Lyrical Ballads by William Wordsworth and Samual Taylor Coleridge

Produced by Jonathan Ingram and PG Distributed Proofreaders LYRICAL BALLADS, WITH A FEW OTHER POEMS. LONDON PRINTED FOR J. & A. ARCH, GRACECHURCH-STREET. 1798 ADVERTISEMENT. It is the honourable characteristic of Poetry that its materials are to be found in every subject which can interest the human mind. The evidence of this fact is to
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Produced by Jonathan Ingram and PG Distributed Proofreaders






It is the honourable characteristic of Poetry that its materials are to be found in every subject which can interest the human mind. The evidence of this fact is to be sought, not in the writings of Critics, but in those of Poets themselves.

The majority of the following poems are to be considered as experiments. They were written chiefly with a view to ascertain how far the language of conversation in the middle and lower classes of society is adapted to the purposes of poetic pleasure. Readers accustomed to the gaudiness and inane phraseology of many modern writers, if they persist in reading this book to its conclusion, will perhaps frequently have to struggle with feelings of strangeness and aukwardness: they will look round for poetry, and will be induced to enquire by what species of courtesy these attempts can be permitted to assume that title. It is desirable that such readers, for their own sakes, should not suffer the solitary word Poetry, a word of very disputed meaning, to stand in the way of their gratification; but that, while they are perusing this book, they should ask themselves if it contains a natural delineation of human passions, human characters, and human incidents; and if the answer be favourable to the author’s wishes, that they should consent to be pleased in spite of that most dreadful enemy to our pleasures, our own pre-established codes of decision.

Readers of superior judgment may disapprove of the style in which many of these pieces are executed it must be expected that many lines and phrases will not exactly suit their taste. It will perhaps appear to them, that wishing to avoid the prevalent fault of the day, the author has sometimes descended too low, and that many of his expressions are too familiar, and not of sufficient dignity. It is apprehended, that the more conversant the reader is with our elder writers, and with those in modern times who have been the most successful in painting manners and passions, the fewer complaints of this kind will he have to make.

An accurate taste in poetry, and in all the other arts, Sir Joshua Reynolds has observed, is an acquired talent, which can only be produced by severe thought, and a long continued intercourse with the best models of composition. This is mentioned not with so ridiculous a purpose as to prevent the most inexperienced reader from judging for himself; but merely to temper the rashness of decision, and to suggest that if poetry be a subject on which much time has not been bestowed, the judgment may be erroneous, and that in many cases it necessarily will be so.

The tale of Goody Blake and Harry Gill is founded on a well-authenticated fact which happened in Warwickshire. Of the other poems in the collection, it may be proper to say that they are either absolute inventions of the author, or facts which took place within his personal observation or that of his friends. The poem of the Thorn, as the reader will soon discover, is not supposed to be spoken in the author’s own person: the character of the loquacious narrator will sufficiently shew itself in the course of the story. The Rime of the Ancyent Marinere was professedly written in imitation of the _style_, as well as of the spirit of the elder poets; but with a few exceptions, the Author believes that the language adopted in it has been equally intelligible for these three last centuries. The lines entitled Expostulation and Reply, and those which follow, arose out of conversation with a friend who was somewhat unreasonably attached to modern books of moral philosophy.


The Rime of the Ancyent Marinere

The Foster-Mother’s Tale

Lines left upon a Seat in a Yew-tree which stands near the Lake of Esthwaite

The Nightingale, a Conversational Poem

The Female Vagrant

Goody Blake and Harry Gill

Lines written at a small distance from my House, and sent by my little Boy to the Person to whom they are addressed

Simon Lee, the old Huntsman

Anecdote for Fathers

We are seven

Lines written in early spring

The Thorn

The last of the Flock

The Dungeon

The Mad Mother

The Idiot Boy

Lines written near Richmond, upon the Thames, at Evening

Expostulation and Reply

The Tables turned; an Evening Scene, on the same subject

Old Man travelling

The Complaint of a forsaken Indian Woman

The Convict

Lines written a few miles above Tintern Abbey



How a Ship having passed the Line was driven by Storms to the cold Country towards the South Pole; and how from thence she made her course to the tropical Latitude of the Great Pacific Ocean; and of the strange things that befell; and in what manner the Ancyent Marinere came back to his own Country.


