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“Sisters and brothers, little Maid,

How many may you be ?” 15 “ How many ? Seven in all,” she said,

And wondering looked at me.

“ And where are they? I pray you tell.” She answered, “Seven are we; And two of us at Conway dwell, 20 And two are gone to sea.

“ Two of us in the churchyard lie,
My sister and my brother ;
And, in the churchyard cottage, I
Dwell near them with




“ You say that two at Conway dwell,
And two are gone to sea,
Yet ye are seven! I pray you tell,
Sweet Maid, how this may be.”

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“You run about, my little Maid,

Your limbs they are alive; 35 If two are in the churchyard laid

Then ye are only five.”

“Their graves are green, they may be seen,” The little Maid replied,

“Twelve steps or more from my mother's door, 40 And they are side by side.

My stockings there I often knit,
My kerchief there I hem ;
And there upon the ground I sit
And sing a song to them.

45 And often after sunset, Sir,

When it is light and fair,
I take my little porringer,
And eat my supper there.

" The first that died was sister Jane; 50 In bed she moaning lay,

Till God released her of her pain ;
And then she went away.

“So in the churchyard she was laid ; And, when the grass was dry, 55 Together round her grave we played,

My brother John and I.

“ And when the ground was white with snow And I could run and slide,

My brother John was forced to go, 60 And he lies by her side.”

“How many are you, then,” said I,
“ If they two are in heaven ?
Quick was the little Maid's reply,
66 O Master! we are seven.


“ But they are dead; those two are dead ! Their spirits are in heaven!” 'Twas throwing words away; for still The little Maid would have her will, And said, “ Nay, we are seven!”



Barbara Lewthwaite, now residing at Ambleside (1843) though much changed as to beauty, was one of two most lovely sisters, [but she] was not in fact the child whom I had seen and overheard as engaged in the poem.

The dew was falling fast, the stars began to blink; I heard a voice; it said, “ Drink, pretty creature,

drink!” And, looking o'er the hedge, before me I espied A snow-white mountain-lamb with a maiden at its


5 Nor sheep nor kine were near; the lamb was all

alone, And by a slender cord was tethered to a stone; With one knee on the grass did the little maiden

kneel, While to that mountain-lamb she gave its evening


The lamb, while from her hand he thus his supper

took, 10 Seemed to feast with head and ears; and his tail

with pleasure shook. “Drink, pretty creature, drink!” she said, in such

a tone That I almost received her heart into my own.

'T was little Barbara Lewthwaite, a child of beauty


I watched them with delight, they were a lovely


15 Now with her empty can the maiden turned away, But ere ten yards were gone, her footsteps did she


Right towards the lamb she looked ; and from a

shady place I unobserved could see the workings of her face: If nature to her tongue could measured numbers

bring, 20 Thus, thought I, to her lamb that little maid might


“What ails thee, young one ? what? Why pull so

at thy cord ? Is it not well with thee? well both for bed and

board ? Thy plot of grass is soft, and green as grass can


Rest, little young one, rest; what is 't that aileth



“ What is it thou wouldst seek? What is wanting

to thy heart? Thy limbs, are they not strong? And beautiful

thou art: This

grass is tender grass; these flowers they have

no peers; And that green cord all day is rustling in thy ears !

“ If the sun be shining hot, do but stretch thy wool

len chain, 30 This beech is standing by, its covert thou canst


For rain and mountain-storms! the like thou need'st

not fear, The rain and storm are things that scarcely can

come here.

“Rest, little young one, rest; thou hast forgot the

day When my father found thee first in places far

away; 35 Many flocks were on the hills, but thou wert owned

by none, And thy mother from thy side for evermore was


“ He took thee in his arms, and in pity brought

thee home : A blessed day for thee! then whither wouldst thou

roam ? A faithful nurse thou hast; the dam that did thee

yean 40 Upon the mountain - tops no kinder could have


“ Thou know'st that twice a day I have brought

thee in this can Fresh water from the brook, as clear as ever ran; And twice in the day, when the ground is wet with

dew, I bring thee draughts of milk, - warm milk it is

and new.


“Thy limbs will shortly be twice as stout as they

are now, Then I'll yoke thee to my cart like a pony in the


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