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Poem by Wordsworth, Suggested by the Proposed Kendal and Windermere Railway

Poem by Wordsworth, Suggested by the Proposed Kendal and Windermere Railway

Author: Wordsworth, William

Medium: Ink on paper

Date: 1844

Shelfmark: Add Ms 44361

Item number: f.278

Genre: Manuscript

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Wordsworth was an early conservationist, passionate about protecting the rural beauty of the Lake District. He was outraged when he heard of plans to extend the railway from Kendal to Windermere.

Hoping his recent appointment as Poet Laureate would carry some weight, he wrote in protest to the Prime Minister, William Gladstone, on 15 October 1844. "We are in this neighbourhood all in consternation", he complained, "that is, every man of taste and feeling, at the stir which is made for carrying a branch Railway from Kendal to the head of Windermere… When the subject comes before you officially, as I suppose it will, pray give it more attention than its apparent appearance might call for…"

Wordsworth backed up his plea by enclosing a poem:

"Is there no nook of English ground secure from rash assault?

And is 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 his old delights disown
Who scorns a false utilitarian lure
‘Mid his paternal fields at random thrown?
Baffle the threat, bright scene, from Orrest head
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!"

The poem was published the next day in the ’Morning Post’.

Find out more about Wordsworth's Lake District in our Literary Landscapes virtual exhibition.

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