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That half-mad thing of witty rhymes
Which you last April made!”

In silence Matthew lay, and eyed
The spring beneath the tree;
And thus the dear old Man replied,
The gray haired man of glee:

"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
Beside this fountain's brink.

"My eyes are dim with childish tears, My heart is idly stirred,

For the same sound is in my ears
Which in those days I heard,

"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 foolish strife; they see

A happy youth, and their old age
Is beautiful and free:

"But we are pressed by heavy laws;
And often, glad no more,
We wear a face of joy, because
We have been glad of yore.

"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,
My life has been approved,
And many love me; but by none
Am I enough beloved."

"Now both himself and me he wrongs,
The man who thus complains;
I live and sing my idle songs
Upon these happy plains;

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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:
And, when I crossed the wild,
I chanced to see at break of day
The solitary child.

No mate, no comrade Lucy knew;
She dwelt on a wide moor,
-The sweetest thing that ever grew
Beside a human door!

You yet may spy the fawn at play,
The hare upon the green;

But the sweet face of Lucy Gray
Will never more be seen.

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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:
With many a wanton stroke
Her feet disperse the powdery snow,
That rises up like smoke.

The storm came on before its time:
She wandered up and down;
And many a hill did Lucy climb:
But never reached the town.

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
That overlooked the moor;

And thence they saw the bridge of wood,
A furlong from their door.

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:
The marks were still the same;
They tracked them on, nor ever lost;
And to the bridge they came.

They followed from the snowy bank
Those footmarks, one by one,
Into the middle of the plank ;
And further there were none!

-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,
And never looks behind;
And sings a solitary song
That whistles in the wind.

1799. 1800.



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


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Of Nature, by the gentle agency
Of natural objects, led me on to feel
For passions that were not my own, and

(At random and imperfectly indeed)
On man, the heart of man, and human

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

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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,
The pleasure which there is in life itself.
His days had not been passed in sin-

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

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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

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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.)

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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

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Should pass into a stranger's hand, I think

That I could not lie quiet in my grave.
Our lot is a hard lot; the sun himself
Has scarcely been more diligent than I ;
And I have lived to be a fool at last
To my own family. An evil man
That was, and made an evil choice, if he
Were false to us; and if he were not

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.

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