The Wishing Gate


Here’s a poem by William Wordsworth:


The Wishing Gate


[In the vale of Grasmere, by the side of an old highway

leading to Ambleside, is a gate, which, from time out of

mind, has been called the Wishing-gate, from a belief that

wishes formed or indulged there have a favorable issue.]


HOPE rules a land forever green:

All powers that serve the bright-eyed Queen

Are confident and gay;

Clouds at her bidding disappear;

Points she to aught?—the bliss draws near,

And Fancy smooths the way.


Not such the land of Wishes—there

Dwell fruitless day-dreams, lawless prayer,

And thoughts with things at strife;

Yet how forlorn, should ye depart

Ye superstitions of the heart,

How poor, were human life!


When magic lore abjured its might,

Ye did not forfeit one dear right,

One tender claim abate;

Witness this symbol of your sway,

Surnving near the public way,

The rustic Wishing-gate!


Inquire not if the faery race

Shed kindly influence on the place,

Ere northward they retired;

If here a warrior left a spell,

Panting for glory as he fell;

Or here a saint expired.


Enough that all arouud is fair,

Composed with Nature’s finest care,

And in her fondest love—

Peace to embosom and content—

To overawe the turbulent,

The selfish to reprove.


Yea! even the Stranger from afar,

Reclining on this moss-grown bar,

Unknowing, and unknown,

The infection of the ground partakes,

Longing for his Beloved—who makes

All happiness her own.


Then why should conscious Spirits fear

The mystic stirrings that are here,

The ancient faith disclaim?

The local Genius ne’er befriends

Desires whose course in folly ends,

Whose just reward is shame.


Smile if thou wilt, but not in scorn,

If some, by ceaseless pains outworn,

Here crave an easier lot;

If some have thirsted to renew

A broken vow, or bind a true,

With firmer, holier knot.


And not in vain, when thoughts are cast

Upon the irrevocable past,

Some Penitent sincere

May for a worthier future sigh,

While trickles from his downcast eye

No unavailing tear.


The Worldling, pining to be freed

From turmoil, who would turn or speed

The current of his fate,

Might stop before this favored scene,

At Nature’s call, nor blush to lean

Upon the Wishing-gate.


The Sage, who feels how blind, how weak

Is man, though loth such help to seek,

Yet, passing, here might pause,

And thirst for insight to allay

Misgiving, while the crimson day

In quietness withdraws;


Or when the church-clock’s knell profound

To Time’s first step across the bound

Of midnight makes reply;

Time pressing on with starry crest,

To filial sleep upon the breast

Of dread eternity.




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Published by ahiggins2013

poet, birder, senior citizen, cancer survivor, Catholic sister. Eight books of poetry published: At the Year’s Elbow, Mellen Poetry Press 2000; Scattered Showers in a Clear Sky, Plain View Press 2007; chapbooks: Pick It Up and Read, Finishing Line Press 2008, How the Hand Behaves, Finishing Line Press 2009, Digging for God, Wipf and Stock 2010, Vexed Questions, Aldrich Press 2013, Reconnaissance, Texture Press 2014, and Life List, Finishing Line Press, 2015.

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