boldly say
A wilderness of building, sinking far
And self-withdrawn into a boundless depth,
Far sinking into splendour–without end!
Fabric it seemed of diamond and of gold,
With alabaster domes, and silver spires,
And blazing terrace upon terrace, high
Uplifted; here, serene pavilions bright,
In avenues disposed; there, towers begirt
With battlements that on their restless fronts
Bore stars–illumination of all gems!
By earthly nature had the effect been wrought
Upon the dark materials of the storm
Now pacified; on them, and on the coves
And mountain-steeps and summits, whereunto
The vapours had receded, taking there
Their station under a cerulean sky.
Oh, ’twas an unimaginable sight!
Clouds, mists, streams, watery rocks and emerald turf,
Clouds of all tincture, rocks and sapphire sky,
Confused, commingled, mutually inflamed,
Molten together, and composing thus,
Each lost in each, that marvellous array
Of temple, palace, citadel, and huge
Fantastic pomp of structure without name,
In fleecy folds voluminous, enwrapped.
Right in the midst, where interspace appeared
Of open court, an object like a throne
Under a shining canopy of state
Stood fixed; and fixed resemblances were seen
To implements of ordinary use,
But vast in size, in substance glorified;
Such as by Hebrew Prophets were beheld
In vision–forms uncouth of mightiest power
For admiration and mysterious awe.
This little Vale, a dwelling-place of Man,
Lay low beneath my feet; ’twas visible–
I saw not, but I felt that it was there.
That which I ‘saw’ was the revealed abode
Of Spirits in beatitude: my heart
Swelled in my breast–‘I have been dead,’ I cried,
‘And now I live! Oh! wherefore ‘do’ I live?’
And with that pang I prayed to be no more!–
–But I forget our Charge, as utterly
I then forgot him:–there I stood and gazed:
The apparition faded not away,
And I descended.