August 9, 1847
FR wrote to her friend the Rev. Irons that the first lines of poetry she ever felt were those from John Milton's "Il Penseroso":
And may at last my weary eye
Find out the peaceful hermitage.
She misquoted—eye rather than age--but the lines haunted her and became a prayer. She was weary of homelessness. Then she came to the Lakes District, to Bowness, to a home "strangely fulfilling my visioned dwelling."
She describes it: "A lonely stone-walled house with ivy and creepers, standing in a hollow half way up a rocky hill, the garden with starting-out rocks and bursting springs, all run wild, but capable of great beauty, 'wooded Winandermere the river-lake' from my bedroom window, and from the garden top the splendid amphitheatre of mountains. . . slate floors and stairs, beams for ceilings, walls near three feet thick, of rough stone outside. All very hermit-like."
FR began bringing in moss for the window sills long before she realized she was completing the "mossy cell," image of the poem. The last ten lines of "Il Penseroso" go thus:
And may at last my weary age
Find out the peaceful hermitage,
The Hairy Gown and Mossy Cell,
Where I may sit and rightly spell
Of every Star that Heav'n doth shew,
And every Herb that sips the dew;
Till old experience do attain
To something like prophetic strain.
These pleasures Melancholy give,
And I with thee will choose to live. (lines 168-76)
How fitting these lines for one who so loved the natural world—the stars, the herbs—and who felt within herself the melancholy poetic spirit.