A Narrow Girdle of Rough Stones and Crags by William Wordsworth

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A narrow girdle of rough stones and crags, 
A rude and natural causeway, interposed 
Between the water and a winding slope 
Of copse and thicket, leaves the eastern shore 
Of Grasmere safe in its own privacy: 
And there myself and two beloved Friends, 
One calm September morning, ere the mist 
Had altogether yielded to the sun, 
Sauntered on this retired and difficult way. 
----Ill suits the road with one in haste; but we 
Played with our time; and, as we strolled along, 
It was our occupation to observe 
Such objects as the waves had tossed ashore-- 
Feather, or leaf, or weed, or withered bough, 
Each on the other heaped, along the line 
Of the dry wreck. And, in our vacant mood, 
Not seldom did we stop to watch some tuft 
Of dandelion seed or thistle's beard, 
That skimmed the surface of the dead calm lake, 
Suddenly halting now--a lifeless stand! 
And starting off again with freak as sudden; 
In all its sportive wanderings, all the while, 
Making report of an invisible breeze 
That was its wings, its chariot, and its horse, 
Its playmate, rather say, its moving soul. 
--And often, trifling with a privilege 
Alike indulged to all, we paused, one now, 
And now the other, to point out, perchance 
To pluck, some flower or water-weed, too fair 
Either to be divided from the place 
On which it grew, or to be left alone 
To its own beauty. Many such there are, 
Fair ferns and flowers, and chiefly that tall fern, 
So stately, of the queen Osmunda named; 
Plant lovelier, in its own retired abode 
On Grasmere's beach, than Naiad by the side 
Of Grecian brook, or Lady of the Mere, 
Sole-sitting by the shores of old romance. 
--So fared we that bright morning: from the fields 
Meanwhile, a noise was heard, the busy mirth 
Of reapers, men and women, boys and girls. 
Delighted much to listen to those sounds, 
And feeding thus our fancies, we advanced 
Along the indented shore; when suddenly, 
Through a thin veil of glittering haze was seen 
Before us, on a point of jutting land, 
The tall and upright figure of a Man 
Attired in peasant's garb, who stood alone, 
Angling beside the margin of the lake. 
'Improvident and reckless,' we exclaimed, 
'The Man must be, who thus can lose a day 
Of the mid harvest, when the labourer's hire 
Is ample, and some little might be stored 
Wherewith to cheer him in the winter time.' 
Thus talking of that Peasant, we approached 
Close to the spot where with his rod and line 
He stood alone; whereat he turned his head 
To greet us--and we saw a Mam worn down 
By sickness, gaunt and lean, with sunken cheeks 
And wasted limbs, his legs so long and lean 
That for my single self I looked at them, 
Forgetful of the body they sustained.-- 
Too weak to labour in the harvest field, 
The Man was using his best skill to gain 
A pittance from the dead unfeeling lake 
That knew not of his wants. I will not say 
What thoughts immediately were ours, nor how 
The happy idleness of that sweet morn, 
With all its lovely images, was changed 
To serious musing and to self-reproach. 
Nor did we fail to see within ourselves 
What need there is to be reserved in speech, 
And temper all our thoughts with charity. 
--Therefore, unwilling to forget that day, 
My Friend, Myself, and She who then received 
The same admonishment, have called the place 
By a memorial name, uncouth indeed 
As e'er by mariner was given to bay 
Or foreland, on a new-discovered coast; 
And POINT RASH-JUDGMENT is the name it bears. 


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