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William Wordsworth
Complete Poetical Works

"I HEARD (ALAS! 'TWAS ONLY IN A DREAM)"

I HEARD (alas! 'twas only in a dream)
Strains--which, as sage Antiquity believed,
By waking ears have sometimes been received
Wafted adown the wind from lake or stream;
A most melodious requiem, a supreme
And perfect harmony of notes, achieved
By a fair Swan on drowsy billows heaved,
O'er which her pinions shed a silver gleam.
For is she not the votary of Apollo?
And knows she not, singing as he inspires,
That bliss awaits her which the ungenial Hollow
Of the dull earth partakes not, nor desires?
Mount, tuneful Bird, and join the immortal quires!
She soared--and I awoke, struggling in vain to follow.

1819.

NOTE

11 See the Phaedon of Plato, by which this Sonnet was suggested.