According to Thomas de Quincey, William Wordsworth (1770-1850) clocked up an estimated 180,000 miles during his lifetime, walking around his beloved Lake District (to say nothing of the Quantocks, where he lived near Coleridge during the 1790s). In this sonnet, ‘Sweet Was the Walk’, Wordsworth recalls a walk he took along a narrow lane at noon, and reflects on how the intervening years between childhood and adulthood have changed his view of the scene as he remembers it.
Sweet was the walk along the narrow lane
At noon, the bank and hedge-rows all the way
Shagged with wild pale green tufts of fragrant hay,
Caught by the hawthorns from the loaded wain,
Which Age with many a slow stoop strove to gain;
And childhood, seeming still most busy, took
His little rake; with cunning side-long look,
Sauntering to pluck the strawberries wild, unseen.
Now, too, on melancholy’s idle dreams
Musing, the lone spot with my soul agrees,
Quiet and dark; for through the thick wove trees
Scarce peeps the curious star till solemn gleams
The clouded moon, and calls me forth to stray
Thro’ tall, green, silent woods and ruins grey.
If you enjoyed ‘Sweet Was the Walk’, you might also like our pick of Wordsworth’s greatest poems.