"Wordsworth's Ridge" as written by and Sufjan Stevens....
(For Fran Fike)

A summer night
I find a boat
Tied to a tree
A normal home

She lost her string
And stepping in
I push the shore there
An act of stealth

A troubled glad without a voice
A mountain song, the boat moves on
The water runs on either side
The circle swell, a sudden light
Takes me

I fix my view
Upon the ridge
Horizon's eye
Above the gray sky

I tip my oar to raise the stroke
The wading swan, the image broke
A looming peak, a pirate size
Uprears its head a sudden guise
Takes me

Lyrics submitted by Periodix

Wordsworth's Ridge song meanings
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  • +2
    General CommentIt's from William Wordsworth's The Prelude: Book 1 (I think) in which Wordsworth describes stealing a boat...pretty much the same as this song.
    badgeon June 06, 2006   Link
  • +2
    General CommentHere are the exact lyrics for this song, transcribed from Sufjan's handwriting in the first pressing of the album. The lyrics are originally written without line breaks (except for this song, which has one).

    Wordsworth's Ridge (for Fran Fike): A summer night, I find a boat tied to a tree: a normal home. She lost her string, and stepping in, I push the shore there, an act of stealth. A troubled glad without a voice, the mountain song, the boat moves on. The water runs on either side; the circle swell, a sudden light takes me. I fix my view upon the ridge. Horizon's eye - above the gray sky.
    I tip my oar to raise the stroke, the wading swan, the image broke, a looming peak, a pirate size, uprears its head a sudden guise takes me.
    Periodixon May 23, 2007   Link
  • 0
    General CommentRomanticism.. Lost in nature.
    _ellieon December 09, 2005   Link
  • 0
    General CommentI think this is about being "taken back" by the beauty of nature. its a great song
    gheltonon February 05, 2006   Link
  • 0
    General Commentman, what a good song.
    peepeeheadon March 17, 2006   Link
  • 0
    General CommentThat's right it is from William Wordsworth's The Prelude: Book 1. It starts at line 357. Here is a link to the text if you would like to read it: bartleby.com/145/…
    Marmorealon July 17, 2006   Link
  • 0
    General CommentI'm working at the Wordsworth Trust right now, right next to Wordsworth's beloved home and beloved lake in Grasmere, England. It is lonely out here, but knowing this song exists gives me hope!

    Wordsworth is all about being elevated in feeling and thought by nature. In the particular passage Sufjan's referencing, Wordsworth takes a boat out onto the lake in the middle of the night. The peace he feels and the beauty he seeks and sees is soon interrupted by the huge, dark, and menacing hills above him that frighten him into rowing back to shore. The ridge, the peak and outline of the mountain, is the turning point in the excerpt, what Wordsworth finally focuses on and what eventually grows enough to scare him. Wordsworth/Sufjan is a swan in the boat, and the huge dark shadow is like an animal, a predator that devours him. It isn't necessarily a bad thing though. The feeling of fear is instinctual being alone in dark expansive nature, and it must be thrilling for both of them. It becomes so much more of an experience this way, with these feelings arising from this dark imposing landscape & night. Sufjan, like WW, grew up around lakes and wilderness. Nature was formative for him. But as in the case of both of them, it's not about nature but about the feelings and state of mind that nature brings.
    drewsiemacon March 28, 2015   Link

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