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Lyrical Ballads, Volume II [1800] (Samuel Coleridge & William Wordsworth)

Published onFeb 06, 2024
Lyrical Ballads, Volume II [1800] (Samuel Coleridge & William Wordsworth)

Lyrical Ballads, Volume II [1800]

By Samuel Coleridge & William Wordsworth


Lyrical Ballads, Volume II [1800]

Samuel Coleridge & William Wordsworth






Quam hihil ad genium, Papiniane, tuum!

“Hart-Leap Well”

Hart-Leap Well is a small spring of water, about five miles from Richmond in Yorkshire, and near the side of the road which leads from Richmond to Askrigg. Its name is derived from a remarkable chase, the memory of which is preserved by the monuments spoken of in the second Part of the following Poem, which monuments do now exist as I have there described them.

  The Knight had ridden down from Wensley moor

  With the slow motion of a summer's cloud;

  He turn'd aside towards a Vassal's door,

  And, "Bring another Horse!" he cried aloud.

  "Another Horse!"—That shout the Vassal heard,

  And saddled his best steed, a comely Grey;

  Sir Walter mounted him; he was the third

  Which he had mounted on that glorious day.

  Joy sparkeled in the prancing Courser's eyes;

  The horse and horsemen are a happy pair;

  But, though Sir Walter like a falcon flies,

  There is a doleful silence in the air.

  A rout this morning left Sir Walter's Hall,

  That as they gallop'd made the echoes roar;

  But horse and man are vanish'd, one and all;

  Such race, I think, was never seen before.

  Sir Walter, restless as a veering wind,

  Calls to the few tired dogs that yet remain:

  Brach, Swift and Music, noblest of their kind,

  Follow, and weary up the mountain strain.

  The Knight halloo'd, he chid and cheer'd them on

  With suppliant gestures and upbraidings stern;

  But breath and eye-sight fail, and, one by one,

  The dogs are stretch'd among the mountain fern.

  Where is the throng, the tumult of the chace?

  The bugles that so joyfully were blown?

  —This race it looks not like an earthly race;

  Sir Walter and the Hart are left alone.

  The poor Hart toils along the mountain side;

  I will not stop to tell how far he fled,

  Nor will I mention by what death he died;

  But now the Knight beholds him lying dead.

  Dismounting then, he lean'd against a thorn;

  He had no follower, dog, nor man, nor boy:

  He neither smack'd his whip, nor blew his horn,

  But gaz'd upon the spoil with silent joy.

  Close to the thorn on which Sir Walter lean'd,

  Stood his dumb partner in this glorious act;

  Weak as a lamb the hour that it is yean'd,

  And foaming like a mountain cataract.

  Upon his side the Hart was lying stretch'd:

  His nose half-touch'd a spring beneath a hill,

  And with the last deep groan his breath had fetch'd

  The waters of the spring were trembling still.

  And now, too happy for repose or rest,

  Was never man in such a joyful case,

  Sir Walter walk'd all round, north, south and west,

  And gaz'd, and gaz'd upon that darling place.

  And turning up the hill, it was at least

  Nine roods of sheer ascent, Sir Walter found

  Three several marks which with his hoofs the beast

  Had left imprinted on the verdant ground.

  Sir Walter wiped his face, and cried, "Till now

  Such sight was never seen by living eyes:

  Three leaps have borne him from this lofty brow,

  Down to the very fountain where he lies."

  I'll build a Pleasure-house upon this spot,

  And a small Arbour, made for rural joy;

  Twill be the traveller's shed, the pilgrim's cot,

  A place of love for damsels that are coy.

  A cunning Artist will I have to frame

  A bason for that fountain in the dell;

  And they, who do make mention of the same,

  From this day forth, shall call it Hart-leap Well.

  And, gallant brute! to make thy praises known,

  Another monument shall here be rais'd;

  Three several pillars, each a rough hewn stone,

  And planted where thy hoofs the turf have graz'd.

  And in the summer-time when days are long,

  I will come hither with my paramour,

  And with the dancers, and the minstrel's song,

  We will make merry in that pleasant bower.

  Till the foundations of the mountains fail

  My mansion with its arbour shall endure,

  —The joy of them who till the fields of Swale,

  And them who dwell among the woods of Ure.

  Then home he went, and left the Hart, stone-dead,

  With breathless nostrils stretch'd above the spring.

  And soon the Knight perform'd what he had said,

  The fame whereof through many a land did ring.

  Ere thrice the moon into her port had steer'd,

  A cup of stone receiv'd the living well;

  Three pillars of rude stone Sir Walter rear'd,

  And built a house of pleasure in the dell.

  And near the fountain, flowers of stature tall

  With trailing plants and trees were intertwin'd,

  Which soon composed a little sylvan hall,

  A leafy shelter from the sun and wind.

  And thither, when the summer days were long,

  Sir Walter journey'd with his paramour;

  And with the dancers and the minstrel's song

  Made merriment within that pleasant bower.

  The Knight, Sir Walter, died in course of time,

  And his bones lie in his paternal vale.—

  But there is matter for a second rhyme,

  And I to this would add another tale.


  The moving accident is not my trade.

  To curl the blood I have no ready arts;

  'Tis my delight, alone in summer shade,

  To pipe a simple song to thinking hearts,

  As I from Hawes to Richmond did repair,

  It chanc'd that I saw standing in a dell

  Three aspins at three corners of a square,

  And one, not four yards distant, near a well.

  What this imported I could ill divine,

  And, pulling now the rein my horse to stop,

  I saw three pillars standing in a line,

  The last stone pillar on a dark hill-top.

  The trees were grey, with neither arms nor head;

  Half-wasted the square mound of tawny green;

  So that you just might say, as then I said,

  "Here in old time the hand of man has been."

  I look'd upon the hills both far and near;

  More doleful place did never eye survey;

  It seem'd as if the spring-time came not here,

  And Nature here were willing to decay.

  I stood in various thoughts and fancies lost,

  When one who was in Shepherd's garb attir'd,

  Came up the hollow. Him did I accost,

  And what this place might be I then inquir'd.

  The Shepherd stopp'd, and that same story told

  Which in my former rhyme I have rehears'd.

  "A jolly place," said he, "in times of old,

  But something ails it now; the spot is curs'd."

  You see these lifeless stumps of aspin wood,

  Some say that they are beeches, others elms,

  These were the Bower; and here a Mansion stood,

  The finest palace of a hundred realms.

  The arbour does its own condition tell,

  You see the stones, the fountain, and the stream,

  But as to the great Lodge, you might as well

  Hunt half a day for a forgotten dream.

  There's neither dog nor heifer, horse nor sheep,

  Will wet his lips within that cup of stone;

  And, oftentimes, when all are fast asleep,

  This water doth send forth a dolorous groan.

  Some say that here a murder has been done,

  And blood cries out for blood: but, for my part,

  I've guess'd, when I've been sitting in the sun,

  That it was all for that unhappy Hart.

  What thoughts must through the creature's brain have pass'd!

  To this place from the stone upon the steep

  Are but three bounds, and look, Sir, at this last!

  O Master! it has been a cruel leap.

  For thirteen hours he ran a desperate race;

  And in my simple mind we cannot tell

  What cause the Hart might have to love this place,

  And come and make his death-bed near the well.

  Here on the grass perhaps asleep he sank,

  Lull'd by this fountain in the summer-tide;

  This water was perhaps the first he drank

  When he had wander'd from his mother's side.

  In April here beneath the scented thorn

  He heard the birds their morning carols sing,

  And he, perhaps, for aught we know, was born

  Not half a furlong from that self-same spring.

  But now here's neither grass nor pleasant shade;

  The sun on drearier hollow never shone:

  So will it be, as I have often said,

  Till trees, and stones, and fountain all are gone.

  Grey-headed Shepherd, thou hast spoken well;

  Small difference lies between thy creed and mine;

  This beast not unobserv'd by Nature fell,

  His death was mourn'd by sympathy divine.

  The Being, that is in the clouds and air,

  That is in the green leaves among the groves.

  Maintains a deep and reverential care

  For them the quiet creatures whom he loves.

  The Pleasure-house is dust:—behind, before,

  This, is no common waste, no common gloom;

  But Nature, in due course of time, once more

  Shall here put on her beauty and her bloom.

  She leaves these objects to a slow decay

  That what we are, and have been, may be known;

  But, at the coming of the milder day,

  These monuments shall all be overgrown.

  One lesson, Shepherd, let us two divide,

  Taught both by what she shews, and what conceals,

  Never to blend our pleasure or our pride

  With sorrow of the meanest thing that feels.

“There Was a Boy”

  There was a Boy, ye knew him well, ye Cliffs

  And Islands of Winander! many a time,

  At evening, when the stars had just begun

  To move along the edges of the hills,

  Rising or setting, would he stand alone,

  Beneath the trees, or by the glimmering lake,

  And there, with fingers interwoven, both hands

  Press'd closely palm to palm and to his mouth

  Uplifted, he, as through an instrument,

  Blew mimic hootings to the silent owls

  That they might answer him. And they would shout

  Across the wat'ry vale and shout again

  Responsive to his call, with quivering peals,

  And long halloos, and screams, and echoes loud

  Redoubled and redoubled, a wild scene

  Of mirth and jocund din. And, when it chanced

  That pauses of deep silence mock'd his skill,

  Then, sometimes, in that silence, while he hung

  Listening, a gentle shock of mild surprize

  Has carried far into his heart the voice

  Of mountain torrents, or the visible scene

  Would enter unawares into his mind

  With all its solemn imagery, its rocks,

  Its woods, and that uncertain heaven, receiv'd

  Into the bosom of the steady lake.

  Fair are the woods, and beauteous is the spot,

  The vale where he was born: the Church-yard hangs

  Upon a slope above the village school,

  And there along that bank when I have pass'd

  At evening, I believe, that near his grave

  A full half-hour together I have stood,

  Mute—for he died when he was ten years old.

“The Brothers, a Pastoral Poem”


  These Tourists, Heaven preserve us! needs must live

  A profitable life: some glance along

  Rapid and gay, as if the earth were air.

  And they were butterflies to wheel about

  Long as their summer lasted; some, as wise,

  Upon the forehead of a jutting crag

  Sit perch'd with book and pencil on their knee,

  And look and scribble, scribble on and look,

  Until a man might travel twelve stout miles,

  Or reap an acre of his neighbour's corn.

  But, for that moping son of Idleness

  Why can he tarry yonder?—In our church-yard

  Is neither epitaph nor monument,

  Tomb-stone nor name, only the turf we tread.

  And a few natural graves. To Jane, his Wife,

  Thus spake the homely Priest of Ennerdale.

  It was a July evening, and he sate

  Upon the long stone seat beneath the eaves

  Of his old cottage, as it chanced that day,

  Employ'd in winter's work. Upon the stone

  His Wife sate near him, teasing matted wool,

  While, from the twin cards tooth'd with glittering wire,

  He fed the spindle of his youngest child,

  Who turn'd her large round wheel in the open air

  With back and forward steps. Towards the field

  In which the parish chapel stood alone,

  Girt round with a bare ring of mossy wall,

  While half an hour went by, the Priest had sent

  Many a long look of wonder, and at last,

  Risen from his seat, beside the snowy ridge

  Of carded wool—which the old Man had piled

  He laid his implements with gentle care,

  Each in the other lock'd; and, down the path

  Which from his cottage to the church-yard led,

  He took his way, impatient to accost

  The Stranger, whom he saw still lingering there.

  'Twas one well known to him in former days,

  A Shepherd-lad: who ere his thirteenth year

  Had chang'd his calling, with the mariners

  A fellow-mariner, and so had fared

  Through twenty seasons; but he had been rear'd

  Among the mountains, and he in his heart

  Was half a Shepherd on the stormy seas.

  Oft in the piping shrouds had Leonard heard

  The tones of waterfalls, and inland sounds

  Of caves and trees; and when the regular wind

  Between the tropics fill'd the steady sail

  And blew with the same breath through days and weeks,

  Lengthening invisibly its weary line

  Along the cloudless main, he, in those hours

  Of tiresome indolence would often hang

  Over the vessel's aide, and gaze and gaze,

  And, while the broad green wave and sparkling foam

  Flash'd round him images and hues, that wrought

  In union with the employment of his heart,

  He, thus by feverish passion overcome,

  Even with the organs of his bodily eye,

  Below him, in the bosom of the deep

  Saw mountains, saw the forms of sheep that graz'd

  On verdant hills, with dwellings among trees,

  And Shepherds clad in the same country grey

  Which he himself had worn.

                            And now at length,

  From perils manifold, with some small wealth

  Acquir'd by traffic in the Indian Isles,

  To his paternal home he is return'd,

  With a determin'd purpose to resume

  The life which he liv'd there, both for the sake

  Of many darling pleasures, and the love

  Which to an only brother he has borne

  In all his hardships, since that happy time

  When, whether it blew foul or fair, they two

  Were brother Shepherds on their native hills.

  —They were the last of all their race; and now,

  When Leonard had approach'd his home, his heart

  Fail'd in him, and, not venturing to inquire

  Tidings of one whom he so dearly lov'd,

  Towards the church-yard he had turn'd aside,

  That, as he knew in what particular spot

  His family were laid, he thence might learn

  If still his Brother liv'd, or to the file

  Another grave was added.—He had found

  Another grave, near which a full half hour

  He had remain'd, but, as he gaz'd, there grew

  Such a confusion in his memory,

  That he began to doubt, and he had hopes

  That he had seen this heap of turf before,

  That it was not another grave, but one,

  He had forgotten. He had lost his path,

  As up the vale he came that afternoon,

  Through fields which once had been well known to him.

  And Oh! what joy the recollection now

  Sent to his heart! he lifted up his eyes,

  And looking round he thought that he perceiv'd

  Strange alteration wrought on every side

  Among the woods and fields, and that the rocks,

  And the eternal hills, themselves were chang'd.

  By this the Priest who down the field had come

  Unseen by Leonard, at the church-yard gate

  Stopp'd short, and thence, at leisure, limb by limb

  He scann'd him with a gay complacency.

  Aye, thought the Vicar, smiling to himself;

  'Tis one of those who needs must leave the path

  Of the world's business, to go wild alone:

  His arms have a perpetual holiday,

  The happy man will creep about the fields

  Following his fancies by the hour, to bring

  Tears down his check, or solitary smiles

  Into his face, until the setting sun

  Write Fool upon his forehead. Planted thus

  Beneath a shed that overarch'd the gate

  Of this rude church-yard, till the stars appear'd

  The good man might have commun'd with himself

  But that the Stranger, who had left the grave,

  Approach'd; he recogniz'd the Priest at once,

  And after greetings interchang'd, and given

  By Leonard to the Vicar as to one

  Unknown to him, this dialogue ensued.


  You live, Sir, in these dales, a quiet life:

  Your years make up one peaceful family;

  And who would grieve and fret, if, welcome come

  And welcome gone, they are so like each other,

  They cannot be remember'd. Scarce a funeral

  Comes to this church-yard once, in eighteen months;

  And yet, some changes must take place among you.

