William Wordsworth

It was a dreary morning when the wheels
Rolled over a wide plain o'erhung with clouds,
And nothing cheered our way till first we saw
The long-roofed chapel of King's College lift
Turrets and pinnacles in answering files,
Extended high above a dusky grove.

Advancing, we espied upon the road
A student clothed in gown and tasseled cap,
Striding along as if o'ertasked by Time,
Or covetous of exercise and air;
He passed,—nor was I master of my eyes
Till he was left an arrow's flight behind.
As near and nearer to the spot we drew,
It seemed to suck us in with an eddy's force.
Onward we drove beneath the castle; caught,
While crossing Magdalene Bridge, a glimpse of Cam;
And at the Hoop alighted, famous inn.
The Evangelist St. John my patron was:
Three Gothic courts are his, and in the first
Was my abiding-place, a nook obscure;
Right underneath, the college kitchens made
A humming sound less tunable than bees,
But hardly less industrious; with shrill notes
Of sharp command and scolding intermixed.
Near me hung Trinity's loquacious clock,
Who never let the quarters, night or day.
Slip by him unproclaimed, and told the hours
Twice over with a male and female voice.
Her pealing organ was my neighbour too;
And from my pillow, looking forth by light
Of moon or favouring stars, I could behold
The antechapel where the statue stood
Of Newton, with his prism and silent face.
The marble index of a mind forever
Voyaging through strange seas of thought, alone.

All winter long, whenever free to choose,
Did I by night frequent the college groves
And tributary walks; the last, and oft
The only one, who had been lingering there
Through hours of silence, till the porter's bell,
A punctual follower on the stroke of nine,
Rang, with its blunt, unceremonious voice,
Inexorable summons! Lofty elms,
Inviting shades of opportune recess,
Bestowed composure on a neighbourhood
Unpeaceful in itself. A single tree.
With sinuous trunk, boughs exquisitely wreathed
Grew there; an ash which winter for himself
Decked as in pride, and with outlandish grace:

Up from the ground, and almost to the top,
The trunk and every master branch were green
"With clustering ivy, and the lightsome twigs
And outer spray profusely tipped with seeds
That hung in yellow tassels, while the air
Stirred them, not voiceless. Often have I stood
Foot-bound, uplooking at this lovely tree
Beneath a frosty moon. The hemisphere
Of magic fiction verse of mine perchance
May never tread: but scarcely Spenser's self
Could have more tranquil visions in his youth,
Or could more bright appearance create
Of human forms with superhuman powers,
Than I beheld, loitering on calm, clear nights,
Alone, beneath this fairy work of earth.

William Wordsworth went up to Cambridge in 1787. He was an undergraduate at St John's College. He graduated in 1791.