It is an ancyent Marinere,
And he stoppeth one of three:
“By thy long grey beard and thy glittering eye “Now wherefore stoppest me?

“The Bridegroom’s doors are open’d wide “And I am next of kin;
“The Guests are met, the Feast is set,– “May’st hear the merry din.–

But still he holds the wedding-guest– There was a Ship, quoth he–
“Nay, if thou’st got a laughsome tale, “Marinere! come with me.”

He holds him with his skinny hand,
Quoth he, there was a Ship–
“Now get thee hence, thou grey-beard Loon! “Or my Staff shall make thee skip.”

He holds him with his glittering eye– The wedding guest stood still
And listens like a three year’s child; The Marinere hath his will.

The wedding-guest sate on a stone,
He cannot chuse but hear:
And thus spake on that ancyent man, The bright-eyed Marinere.

The Ship was cheer’d, the Harbour clear’d– Merrily did we drop
Below the Kirk, below the Hill,
Below the Light-house top.

The Sun came up upon the left,
Out of the Sea came he:
And he shone bright, and on the right Went down into the Sea.

Higher and higher every day,
Till over the mast at noon–
The wedding-guest here beat his breast, For he heard the loud bassoon.

The Bride hath pac’d into the Hall, Red as a rose is she;
Nodding their heads before her goes The merry Minstralsy.

The wedding-guest he beat his breast, Yet he cannot chuse but hear:
And thus spake on that ancyent Man, The bright-eyed Marinere.

Listen, Stranger! Storm and Wind,
A Wind and Tempest strong!
For days and weeks it play’d us freaks– Like Chaff we drove along.

Listen, Stranger! Mist and Snow,
And it grew wond’rous cauld:
And Ice mast-high came floating by As green as Emerauld.

And thro’ the drifts the snowy clifts Did send a dismal sheen;
Ne shapes of men ne beasts we ken– The Ice was all between.

The Ice was here, the Ice was there, The Ice was all around:
It crack’d and growl’d, and roar’d and howl’d– Like noises of a swound.

At length did cross an Albatross,
Thorough the Fog it came;
And an it were a Christian Soul,
We hail’d it in God’s name.

The Marineres gave it biscuit-worms, And round and round it flew:
The Ice did split with a Thunder-fit; The Helmsman steer’d us thro’.

And a good south wind sprung up behind, The Albatross did follow;
And every day for food or play
Came to the Marinere’s hollo!

In mist or cloud on mast or shroud
It perch’d for vespers nine,
Whiles all the night thro’ fog-smoke white Glimmer’d the white moon-shine.

“God save thee, ancyent Marinere!
“From the fiends that plague thee thus– “Why look’st thou so?”–with my cross bow I shot the Albatross.


The Sun came up upon the right,
Out of the Sea came he;
And broad as a weft upon the left Went down into the Sea.

And the good south wind still blew behind, But no sweet Bird did follow
Ne any day for food or play
Came to the Marinere’s hollo!

And I had done an hellish thing
And it would work ’em woe:
For all averr’d, I had kill’d the Bird That made the Breeze to blow.

Ne dim ne red, like God’s own head, The glorious Sun uprist:
Then all averr’d, I had kill’d the Bird That brought the fog and mist.
‘Twas right, said they, such birds to slay That bring the fog and mist.

The breezes blew, the white foam flew, The furrow follow’d free:
We were the first that ever burst Into that silent Sea.

Down dropt the breeze, the Sails dropt down, ‘Twas sad as sad could be
And we did speak only to break
The silence of the Sea.

All in a hot and copper sky
The bloody sun at noon,
Right up above the mast did stand, No bigger than the moon.

Day after day, day after day,
We stuck, ne breath ne motion,
As idle as a painted Ship
Upon a painted Ocean.

Water, water, every where
And all the boards did shrink;
Water, water, every where,
Ne any drop to drink.

The very deeps did rot: O Christ!
That ever this should be!
Yea, slimy things did crawl with legs Upon the slimy Sea.

About, about, in reel and rout
The Death-fires danc’d at night; The water, like a witch’s oils,
Burnt green and blue and white.

And some in dreams assured were
Of the Spirit that plagued us so: Nine fathom deep he had follow’d us
From the Land of Mist and Snow.

And every tongue thro’ utter drouth Was wither’d at the root;
We could not speak no more than if We had been choked with soot.