  And you, who dwell here, even among these rocks

  Can trace the finger of mortality,

  And see, that with our threescore years and ten

  We are not all that perish.—I remember,

  For many years ago I pass'd this road,

  There was a foot-way all along the fields

  By the brook-side—'tis gone—and that dark cleft!

  To me it does not seem to wear the face

  Which then it had.


                    Why, Sir, for aught I know,

  That chasm is much the same—


                                But, surely, yonder—


  Aye, there indeed, your memory is a friend

  That does not play you false.—On that tall pike,

  (It is the loneliest place of all these hills)

  There were two Springs which bubbled side by side,

  As if they had been made that they might be

  Companions for each other: ten years back,

  Close to those brother fountains, the huge crag

  Was rent with lightning—one is dead and gone,

  The other, left behind, is flowing still.—

  For accidents and changes such as these,

  Why we have store of them! a water-spout

  Will bring down half a mountain; what a feast

  For folks that wander up and down like you,

  To see an acre's breadth of that wide cliff

  One roaring cataract—a sharp May storm

  Will come with loads of January snow,

  And in one night send twenty score of sheep

  To feed the ravens, or a Shepherd dies

  By some untoward death among the rocks:

  The ice breaks up and sweeps away a bridge—

  A wood is fell'd:—and then for our own homes!

  A child is born or christen'd, a field plough'd,

  A daughter sent to service, a web spun,

  The old house cloth is deck'd with a new face;

  And hence, so far from wanting facts or dates

  To chronicle the time, we all have here

  A pair of diaries, one serving, Sir,

  For the whole dale, and one for each fire-side,

  Your's was a stranger's judgment: for historians

  Commend me to these vallies.


                               Yet your church-yard

  Seems, if such freedom may be used with you,

  To say that you are heedless of the past.

  Here's neither head nor foot-stone, plate of brass,

  Cross-bones or skull, type of our earthly state

  Or emblem of our hopes: the dead man's home

  Is but a fellow to that pasture field.


  Why there, Sir, is a thought that's new to me.

  The Stone-cutters, 'tis true, might beg their bread

  If every English church-yard were like ours:

  Yet your conclusion wanders from the truth.

  We have no need of names and epitaphs,

  We talk about the dead by our fire-sides.

  And then for our immortal part, we want

  No symbols, Sir, to tell us that plain tale:

  The thought of death sits easy on the man

  Who has been born and dies among the mountains:


  Your dalesmen, then, do in each other's thoughts

  Possess a kind of second life: no doubt

  You, Sir, could help me to the history

  Of half these Graves?


  With what I've witness'd; and with what I've heard,

  Perhaps I might, and, on a winter's evening,

  If you were seated at my chimney's nook

  By turning o'er these hillocks one by one,

  We two could travel, Sir, through a strange round,

  Yet all in the broad high-way of the world.

  Now there's a grave—your foot is half upon it,

  It looks just like the rest, and yet that man

  Died broken-hearted.


                       'Tis a common case,

  We'll take another: who is he that lies

  Beneath yon ridge, the last of those three graves;—

  It touches on that piece of native rock

  Left in the church-yard wall.


                               That's Walter Ewbank.

  He had as white a head and fresh a cheek

  As ever were produc'd by youth and age

  Engendering in the blood of hale fourscore.

  For five long generations had the heart

  Of Walter's forefathers o'erflow'd the bounds

  Of their inheritance, that single cottage,

  You see it yonder, and those few green fields.

  They toil'd and wrought, and still, from sire to son,

  Each struggled, and each yielded as before

  A little—yet a little—and old Walter,

  They left to him the family heart, and land

  With other burthens than the crop it bore.

  Year after year the old man still preserv'd

  A chearful mind, and buffeted with bond,

  Interest and mortgages; at last he sank,

  And went into his grave before his time.

  Poor Walter! whether it was care that spurr'd him

  God only knows, but to the very last

  He had the lightest foot in Ennerdale:

  His pace was never that of an old man:

  I almost see him tripping down the path

  With his two Grandsons after him—but you,

  Unless our Landlord be your host to-night,

  Have far to travel, and in these rough paths

  Even in the longest day of midsummer—


But these two Orphans!


                          Orphans! such they were—

  Yet not while Walter liv'd—for, though their Parents

  Lay buried side by side as now they lie,

  The old Man was a father to the boys,

  Two fathers in one father: and if tears

  Shed, when he talk'd of them where they were not,

  And hauntings from the infirmity of love,

  Are aught of what makes up a mother's heart,

  This old Man in the day of his old age

  Was half a mother to them.—If you weep, Sir,

  To hear a stranger talking about strangers,

  Heaven bless you when you are among your kindred!

  Aye. You may turn that way—it is a grave

  Which will bear looking at.


                             These Boys I hope

  They lov'd this good old Man—


                                 They did—and truly,

  But that was what we almost overlook'd,

  They were such darlings of each other. For

  Though from their cradles they had liv'd with Walter,

  The only kinsman near them in the house,

  Yet he being old, they had much love to spare,

  And it all went into each other's hearts.

  Leonard, the elder by just eighteen months,

  Was two years taller: 'twas a joy to see,

  To hear, to meet them! from their house the School

  Was distant three short miles, and in the time

  Of storm and thaw, when every water-course

  And unbridg'd stream, such as you may have notic'd

  Crossing our roads at every hundred steps,

  Was swoln into a noisy rivulet,

  Would Leonard then, when elder boys perhaps

  Remain'd at home, go staggering through the fords

  Bearing his Brother on his back.—I've seen him,

  On windy days, in one of those stray brooks,

  Aye, more than once I've seen him mid-leg deep,

  Their two books lying both on a dry stone

  Upon the hither side:—and once I said,

  As I remember, looking round these rocks

  And hills on which we all of us were born,

  That God who made the great book of the world

  Would bless such piety—


It may be then—


  Never did worthier lads break English bread:

  The finest Sunday that the Autumn saw,

  With all its mealy clusters of ripe nuts,

  Could never keep these boys away from church,

  Or tempt them to an hour of sabbath breach.

  Leonard and James! I warrant, every corner

  Among these rocks and every hollow place

  Where foot could come, to one or both of them

  Was known as well as to the flowers that grew there.

  Like roe-bucks they went bounding o'er the hills:

  They play'd like two young ravens on the crags:

  Then they could write, aye and speak too, as well

  As many of their betters—and for Leonard!

  The very night before he went away,

  In my own house I put into his hand

  A Bible, and I'd wager twenty pounds,

  That, if he is alive, he has it yet.


  It seems, these Brothers have not liv'd to be

  A comfort to each other.—


                             That they might

  Live to that end, is what both old and young

  In this our valley all of us have wish'd,

  And what, for my part, I have often pray'd:

  But Leonard—


Then James still is left among you—


  'Tis of the elder Brother I am speaking:

  They had an Uncle, he was at that time

  A thriving man, and traffick'd on the seas:

  And, but for this same Uncle, to this hour

  Leonard had never handled rope or shroud.

  For the Boy lov'd the life which we lead here;

  And, though a very Stripling, twelve years old;

  His soul was knit to this his native soil.

  But, as I said, old Walter was too weak

  To strive with such a torrent; when he died,

  The estate and house were sold, and all their sheep,

  A pretty flock, and which, for aught I know,

  Had clothed the Ewbauks for a thousand years.

  Well—all was gone, and they were destitute.

  And Leonard, chiefly for his brother's sake,

  Resolv'd to try his fortune on the seas.

  'Tis now twelve years since we had tidings from him.

  If there was one among us who had heard

  That Leonard Ewbank was come home again,

  From the great Gavel, down by Leeza's Banks,

  And down the Enna, far as Egremont,

  The day would be a very festival,

  And those two bells of ours, which there you see

  Hanging in the open air—but, O good Sir!

  This is sad talk—they'll never sound for him

  Living or dead—When last we heard of him

  He was in slavery among the Moors

  Upon the Barbary Coast—'Twas not a little

  That would bring down his spirit, and, no doubt,

  Before it ended in his death, the Lad

  Was sadly cross'd—Poor Leonard! when we parted,

  He took me by the hand and said to me,

  If ever the day came when he was rich,

  He would return, and on his Father's Land

  He would grow old among us.


                             If that day

  Should come, 'twould needs be a glad day for him;

  He would himself, no doubt, be as happy then

  As any that should meet him—


                                Happy, Sir—


  You said his kindred all were in their graves,

  And that he had one Brother—


                                That is but

  A fellow tale of sorrow. From his youth

  James, though not sickly, yet was delicate,

  And Leonard being always by his side

  Had done so many offices about him,

  That, though he was not of a timid nature,

  Yet still the spirit of a mountain boy

  In him was somewhat check'd, and when his Brother

  Was gone to sea and he was left alone

  The little colour that he had was soon

  Stolen from his cheek, he droop'd, and pin'd and pin'd;


But these are all the graves of full grown men!


  Aye, Sir, that pass'd away: we took him to us.

  He was the child of all the dale—he liv'd

  Three months with one, and six months with another:

  And wanted neither food, nor clothes, nor love,

  And many, many happy days were his.

  But, whether blithe or sad, 'tis my belief

  His absent Brother still was at his heart.

  And, when he liv'd beneath our roof, we found

  (A practice till this time unknown to him)

  That often, rising from his bed at night,

  He in his sleep would walk about, and sleeping

  He sought his Brother Leonard—You are mov'd!

  Forgive me, Sir: before I spoke to you,

  I judg'd you most unkindly.


                            But this youth,

  How did he die at last?


                          One sweet May morning,

  It will be twelve years since, when Spring returns,

  He had gone forth among the new-dropp'd lambs,

  With two or three companions whom it chanc'd

  Some further business summon'd to a house

  Which stands at the Dale-head. James, tir'd perhaps,

  Or from some other cause remain'd behind.

  You see yon precipice—it almost looks

  Like some vast building made of many crags,

  And in the midst is one particular rock

  That rises like a column from the vale,

  Whence by our Shepherds it is call'd, the Pillar.

  James, pointing to its summit, over which

  They all had purpos'd to return together,

  Inform'd them that he there would wait for them:

  They parted, and his comrades pass'd that way

  Some two hours after, but they did not find him

  At the appointed place, a circumstance

  Of which they took no heed: but one of them,

  Going by chance, at night, into the house

  Which at this time was James's home, there learn'd

  That nobody had seen him all that day:

  The morning came, and still, he was unheard of:

  The neighbours were alarm'd, and to the Brook

  Some went, and some towards the Lake; ere noon

  They found him at the foot of that same Rock

  Dead, and with mangled limbs. The third day after

  I buried him, poor Lad, and there he lies.


  And that then is his grave!—Before his death

  You said that he saw many happy years?


Aye, that he did—


And all went well with him—


If he had one, the Lad had twenty homes.


And you believe then, that his mind was easy—


  Yes, long before he died, he found that time

  Is a true friend to sorrow, and unless

  His thoughts were turn'd on Leonard's luckless fortune,

  He talk'd about him with a chearful love.


He could not come to an unhallow'd end!


  Nay, God forbid! You recollect I mention'd

  A habit which disquietude and grief

  Had brought upon him, and we all conjectur'd

  That, as the day was warm, he had lain down

  Upon the grass, and, waiting for his comrades

  He there had fallen asleep, that in his sleep

  He to the margin of the precipice

  Had walk'd, and from the summit had fallen head-long,

  And so no doubt he perish'd: at the time,

  We guess, that in his hands he must have had

  His Shepherd's staff; for midway in the cliff

  It had been caught, and there for many years

  It hung—and moulder'd there.

                                The Priest here ended—

  The Stranger would have thank'd him, but he felt

  Tears rushing in; both left the spot in silence,

  And Leonard, when they reach'd the church-yard gate,

  As the Priest lifted up the latch, turn'd round,

  And, looking at the grave, he said, "My Brother."

  The Vicar did not hear the words: and now,

  Pointing towards the Cottage, he entreated

  That Leonard would partake his homely fare:

  The other thank'd him with a fervent voice,

  But added, that, the evening being calm,

  He would pursue his journey. So they parted.

  It was not long ere Leonard reach'd a grove

  That overhung the road: he there stopp'd short,

  And, sitting down beneath the trees, review'd

  All that the Priest had said: his early years

  Were with him in his heart: his cherish'd hopes,

  And thoughts which had been his an hour before.

  All press'd on him with such a weight, that now,

  This vale, where he had been so happy, seem'd

  A place in which he could not bear to live:

  So he relinquish'd all his purposes.

  He travell'd on to Egremont; and thence,

  That night, address'd a letter to the Priest

  Reminding him of what had pass'd between them.

  And adding, with a hope to be forgiven,

  That it was from the weakness of his heart,

  He had not dared to tell him, who he was.

  This done, he went on shipboard, and is now

  A Seaman, a grey headed Mariner.

“Ellen Irwin, or the Braes of Kirtle

  Fair Ellen Irwin, when she sate

  Upon the Braes of Kirtle,

  Was lovely as a Grecian Maid

  Adorn'd with wreaths of myrtle.

  Young Adam Bruce beside her lay,

  And there did they beguile the day

  With love and gentle speeches,

  Beneath the budding beeches.

  From many Knights and many Squires

  The Brace had been selected,

  And Gordon, fairest of them all,

  By Ellen was rejected.

  Sad tidings to that noble Youth!

  For it may be proclaim'd with truth,

  If Bruce hath lov'd sincerely,

  The Gordon loves as dearly.

  But what is Gordon's beauteous face?

  And what are Gordon's crosses

  To them who sit by Kirtle's Braes

  Upon the verdant mosses?

  Alas that ever he was born!

  The Gordon, couch'd behind a thorn,

  Sees them and their caressing,

  Beholds them bless'd and blessing.

  Proud Gordon cannot bear the thoughts

  That through his brain are travelling,

  And, starting up, to Bruce's heart

  He launch'd a deadly jav'lin!

  Fair Ellen saw it when it came,

  And, stepping forth to meet the same,

  Did with her body cover

  The Youth her chosen lover.

  And, falling into Bruce's arms,

  Thus died the beauteous Ellen,

  Thus from the heart of her true-love

  The mortal spear repelling.

  And Bruce, as soon as he had slain

  The Gordon, sail'd away to Spain,

  And fought with rage incessant

  Against the Moorish Crescent.

  But many days and many months,

  And many years ensuing,

  This wretched Knight did vainly seek

  The death that he was wooing:

  So coming back across the wave,

  Without a groan on Ellen's grave

  His body he extended,

  And there his sorrow ended.

  Now ye who willingly have heard

  The tale I have been telling,

  May in Kirkonnel church-yard view

  The grave of lovely Ellen:

  By Ellen's side the Bruce is laid,

  And, for the stone upon his head,

  May no rude hand deface it,

  And its forlorn 'Hic jacet'.

“Strange Fits of Passion I have known”

  Strange fits of passion I have known,

  And I will dare to tell,

  But in the lover's ear alone,

  What once to me befel.

