"You Would Find A Tale In Everything"

Context: Wordsworth, with the collaboration of Samuel Taylor Coleridge, set the stage for Romantic poetry through the publication of Lyrical Ballads in 1798. One of the cardinal purposes of this "new" literature was to depict the simple folk in the throes of credible human emotions. Included among Wordsworth's contributions is the narrative of Simon Lee, who in his youth was renowned in the community as a merry huntsman; "In those days [with his mind on blither tasks] he little cared/ For husbandry or tillage," preferring to outrun every one in the chase. Time has taken its inevitable toll, however, and now Simon is bent and broken. "His body, dwindled and awry,/ Rests upon ankles swoln and thick." With his aged wife Ruth, he feebly attempts to till a narrow strip of land which he had enclosed many years ago. The poet, having established his narrative, addresses the reader directly concerning the rather obvious possibilities of drawing a moral observation on life and the vagaries of time and fortune. But, after the exegesis, instead of constructing such a heavily didactic perspective, he describes how–after he has helped the feeble Simon cut a tree–the old man's gratitude touches him more profoundly than could any lamentation over his wretched plight:

. . .
My gentle Reader, I perceive
How patiently you've waited,
And now I fear that you expect
Some tale will be related.
O Reader! had you in your mind
Such stores as silent thought can bring,
O gentle Reader, you would find
A tale in every thing.
What more I have to say is short,
And you must kindly take it:
It is no tale; but, should you think,
Perhaps a tale you'll make it.