Ah wel-a-day! what evil looks
Had I from old and young;
Instead of the Cross the Albatross About my neck was hung.


I saw a something in the Sky
No bigger than my fist;
At first it seem’d a little speck And then it seem’d a mist:
It mov’d and mov’d, and took at last A certain shape, I wist.

A speck, a mist, a shape, I wist!
And still it ner’d and ner’d;
And, an it dodg’d a water-sprite, It plung’d and tack’d and veer’d.

With throat unslack’d, with black lips bak’d Ne could we laugh, ne wail:
Then while thro’ drouth all dumb they stood I bit my arm and suck’d the blood
And cry’d, A sail! a sail!

With throat unslack’d, with black lips bak’d Agape they hear’d me call:
Gramercy! they for joy did grin
And all at once their breath drew in As they were drinking all.

She doth not tack from side to side– Hither to work us weal
Withouten wind, withouten tide
She steddies with upright keel.

The western wave was all a flame,
The day was well nigh done!
Almost upon the western wave
Rested the broad bright Sun;
When that strange shape drove suddenly Betwixt us and the Sun.

And strait the Sun was fleck’d with bars (Heaven’s mother send us grace)
As if thro’ a dungeon grate he peer’d With broad and burning face.

Alas! (thought I, and my heart beat loud) How fast she neres and neres!
Are those _her_ Sails that glance in the Sun Like restless gossameres?

Are these _her_ naked ribs, which fleck’d The sun that did behind them peer?
And are these two all, all the crew, That woman and her fleshless Pheere?

_His_ bones were black with many a crack, All black and bare, I ween;
Jet-black and bare, save where with rust Of mouldy damps and charnel crust
They’re patch’d with purple and green.

_Her_ lips are red, _her_ looks are free, _Her_ locks are yellow as gold:
Her skin is as white as leprosy,
And she is far liker Death than he; Her flesh makes the still air cold.

The naked Hulk alongside came
And the Twain were playing dice; “The Game is done! I’ve won, I’ve won!” Quoth she, and whistled thrice.

A gust of wind sterte up behind
And whistled thro’ his bones;
Thro’ the holes of his eyes and the hole of his mouth Half-whistles and half-groans.

With never a whisper in the Sea
Off darts the Spectre-ship;
While clombe above the Eastern bar The horned Moon, with one bright Star
Almost atween the tips.

One after one by the horned Moon
(Listen, O Stranger! to me)
Each turn’d his face with a ghastly pang And curs’d me with his ee.

Four times fifty living men,
With never a sigh or groan,
With heavy thump, a lifeless lump They dropp’d down one by one.

Their souls did from their bodies fly,– They fled to bliss or woe;
And every soul it pass’d me by,
Like the whiz of my Cross-bow.


“I fear thee, ancyent Marinere!
“I fear thy skinny hand;
“And thou art long and lank and brown “As is the ribb’d Sea-sand.

“I fear thee and thy glittering eye “And thy skinny hand so brown”–
Fear not, fear not, thou wedding guest! This body dropt not down.

Alone, alone, all all alone
Alone on the wide wide Sea;
And Christ would take no pity on
My soul in agony.

The many men so beautiful,
And they all dead did lie!
And a million million slimy things Liv’d on–and so did I.

I look’d upon the rotting Sea,
And drew my eyes away;
I look’d upon the eldritch deck,
And there the dead men lay.

I look’d to Heaven, and try’d to pray; But or ever a prayer had gusht,
A wicked whisper came and made
My heart as dry as dust.

I clos’d my lids and kept them close, Till the balls like pulses beat;
For the sky and the sea, and the sea and the sky Lay like a load on my weary eye,
And the dead were at my feet.

The cold sweat melted from their limbs, Ne rot, ne reek did they;
The look with which they look’d on me, Had never pass’d away.

An orphan’s curse would drag to Hell A spirit from on high:
But O! more horrible than that
Is the curse in a dead man’s eye! Seven days, seven nights I saw that curse And yet I could not die.

The moving Moon went up the sky
And no where did abide:
Softly she was going up
And a star or two beside–

Her beams bemock’d the sultry main
Like morning frosts yspread;
But where the ship’s huge shadow lay, The charmed water burnt alway
A still and awful red.

Beyond the shadow of the ship
I watch’d the water-snakes:
They mov’d in tracks of shining white; And when they rear’d, the elfish light Fell off in hoary flakes.