  When she I lov'd, was strong and gay

  And like a rose in June,

  I to her cottage bent my way,

  Beneath the evening moon.

  Upon the moon I fix'd my eye,

  All over the wide lea;

  My horse trudg'd on, and we drew nigh

  Those paths so dear to me.

  And now we reach'd the orchard plot,

  And, as we climb'd the hill,

  Towards the roof of Lucy's cot

  The moon descended still.

  In one of those sweet dreams I slept,

  Kind Nature's gentlest boon!

  And, all the while, my eyes I kept

  On the descending moon.

  My horse mov'd on; hoof after hoof

  He rais'd and never stopp'd:

  When down behind the cottage roof

  At once the planet dropp'd.

  What fond and wayward thoughts will slide

  Into a Lover's head—

  "O mercy!" to myself I cried,

  "If Lucy should be dead!"


  She dwelt among th' untrodden ways

    Beside the springs of Dove,

  A Maid whom there were none to praise

    And very few to love.

  A Violet by a mossy stone

    Half-hidden from the Eye!

  —Fair, as a star when only one

    Is shining in the sky!

  She liv'd unknown, and few could know

    When Lucy ceas'd to be;

  But she is in her Grave, and Oh!

    The difference to me.

“A slumber did my spirit seal”

  A slumber did my spirit seal,

    I had no human fears:

  She seem'd a thing that could not feel

    The touch of earthly years.

  No motion has she now, no force

    She neither hears nor sees

  Roll'd round in earth's diurnal course

    With rocks and stones and trees!

“The Waterfall and the Eglantine”

  "Begone, thou fond presumptuous Elf,

  Exclaim'd a thundering Voice,

  Nor dare to thrust thy foolish self

  Between me and my choice!"

  A falling Water swoln with snows

  Thus spake to a poor Briar-rose,

  That all bespatter'd with his foam,

  And dancing high, and dancing low,

  Was living, as a child might know,

  In an unhappy home.

  "Dost thou presume my course to block?

  Off, off! or, puny Thing!

  I'll hurl thee headlong with the rock

  To which thy fibres cling."

  The Flood was tyrannous and strong;

  The patient Briar suffer'd long,

  Nor did he utter groan or sigh,

  Hoping the danger would be pass'd:

  But seeing no relief, at last

  He venture'd to reply.

  "Ah!" said the Briar, "Blame me not!

  Why should we dwell in strife?

  We who in this, our natal spot,

  Once liv'd a happy life!

  You stirr'd me on my rocky bed—

  What pleasure thro' my veins you spread!

  The Summer long from day to day

  My leaves you freshen'd and bedew'd;

  Nor was it common gratitude

  That did your cares repay."

  When Spring came on with bud and bell,

  Among these rocks did I

  Before you hang my wreath to tell

  That gentle days were nigh!

  And in the sultry summer hours

  I shelter'd you with leaves and flowers;

  And in my leaves now shed and gone

  The linnet lodg'd and for us two

  Chaunted his pretty songs when you

  Had little voice or none.

  But now proud thoughts are in your breast—

  What grief is mine you see.

  Ah! would you think, ev'n yet how blest

  Together we might be!

  Though of both leaf and flower bereft,

  Some ornaments to me are left—

  Rich store of scarlet hips is mine,

  With which I in my humble way

  Would deck you many a Winter's day,

  A happy Eglantine!

  What more he said, I cannot tell.

  The stream came thundering down the dell

  And gallop'd loud and fast;

  I listen'd, nor aught else could hear,

  The Briar quak'd and much I fear.

  Those accents were his last.

“The Oak and the Broom, a Pastoral”

  His simple truths did Andrew glean

  Beside the babbling rills;

  A careful student he had been

  Among the woods and hills.

  One winter's night when through the Trees

  The wind was thundering, on his knees

  His youngest born did Andrew hold:

  And while the rest, a ruddy quire

  Were seated round their blazing fire,

  This Tale the Shepherd told.

  I saw a crag, a lofty stone

  As ever tempest beat!

  Out of its head an Oak had grown,

  A Broom out of its feet.

  The time was March, a chearful noon—

  The thaw-wind with the breath of June

  Breath'd gently from the warm South-west;

  When in a voice sedate with age

  This Oak, half giant and half sage,

  His neighbour thus address'd.

  "Eight weary weeks, thro' rock and clay,

  Along this mountain's edge

  The Frost hath wrought both night and day,

  Wedge driving after wedge.

  Look up, and think, above your head

  What trouble surely will be bred;

  Last night I heard a crash—'tis true,

  The splinters took another road—

  I see them yonder—what a load

  For such a Thing as you!"

  You are preparing as before

  To deck your slender shape;

  And yet, just three years back—no more—

  You had a strange escape.

  Down from yon Cliff a fragment broke,

  It came, you know, with fire and smoke

  And hither did it bend its way.

  This pond'rous block was caught by me,

  And o'er your head, as you may see,

  'Tis hanging to this day.

  The Thing had better been asleep,

  Whatever thing it were,

  Or Breeze, or Bird, or fleece of Sheep,

  That first did plant you there.

  For you and your green twigs decoy

  The little witless Shepherd-boy

  To come and slumber in your bower;

  And trust me, on some sultry noon,

  Both you and he, Heaven knows how soon!

  Will perish in one hour.

  "From me this friendly warning take"—

  —The Broom began to doze,

  And thus to keep herself awake

  Did gently interpose.

  "My thanks for your discourse are due;

  That it is true, and more than true,

  I know and I have known it long;

  Frail is the bond, by which we hold

  Our being, be we young or old,

  Wise, foolish, weak or strong."

  Disasters, do the best we can,

  Will reach both great and small;

  And he is oft the wisest man,

  Who is not wise at all.

  For me, why should I wish to roam?

  This spot is my paternal home,

  It is my pleasant Heritage;

  My Father many a happy year

  Here spread his careless blossoms, here

  Attain'd a good old age.

  Even such as his may be may lot.

  What cause have I to haunt

  My heart with terrors? Am I not

  In truth a favor'd plant!

  The Spring for me a garland weaves

  Of yellow flowers and verdant leaves,

  And, when the Frost is in the sky,

  My branches are so fresh and gay

  That You might look on me and say

  This plant can never die.

  The butterfly, all green and gold,

  To me hath often flown,

  Here in my Blossoms to behold

  Wings lovely as his own.

  When grass is chill with rain or dew,

  Beneath my shade the mother ewe

  Lies with her infant lamb; I see

  The love, they to each other make,

  And the sweet joy, which they partake,

  It is a joy to me.

  Her voice was blithe, her heart was light;

  The Broom might have pursued

  Her speech, until the stars of night

  Their journey had renew'd.

  But in the branches of the Oak

  Two Ravens now began to croak

  Their nuptial song, a gladsome air;

  And to her own green bower the breeze

  That instant brought two stripling Bees

  To feed and murmur there.

  One night the Wind came from the North

  And blew a furious blast,

  At break of day I ventur'd forth

  And near the Cliff I pass'd.

  The storm had fall'n upon the Oak

  And struck him with a mighty stroke,

  And whirl'd and whirl'd him far away;

  And in one hospitable Cleft

  The little careless Broom was left

  To live for many a day.

“Lucy Gray”

  Oft I had heard of Lucy Gray,

  And when I cross'd the Wild,

  I chanc'd to see at break of day

  The solitary Child.

  No Mate, no comrade Lucy knew;

  She dwelt on a wild 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.

  "To-night will be a stormy night,

  You to the Town must go,

  And take a lantern, Child, to light

  Your Mother thro' the snow."

  "That, Father! will I gladly do;

  'Tis scarcely afternoon—

  The Minster-clock has just struck two,

  And yonder is the Moon."

  At this the Father rais'd his hook

  And snapp'd a faggot-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 powd'ry snow

  That rises up like smoke.

  The storm came on before its time,

  She wander'd up and down,

  And many a hill did Lucy climb

  But never reach'd 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 day-break on a hill they stood

  That overlook'd the Moor;

  And thence they saw the Bridge of Wood

  A furlong from their door.

  And now they homeward turn'd, and cry'd

  "In Heaven we all shall meet!"

  When in the snow the Mother spied

  The print of Lucy's feet.

  Then downward from the steep hill's edge

  They track'd the footmarks small;

  And through the broken hawthorn-hedge,

  And by the long stone-wall;

  And then an open field they cross'd,

  The marks were still the same;

  They track'd them on, nor ever lost,

  And to the Bridge they came.

  They follow'd from the snowy bank

  The 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.

“The Idle Shepherd-Boys or Dungeon-Gill Force, a Pastoral”


  The valley rings with mirth and joy,

  Among the hills the Echoes play

  A never, never ending song

  To welcome in the May.

  The Magpie chatters with delight;

  The mountain Raven's youngling Brood

  Have left the Mother and the Nest,

  And they go rambling east and west

  In search of their own food,

  Or thro' the glittering Vapors dart

  In very wantonness of Heart.


  Beneath a rock, upon the grass,

  Two Boys are sitting in the sun;

  It seems they have no work to do

  Or that their work is done.

  On pipes of sycamore they play

  The fragments of a Christmas Hymn,

  Or with that plant which in our dale

  We call Stag-horn, or Fox's Tail

  Their rusty Hats they trim:

  And thus as happy as the Day,

  Those Shepherds wear the time away.


  Along the river's stony marge

  The sand-lark chaunts a joyous song;

  The thrush is busy in the Wood,

  And carols loud and strong.

  A thousand lambs are on the rocks,

  All newly born! both earth and sky

  Keep jubilee, and more than all,

  Those Boys with their green Coronal,

  They never hear the cry,

  That plaintive cry! which up the hill

  Comes from the depth of Dungeon-Gill.


  Said Walter, leaping from the ground,

  "Down to the stump of yon old yew

  I'll run with you a race."—No more—

  Away the Shepherds flew.

  They leapt, they ran, and when they came

  Right opposite to Dungeon-Gill,

  Seeing, that he should lose the prize,

  "Stop!" to his comrade Walter cries—

  James stopp'd with no good will:

  Said Walter then, "Your task is here,

  'Twill keep you working half a year."


  "Till you have cross'd where I shall cross,

  Say that you'll neither sleep nor eat."

  James proudly took him at his word,

  But did not like the feat.

  It was a spot, which you may see

  If ever you to Langdale go:

  Into a chasm a mighty Block

  Hath fallen, and made a bridge of rock;

  The gulph is deep below,

  And in a bason black and small

  Receives a lofty Waterfall.


  With staff in hand across the cleft

  The Challenger began his march;

  And now, all eyes and feet, hath gain'd

  The middle of the arch.

  When list! he hears a piteous moan—

  Again! his heart within him dies—

  His pulse is stopp'd, his breath is lost,

  He totters, pale as any ghost,

  And, looking down, he spies

  A Lamb, that in the pool is pent

  Within that black and frightful rent.


  The Lamb had slipp'd into the stream,

  And safe without a bruise or wound

  The Cataract had borne him down

  Into the gulph profound,

  His dam had seen him when he fell,

  She saw him down the torrent borne;

  And while with all a mother's love

  She from the lofty rocks above

  Sent forth a cry forlorn,

  The Lamb, still swimming round and round

  Made answer to that plaintive sound.


  When he had learnt, what thing it was,

  That sent this rueful cry; I ween,

  The Boy recover'd heart, and told

  The sight which he had seen.

  Both gladly now deferr'd their task;

  Nor was there wanting other aid—

  A Poet, one who loves the brooks

  Far better than the sages' books,

  By chance had thither stray'd;

  And there the helpless Lamb he found

  By those huge rocks encompass'd round.


  He drew it gently from the pool,

  And brought it forth into the light;

  The Shepherds met him with his charge

  An unexpected sight!

  Into their arms the Lamb they took,

  Said they, "He's neither maim'd nor scarr'd"—

  Then up the steep ascent they hied

  And placed him at his Mother's side;

  And gently did the Bard

  Those idle Shepherd-boys upbraid,

  And bade them better mind their trade.

“Tis said, that some have died for love”

  'Tis said, that some have died for love:

  And here and there a church-yard grave is found

  In the cold North's unhallow'd ground,

  Because the wretched man himself had slain,

  His love was such a grievous pain.

  And there is one whom I five years have known;

  He dwells alone

  Upon Helvellyn's side.

  He loved—The pretty Barbara died,

  And thus he makes his moan:

  Three years had Barbara in her grave been laid

  When thus his moan he made.

  Oh! move thou Cottage from behind that oak

  Or let the aged tree uprooted lie,

  That in some other way yon smoke

  May mount into the sky!

  The clouds pass on; they from the Heavens depart:

  I look—the sky is empty space;

  I know not what I trace;

  But when I cease to look, my hand is on my heart.

  O! what a weight is in these shades! Ye leaves,

  When will that dying murmur be suppress'd?

  Your sound my heart of peace bereaves,

  It robs my heart of rest.

  Thou Thrush, that singest loud and loud and free,

  Into yon row of willows flit,

  Upon that alder sit;

  Or sing another song, or chuse another tree

  Roll back, sweet rill! back to thy mountain bounds,

  And there for ever be thy waters chain'd!

  For thou dost haunt the air with sounds

  That cannot be sustain'd;

  If still beneath that pine-tree's ragged bough

  Headlong yon waterfall must come,

  Oh let it then be dumb!—

  Be any thing, sweet rill, but that which thou art now.

  Thou Eglantine whose arch so proudly towers

  (Even like a rainbow spanning half the vale)

  Thou one fair shrub, oh! shed thy flowers,

  And stir not in the gale.

  For thus to see thee nodding in the air,

  To see thy arch thus stretch and bend,

  Thus rise and thus descend,

  Disturbs me, till the sight is more than I can bear.

  The man who makes this feverish complaint

  Is one of giant stature, who could dance

  Equipp'd from head to foot in iron mail.

  Ah gentle Love! if ever thought was thine

  To store up kindred hours for me, thy face

  Turn from me, gentle Love, nor let me walk

  Within the sound of Emma's voice, or know

  Such happiness as I have known to-day.

“Poor Susan”

  At the corner of Wood-Street, when day-light appears,

  There's a Thrush that sings loud, it has sung for three years:

  Poor Susan has pass'd by the spot and has heard

  In the silence of morning the song of the bird.

  'Tis a note of enchantment; what ails her? She sees

  A mountain ascending, a vision of trees;

  Bright volumes of vapour through Lothbury glide,

  And a river flows on through the vale of Cheapside.

  Green pastures she views in the midst of the dale,

  Down which she so often has tripp'd with her pail,

  And a single small cottage, a nest like a Jove's,

  The only one dwelling on earth that she loves.

  She looks, and her heart is in Heaven, but they fade,

  The mist and the river, the hill and the shade;

  The stream will not flow, and the hill will not rise,

  And the colours have all pass'd away from her eyes.

  Poor Outcast! return—to receive thee once more

  The house of thy Father will open its door,

  And thou once again, in thy plain russet gown,

  May'st hear the thrush sing from a tree of its own.

