Wordsworth’s “Old Man Traveling”

Lake DistrictWhile in England, we spent a couple of days in the Lake District, the stomping grounds of William Wordsworth.  We spent some time at his house, Rydal Mount, and then walked the Coffin Trail down into Grasmere.  We also spent some time in a little town with a big castle called Skipton.  While there, I found a “Everyman’s Poetry” edition of Wordsworth’s poetry.  I’ve not spent much time with Wordsworth since college (probably a survey class, maybe in my Romanticism class), so it’s been interesting to revisit some of his works.  Here’s “Old Man Traveling,” the first poem from the collection, which has a nice but sobering turn at the end.

                The little hedge-row birds,
That peck along the road, regard him not.
He travels on, and in his face, his step,
His gait, is one expression; every limb,
His look and bending figure, all bespeak
A man who does not move with pain, but moves
With thought—He is insensibly subdued
To settled quiet: he is one by whom
All effort seems forgotten, one to whom
Long patience has such mild composure given,
That patience now doth seem a thing, of which
He hath no need. He is by nature led
To peace so perfect, that the young behold
With envy, what the old man hardly feels.
—I asked him whither he was bound, and what
The object of his journey; he replied
“Sir! I am going many miles to take
A last leave of my son, a mariner,
Who from a sea-fight has been brought to Falmouth,
And there is dying in an hospital.”

(poem from wikisource.org)

This entry was posted in Books, Teaching, Travel and tagged . Bookmark the permalink.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s