Within the shadow of the ship
I watch’d their rich attire:
Blue, glossy green, and velvet black They coil’d and swam; and every track
Was a flash of golden fire.

O happy living things! no tongue
Their beauty might declare:
A spring of love gusht from my heart, And I bless’d them unaware!
Sure my kind saint took pity on me, And I bless’d them unaware.

The self-same moment I could pray;
And from my neck so free
The Albatross fell off, and sank
Like lead into the sea.


O sleep, it is a gentle thing
Belov’d from pole to pole!
To Mary-queen the praise be yeven She sent the gentle sleep from heaven
That slid into my soul.

The silly buckets on the deck
That had so long remain’d,
I dreamt that they were fill’d with dew And when I awoke it rain’d.

My lips were wet, my throat was cold, My garments all were dank;
Sure I had drunken in my dreams
And still my body drank.

I mov’d and could not feel my limbs, I was so light, almost
I thought that I had died in sleep, And was a blessed Ghost.

The roaring wind! it roar’d far off, It did not come anear;
But with its sound it shook the sails That were so thin and sere.

The upper air bursts into life,
And a hundred fire-flags sheen
To and fro they are hurried about; And to and fro, and in and out
The stars dance on between.

The coming wind doth roar more loud; The sails do sigh, like sedge:
The rain pours down from one black cloud And the Moon is at its edge.

Hark! hark! the thick black cloud is cleft, And the Moon is at its side:
Like waters shot from some high crag, The lightning falls with never a jag
A river steep and wide.

The strong wind reach’d the ship: it roar’d And dropp’d down, like a stone!
Beneath the lightning and the moon The dead men gave a groan.

They groan’d, they stirr’d, they all uprose, Ne spake, ne mov’d their eyes:
It had been strange, even in a dream To have seen those dead men rise.

The helmsman steerd, the ship mov’d on; Yet never a breeze up-blew;
The Marineres all ‘gan work the ropes, Where they were wont to do:

They rais’d their limbs like lifeless tools– We were a ghastly crew.

The body of my brother’s son
Stood by me knee to knee:
The body and I pull’d at one rope, But he said nought to me–
And I quak’d to think of my own voice How frightful it would be!

The day-light dawn’d–they dropp’d their arms, And cluster’d round the mast:
Sweet sounds rose slowly thro’ their mouths And from their bodies pass’d.

Around, around, flew each sweet sound, Then darted to the sun:
Slowly the sounds came back again Now mix’d, now one by one.

Sometimes a dropping from the sky
I heard the Lavrock sing;
Sometimes all little birds that are How they seem’d to fill the sea and air With their sweet jargoning,

And now ’twas like all instruments, Now like a lonely flute;
And now it is an angel’s song
That makes the heavens be mute.

It ceas’d: yet still the sails made on A pleasant noise till noon,
A noise like of a hidden brook
In the leafy month of June,
That to the sleeping woods all night Singeth a quiet tune.

Listen, O listen, thou Wedding-guest! “Marinere! thou hast thy will:
“For that, which comes out of thine eye, doth make “My body and soul to be still.”

Never sadder tale was told
To a man of woman born:
Sadder and wiser thou wedding-guest! Thou’lt rise to morrow morn.

Never sadder tale was heard
By a man of woman born:
The Marineres all return’d to work As silent as beforne.

The Marineres all ‘gan pull the ropes, But look at me they n’old:
Thought I, I am as thin as air–
They cannot me behold.

Till moon we silently sail’d on
Yet never a breeze did breathe:
Slowly and smoothly went the ship Mov’d onward from beneath.

Under the keel nine fathom deep
From the land of mist and snow
The spirit slid: and it was He
That made the Ship to go.
The sails at noon left off their tune And the Ship stood still also.

The sun right up above the mast
Had fix’d her to the ocean:
But in a minute she ‘gan stir
With a short uneasy motion–
Backwards and forwards half her length With a short uneasy motion.

Then, like a pawing horse let go,
She made a sudden bound:
It flung the blood into my head,
And I fell into a swound.

How long in that same fit I lay,
I have not to declare;
But ere my living life return’d,
I heard and in my soul discern’d
Two voices in the air,

“Is it he?” quoth one, “Is this the man? “By him who died on cross,
“With his cruel bow he lay’d full low “The harmless Albatross.