“Inscription for the Sport Where the Hermitage Stood on St. Herbert’s Island, Derwent-Water”

  For the Spot where the HERMITAGE stood

  on St. Herbert's Island, Derwent-Water.

  If thou in the dear love of some one friend

  Hast been so happy, that thou know'st what thoughts

  Will, sometimes, in the happiness of love

  Make the heart sink, then wilt thou reverence

  This quiet spot.—St. Herbert hither came

  And here, for many seasons, from the world

  Remov'd, and the affections of the world

  He dwelt in solitude. He living here,

  This island's sole inhabitant! had left

  A Fellow-labourer, whom the good Man lov'd

  As his own soul; and when within his cave

  Alone he knelt before the crucifix

  While o'er the lake the cataract of Lodore

  Peal'd to his orisons, and when he pac'd

  Along the beach of this small isle and thought

  Of his Companion, he had pray'd that both

  Might die in the same moment. Nor in vain

  So pray'd he:—as our Chronicles report,

  Though here the Hermit number'd his last days,

  Far from St. Cuthbert his beloved friend,

  Those holy men both died in the same hour.

“Inscription for the House (an Out-house) on the Island at Grasmere”

  For the House (an Outhouse) on the Island at Grasmere.

  Rude is this Edifice, and Thou hast seen

  Buildings, albeit rude, that have maintain'd

  Proportions more harmonious, and approach'd

  To somewhat of a closer fellowship

  With the ideal grace. Yet as it is

  Do take it in good part; for he, the poor

  Vitruvius of our village, had no help

  From the great city; never on the leaves

  Of red Morocco folio saw display'd

  The skeletons and pre-existing ghosts

  Of Beauties yet unborn, the rustic Box,

  Snug Cot, with Coach-house, Shed and Hermitage.

  It is a homely pile, yet to these walls

  The heifer comes in the snow-storm, and here

  The new-dropp'd lamb finds shelter from the wind.

  And hither does one Poet sometimes row

  His pinnace, a small vagrant barge, up-piled

  With plenteous store of heath and wither'd fern,

  A lading which he with his sickle cuts

  Among the mountains, and beneath this roof

  He makes his summer couch, and here at noon

  Spreads out his limbs, while, yet unborn, the sheep

  Panting beneath the burthen of their wool

  Lie round him, even as if they were a part

  Of his own household: nor, while from his bed

  He through that door-place looks toward the lake

  And to the stirring breezes, does he want

  Creations lovely as the work of sleep,

  Fair sights, and visions of romantic joy.

“To a Sexton”

  Let thy wheel-barrow alone.

  Wherefore, Sexton, piling still

  In thy bone-house bone on bone?

  Tis already like a hill

  In a field of battle made,

  Where three thousand skulls are laid.

  —These died in peace each with the other,

  Father, Sister, Friend, and Brother.

  Mark the spot to which I point!

  From this platform eight feet square

  Take not even a finger-joint:

  Andrew's whole fire-side is there.

  Here, alone, before thine eyes,

  Simon's sickly Daughter lies

  From weakness, now, and pain defended,

  Whom he twenty winters tended.

  Look but at the gardener's pride,

  How he glories, when he sees

  Roses, lilies, side by side,

  Violets in families.

  By the heart of Man, his tears,

  By his hopes and by his fears,

  Thou, old Grey-beard! art the Warden

  Of a far superior garden.

  Thus then, each to other dear,

  Let them all in quiet lie,

  Andrew there and Susan here,

  Neighbours in mortality.

  And should I live through sun and rain

  Seven widow'd years without my Jane,

  O Sexton, do not then remove her,

  Let one grave hold the Lov'd and Lover!

“Andrew Jones”

  I hate that Andrew Jones: he'll breed

  His children up to waste and pillage.

  I wish the press-gang or the drum

  With its tantara sound would come,

  And sweep him from the village!

  I said not this, because he loves

  Through the long day to swear and tipple;

  But for the poor dear sake of one

  To whom a foul deed he had done,

  A friendless Man, a travelling Cripple!

  For this poor crawling helpless wretch

  Some Horseman who was passing by,

  A penny on the ground had thrown;

  But the poor Cripple was alone

  And could not stoop—no help was nigh.

  Inch-thick the dust lay on the ground

  For it had long been droughty weather:

  So with his staff the Cripple wrought

  Among the dust till he had brought

  The halfpennies together.

  It chanc'd that Andrew pass'd that way

  Just at the time; and there he found

  The Cripple in the mid-day heat

  Standing alone, and at his feet

  He saw the penny on the ground.

  He stopp'd and took the penny up.

  And when the Cripple nearer drew,

  Quoth Andrew, "Under half-a-crown.

  What a man finds is all his own,

  And so, my Friend, good day to you."

  And hence I said, that Andrew's boys

  Will all be train'd to waste and pillage;

  And wish'd the press-gang, or the drum

  With its tantara sound, would come

  And sweep him from the village!

“The Two Thieves, or the Last Stage of Avarice”

  Oh now that the genius of Bewick were mine

  And the skill which He learn'd on the Banks of the Tyne;

  When the Muses might deal with me just as they chose

  For I'd take my last leave both of verse and of prose.

  What feats would I work with my magical hand!

  Book-learning and books should be banish'd the land

  And for hunger and thirst and such troublesome calls

  Every ale-house should then have a feast on its walls.

  The Traveller would hang his wet clothes on a chair

  Let them smoke, let them burn, not a straw would he care.

  For the Prodigal Son, Joseph's Dream and his Sheaves,

  Oh what would they be to my tale of two Thieves!

  Little Dan is unbreech'd, he is three birth-days old,

  His Grandsire that age more than thirty times told,

  There's ninety good seasons of fair and foul weather

  Between them, and both go a stealing together.

  With chips is the Carpenter strewing his floor?

  It a cart-load of peats at an old Woman's door?

  Old Daniel his hand to the treasure will slide,

  And his Grandson's as busy at work by his side.

  Old Daniel begins, he stops short and his eye

  Through the lost look of dotage is cunning and sly.

  'Tis a look which at this time is hardly his own,

  But tells a plain tale of the days that are flown.

  Dan once had a heart which was mov'd by the wires

  Of manifold pleasures and many desires:

  And what if he cherish'd his purse? 'Twas no more

  Than treading a path trod by thousands before.

  'Twas a path trod by thousands, but Daniel is one

  Who went something farther than others have gone;

  And now with old Daniel you see how it fares

  You see to what end he has brought his grey hairs.

  The pair sally forth hand in hand; ere the sun

  Has peer'd o'er the beeches their work is begun:

  And yet into whatever sin they may fall,

  This Child but half knows it and that not at all.

  They hunt through the street with deliberate tread,

  And each in his turn is both leader and led;

  And wherever they carry their plots and their wiles,

  Every face in the village is dimpled with smiles.

  Neither check'd by the rich nor the needy they roam,

  For grey-headed Dan has a daughter at home;

  Who will gladly repair all the damage that's done,

  And three, were it ask'd, would be render'd for one.

  Old Man! whom so oft I with pity have ey'd,

  I love thee and love the sweet boy at thy side:

  Long yet may'st thou live, for a teacher we see

  That lifts up the veil of our nature in thee.

“A whirl-blast from behind the hill”

  A whirl-blast from behind the hill

  Rush'd o'er the wood with startling sound:

  Then all at once the air was still,

  And showers of hail-stones patter'd round.

  Where leafless Oaks tower'd high above,

  I sate within an undergrove

  Of tallest hollies, tall and green,

  A fairer bower was never seen.

  From year to year the spacious floor

  With wither'd leaves is cover'd o'er,

  You could not lay a hair between:

  And all the year the bower is green.

  But see! where'er the hailstones drop

  The wither'd leaves all skip and hop,

  There's not a breeze—no breath of air—

  Yet here, and there, and every where

  Along the floor, beneath the shade

  By those embowering hollies made,

  The leaves in myriads jump and spring,

  As if with pipes and music rare

  Some Robin Good-fellow were there,

  And all those leaves, that jump and spring,

  Were each a joyous, living thing.

  Oh! grant me Heaven a heart at ease

  That I may never cease to find,

  Even in appearances like these

  Enough to nourish and to stir my mind!

“Song for the Wandering Jew”

  Though the torrents from their fountains

  Roar down many a craggy steep,

  Yet they find among the mountains

  Resting-places calm and deep.

  Though almost with eagle pinion

  O'er the rocks the Chamois roam.

  Yet he has some small dominion

  Which no doubt he calls his home.

  If on windy days the Raven

  Gambol like a dancing skiff,

  Not the less he loves his haven

  On the bosom of the cliff.

  Though the Sea-horse in the ocean

  Own no dear domestic cave;

  Yet he slumbers without motion

  On the calm and silent wave.

  Day and night my toils redouble!

  Never nearer to the goal,

  Night and day, I feel the trouble,

  Of the Wanderer in my soul.


  When Ruth was left half desolate,

  Her Father took another Mate;

  And so, not seven years old,

  The slighted Child at her own will

  Went wandering over dale and hill

  In thoughtless freedom bold.

  And she had made a pipe of straw

  And from that oaten pipe could draw

  All sounds of winds and floods;

  Had built a bower upon the green,

  As if she from her birth had been

  An Infant of the woods.

  There came a Youth from Georgia's shore,

  A military Casque he wore

  With splendid feathers drest;

  He brought them from the Cherokees;

  The feathers nodded in the breeze

  And made a gallant crest.

  From Indian blood you deem him sprung:

  Ah no! he spake the English tongue

  And bare a Soldier's name;

  And when America was free

  From battle and from jeopardy

  He cross the ocean came.

  With hues of genius on his cheek

  In finest tones the Youth could speak.

  —While he was yet a Boy

  The moon, the glory of the sun,

  And streams that murmur as they run

  Had been his dearest joy.

  He was a lovely Youth! I guess

  The panther in the wilderness

  Was not so fair as he;

  And when he chose to sport and play,

  No dolphin ever was so gay

  Upon the tropic sea.

  Among the Indians he had fought,

  And with him many tales he brought

  Of pleasure and of fear,

  Such tales as told to any Maid

  By such a Youth in the green shade

  Were perilous to hear.

  He told of Girls, a happy rout,

  Who quit their fold with dance and shout

  Their pleasant Indian Town

  To gather strawberries all day long,

  Returning with a choral song

  When day-light is gone down.

  He spake of plants divine and strange

  That ev'ry day their blossoms change,

  Ten thousand lovely hues!

  With budding, fading, faded flowers

  They stand the wonder of the bowers

  From morn to evening dews.

  He told of the Magnolia, spread

  High as a cloud, high over head!

  The Cypress and her spire,

  Of flowers that with one scarlet gleam

  Cover a hundred leagues and seem

  To set the hills on fire.

  The Youth of green Savannahs spake,

  And many an endless endless lake

  With all its fairy crowds

  Of islands that together lie

  As quietly as spots of sky

  Among the evening clouds:

  And then he said "How sweet it were

  A fisher or a hunter there,

  A gardener in the shade,

  Still wandering with an easy mind

  To build a household fire and find

  A home in every glade."

  "What days and what sweet years! Ah me!

  Our life were life indeed, with thee

  So pass'd in quiet bliss,

  And all the while" said he "to know

  That we were in a world of woe.

  On such an earth as this!"

  And then he sometimes interwove

  Dear thoughts about a Father's love,

  "For there," said he, "are spun

  Around the heart such tender ties

  That our own children to our eyes

  Are dearer than the sun."

  Sweet Ruth! and could you go with me

  My helpmate in the woods to be,

  Our shed at night to rear;

  Or run, my own adopted bride,

  A sylvan huntress at my side

  And drive the flying deer.

  "Beloved Ruth!" No more he said

  Sweet Ruth alone at midnight shed

  A solitary tear,

  She thought again—and did agree

  With him to sail across the sea,

  And drive the flying deer.

  "And now, as fitting is and right,

  We in the Church our faith will plight,

  A Husband and a Wife."

  Even so they did; and I may say

  That to sweet Ruth that happy day

  Was more than human life.

  Through dream and vision did she sink,

  Delighted all the while to think

  That on those lonesome floods

  And green Savannahs she should share

  His board with lawful joy, and bear

  His name in the wild woods.

  But, as you have before been told,

  This Stripling, sportive gay and bold,

  And, with his dancing crest,

  So beautiful, through savage lands

  Had roam'd about with vagrant bands

  Of Indians in the West.

  The wind, the tempest roaring high,

  The tumult of a tropic sky

  Might well be dangerous food.

  For him, a Youth to whom was given

  So much of earth so much of Heaven,

  And such impetuous blood.

  Whatever in those climes he found

  Irregular in sight or sound

  Did to his mind impart

  A kindred impulse, seem'd allied

  To his own powers, and justified

  The workings of his heart.

  Nor less to feed voluptuous thought

  The beauteous forms of Nature wrought,

  Fair trees and lovely flowers;

  The breezes their own languor lent,

  The stars had feelings which they sent

  Into those magic bowers.

  Yet, in his worst pursuits, I ween,

  That sometimes there did intervene

  Pure hopes of high intent:

  For passions link'd to forms so fair

  And stately, needs must have their share

  Of noble sentiment.

  But ill he liv'd, much evil saw

  With men to whom no better law

  Nor better life was known;

  Deliberately and undeceiv'd

  Those wild men's vices he receiv'd,

  And gave them back his own.

  His genius and his moral frame

  Were thus impair'd, and he became

  The slave of low desires;

  A man who without self-controul

  Would seek what the degraded soul

  Unworthily admires.

  And yet he with no feign'd delight

  Had woo'd the Maiden, day and night

  Had luv'd her, night and morn;

  What could he less than love a Maid

  Whose heart with so much nature play'd

  So kind and so forlorn?

  But now the pleasant dream was gone,

  No hope, no wish remain'd, not one,

  They stirr'd him now no more,

  New objects did new pleasure give,

  And once again he wish'd to live

  As lawless as before.

  Meanwhile as thus with him it fared.

  They for the voyage were prepared

  And went to the sea-shore,

  But, when they thither came, the Youth

  Deserted his poor Bride, and Ruth

  Could never find him more.

  "God help thee Ruth!"—Such pains she had

  That she in half a year was mad

  And in a prison hous'd,

  And there, exulting in her wrongs,

  Among the music of her songs

  She fearfully carouz'd.

  Yet sometimes milder hours she knew,

  Nor wanted sun, nor rain, nor dew,

  Nor pastimes of the May,

  They all were with her in her cell,

  And a wild brook with chearful knell

  Did o'er the pebbles play.

  When Ruth three seasons thus had lain

  There came a respite to her pain,

  She from her prison fled;

  But of the Vagrant none took thought,

  And where it liked her best she sought

  Her shelter and her bread.

  Among the fields she breath'd again:

  The master-current of her brain

  Ran permanent and free,

  And to the pleasant Banks of Tone

  She took her way, to dwell alone

  Under the greenwood tree.

  The engines of her grief, the tools

  That shap'd her sorrow, rocks and pools,

  And airs that gently stir

  The vernal leaves, she loved them still,

  Nor ever tax'd them with the ill

  Which had been done to her.

