William Wordsworth

(1770-1850 / Cumberland / England)

A Character


I marvel how Nature could ever find space
For so many strange contrasts in one human face:
There's thought and no thought, and there's paleness and bloom
And bustle and sluggishness, pleasure and gloom.

There's weakness, and strength both redundant and vain;
Such strength as, if ever affliction and pain
Could pierce through a temper that's soft to disease,
Would be rational peace--a philosopher's ease.

There's indifference, alike when he fails or succeeds,
And attention full ten times as much as there needs;
Pride where there's no envy, there's so much of joy;
And mildness, and spirit both forward and coy.

There's freedom, and sometimes a diffident stare
Of shame scarcely seeming to know that she's there,
There's virtue, the title it surely may claim,
Yet wants heaven knows what to be worthy the name.

This picture from nature may seem to depart,
Yet the Man would at once run away with your heart;
And I for five centuries right gladly would be
Such an odd such a kind happy creature as he.

Submitted: Tuesday, December 31, 2002

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# 72 poem on top 500 Poems


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  • Rookie Mohamad Abbas (10/25/2013 9:30:00 AM)

    Favorite lines: This picture from nature may seem to depart,
    Yet the Man would at once run away with your heart;
    And I for five centuries right gladly would be
    Such an odd such a kind happy creature as he

    Natures character in a nutshell. I think the title says it all!
    I sure want to read more :) (Report) Reply

  • Gold Star - 34,963 Points Aftab Alam Khursheed (6/22/2013 11:12:00 PM)

    See the first stanza worth of dying and like this all great thought one point contains thousands of point with nature hues (Report) Reply

  • Veteran Poet - 3,070 Points Walterrean Salley (3/30/2013 10:36:00 PM)

    An amazingly great poem. There may be many sides (good and bad) to one's character, which can change momentarily, but, ultimately, such doesn't change the nature of the person. The essence of the person remains untouched, and he (or she) is what he is. The Mr. Wordsworth is among my favorites. (Report) Reply

  • Rookie Ludicrous Angel (2/6/2012 6:13:00 AM)

    good Lord in Heaven! ! ! of alli've read..this one tops it all....marvelous..simply astounding! ! (Report) Reply

  • Rookie Okaba Mark (1/23/2012 11:04:00 AM)

    A poet! A poet! A real poet!
    Wordsworth, a poet unmarched,
    O hw thy words speaks of nature itself!
    Can I eva b lyk thee rising frm this me tiny self! ? (Report) Reply

  • Rookie - 0 Points Herman Chiu (1/23/2010 8:08:00 PM)

    The poem is as well thought out and knowing as the Mona Lisa.
    A complexion is a complex result of simple parts, or differing emotions.
    It is truly amazing, and a 'marvel [of] nature'. (Report) Reply

  • Rookie Michael Pruchnicki (1/23/2010 1:35:00 PM)

    The term CHARACTER refers to a literary form. It is a brief description of someone who typifies some definite quality. The colloquial definition stresses the odd, eccentric, or noteworthy characteristics of a person, as in 'Oh, she's quite a character, isn't she? ' Hardly a Falstaff is the sedate and retiring subject of Wordsworth's poem. In plain fact, the description does bear some resemblance to the poet himself as presented in biographies and literary studies of the time; his companion Samuel Taylor Coleridge comes closer to the colloquial definition of an odd or eccentric personality. (Report) Reply

  • Rookie Kevin Straw (1/23/2010 5:52:00 AM)

    This poem is about one of those people we deem to be 'a character' - i.e. he or she has an eccentric but richly fascinating personality - think of the film actor Charles Laughton or Shakespeare's Falstaff. Wordsworth finely describes such a person but oh the galumphing metre - now I know where Patience Strong got it! (Report) Reply

  • Rookie - 279 Points Indira Renganathan (1/23/2010 2:41:00 AM)

    Very perfect study on the contrast...truth remains ever truly with imperfection only...a truthful impressive poem (Report) Reply

  • Rookie - 459 Points Ramesh T A (1/23/2010 1:16:00 AM)

    Two sides of the coin it reminds of! The contrasting things of Nature is similar to human beings nature! The character of human beings reveal the character of Nature! Wonderful simple contrast in a free verse of Wordsworth is worth to make a note though his greatness lies in philosophical poems of Nature! (Report) Reply

  • Rookie Merna Ibrahim (1/21/2010 10:18:00 AM)

    The contrasts and the rhyme in this poem are Perfect! !
    RIP all the great characters as william worsdsworth!
    Merna.. (Report) Reply

Read all 18 comments »

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