Daily Riches: Arise … And Quit Your Books! (William Wordsworth and Abraham Heschel)

“Up! up! my Friend, and quit your books;
Or surely you’ll grow double:
Up! up! my Friend, and clear your looks;
Why all this toil and trouble?
The sun above the mountain’s head,
A freshening lustre mellow
Through all the long green fields has spread,
His first sweet evening yellow.
Books! ’tis a dull and endless strife:
How sweet his music! on my life,
There’s more of wisdom in it.
And hark! how blithe the throstle sings!
He, too, is no mean preacher:
Come forth into the light of things,
Let Nature be your teacher.
She has a world of ready wealth,
Our minds and hearts to bless –
Spontaneous wisdom breathed by health,
Truth breathed by cheerfulness.
One impulse from a vernal wood
May teach you more of man,
Of moral evil and of good,
Than all the sages can.
Sweet is the lore which Nature brings;
Our meddling intellect
Mis-shapes the beauteous forms of things:—
We murder to dissect.
Enough of Science and of Art;
Close up those barren leaves;
Come forth, and bring with you a heart
That watches and receives.
“The Tables Turned” by William Wordsworth
“Amidst the meditation of mountains, the humility of flowers wiser than all alphabets … we are hating, hunting, hurting. Suddenly we feel ashamed of our clashes and complaints in the face of the tacit glory in nature.” Abraham Joshua Heschel
“Of making many books there is no end, and much study wearies the body.” Ecclesiastes 12:12

Moving From the Head to the Heart

  • Have you ever been “wearied” by the endless amount of reading you have done, or want to do? We joke about being addicted to books, but even reading about loving well (for instance) can distract us from actually taking the time and making the effort to love well. Are you sensitive to this pitfall?
  • Even if you do your best to read broadly, it’s still you choosing the content. In experiencing nature, that is changed. Are you able to drop you agenda, put aside your goals and tasks, and “bring with you a heart that watches and receives?”
  • It’s not just the heavens that “proclaim the work of [God’s] hands” (Psalm 19:1), and not just the throstle which is “no mean preacher.” Can you put aside you love for propositions, “dissecting”, and “meddling intellect” long enough to “come into the light of things?”

Abba, help me to be present to your glory in all that surrounds me.

For More: Pilgrim at Tinker Creek by Annie Dillard


These “Daily Riches” are for your encouragement as you seek God and he seeks you. I hope you’ll follow and share my blog.  I appreciate your interest!  –  Bill (Psalm 90:14)

One thought on “Daily Riches: Arise … And Quit Your Books! (William Wordsworth and Abraham Heschel)

  1. I love the poem! And incidentally, I’ll be travelling to Wordsworth’s home in the Lake District this summer, to do exactly as he advices and “hear the woodland linnet” :).


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