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Poem by William Wordsworth
Written with a Slate-Pencil upon a Stone, the Largest of a Heap Lying near a Deserted Quarry, upon One of the Islands at Rydal STRANGER! this hillock of misshapen stones Is not a ruin spared or made by time, Nor, as perchance thou rashly deem’st, the cairn Of some old British chief: ’t is nothing more Than the rude embyro of a little dome Or pleasure-house, once destined to be built Among the birch-trees of this rocky isle. But, as it chanced, Sir William having learned That from the shore a full-grown man might wade, And make himself a freeman of this spot At any hour he chose, the prudent knight Desisted, and the quarry and the mound Are monuments of his unfinished task. The block on which these lines are traced, perhaps, Was once selected as the corner-stone Of that intended pile, which would have been Some quaint odd plaything of elaborate skill, So that, I guess, the linnet and the thrush, And other little builders who dwell here, Had wondered at the work. But blame him not, For old Sir William was a gentle knight, Bred in this vale, to which he appertained With all his ancestry. Then peace to him, And for the outrage which he had devised, Entire forgiveness! But if thou art one On fire with thy impatience to become An inmate of these mountains,—if, disturbed By beautiful conceptions, thou hast hewn Out of the quiet rock the elements Of thy trim mansion destined soon to blaze In snow-white splendor,—think again; and, taught By old Sir William and his quarry, leave Thy fragments to the bramble and the rose; There let the venial slow-worm sun himself, And let the redbreast hop from stone to stone.
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