She Was a Phantom of Delight

Author: William Wordsworth  | Date: 1798


SHE was a phantom of delight

When first she gleamed upon my sight;

A lovely apparition, sent

To be a moment’s ornament;

Her eyes as stars of twilight fair;

Like twilight’s too, her dusky hair;

But all things else about her drawn

From May-time and the cheerful dawn;

A dancing shape, an image gay,

To haunt, to startle, and waylay.

I saw her upon nearer view,

A spirit, yet a woman too!

Her household motions light and free,

And steps of virgin liberty;

A countenance in which did meet

Sweet records, promises as sweet;

A creature not too bright or good

For human nature’s daily food;

For transient sorrows, simple wiles,

Praise, blame, love, kisses, tears, and smiles.

And now I see with eye serene

The very pulse of the machine;

A being breathing thoughtful breath,

A traveller between life and death;

The reason firm, the temperate will,

Endurance, foresight, strength, and skill;

A perfect woman, nobly planned,

To warn, to comfort, and command;

And yet a spirit still, and bright

With something of angelic light.

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Chicago: William Wordsworth, She Was a Phantom of Delight Original Sources, accessed December 6, 2022,

MLA: Wordsworth, William. She Was a Phantom of Delight, Original Sources. 6 Dec. 2022.

Harvard: Wordsworth, W, She Was a Phantom of Delight. Original Sources, retrieved 6 December 2022, from