The Corner

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To understand what many of the winners are feeling. (William Wordsworth, The Prelude, Book XI)

          O pleasant exercise of hope and joy!

          For mighty were the auxiliars which then stood

          Upon our side, us who were strong in love!

          Bliss was it in that dawn to be alive,

          But to be young was very Heaven! O times,

          In which the meagre, stale, forbidding ways                

          Of custom, law, and statute, took at once

          The attraction of a country in romance!….

          Not favoured spots alone, but the whole Earth,

          The beauty wore of promise–that which sets

          (As at some moments might not be unfelt

          Among the bowers of Paradise itself)                       

          The budding rose above the rose full blown.

          What temper at the prospect did not wake

          To happiness unthought of? The inert

          Were roused, and lively natures rapt away!….


          Were called upon to exercise their skill,

          Not in Utopia,–subterranean fields,–                     

          Or some secreted island, Heaven knows where!

          But in the very world, which is the world

          Of all of us,–the place where, in the end,

          We find our happiness, or not at all!

Richard Brookhiser — Historian Richard Brookhiser is a senior editor of National Review and a senior fellow at the National Review Institute.

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