  A Barn her winter bed supplies,

  But till the warmth of summer skies

  And summer days is gone,

  (And in this tale we all agree)

  She sleeps beneath the greenwood tree,

  And other home hath none.

  If she is press'd by want of food

  She from her dwelling in the wood

  Repairs to a road side,

  And there she begs at one steep place,

  Where up and down with easy pace

  The horsemen-travellers ride.

  That oaten pipe of hers is mute

  Or thrown away, but with a flute

  Her loneliness she cheers;

  This flute made of a hemlock stalk

  At evening in his homeward walk

  The Quantock Woodman hears.

  I, too have pass'd her on the hills

  Setting her little water-mills

  By spouts and fountains wild,

  Such small machinery as she turn'd

  Ere she had wept, ere she had mourn'd

  A young and happy Child!

  Farewel! and when thy days are told

  Ill-fated Ruth! in hallow'd mold

  Thy corpse shall buried be,

  For thee a funeral bell shall ring,

  And all the congregation sing

  A Christian psalm for thee.


Written with a Slate-pencil upon a Stone, the largest of a heap lying near a deserted Quarry, upon one of the islands at Rydale.

  Stranger! this hillock of mishapen stones

  Is not a ruin of the ancient time,

  Nor, as perchance thou rashly deem'st, the Cairn

  Of some old British Chief: 'tis nothing more

  Than the rude embryo of a little dome

  Or pleasure-house, which was to have been built

  Among the birch-trees of this rocky isle.

  But, as it chanc'd, Sir William having learn'd

  That from the shore a full-grown man might wade,

  And make himself a freeman of this spot

  At any hour he chose, the Knight forthwith

  Desisted, and the quarry and the mound

  Are monuments of his unfinish'd task.—

  The block on which these lines are trac'd, perhaps,

  Was once selected as the corner-stone

  Of the intended pile, which would have been

  Some quaint odd play-thing of elaborate skill,

  So that, I guess, the linnet and the thrush,

  And other little builders who dwell here,

  Had wonder'd at the work. But blame him not,

  For old Sir William was a gentle Knight

  Bred in this vale to which he appertain'd

  With all his ancestry. Then peace to him

  And for the outrage which he had devis'd

  Entire forgiveness.—But if thou art one

  On fire with thy impatience to become

  An Inmate of these mountains, if disturb'd

  By beautiful conceptions, thou hast hewn

  Out of the quiet rock the elements

  Of thy trim mansion destin'd soon to blaze

  In snow-white splendour, think again, and taught

  By old Sir William and his quarry, leave

  Thy fragments to the bramble and the rose,

  There let the vernal slow-worm sun himself,

  And let the red-breast hop from stone to stone.

In the School of —— is a tablet on which are inscribed, in gilt letters, the names of the federal persons who have been Schoolmasters there since the foundation of the School, with the time at which they entered upon and quitted their office. Opposite one of those names the Author wrote the following lines.

  If Nature, for a favorite Child

  In thee hath temper'd so her clay,

  That every hour thy heart runs wild

  Yet never once doth go astray,

  Read o'er these lines; and then review

  This tablet, that thus humbly rears

  In such diversity of hue

  Its history of two hundred years.

  —When through this little wreck of fame,

  Cypher and syllable, thine eye

  Has travell'd down to Matthew's name,

  Pause with no common sympathy.

  And if a sleeping tear should wake

  Then be it neither check'd nor stay'd:

  For Matthew a request I make

  Which for himself he had not made.

  Poor Matthew, all his frolics o'er,

  Is silent as a standing pool,

  Far from the chimney's merry roar,

  And murmur of the village school.

  The sighs which Matthew heav'd were sighs

  Of one tir'd out with fun and madness;

  The tears which came to Matthew's eyes

  Were tears of light, the oil of gladness.

  Yet sometimes when the secret cup

  Of still and serious thought went round

  It seem'd as if he drank it up,

  He felt with spirit so profound.

  —Thou soul of God's best earthly mould,

  Thou happy soul, and can it be

  That these two words of glittering gold

  Are all that must remain of thee?

“The Two April Mornings”

  We walk'd along, while bright and red

  Uprose the morning sun,

  And Matthew stopp'd, he look'd, and said,

  "The will of God be done!"

  A village Schoolmaster was he,

  With hair of glittering grey;

  As blithe a man as you could see

  On a spring holiday.

  And on that morning, through the grass,

  And by the steaming rills,

  We travell'd merrily to pass

  A day among the hills.

  "Our work," said I, "was well begun;

  Then, from thy breast what thought,

  Beneath so beautiful a sun,

  So sad a sigh has brought?"

  A second time did Matthew stop,

  And fixing still his eye

  Upon the eastern mountain-top

  To me he made reply.

  Yon cloud with that long purple cleft

  Brings fresh into my mind

  A day like this which I have left

  Full thirty years behind.

  And on that slope of springing corn

  The self-same crimson hue

  Fell from the sky that April morn,

  The same which now I view!

  With rod and line my silent sport

  I plied by Derwent's wave,

  And, coming to the church, stopp'd short

  Beside my Daughter's grave.

  Nine summers had she scarcely seen

  The pride of all the vale;

  And then she sang!—she would have been

  A very nightingale.

  Six feet in earth my Emma lay,

  And yet I lov'd her more,

  For so it seem'd, than till that day

  I e'er had lov'd before.

  And, turning from her grave, I met

  Beside the church-yard Yew

  A blooming Girl, whose hair was wet

  With points of morning dew.

“The Fountain, a Conversation”

  We talk'd with open heart, and tongue

  Affectionate and true,

  A pair of Friends, though I was young,

  And Matthew seventy-two.

  We lay beneath a spreading oak,

  Beside a mossy seat,

  And from the turf a fountain broke,

  And gurgled at our feet.

  Now, Matthew, let us try to match

  This water's pleasant tune

  With some old Border-song, or catch

  That suits a summer's noon.

  Or of the Church-clock and the chimes

  Sing here beneath the shade,

  That half-mad thing of witty rhymes

  Which you last April made!

  On silence Matthew lay, and eyed

  The spring beneath the tree;

  And thus the dear old Man replied,

  The grey-hair'd Man of glee.

  "Down to the vale this water steers,

  How merrily it goes!

  Twill murmur on a thousand years,

  And flow as now it flows."

  And here, on this delightful day,

  I cannot chuse 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 stirr'd,

  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 in the summer trees,

  The lark upon 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 press'd by heavy laws,

  And often, glad no more,

  We wear a face of joy, because

  We have been glad of yore.

  If there is one who need bemoan

  His kindred laid in earth,

  The houshold hearts that were his own,

  It is the man of mirth.

  "My days, my Friend, are almost gone,

  My life has been approv'd,

  And many love me, but by none

  Am I enough belov'd."

  "Now both himself and me he wrongs,

  The man who thus complains!

  I live and sing my idle songs

  Upon these happy plains,"

  "And, Matthew, for thy Children dead

  I'll be a son to thee!"

  At this he grasp'd his hands, and said,

  "Alas! that cannot be."

  We rose up from the fountain-side,

  And down the smooth descent

  Of the green sheep-track did we glide,

  And through the wood we went,

  And, ere we came to Leonard's Rock,

  He sang those witty rhymes

  About the crazy old church-clock

  And the bewilder'd chimes.


  —It seems a day,

  One of those heavenly days which cannot die,

  When forth I sallied from our cottage-door,

  And with a wallet o'er my shoulder slung,

  A nutting crook in hand, I turn'd my steps

  Towards the distant woods, a Figure quaint,

  Trick'd out in proud disguise of Beggar's weeds

  Put on for the occasion, by advice

  And exhortation of my frugal Dame.

  Motley accoutrements! of power to smile

  At thorns, and brakes, and brambles, and, in truth,

  More ragged than need was. Among the woods,

  And o'er the pathless rocks, I forc'd my way

  Until, at length, I came to one dear nook

  Unvisited, where not a broken bough

  Droop'd with its wither'd leaves, ungracious sign

  Of devastation, but the hazels rose

  Tall and erect, with milk-white clusters hung,

  A virgin scene!—A little while I stood,

  Breathing with such suppression of the heart

  As joy delights in; and with wise restraint

  Voluptuous, fearless of a rival, eyed

  The banquet, or beneath the trees I sate

  Among the flowers, and with the flowers I play'd;

  A temper known to those, who, after long

  And weary expectation, have been bless'd

  With sudden happiness beyond all hope.—

  —Perhaps it was a bower beneath whose leaves

  The violets of five seasons re-appear

  And fade, unseen by any human eye,

  Where fairy water-breaks do murmur on

  For ever, and I saw the sparkling foam,

  And with my cheek on one of those green stones

  That, fleec'd with moss, beneath the shady trees,

  Lay round me scatter'd like a flock of sheep,

  I heard the murmur and the murmuring sound,

  In that sweet mood when pleasure loves to pay

  Tribute to ease, and, of its joy secure

  The heart luxuriates with indifferent things,

  Wasting its kindliness on stocks and stones,

  And on the vacant air. Then up I rose,

  And dragg'd to earth both branch and bough, with crash

  And merciless ravage; and the shady nook

  Of hazels, and the green and mossy bower

  Deform'd and sullied, patiently gave up

  Their quiet being: and unless I now

  Confound my present feelings with the past,

  Even then, when, from the bower I turn'd away,

  Exulting, rich beyond the wealth of kings

  I felt a sense of pain when I beheld

  The silent trees and the intruding sky.—

  Then, dearest Maiden! move along these shades

  In gentleness of heart with gentle hand

  Touch,—for there is a Spirit in the woods.

“Three years she grew in sun and shower”

  Three years she grew in sun and shower,

  Then Nature said, "A lovelier flower

  On earth was never sown;

  This Child I to myself will take,

  She shall be mine, and I will make

  A Lady of my own."

  Myself will to my darling be

  Both law and impulse, and with me

  The Girl in rock and plain,

  In earth and heaven, in glade and bower,

  Shall feel an overseeing power

  To kindle or restrain.

  She shall be sportive as the fawn

  That wild with glee across the lawn

  Or up the mountain springs,

  And hers shall be the breathing balm,

  And hers the silence and the calm

  Of mute insensate things.

  The floating clouds their state shall lend

  To her, for her the willow bend,

  Nor shall she fail to see

  Even in the motions of the storm

  A beauty that shall mould her form

  By silent sympathy.

  The stars of midnight shall be dear

  To her, and she shall lean her ear

  In many a secret place

  Where rivulets dance their wayward round,

  And beauty born of murmuring sound

  Shall pass into her face.

  And vital feelings of delight

  Shall rear her form to stately height,

  Her virgin bosom swell,

  Such thoughts to Lucy I will give

  While she and I together live

  Here in this happy dell.

  Thus Nature spake—The work was done—

  How soon my Lucy's race was run!

  She died and left to me

  This heath, this calm and quiet scene,

  The memory of what has been,

  And never more will be.

“The Pet-Lamb, A Pastoral”

  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 side.

  No other sheep were near, the Lamb was all alone,

  And by a slender cord was tether'd to a stone;

  With one knee on the grass did the little Maiden kneel,

  While to that Mountain Lamb she gave its evening meal.

  The Lamb while from her hand he thus his supper took

  Seem'd 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 receiv'd her heart into my own.

  'Twas little Barbara Lewthwaite, a Child of beauty rare;

  I watch'd them with delight, they were a lovely pair.

  And now with empty Can the Maiden turn'd away,

  But ere ten yards were gone her footsteps did she stay.

  Towards the Lamb she look'd, and from that shady place

  I unobserv'd could see the workings of her face:

  If Nature to her tongue could measur'd numbers bring

  Thus, thought I, to her Lamb that little Maid would sing.

  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 be.

  Rest little Young One, rest; what is't that aileth thee?

  What is it thou would'st 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 peer,

  And that green corn all day is rustling in thy ears.

  If the Sun is shining hot, do but stretch thy woollen chain,

  This beech is standing by, its covert thou can'st gain,

  For rain and mountain storms the like thou need'st not fear,

  The rain and storm are things which scarcely can come here.

  Rest, little Young One, rest; thou hast forgot the day

  When my Father found thee first in places far away:

  Many flocks are on the hills, but thou wert own'd by none,

  And thy Mother from thy side for evermore was gone.

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

  A blessed day for thee! then whither would'st thou roam?

  A faithful nurse thou hast, the dam that did thee yean

  Upon the mountain tops no kinder could have been.

  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 plough,

  My playmate thou shalt be, and when the wind is cold

  Our hearth shall be thy bed, our house shall be thy fold.

  It will not, will not rest!—poor Creature can it be

  That 'tis thy Mother's heart which is working so in thee?

  Things that I know not of belike to thee are dear,

  And dreams of things which thou can'st neither see nor hear.

  Alas, the mountain tops that look so green and fair!

  I've heard of fearful winds and darkness that come there,

  The little brooks, that seem all pastime and all play,

  When they are angry, roar like lions for their prey.

  Here thou needst not dread the raven in the sky,

  He will not come to thee, our Cottage is hard by,

  Night and day thou art safe as living thing can be,

  Be happy then and rest, what is't that aileth thee?

  As homeward through the lane I went with lazy feet,

  This song to myself did I oftentimes repeat,

  And it seem'd as I retrac'd the ballad line by line

  That but half of it was hers, and one half of it was mine.

  Again, and once again did I repeat the song,

  "Nay" said I, "more than half to the Damsel must belong,

  For she look'd with such a look, and she spake with such a tone,

  That I almost receiv'd her heart into my own."

“Written in GERMANY, on one of the coldest days of the Century”

I must apprize the Reader that the stoves in North Germany generally have the impression of a galloping Horse upon them, this being part of the Brunswick Arms.

  A fig for your languages, German and Norse,

  Let me have the song of the Kettle,

  And the tongs and the poker, instead of that horse

  That gallops away with such fury and force

  On this dreary dull plate of black metal.

  Our earth is no doubt made of excellent stuff,

  But her pulses beat slower and slower.

  The weather in Forty was cutting and rough,

  And then, as Heaven knows, the glass stood low enough,

  And now it is four degrees lower.

  Here's a Fly, a disconsolate creature, perhaps

  A child of the field, or the grove,

  And sorrow for him! this dull treacherous heat

  Has seduc'd the poor fool from his winter retreat,

  And he creeps to the edge of my stove.

  Alas! how he fumbles about the domains

  Which this comfortless oven environ,

  He cannot find out in what track he must crawl

  Now back to the tiles, and now back to the hall,

  And now on the brink of the iron.

  Stock-still there he stands like a traveller bemaz'd,

  The best of his skill he has tried;

  His feelers methinks I can see him put forth

  To the East and the West, and the South and the North,

  But he finds neither guide-post nor guide.

  See! his spindles sink under him, foot, leg and thigh,

  His eyesight and hearing are lost,

  Between life and death his blood freezes and thaws,

  And his two pretty pinions of blue dusky gauze

  Are glued to his sides by the frost.

