Featured Poem: Stepping Westward by William Wordsworth

We’re at the start of another week, so time for another Featured Poem to see us on our way.

This week’s selection comes from William Wordsworth, whose almost conversational flow of words rings true for many of us, still on the precipice of a New Year surrounded by dark and cold and dew. This poem encapsulates the experience of the tour that Wordsworth embarked upon with his sister, Dorothy, and fellow poet Samuel Taylor Coleridge of of Scotland in 1803, recalling the kind and gentle gesture of two passing women as they found themselves almost stranded in an unfamiliar place. It reminds us how much simple words or actions can mean in testing circumstances, and encourages us to practice for others and hope to feel ourselves ‘human sweetness’ whether we find ourselves facing a dilemma of any size. A thought to hold onto if you’re still pondering which path to step on for the start of the year.

Stepping Westward

“What, you are stepping westward?” — “Yea.”
— ‘Twould be a wildish destiny,
If we, who thus together roam
In a strange Land, and far from home,
Were in this place the guests of Chance:
Yet who would stop, or fear to advance,
Though home or shelter he had none,
With such a sky to lead him on?

The dewy ground was dark and cold;
Behind, all gloomy to behold;
And stepping westward seemed to be
A kind of heavenly destiny:
I liked the greeting; ’twas a sound
Of something without place or bound;
And seemed to give me spiritual right
To travel through that region bright.

The voice was soft, and she who spake
Was walking by her native lake:
The salutation had to me
The very sound of courtesy:
Its power was felt; and while my eye
Was fixed upon the glowing Sky,
The echo of the voice enwrought
A human sweetness with the thought
Of travelling through the world that lay
Before me in my endless way.

William Wordsworth

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