In this installment, Rigoberto González reads “Thoughts on my sick-bed” by Dorothy Wordsworth. González is the author of four books, So Often the Pitcher Goes to Water until It Breaks, a 1998 National Poetry Series selection; two bilingual children’s books, Soledad Sigh-Sighs / Soledad Suspiros and Antonio’s Card / La Tarjeta de Antonio; and a novel, Crossing Vines. He has three titles forthcoming: Butterfly Boy, a memoir; Other Fugitives and Other Strangers, poetry; and a biography of Chicano writer Tomas Rivera. He is Associate Professor of English and Latino Studies at the University of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign and is Contributing Editor to Poets & Writers magazine.
Dorothy Wordsworth, “Thoughts on my sick-bed”
And has the remnant of my life
Been pilfered of this sunny Spring?
And have its own prelusive sounds
Touched in my heart no echoing string?
Ah! say not so—the hidden life
Couchant within this feeble frame
Hath been enriched by kindred gifts,
That, undesired, unsought-for, came
With joyful heart in youthful days
When fresh each season in its Round
I welcomed the earliest Celandine
Glittering upon the mossy ground;
With busy eyes I pierced the lane
In quest of known and unknown things,
—The primrose a lamp on its fortress rock,
The silent butterfly spreading its wings,
The violet betrayed by its noiseless breath,
The daffodil dancing in the breeze,
The caroling thrush, on his naked perch,
Towering above the budding trees.
Our cottage-hearth no longer our home,
Companions of Nature were we,
The Stirring, the Still, the Loquacious, the Mute—
To all we gave our sympathy.
Yet never in those careless days
When spring-time in rock, field, or bower
Was but a fountain of earthly hope
A promise of fruits & the splendid flower.
No! then I never felt a bliss
That might with that compare
Which, piercing to my couch of rest,
Came on the vernal air.
When loving Friends an offering brought,
The first flowers of the year,
Culled from the precincts of our home,
From nooks to Memory dear.
With some sad thoughts the work was done.
Unprompted and unbidden,
But joy it brought to my hidden life,
To consciousness no longer hidden.
I felt a power unfelt before,
Controlling weakness, languor, pain;
It bore me to the Terrace walk
I trod the Hills again; —
No prisoner in this lonely room,
I saw the green Banks of the Wye,
Recalling thy prophetic words,
Bard, Brother, Friend from infancy!
No need of motion, or of strength,
Or even the breathing air;
—I thought of Nature’s loveliest scenes;
And with Memory I was there.