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That half-mad thing of witty rhymes
In silence Matthew lay, and eyed
"No check, no stay, this Streamlet fears;
How merrily it goes!
"Twill murmur on a thousand years, And flow as now it flows.
"And here, on this delightful day, I cannot choose but think
How oft, a vigorous man, I lay
"My eyes are dim with childish tears, My heart is idly stirred,
For the same sound is in my ears
"Thus fares it still in our decay:
And yet the wiser mind
Mourns less for what age takes away Than what it leaves behind.
"The blackbird amid leafy trees, The lark above the hill,
Let loose their carols when they please Are quiet when they will.
"With Nature never do they wage
A happy youth, and their old age
"But we are pressed by heavy laws;
"If there be one who need bemoan His kindred laid in earth,
The household hearts that were his own; It is the man of mirth.
"My days, my Friend, are almost gone,
"Now both himself and me he wrongs,
Written at Goslar in Germany. It was founded on a circumstance told me by my Sister, of a little girl who, not far from Halifax in Yorkshire, was bewildered in a snow-storm. Her footsteps were traced by her parents to the middle of the lock of a canal, and no other vestige of her, backward or forward, could be traced. The body however was found in the canal. The way in which the incident was treated and the spiritualizing of the character might furnish hints for contrasting the imaginative influences which I have endeavored to throw over common life with Crabbe's matter of fact style of treating subjects of the same kind. This is not spoken to his disparagement, far from it, but to direct the attention of thoughtful readers, into whose hands these notes may fall, to a comparison that may both enlarge the circle of their sensibilities, and tend to produce in them a catholic judg, ment. (Wordsworth.)
See also Henry Crabb Robinson's Diary, Sept. 11, 1816.
OFT I had heard of Lucy Gray:
No mate, no comrade Lucy knew;
You yet may spy the fawn at play,
But the sweet face of Lucy Gray
At this the Father raised his hook, And snapped a fagot band;
He plied his work ;-and Lucy took The lantern in her hand.
Not blither is the mountain roe:
The storm came on before its time:
The wretched parents all that night Went shouting far and wide;
But there was neither sound nor sight To serve them for a guide.
At daybreak on the hill they stood
And thence they saw the bridge of wood,
They wept-and, turning homeward, cried,
"In heaven we all shall meet ;" -When in the snow the mother spied The print of Lucy's feet.
Then downwards from the steep hill's edge
They tracked the footmarks small; And through the broken hawthorn hedge.
And by the long stone-wall;
And then an open field they crossed:
They followed from the snowy bank
-Yet some maintain that to this day She is a living child;
That you may see sweet Lucy Gray Upon the lonesome wild.
O'er rough and smooth she trips along,
A PASTORAL POEM
Written at Town-end, Grasmere, about the same time as "The Brothers." The Sheepfold, on which so much of the poem turns, remains, or rather the ruins of it. The character and cir. cumstances of Luke were taken from a family to whom had belonged, many years before, the house we lived in at Town end, along with some fields and woodlands on the eastern shore of Grasmere. The name of the Evening Star was not in fact given to this house, but to another on the same side of the valley, more to the north. (Wordsworth.)
IF from the public way you turn your steps
Up the tumultuous brook of Greenhead Ghyll,
You will suppose that with an upright path
Your feet must struggle; in such bold
Of Nature, by the gentle agency
(At random and imperfectly indeed)
Therefore, although it be a history Homely and rude, I will relate the same For the delight of a few natural hearts; And, with yet fonder feeling, for the sake
Of youthful Poets, who among these hills Will be my second self when I am gone. UPON the forest-side in Grasmere Vale There dwelt a Shepherd, Michael was his
The certainty of honorable gain ; Those fields, those hills-what could they less? had laid
Strong hold on his affections, were to him
A pleasurable feeling of blind love,
His Helpmate was a comely matron, old
Though younger than himself full twenty years.
She was a woman of a stirring life, Whose heart was in her house: two wheels she had
Of antique form: this large, for spinning wool;
That small, for flax; and if one wheel
Sat round the basket piled with oaten cakes,
And their plain home-made cheese. Yet when the meal
Was ended, Luke (for so the Son was named)
And his old Father both betook themselves
To such convenient work as might employ
Their hands by the fireside; perhaps to card
Wool for the Housewife's spindle, or repair
Some injury done to sickle, flail, or scythe,
Or other implement of house or field. Down from the ceiling, by the chimney's edge,
That in our ancient uncouth country style
With huge and black projection overbrowed
Large space beneath, as duly as the light Of day grew dim the Housewife hung a lamp;
An aged utensil, which had performed Service beyond all others of its kind. Early at evening did it burn-and late, Surviving comrade of uncounted hours, Which, going by from year to year, had found,
And left, the couple neither gay perhaps Nor cheerful, yet with objects and with hopes,
Living a life of eager industry.
And now, when Luke had reached his eighteenth year,
There by the light of this old lamp they
And from this constant light, so regular And so far seen, the House itself, by all Who dwelt within the limits of the vale, Both old and young, was named THE EVENING STAR.
Thus living on through such a length of years,
The Shepherd, if he loved himself, must needs
Have loved his Helpmate; but to Michael's heart
This son of his old age was yet more dear-
Less from instinctive tenderness, the
Fond spirit that blindly works in the blood of all
Than that a child, more than all other gifts
That earth can offer to declining man, Brings hope with it, and forward-looking thoughts,
And stirrings of inquietude, when they By tendency of nature needs must fail. Exceeding was the love he bare to him, His heart and his heart's joy! For oftentimes
Old Michael, while he was a babe in arms,
Had done him female service, not alone For pastime and delight, as is the use Of fathers, but with patient mind enforced
To acts of tenderness; and he had rocked
His cradle, as with a woman's gentle hand.
And, in a later time, ere yet the Boy Had put on boy's attire, did Michael love,
Albeit of a stern unbending mind, To have the Young-one in his sight, when he
Wrought in the field, or on his shep herd's stool
Sate with a fettered sheep before him stretched
Under the large old oak, that near hia door
Stood single, and, from matchless depth of shade,
Chosen for the Shearer's covert from the
Thence in our rustic dialect was called The CLIPPING TREE, a name which yet it bears.
1 Clipping is the word used in the North of England for shearing. (Wordsworth.)
Then Michael from a winter coppice cut With his own hand a sapling, which he hooped
With iron, making it throughout in all Due requisites a perfect shepherd's staff, And gave it to the Boy; wherewith equipt
Но as a watchman oftentimes was placed
At gate or gap, to stem or turn the flock;
And, to his office prematurely called, There stood the urchin, as you will divine,
Something between a hindrance and a help;
And for this cause not always, I believe, Receiving from his Father hire of praise; Though nought was left undone which staff, or voice,
Or looks, or threatening gestures, could perform.
But soon as Luke, full ten years old, could stand
Against the mountain blasts; and to the heights,
Not fearing toil, nor length of weary
Should pass into a stranger's hand, I think
That I could not lie quiet in my grave.
There are ten thousand to whom loss like this
Had been no sorrow. I forgive him ;
"Twere better to be dumb than to talk thus.