Arriving at John’s Grove

Monday, March 13 2017:

We walked to the top of the hill next to Dove Cottage, taking in the view and breathing in the fresh air after a long day hard at work looking at manuscripts in the library.

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Eventually, we arrived at John’s grove and read sections from Wordsworth’s poem, “When to the attractions of the busy world,” which contains many descriptions of the setting.

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Upon a hill
At a short distance from my cottage, stands

A stately Fir-grove, whither I was wont
To hasten, for I found, beneath the roof
Of that perennial shade, a cloistral place
Of refuge, with an unencumbered floor…

William wrote the poem after John had left for a sea voyage–these are the “attractions” of which he speaks. With his brother far away at sea, William muses that John liked the grove so much because it reminded him of the close confines of a ship, whose deck he would pace back and forth upon.

                                                       To abide,
For an allotted interval of ease,
Under my cottage-roof, had gladly come
From the wild sea a cherished Visitant;
And with the sight of this same path–begun,
Begun and ended, in the shady grove,
Pleasant conviction flashed upon my mind
That, to this opportune recess allured,
He had surveyed it with a finer eye,
A heart more wakeful; and had worn the track
By pacing here, unwearied and alone,
In that habitual restlessness of foot
That haunts the Sailor measuring o’er and o’er
His short domain upon the vessel’s deck,
While she pursues her course through the dreary sea.

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