  No Brother, no Friend has he near him, while I

  Can draw warmth from the cheek of my Love,

  As blest and as glad in this desolate gloom,

  As if green summer grass were the floor of my room,

  And woodbines were hanging above.

  Yet, God is my witness, thou small helpless Thing,

  Thy life I would gladly sustain

  Till summer comes up from the South, and with crowds

  Of thy brethren a march thou should'st sound through the clouds,

  And back to the forests again.

“The Childless Father”

  Up, Timothy, up with your Staff and away!

  Not a soul in the village this morning will stay;

  The Hare has just started from Hamilton's grounds,

  And Skiddaw is glad with the cry of the hounds.

  —Of coats and of jackets both grey, scarlet, and green,

  On the slopes of the pastures all colours were seen,

  With their comely blue aprons and caps white as snow,

  The girls on the hills made a holiday show.

  The bason of box-wood, just six months before,

  Had stood on the table at Timothy's door,

  A Coffin through Timothy's threshold had pass'd,

  One Child did it bear and that Child was his last.

  Now fast up the dell came the noise and the fray,

  The horse and the horn, and the hark! hark! away!

  Old Timothy took up his Staff, and he shut

  With a leisurely motion the door of his hut.

  Perhaps to himself at that moment he said,

  "The key I must take, for my Ellen is dead"

  But of this in my ears not a word did he speak,

  And he went to the chase with a tear on his cheek.

“The Old Cumberland Beggar, a Description:”

The class of Beggars to which the old man here described belongs, will probably soon be extinct. It consisted of poor, and, mostly, old and infirm persons, who confined themselves to a stated round in their neighbourhood, and had certain fixed days, on which, at different houses, they regularly received charity; sometimes in money, but mostly in provisions.

  I saw an aged Beggar in my walk,

  And he was seated by the highway side

  On a low structure of rude masonry

  Built at the foot of a huge hill, that they

  Who lead their horses down the steep rough road

  May thence remount at ease. The aged man

  Had placed his staff across the broad smooth stone

  That overlays the pile, and from a bag

  All white with flour the dole of village dames,

  He drew his scraps and fragments, one by one,

  And scann'd them with a fix'd and serious look

  Of idle computation. In the sun,

  Upon the second step of that small pile,

  Surrounded by those wild unpeopled hills,

  He sate, and eat his food in solitude;

  And ever, scatter'd from his palsied hand,

  That still attempting to prevent the waste,

  Was baffled still, the crumbs in little showers

  Fell on the ground, and the small mountain birds,

  Not venturing yet to peck their destin'd meal,

  Approached within the length of half his staff.

  Him from my childhood have I known, and then

  He was so old, he seems not older now;

  He travels on, a solitary man,

  So helpless in appearance, that for him

  The sauntering horseman-traveller does not throw

  With careless hand his alms upon the ground,

  But stops, that he may safely lodge the coin

  Within the old Man's hat; nor quits him so,

  But still when he has given his horse the rein

  Towards the aged Beggar turns a look,

  Sidelong and half-reverted. She who tends

  The toll-gate, when in summer at her door

  She turns her wheel, if on the road she sees

  The aged Beggar coming, quits her work,

  And lifts the latch for him that he may pass.

  The Post-boy when his rattling wheels o'ertake

  The aged Beggar, in the woody lane,

  Shouts to him from behind, and, if perchance

  The old Man does not change his course, the Boy

  Turns with less noisy wheels to the road-side,

  And passes gently by, without a curse

  Upon his lips, or anger at his heart.

  He travels on, a solitary Man,

  His age has no companion. On the ground

  His eyes are turn'd, and, as he moves along,

  They move along the ground; and evermore;

  Instead of common and habitual sight

  Of fields with rural works, of hill and dale,

  And the blue sky, one little span of earth

  Is all his prospect. Thus, from day to day,

  Bowbent, his eyes for ever on the ground,

  He plies his weary journey, seeing still,

  And never knowing that he sees, some straw,

  Some scatter'd leaf, or marks which, in one track,

  The nails of cart or chariot wheel have left

  Impress'd on the white road, in the same line,

  At distance still the same. Poor Traveller!

  His staff trails with him, scarcely do his feet

  Disturb the summer dust, he is so still

  In look and motion that the cottage curs,

  Ere he have pass'd the door, will turn away

  Weary of barking at him. Boys and girls,

  The vacant and the busy, maids and youths,

  And urchins newly breech'd all pass him by:

  Him even the slow-paced waggon leaves behind.

  But deem not this man useless.—Statesmen! ye

  Who are so restless in your wisdom, ye

  Who have a broom still ready in your hands

  To rid the world of nuisances; ye proud,

  Heart-swoln, while in your pride ye contemplate

  Your talents, power, and wisdom, deem him not

  A burthen of the earth. Tis Nature's law

  That none, the meanest of created things,

  Of forms created the most vile and brute,

  The dullest or most noxious, should exist

  Divorced from good, a spirit and pulse of good,

  A life and soul to every mode of being

  Inseparably link'd. While thus he creeps

  From door to door, the Villagers in him

  Behold a record which together binds

  Past deeds and offices of charity

  Else unremember'd, and so keeps alive

  The kindly mood in hearts which lapse of years,

  And that half-wisdom, half-experience gives

  Make slow to feel, and by sure steps resign

  To selfishness and cold oblivious cares.

  Among the farms and solitary huts

  Hamlets, and thinly-scattered villages,

  Where'er the aged Beggar takes his rounds,

  The mild necessity of use compels

  To acts of love; and habit does the work

  Of reason, yet prepares that after joy

  Which reason cherishes. And thus the soul,

  By that sweet taste of pleasure unpursu'd

  Doth find itself insensibly dispos'd

  To virtue and true goodness. Some there are,

  By their good works exalted, lofty minds

  And meditative, authors of delight

  And happiness, which to the end of time

  Will live, and spread, and kindle; minds like these,

  In childhood, from this solitary being,

  This helpless wanderer, have perchance receiv'd,

  (A thing more precious far than all that books

  Or the solicitudes of love can do!)

  That first mild touch of sympathy and thought,

  In which they found their kindred with a world

  Where want and sorrow were. The easy man

  Who sits at his own door, and like the pear

  Which overhangs his head from the green wall,

  Feeds in the sunshine; the robust and young,

  The prosperous and unthinking, they who live

  Shelter'd, and flourish in a little grove

  Of their own kindred, all behold in him

  A silent monitor, which on their minds

  Must needs impress a transitory thought

  Of self-congratulation, to the heart

  Of each recalling his peculiar boons,

  His charters and exemptions; and perchance,

  Though he to no one give the fortitude

  And circumspection needful to preserve

  His present blessings, and to husband up

  The respite of the season, he, at least,

  And 'tis no vulgar service, makes them felt.

  Yet further.—Many, I believe, there are

  Who live a life of virtuous decency,

  Men who can hear the Decalogue and feel

  No self-reproach, who of the moral law

  Establish'd in the land where they abide

  Are strict observers, and not negligent,

  Meanwhile, in any tenderness of heart

  Or act of love to those with whom they dwell,

  Their kindred, and the children of their blood.

  Praise be to such, and to their slumbers peace!

  —But of the poor man ask, the abject poor,

  Go and demand of him, if there be here,

  In this cold abstinence from evil deeds,

  And these inevitable charities,

  Wherewith to satisfy the human soul.

  No—man is dear to man: the poorest poor

  Long for some moments in a weary life

  When they can know and feel that they have been

  Themselves the fathers and the dealers out

  Of some small blessings, have been kind to such

  As needed kindness, for this single cause,

  That we have all of us one human heart.

  —Such pleasure is to one kind Being known

  My Neighbour, when with punctual care, each week

  Duly as Friday comes, though press'd herself

  By her own wants, she from her chest of meal

  Takes one unsparing handful for the scrip

  Of this old Mendicant, and, from her door

  Returning with exhilarated heart,

  Sits by her tire and builds her hope in heav'n.

  Then let him pass, a blessing on his head!

  And while, in that vast solitude to which

  The tide of things has led him, he appears

  To breathe and live but for himself alone,

  Unblam'd, uninjur'd, let him bear about

  The good which the benignant law of heaven

  Has hung around him, and, while life is his,

  Still let him prompt the unletter'd Villagers

  To tender offices and pensive thoughts.

  Then let him pass, a blessing on his head!

  And, long as he can wander, let him breathe

  The freshness of the vallies, let his blood

  Struggle with frosty air and winter snows,

  And let the charter'd wind that sweeps the heath

  Beat his grey locks against his wither'd face.

  Reverence the hope whose vital anxiousness

  Gives the last human interest to his heart.

  May never House, misnamed of industry,

  Make him a captive; for that pent-up din,

  Those life-consuming sounds that clog the air,

  Be his the natural silence of old age.

  Let him be free of mountain solitudes,

  And have around him, whether heard or nor,

  The pleasant melody of woodland birds.

  Few are his pleasures; if his eyes, which now

  Have been so long familiar with the earth,

  No more behold the horizontal sun

  Rising or setting, let the light at least

  Find a free entrance to their languid orbs.

  And let him, where and when he will, sit down

  Beneath the trees, or by the grassy bank

  Of high-way side, and with the little birds

  Share his chance-gather'd meal, and, finally,

  As in the eye of Nature he has liv'd,

  So in the eye of Nature let him die.

“Rural Architecture”

  There's George Fisher, Charles Fleming, and Reginald Shore,

  Three rosy-cheek'd School-boys, the highest not more

  Than the height of a Counsellor's bag;

  To the top of Great How did it please them to climb,

  and there they built up without mortar or lime

  A Man on the peak of the crag.

  They built him of stones gather'd up as they lay,

  They built him and christen'd him all in one day,

  An Urchin both vigorous and hale;

  And so without scruple they call'd him Ralph Jones.

  Now Ralph is renown'd for the length of his bones;

  The Magog of Legberthwaite dale.

  Just half a week after the Wind sallied forth,

  And, in anger or merriment, out of the North

  Coming on with a terrible pother,

  From the peak of the crag blew the Giant away.

  And what did these School-boys?—The very next day

  They went and they built up another.

  —Some little I've seen of blind boisterous works

  In Paris and London, 'mong Christians or Turks,

  Spirits busy to do and undo:

  At remembrance whereof my blood sometimes will flag.

  —Then, light-hearted Boys, to the top of the Crag!

  And I'll build up a Giant with you.

Great How is a single and conspicuous hill, which rises towards the foot of Thirl-mere, on the western side of the beautiful dale of Legberthwaite, along the 'high road between Keswick' and Ambleside.

“A Poet’s Epitath”

  Art thou a Statesman, in the van

  Of public business train'd and bred,

  —First learn to love one living man;

  Then may'st thou think upon the dead.

  A Lawyer art thou?—draw not nigh;

  Go, carry to some other place

  The hardness of thy coward eye,

  The falshood of thy sallow face.

  Art thou a man of purple cheer?

  A rosy man, right plump to see?

  Approach; yet Doctor, not too near:

  This grave no cushion is for thee.

  Art thou a man of gallant pride,

  A Soldier, and no mail of chaff?

  Welcome!—but lay thy sword aside,

  And lean upon a Peasant's staff.

  Physician art thou? One, all eyes,

  Philosopher! a fingering slave,

  One that would peep and botanize

  Upon his mother's grave?

  Wrapp'd closely in thy sensual fleece

  O turn aside, and take, I pray,

  That he below may rest in peace,

  Thy pin-point of a soul away!

  —A Moralist perchance appears;

  Led, Heaven knows how! to this poor sod:

  And He has neither eyes nor ears;

  Himself his world, and his own God;

  One to whose smooth-rubb'd soul can cling

  Nor form nor feeling great nor small,

  A reasoning, self-sufficing thing,

  An intellectual All in All!

  Shut close the door! press down the latch:

  Sleep in thy intellectual crust,

  Nor lose ten tickings of thy watch,

  Near this unprofitable dust.

  But who is He with modest looks,

  And clad in homely russet brown?

  He murmurs near the running brooks

  A music sweeter than their own.

  He is retired as noontide dew,

  Or fountain in a noonday grove;

  And you must love him, ere to you

  He will seem worthy of your love.

  The outward shews of sky and earth.

  Of hill and valley he has view'd;

  And impulses of deeper birth

  Have come to him in solitude.

  In common things that round us lie

  Some random truths he can impart

  The harvest of a quiet eye

  That broods and sleeps on his own heart.

  But he is weak, both man and boy,

  Hath been an idler in the land;

  Contented if he might enjoy

  The things which others understand.

  —Come hither in thy hour of strength,

  Come, weak as is a breaking wave!

  Here stretch thy body at full length

  Or build thy house upon this grave.—

“A Character”

  In the antithetical Manner.

  I marvel how Nature could ever find space

  For the weight and the levity seen in his face:

  There's thought and no thought, and there's paleness and bloom,

  And bustle and sluggishness, pleasure and gloom.

  There's weakness, and strength both redundant and vain;

  Such strength, as if ever affliction and pain

  Could pierce through a temper that's soft to disease,

  Would be rational peace—a philosopher's ease.

  There's indifference, alike when he fails and succeeds,

  And attention full ten times as much as there needs,

  Pride where there's no envy, there's so much of joy;

  And mildness, and spirit both forward and coy.

  There's freedom, and sometimes a diffident stare

  Of shame scarcely seeming to know that she's there.

  There's virtue, the title it surely may claim,

  Yet wants, heaven knows what, to be worthy the name.

  What a picture! 'tis drawn without nature or art,

  —Yet the Man would at once run away with your heart,

  And I for five centuries right gladly would be

  Such an odd, such a kind happy creature as he.

“A Fragment”

  Between two sister moorland rills

  There is a spot that seems to lie

  Sacred to flowrets of the hills,

  And sacred to the sky.

  And in this smooth and open dell

  There is a tempest-stricken tree;

  A corner stone by lightning cut,

  The last stone of a cottage hut;

  And in this dell you see

  A thing no storm can e'er destroy,

  The shadow of a Danish Boy.

  In clouds above, the lark is heard,

  He sings his blithest and his beet;

    But in this lonesome nook the bird

  Did never build his nest.

  No beast, no bird hath here his home;

  The bees borne on the breezy air

  Pass high above those fragrant bells

  To other flowers, to other dells.

  Nor ever linger there.

  The Danish Boy walks here alone:

  The lovely dell is all his own.

  A spirit of noon day is he,

  He seems a Form of flesh and blood;

  A piping Shepherd he might be,

  A Herd-boy of the wood.

  A regal vest of fur he wears,

  In colour like a raven's wing;

  It fears nor rain, nor wind, nor dew,

  But in the storm 'tis fresh and blue

  As budding pines in Spring;

  His helmet has a vernal grace,

  Fresh as the bloom upon his face.

  A harp is from his shoulder slung;

  He rests the harp upon his knee,

  And there in a forgotten tongue

  He warbles melody.

