The Kendal and Windermere Railway was first proposed in 1844, and opened in 1847. William Wordsworth (1770-1850) opposed the building of the railway, believing it would destroy the beauty of the Lake District, and in addition to various letters to the Morning Post, he penned this sonnet, using poetry to put across the nature of his objections. In doing so, he became one of the first high-profile poets to write about the arrival of the railways – though admittedly, he is writing about the land before the railway was built. Nonetheless, Wordsworth’s impassioned plea shows poetry and the railways beginning an uneasy coexistence.
On the Projected Kendal and Windermere Railway
Is then no nook of English ground secure
From rash assault? Schemes of retirement sown
In youth, and ’mid the busy world kept pure
As when their earliest flowers of hope were blown,
Must perish; – how can they this blight endure?
And must he too the ruthless change bemoan
Who scorns a false utilitarian lure
’Mid his paternal fields at random thrown?
Baffle the threat, bright Scene, from Orresthead
Given to the pausing traveller’s rapturous glance:
Plead for thy peace, thou beautiful romance
Of nature; and, if human hearts be dead,
Speak, passing winds; ye torrents, with your strong
And constant voice, protest against the wrong.
If you enjoyed ‘On the Projected Kendal and Windermere Railway’, you might like our pick of Wordsworth’s greatest poems.