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To the north of Dove Cottage, the name later given to Wordsworth’s and Dorothy’s first home in Grasmere, is a large stony peak called Stone Arthur. In this short poem, Wordsworth remarks that in his day he could see the peak from “our Orchard seat,” the garden he and Dorothy planted in the back of Dove Cottage. Although the outcropping was already called Stone Arthur at the time, in the poem he says Dorothy (“She who dwells with me”) has named it after him. In a note dictated to his friend Isabella Fenwick in 1843, Wordsworth confessed
It is not accurate that the eminence here alluded to could be seen from our orchard-seat. It arises above the road by the side of Grasmere Lake, towards Keswick [a town several miles to the north], and its name is Stone-Arthur.1
Perhaps significantly, Stone Arthur rises to the left (north) of Greenhead Gill, the narrow mountain valley in which Michael, a Pastoral Poem is mostly set; and it sits above the likely location, on the floor of Greenhead Gill, of the “straggling heap of unhewn stones” central to the story of Michael (click here to read a relevant passage from the poem and interact with supporting videos, photo spheres, and photographs). Wordsworth placed Michael just after Poems on the Naming of Places when he published both in the 1800 edition of Lyrical Ballads.
1from Lyrical Ballads, and Other Poems, 1797-1800 in The Cornell Wordsworth, eds. James Butler and Karen Green (1992).
Poems on the Naming of Places
There is an Eminence,—of these our hills
The last that parleys with the setting sun.
We can behold it from our Orchard seat,
And, when at evening we pursue our walk
Along the public way, the Cliff, so high
Above us, and so distant in its height,
Is visible, and often seems to send
Its own deep quiet to restore our hearts.
The meteors make of it a favorite haunt:
The star of Jove, so beautiful and large 10
In the mid heav’ns, is never half so fair
As when he shines above it. ’Tis in truth
The loneliest place we have among the clouds.
And She who dwells with me, whom I have lov’d
With such communion, that no place on earth
Can ever be a solitude to me,
Hath said, this lonesome Peak shall bear my Name.
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