  Of flocks and herds both far and near

  He is the darling and the joy,

  And often, when no cause appears,

  The mountain ponies prick their ears,

  They hear the Danish Boy,

  While in the dell he sits alone

  Beside the tree and corner-stone.

  When near this blasted tree you pass,

  Two sods are plainly to be seen

  Close at its root, and each with grass

  Is cover'd fresh and green.

  Like turf upon a new-made grave

  These two green sods together lie,

  Nor heat, nor cold, nor rain, nor wind

  Can these two sods together bind,

  Nor sun, nor earth, nor sky,

  But side by side the two are laid,

  As if just sever'd by the spade.

  There sits he: in his face you spy

  No trace of a ferocious air,

  Nor ever was a cloudless sky

  So steady or so fair.

  The lovely Danish Boy is blest

  And happy in his flowery cove;

  From bloody deeds his thoughts are far;

  And yet he warbles songs of war;

  They seem like songs of love,

  For calm and gentle is his mien;

  Like a dead Boy he is serene.

“Poems on the Naming of Places”


By Persons resident in the country and attached to rural objects, many places will be found unnamed or of unknown names, where little Incidents will have occurred, or feelings been experienced, which will have given to such places a private and peculiar interest. From a wish to give some sort of record to such Incidents or renew the gratification of such Feelings, Names have been given to Places by the Author and some of his Friends, and the following Poems written in consequence.

“Poems on the Naming of Places”


  It was an April Morning: fresh and clear

  The Rivulet, delighting in its strength,

  Ran with a young man's speed, and yet the voice

  Of waters which the winter had supplied

  Was soften'd down into a vernal tone.

  The spirit of enjoyment and desire,

  And hopes and wishes, from all living things

  Went circling, like a multitude of sounds.

  The budding groves appear'd as if in haste

  To spur the steps of June; as if their shades

  Of various green were hindrances that stood

  Between them and their object: yet, meanwhile,

  There was such deep contentment in the air

  That every naked ash, and tardy tree

  Yet leafless, seem'd as though the countenance

  With which it look'd on this delightful day

  Were native to the summer.—Up the brook

  I roam'd in the confusion of my heart,

  Alive to all things and forgetting all.

  At length I to a sudden turning came

  In this continuous glen, where down a rock

  The stream, so ardent in its course before,

  Sent forth such sallies of glad sound, that all

  Which I till then had heard, appear'd the voice

  Of common pleasure: beast and bird, the lamb,

  The Shepherd's dog, the linnet and the thrush

  Vied with this waterfall, and made a song

  Which, while I listen'd, seem'd like the wild growth

  Or like some natural produce of the air

  That could not cease to be. Green leaves were here,

  But 'twas the foliage of the rocks, the birch,

  The yew, the holly, and the bright green thorn,

  With hanging islands of resplendent furze:

  And on a summit, distant a short space,

  By any who should look beyond the dell,

  A single mountain Cottage might be seen.

  I gaz'd and gaz'd, and to myself I said,

  "Our thoughts at least are ours; and this wild nook,

  My EMMA, I will dedicate to thee."

  —Soon did the spot become my other home,

  My dwelling, and my out-of-doors abode.

  And, of the Shepherds who have seen me there,

  To whom I sometimes in our idle talk

  Have told this fancy, two or three, perhaps,

  Years after we are gone and in our graves,

  When they have cause to speak of this wild place,

  May call it by the name of EMMA'S DELL.


“To Joanna”

 Amid the smoke of cities did you pass

  Your time of early youth, and there you learn'd,

  From years of quiet industry, to love

  The living Beings by your own fire-side,

  With such a strong devotion, that your heart

  Is slow towards the sympathies of them

  Who look upon the hills with tenderness,

  And make dear friendships with the streams and groves.

  Yet we who are transgressors in this kind,

  Dwelling retired in our simplicity

  Among the woods and fields, we love you well,

  Joanna! and I guess, since you have been

  So distant from us now for two long years,

  That you will gladly listen to discourse

  However trivial, if you thence are taught

  That they, with whom you once were happy, talk

  Familiarly of you and of old times.

  While I was seated, now some ten days past,

  Beneath those lofty firs, that overtop

  Their ancient neighbour, the old Steeple tower,

  The Vicar from his gloomy house hard by

  Came forth to greet me, and when he had ask'd,

  "How fares Joanna, that wild-hearted Maid!

  And when will she return to us?" he paus'd,

  And after short exchange of village news,

  He with grave looks demanded, for what cause,

  Reviving obsolete Idolatry,

  I like a Runic Priest, in characters

  Of formidable size, had chisel'd out

  Some uncouth name upon the native rock,

  Above the Rotha, by the forest side.

  —Now, by those dear immunities of heart

  Engender'd betwixt malice and true love,

  I was not both to be so catechiz'd,

  And this was my reply.—"As it befel,

  One summer morning we had walk'd abroad

  At break of day, Joanna and myself.

  —'Twas that delightful season, when the broom,

  Full flower'd, and visible on every steep,

  Along the copses runs in veins of gold."

  Our pathway led us on to Rotha's banks,

  And when we came in front of that tall rock

  Which looks towards the East, I there stopp'd short,

  And trac'd the lofty barrier with my eye

  From base to summit; such delight I found

  To note in shrub and tree, in stone and flower,

  That intermixture of delicious hues,

  Along so vast a surface, all at once,

  In one impression, by connecting force

  Of their own beauty, imag'd in the heart.

  —When I had gaz'd perhaps two minutes' space,

  Joanna, looking in my eyes, beheld

  That ravishment of mine, and laugh'd aloud.

  The rock, like something starting from a sleep,

  Took up the Lady's voice, and laugh'd again:

  That ancient Woman seated on Helm-crag

  Was ready with her cavern; Hammar-Scar,

  And the tall Steep of Silver-How sent forth

  A noise of laughter; southern Loughrigg heard,

  And Fairfield answer'd with a mountain tone:

  Helvellyn far into the clear blue sky

  Carried the Lady's voice,—old Skiddaw blew

  His speaking trumpet;—back out of the clouds

  Of Glaramara southward came the voice;

  And Kirkstone toss'd it from his misty head.

  Now whether, (said I to our cordial Friend

  Who in the hey-day of astonishment

  Smil'd in my face) this were in simple truth

  A work accomplish'd by the brotherhood

  Of ancient mountains, or my ear was touch'd

  With dreams and visionary impulses,

  Is not for me to tell; but sure I am

  That there was a loud uproar in the hills.

  And, while we both were listening, to my side

  The fair Joanna drew, is if she wish'd

  To shelter from some object of her fear.

  —And hence, long afterwards, when eighteen moons

  Were wasted, as I chanc'd to walk alone

  Beneath this rock, at sun-rise, on a calm

  And silent morning, I sate down, and there,

  In memory of affections old and true,

  I chissel'd out in those rude characters

  Joanna's name upon the living stone.

  And I, and all who dwell by my fire-side

  Have call'd the lovely rock, Joanna's Rock.


In Cumberland and Westmoreland are several Inscriptions upon the native rock which from the wasting of Time and the rudeness of the Workmanship had been mistaken for Runic. They are without doubt Roman.

The Roths, mentioned in this poem, is the River which flowing through the Lakes of Grasmere and Rydole fells into Wyndermere. On Helm-Crag, that impressive single Mountain at the head of the Vale of Grasmere, is a Rock which from most points of view bears a striking resemblance to an Old Woman cowering. Close by this rock is one of those Fissures or Caverns, which in the language of the Country are called Dungeons. The other Mountains either immediately surround the Vale of Grasmere, or belong to the same Cluster.


  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, this 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

  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.


  A narrow girdle of rough stones and crags,

  A rude and natural causeway, interpos'd

  Between the water and a winding slope

  Of copse and thicket, leaves the eastern shore

  Of Grasmere safe in its own privacy.

  And there, myself and two beloved Friends,

  One calm September morning, ere the mist

  Had altogether yielded to the sun,

  Saunter'd on this retir'd and difficult way.

  —Ill suits the road with one in haste, but we

  Play'd with our time; and, as we stroll'd along,

  It was our occupation to observe

  Such objects as the waves had toss'd ashore,

  Feather, or leaf, or weed, or wither'd bough,

  Each on the other heap'd along the line

  Of the dry wreck. And in our vacant mood,

  Not seldom did we stop to watch some tuft

  Of dandelion seed or thistle's beard,

  Which, seeming lifeless half, and half impell'd

  By some internal feeling, skimm'd along

  Close to the surface of the lake that lay

  Asleep in a dead calm, ran closely on

  Along the dead calm lake, now here, now there,

  In all its sportive wanderings all the while

  Making report of an invisible breeze

  That was its wings, its chariot, and its horse,

  Its very playmate, and its moving soul.

  —And often, trifling with a privilege

  Alike indulg'd to all, we paus'd, one now,

  And now the other, to point out, perchance

  To pluck, some flower or water-weed, too fair

  Either to be divided from the place

  On which it grew, or to be left alone

  To its own beauty. Many such there are,

  Fair ferns and flowers, and chiefly that tall plant

  So stately, of the Queen Osmunda nam'd,

  Plant lovelier in its own retir'd abode

  On Grasmere's beach, than Naid by the side

  Of Grecian brook, or Lady of the Mere

  Sole-sitting by the shores of old Romance.

  —So fared we that sweet morning: from the fields

  Meanwhile, a noise was heard, the busy mirth

  Of Reapers, Men and Women, Boys and Girls.

  Delighted much to listen to those sounds,

  And in the fashion which I have describ'd,

  Feeding unthinking fancies, we advanc'd

  Along the indented shore; when suddenly,

  Through a thin veil of glittering haze, we saw

  Before us on a point of jutting land

  The tall and upright figure of a Man

  Attir'd in peasant's garb, who stood alone

  Angling beside the margin of the lake.

  That way we turn'd our steps: nor was it long,

  Ere making ready comments on the sight

  Which then we saw, with one and the same voice

  We all cried out, that he must be indeed

  An idle man, who thus could lose a day

  Of the mid harvest, when the labourer's hire

  Is ample, and some little might be stor'd

  Wherewith to chear him in the winter time.

  Thus talking of that Peasant we approach'd

  Close to the spot where with his rod and line

  He stood alone; whereat he turn'd his head

  To greet us—and we saw a man worn down

  By sickness, gaunt and lean, with sunken cheeks

  And wasted limbs, his legs so long and lean

  That for my single self I look'd at them,

  Forgetful of the body they sustain'd.—

  Too weak to labour in the harvest field,

  The man was using his best skill to gain

  A pittance from the dead unfeeling lake

  That knew not of his wants. I will not say

  What thoughts immediately were ours, nor how

  The happy idleness of that sweet morn,

  With all its lovely images, was chang'd

  To serious musing and to self-reproach.

  Nor did we fail to see within ourselves

  What need there is to be reserv'd in speech,

  And temper all our thoughts with charity.

  —Therefore, unwilling to forget that day,

  My Friend, Myself, and She who then receiv'd

  The same admonishment, have call'd the plate

  By a memorial name, uncouth indeed

  As e'er by Mariner was giv'n to Bay

  Or Foreland on a new-discover'd coast,

  And, POINT RASH-JUDGMENT is the Name it bears.


To M. H.

  Our walk was far among the ancient trees:

  There was no road, nor any wood-man's path,

  But the thick umbrage, checking the wild growth

  Of weed sapling, on the soft green turf

  Beneath the branches of itself had made

  A track which brought us to a slip of lawn,

  And a small bed of water in the woods.

  All round this pool both flocks and herds might drink

  On its firm margin, even as from a well

  Or some stone-bason which the Herdsman's hand

  Had shap'd for their refreshment, nor did sun

  Or wind from any quarter ever come

  But as a blessing to this calm recess,

  This glade of water and this one green field.

  The spot was made by Nature for herself:

  The travellers know it not, and 'twill remain

  Unknown to them; but it is beautiful,

  And if a man should plant his cottage near.

  Should sleep beneath the shelter of its tress,

  And blend its waters with his daily meal,

  He would so love it that in his death-hour

  Its image would survive among his thoughts,

  And, therefore, my sweet MARY, this still nook

  With all its beeches we have named from You.

“Michael, a Pastoral Poem”

  If from the public way you turn your steps

  Up the tumultuous brook of Green-head Gill,

  You will suppose that with an upright path

  Your feet must struggle; in such bold ascent

  The pastoral Mountains front you, face to face.

  But, courage! for beside that boisterous Brook

  The mountains have all open'd out themselves,

  And made a hidden valley of their own.

  No habitation there is seen; but such

  As journey thither find themselves alone

  With a few sheep, with rocks and stones, and kites

  That overhead are sailing in the sky.

  It is in truth an utter solitude,

  Nor should I have made mention of this Dell

  But for one object which you might pass by,

  Might see and notice not. Beside the brook

  There is a straggling heap of unhewn stones!

  And to that place a story appertains,

  Which, though it be ungarnish'd with events,

  Is not unfit, I deem, for the fire-side,

  Or for the summer shade. It was the first,

  The earliest of those tales that spake to me

  Of Shepherds, dwellers in the vallies, men

  Whom I already lov'd, not verily

  For their own sakes, but for the fields and hills

  Where was their occupation and abode.

  And hence this Tale, while I was yet a boy

  Careless of books, yet having felt the power

  Of Nature, by the gentle agency

  Of natural objects led me on to feel

  For passions that were not my own, and think

  At random and imperfectly indeed

  On man; the heart of man and human life.

  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 name.

  An old man, stout of heart, and strong of limb.

  His bodily frame had been from youth to age

  Of an unusual strength: his mind was keen

  Intense and frugal, apt for all affairs,

  And in his Shepherd's calling he was prompt

  And watchful more than ordinary men.

  Hence he had learn'd the meaning of all winds,

  Of blasts of every tone, and often-times

  When others heeded not, He heard the South

  Make subterraneous music, like the noise

  Of Bagpipers on distant Highland hills;

  The Shepherd, at such warning, of his flock

  Bethought him, and he to himself would say

  The winds are now devising work for me!

  And truly at all times the storm, that drives

  The Traveller to a shelter, summon'd him

  Up to the mountains: he had been alone

  Amid the heart of many thousand mists

  That came to him and left him on the heights.

  So liv'd he till his eightieth year was pass'd.

  And grossly that man errs, who should suppose

  That the green Valleys, and the Streams and Rocks

  Were things indifferent to the Shepherd's thoughts.

  Fields, where with chearful spirits he had breath'd

  The common air; the hills, which he so oft

  Had climb'd with vigorous steps; which had impress'd

  So many incidents upon his mind

  Of hardship, skill or courage, joy or fear;

  Which like a book preserv'd the memory

  Of the dumb animals, whom he had sav'd,

  Had fed or shelter'd, linking to such acts,

  So grateful in themselves, the certainty

  Of honorable gains; these fields, these hills

  Which were his living Being, even more

  Than his own Blood—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.

  He had not passed his days in singleness.

  He had a Wife, 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 had rest,

  It was because the other was at work.

