Your library, these rising hills
Your reflections, these sun-dappled lakes
Your muse, these dancing golden flowers
Your wistful words, whispers of valley voices
Your fine court coat, the mossy earth
Your eyes and ears, a sister’s diary
Your heart, the swaying sycamore green
Your wanderings stilled by slate paths
Your poetry etched by nature
Hill, lake, earth, stone
Pen, ink, hearth, home
Dove Cottage in the Lake District was home to English poet William Wordsworth and his family from 1799 to 1808.
The house is very small. Its whitewashed walls mark it out from the nearby grey slate buildings.
Inside, the smell of coal fires still lit on cold days, and the dim enclosed space were the first things to strike me.
In the next-door museum, Dorothy’s diary, open at the page describing daffodils, and Wordsworth’s velvet coat for his presentation to Queen Victoria, were objects of inspiration.
Thomas de Quincey, who said: “To introduce Wordsworth into one’s library is like letting a bear into a tulip garden,” gave me a key word for my first line and a theme for the whole.
I tried to imagine the location as it was. Newer houses block the view of the lake, but the hills and crags are unchanged.
In the garden, where the Wordsworths created the Lakes in miniature, I scribbled in my notebook. A version of the words written there now close my sestude.
Thanks to everyone at Dove Cottage who gave me a warm welcome and showed me round the house, museum and Jerwood Centre.