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Short poem

William Wordsworth (1770-1850)

The Power of Armies is a Visible Thing

              1The power of Armies is a visible thing,
              2Formal and circumscribed in time and space;
              3But who the limits of that power shall trace
              4Which a brave People into light can bring
              5Or hide, at will,--for freedom combating
              6By just revenge inflamed? No foot may chase,
              7No eye can follow, to a fatal place
              8That power, that spirit, whether on the wing
              9Like the strong wind, or sleeping like the wind
            10Within its awful caves.--From year to year
            11Springs this indigenous produce far and near;
            12No craft this subtle element can bind,
            13Rising like water from the soil, to find
            14In every nook a lip that it may cheer.


1] Dated 1811: at this date the Spanish people were maintaining with some success a guerilla warfare against the French army.

Online text copyright © 2003, Ian Lancashire for the Department of English, University of Toronto.
Published by the Web Development Group, Information Technology Services, University of Toronto Libraries.

Original text: William Wordsworth, Poems (London: Longman, 1815). PR 5850 E15 (Victoria College Library).
First publication date: 1815
RPO poem editor: W. J. Alexander, William Hall Clawson
RP edition: RP (1912), p. 113; RPO 1997.
Recent editing: 2:2002/3/20

Composition date: 1811
Form: sonnet
Rhyme: abbaabbaeffeef

Other poems by William Wordsworth