  The Pair had but one Inmate in their house,

  An only Child, who had been born to them

  When Michael telling o'er his years began

  To deem that he was old, in Shepherd's phrase,

  With one foot in the grave. This only son,

  With two brave sheep dogs tried in many a storm.

  The one of an inestimable worth,

  Made all their Household. I may truly say,

  That they were as a proverb in the vale

  For endless industry. When day was gone,

  And from their occupations out of doors

  The Son and Father were come home, even then,

  Their labour did not cease, unless when all

  Turn'd to their cleanly supper-board, and there

  Each with a mess of pottage and skimm'd milk,

  Sate round their basket pil'd with oaten cakes,

  And their plain home-made cheese. Yet when their meal

  Was ended, LUKE (for so the Son was nam'd)

  And his old Father, both betook themselves

  To such convenient work, as might employ

  Their hands by the fire-side; perhaps to card

  Wool for the House-wife's spindle, or repair

  Some injury done to sickle, flail, or scythe,

  Or other implement of house or field.

  Down from the cicling by the chimney's edge,

  Which in our ancient uncouth country style

  Did with a huge projection overbrow

  Large space beneath, as duly as the light

  Of day grew dim, the House-wife hung a lamp;

  An aged utensil, which had perform'd

  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 chearful, yet with objects and with hopes

  Living a life of eager industry.

  And now, when LUKE was in his eighteenth year,

  There by the light of this old lamp they sate,

  Father and Son, while late into the night

  The House-wife plied her own peculiar work,

  Making the cottage thro' the silent hours

  Murmur as with the sound of summer flies.

  Not with a waste of words, but for the sake

  Of pleasure, which I know that I shall give

  To many living now, I of this Lamp

  Speak thus minutely: for there are no few

  Whose memories will bear witness to my tale,

  The Light was famous in its neighbourhood,

  And was a public Symbol of the life,

  The thrifty Pair had liv'd. For, as it chanc'd,

  Their Cottage on a plot of rising ground

  Stood single, with large prospect North and South,

  High into Easedale, up to Dunmal-Raise,

  And Westward to the village near the Lake.

  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 nam'd The Evening Star.

  Thus living on through such a length of years,

  The Shepherd, if he lov'd himself, must needs

  Have lov'd his Help-mate; but to Michael's heart

  This Son of his old age was yet more dear—

  Effect which might perhaps have been produc'd

  By that instinctive tenderness, the same

  Blind Spirit, which is in the blood of all,

  Or that a child, more than all other gifts,

  Brings hope with it, and forward-looking thoughts,

  And stirrings of inquietude, when they

  By tendency of nature needs must fail.

  From such, and other causes, to the thoughts

  Of the old Man his only Son was now

  The dearest object that he knew on earth.

  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 dalliance and delight, as is the use

  Of Fathers, but with patient mind enforc'd

  To acts of tenderness; and he had rock'd

  His cradle 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

  Had work by his own door, or when he sate

  With sheep before him on his Shepherd's stool,

  Beneath that large old Oak, which near their door

  Stood, and from it's enormous breadth of shade

  Chosen for the Shearer's covert from the sun,

  Thence in our rustic dialect was call'd

  The CLIPPING TREE, a name which yet it bears.

  There, while they two were sitting in the shade,

  With others round them, earnest all and blithe,

  Would Michael exercise his heart with looks

  Of fond correction and reproof bestow'd

  Upon the child, if he dislurb'd the sheep

  By catching at their legs, or with his shouts

  Scar'd them, while they lay still beneath the shears.

  And when by Heaven's good grace the Boy grew up

  A healthy Lad, and carried in his cheek

  Two steady roses that were five years old,

  Then Michael from a winter coppice cut

  With his own hand a sapling, which he hoop'd

  With iron, making it throughout in all

  Due requisites a perfect Shepherd's Staff,

  And gave it to the Boy; wherewith equipp'd

  He as a Watchman oftentimes was plac'd

  At gate or gap, to stem or turn the flock,

  And to his office prematurely call'd

  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.

  While this good household thus were living on

  From day to day, to Michael's ear there came

  Distressful tidings. Long before, the time

  Of which I speak, the Shepherd had been bound

  In surety for his Brother's Son, a man

  Of an industrious life, and ample means,

  But unforeseen misfortunes suddenly

  Had press'd upon him, and old Michael now

  Was summon'd to discharge the forfeiture,

  A grievous penalty, but little less

  Than half his substance. This un-look'd-for claim

  At the first hearing, for a moment took

  More hope out of his life than he supposed

  That any old man ever could have lost.

  As soon as he had gather'd so much strength

  That he could look his trouble in the face,

  It seem'd that his sole refuge was to sell

  A portion of his patrimonial fields.

  Such was his first resolve; he thought again,

  And his heart fail'd him. "Isabel," said he,

  Two evenings after he had heard the news,

  "I have been toiling more than seventy years,

  And in the open sun-shine of God's love

  Have we all liv'd, yet if these fields of ours

  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 itself

  Has scarcely been more diligent than I,

  And I have liv'd 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 false,

  There are ten thousand to whom loss like this

  Had been no sorrow. I forgive him—but

  'Twere better to be dumb than to talk thus.

  When I began, my purpose was to speak

  Of remedies and of a chearful hope."

  "Our Luke shall leave us, Isabel; the land

  Shall not go from us, and it shall be free,

  He shall possess it, free as is the wind

  That passes over it. We have, thou knowest,

  Another Kinsman, he will be our friend

  In this distress. He is a prosperous man,

  Thriving in trade, and Luke to him shall go,

  And with his Kinsman's help and his own thrift,

  He quickly will repair this loss, and then

  May come again to us. If here he stay,

  What can be done? Where every one is poor

  What can be gain'd?" At this, the old man paus'd,

  And Isabel sate silent, for her mind

  Was busy, looking back into past times.

  There's Richard Bateman, thought she to herself,

  He was a parish-boy—at the church-door

  They made a gathering for him, shillings, pence,

  And halfpennies, wherewith the Neighbours bought

  A Basket, which they fill'd with Pedlar's wares,

  And with this Basket on his arm, the Lad

  Went up to London, found a Master there,

  Who out of many chose the trusty Boy

  To go and overlook his merchandise

  Beyond the seas, where he grew wond'rous rich,

  And left estates and monies to the poor,

  And at his birth-place built a Chapel, floor'd

  With Marble, which he sent from foreign lands.

  These thoughts, and many others of like sort,

  Pass'd quickly thro' the mind of Isabel,

  And her face brighten'd. The Old Man was glad.

  And thus resum'd. "Well I Isabel, this scheme

  These two days has been meat and drink to me.

  Far more than we have lost is left us yet.

  —We have enough—I wish indeed that I

  Were younger, but this hope is a good hope.

  —Make ready Luke's best garments, of the best

  Buy for him more, and let us send him forth

  To-morrow, or the next day, or to-night:

  —If he could go, the Boy should go to-night."

  Here Michael ceas'd, and to the fields went forth

  With a light heart. The House-wife for five days

  Was restless morn and night, and all day long

  Wrought on with her best fingers to prepare

  Things needful for the journey of her Son.

  But Isabel was glad when Sunday came

  To stop her in her work; for, when she lay

  By Michael's side, she for the two last nights

  Heard him, how he was troubled in his sleep:

  And when they rose at morning she could see

  That all his hopes were gone. That day at noon

  She said to Luke, while they two by themselves

  Were sitting at the door, "Thou must not go,

  We have no other Child but thee to lose,

  None to remember—do not go away,

  For if thou leave thy Father he will die."

  The Lad made answer with a jocund voice,

  And Isabel, when she had told her fears,

  Recover'd heart. That evening her best fare

  Did she bring forth, and all together sate

  Like happy people round a Christmas fire.

  Next morning Isabel resum'd her work,

  And all the ensuing week the house appear'd

  As cheerful as a grove in Spring: at length

  The expected letter from their Kinsman came,

  With kind assurances that he would do

  His utmost for the welfare of the Boy,

  To which requests were added that forthwith

  He might be sent to him. Ten times or more

  The letter was read over; Isabel

  Went forth to shew it to the neighbours round:

  Nor was there at that time on English Land

  A prouder heart than Luke's. When Isabel

  Had to her house return'd, the Old Man said,

  "He shall depart to-morrow." To this word

  The House—wife answered, talking much of things

  Which, if at such, short notice he should go,

  Would surely be forgotten. But at length

  She gave consent, and Michael was at ease.

  Near the tumultuous brook of Green-head Gill,

  In that deep Valley, Michael had design'd

  To build a Sheep-fold, and, before he heard

  The tidings of his melancholy loss,

  For this same purpose he had gathered up

  A heap of stones, which close to the brook side

  Lay thrown together, ready for the work.

  With Luke that evening thitherward he walk'd;

  And soon as they had reach'd the place he stopp'd,

  And thus the Old Man spake to him. "My Son,

  To-morrow thou wilt leave me; with full heart

  I look upon thee, for thou art the same

  That wert a promise to me ere thy birth,

  And all thy life hast been my daily joy.

  I will relate to thee some little part

  Of our two histories; 'twill do thee good

  When thou art from me, even if I should speak

  Of things thou caust not know of.—After thou

  First cam'st into the world, as it befalls

  To new-born infants, thou didst sleep away

  Two days, and blessings from thy Father's tongue

  Then fell upon thee. Day by day pass'd on,

  And still I lov'd thee with encreasing love."

  Never to living ear came sweeter sounds

  Than when I heard thee by our own fire-side

  First uttering without words a natural tune,

  When thou, a feeding babe, didst in thy joy

  Sing at thy Mother's breast. Month follow'd month,

  And in the open fields my life was pass'd

  And in the mountains, else I think that thou

  Hadst been brought up upon thy father's knees.

  —But we were playmates, Luke; among these hills,

  As well thou know'st, in us the old and young

  Have play'd together, nor with me didst thou

  Lack any pleasure which a boy can know.

  Luke had a manly heart; but at these words

  He sobb'd aloud; the Old Man grasp'd his hand,

  And said, "Nay do not take it so—I see

  That these are things of which I need not speak.

  —Even to the utmost I have been to thee

  A kind and a good Father: and herein

  I but repay a gift which I myself

  Receiv'd at others' hands, for, though now old

  Beyond the common life of man, I still

  Remember them who lov'd me in my youth."

  Both of them sleep together: here they liv'd

  As all their Forefathers had done, and when

  At length their time was come, they were not loth

  To give their bodies to the family mold.

  I wish'd that thou should'st live the life they liv'd.

  But 'tis a long time to look back, my Son,

  And see so little gain from sixty years.

  These fields were burthen'd when they came to me;

  'Till I was forty years of age, not more

  Than half of my inheritance was mine.

  "I toil'd and toil'd; God bless'd me in my work,

  And 'till these three weeks past the land was free.

  —It looks as if it never could endure

  Another Master. Heaven forgive me, Luke,

  If I judge ill for thee, but it seems good

  That thou should'st go." At this the Old Man paus'd,

  Then, pointing to the Stones near which they stood,

  Thus, after a short silence, he resum'd:

  "This was a work for us, and now, my Son,

  It is a work for me. But, lay one Stone—

  Here, lay it for me, Luke, with thine own hands.

  I for the purpose brought thee to this place."

  Nay, Boy, be of good hope:—we both may live

  To see a better day. At eighty-four

  I still am strong and stout;—do thou thy part,

  I will do mine.—I will begin again

  With many tasks that were resign'd to thee;

  Up to the heights, and in among the storms,

  Will I without thee go again, and do

  All works which I was wont to do alone,

  Before I knew thy face.—Heaven bless thee, Boy!

  Thy heart these two weeks has been beating fast

  With many hopes—it should be so—yes—yes—

  I knew that thou could'st never have a wish

  To leave me, Luke, thou hast been bound to me

  Only by links of love, when thou art gone

  What will be left to us!—But, I forget

  My purposes. Lay now the corner-stone,

  As I requested, and hereafter, Luke,

  When thou art gone away, should evil men

  Be thy companions, let this Sheep-fold be

  Thy anchor and thy shield; amid all fear

  And all temptation, let it be to thee

  An emblem of the life thy Fathers liv'd,

  Who, being innocent, did for that cause

  Bestir them in good deeds. Now, fare thee well—

  When thou return'st, thou in this place wilt see

  A work which is not here, a covenant

  'Twill be between us—but whatever fate

  Befall thee, I shall love thee to the last,

  And bear thy memory with me to the grave.

  The Shepherd ended here; and Luke stoop'd down,

  And as his Father had requested, laid

  The first stone of the Sheep-fold; at the sight

  The Old Man's grief broke from him, to his heart

  He press'd his Son, he kissed him and wept;

  And to the House together they return'd.

  Next morning, as had been resolv'd, the Boy

  Began his journey, and when he had reach'd

  The public Way, he put on a bold face;

  And all the Neighbours as he pass'd their doors

  Came forth, with wishes and with farewell pray'rs,

  That follow'd him 'till he was out of sight.

  A good report did from their Kinsman come,

  Of Luke and his well-doing; and the Boy

  Wrote loving letters, full of wond'rous news,

  Which, as the House-wife phrased it, were throughout

  The prettiest letters that were ever seen.

  Both parents read them with rejoicing hearts.

  So, many months pass'd on: and once again

  The Shepherd went about his daily work

  With confident and cheerful thoughts; and now

  Sometimes when he could find a leisure hour

  He to that valley took his way, and there

  Wrought at the Sheep-fold. Meantime Luke began

  To slacken in his duty, and at length

  He in the dissolute city gave himself

  To evil courses: ignominy and shame

  Fell on him, so that he was driven at last

  To seek a hiding-place beyond the seas.

  There is a comfort in the strength of love;

  'Twill make a thing endurable, which else

  Would break the heart:—Old Michael found it so.

  I have convers'd with more than one who well

  Remember the Old Man, and what he was

  Years after he had heard this heavy news.

  His bodily frame had been from youth to age

  Of an unusual strength. Among the rocks

  He went, and still look'd up upon the sun.

  And listen'd to the wind; and as before

  Perform'd all kinds of labour for his Sheep,

  And for the land his small inheritance.

  And to that hollow Dell from time to time

  Did he repair, to build the Fold of which

  His flock had need. 'Tis not forgotten yet

  The pity which was then in every heart

  For the Old Man—ands 'tis believ'd by all

  That many and many a day he thither went,

  And never lifted up a single stone.

  There, by the Sheep-fold, sometimes was he seen

  Sitting alone, with that his faithful Dog,

  Then old, beside him, lying at his feet.

  The length of full seven years from time to time

  He at the building of this Sheep-fold wrought,

  And left the work unfinished when he died.

  Three years, or little more, did Isabel,

  Survive her Husband: at her death the estate

  Was sold, and went into a Stranger's hand.

  The Cottage which was nam'd The Evening Star

  Is gone, the ploughshare has been through the ground

  On which it stood; great changes have been wrought

  In all the neighbourhood, yet the Oak is left

  That grew beside their Door; and the remains

  Of the unfinished Sheep-fold may be seen

  Beside the boisterous brook of Green-head Gill.

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