“The spirit who ‘bideth by himself
“In the land of mist and snow,
“He lov’d the bird that lov’d the man “Who shot him with his bow.”

The other was a softer voice,
As soft as honey-dew:
Quoth he the man hath penance done, And penance more will do.


“But tell me, tell me! speak again, “Thy soft response renewing–
“What makes that ship drive on so fast? “What is the Ocean doing?”

“Still as a Slave before his Lord, “The Ocean hath no blast:
“His great bright eye most silently “Up to the moon is cast–

“If he may know which way to go,
“For she guides him smooth or grim. “See, brother, see! how graciously
“She looketh down on him.”

“But why drives on that ship so fast “Withouten wave or wind?”
“The air is cut away before,
“And closes from behind.

“Fly, brother, fly! more high, more high, “Or we shall be belated:
“For slow and slow that ship will go, “When the Marinere’s trance is abated.”

I woke, and we were sailing on
As in a gentle weather:
‘Twas night, calm night, the moon was high; The dead men stood together.

All stood together on the deck,
For a charnel-dungeon fitter:
All fix’d on me their stony eyes
That in the moon did glitter.

The pang, the curse, with which they died, Had never pass’d away:
I could not draw my een from theirs Ne turn them up to pray.

And in its time the spell was snapt, And I could move my een:
I look’d far-forth, but little saw Of what might else be seen.

Like one, that on a lonely road
Doth walk in fear and dread,
And having once turn’d round, walks on And turns no more his head:
Because he knows, a frightful fiend Doth close behind him tread.

But soon there breath’d a wind on me, Ne sound ne motion made:
Its path was not upon the sea
In ripple or in shade.

It rais’d my hair, it fann’d my cheek, Like a meadow-gale of spring–
It mingled strangely with my fears, Yet it felt like a welcoming.

Swiftly, swiftly flew the ship,
Yet she sail’d softly too:
Sweetly, sweetly blew the breeze– On me alone it blew.

O dream of joy! is this indeed
The light-house top I see?
Is this the Hill? Is this the Kirk? Is this mine own countree?

We drifted o’er the Harbour-bar,
And I with sobs did pray–
“O let me be awake, my God!
“Or let me sleep alway!”

The harbour-bay was clear as glass, So smoothly it was strewn!
And on the bay the moon light lay, And the shadow of the moon.

The moonlight bay was white all o’er, Till rising from the same,
Full many shapes, that shadows were, Like as of torches came.

A little distance from the prow
Those dark-red shadows were;
But soon I saw that my own flesh
Was red as in a glare.

I turn’d my head in fear and dread, And by the holy rood,
The bodies had advanc’d, and now
Before the mast they stood.

They lifted up their stiff right arms, They held them strait and tight;
And each right-arm burnt like a torch, A torch that’s borne upright.
Their stony eye-balls glitter’d on In the red and smoky light.

I pray’d and turn’d my head away
Forth looking as before.
There was no breeze upon the bay, No wave against the shore.

The rock shone bright, the kirk no less That stands above the rock:
The moonlight steep’d in silentness The steady weathercock.

And the bay was white with silent light, Till rising from the same
Full many shapes, that shadows were, In crimson colours came.

A little distance from the prow
Those crimson shadows were:
I turn’d my eyes upon the deck–
O Christ! what saw I there?

Each corse lay flat, lifeless and flat; And by the Holy rood
A man all light, a seraph-man,
On every corse there stood.

This seraph-band, each wav’d his hand: It was a heavenly sight:
They stood as signals to the land, Each one a lovely light:

This seraph-band, each wav’d his hand, No voice did they impart–
No voice; but O! the silence sank, Like music on my heart.

Eftsones I heard the dash of oars,
I heard the pilot’s cheer:
My head was turn’d perforce away
And I saw a boat appear.

Then vanish’d all the lovely lights; The bodies rose anew:
With silent pace, each to his place, Came back the ghastly crew.
The wind, that shade nor motion made, On me alone it blew.

The pilot, and the pilot’s boy
I heard them coming fast:
Dear Lord in Heaven! it was a joy, The dead men could not blast.

I saw a third–I heard his voice:
It is the Hermit good!
He singeth loud his godly hymns
That he makes in the wood.
He’ll shrieve my soul, he’ll wash away The Albatross’s blood.


This Hermit good lives in that wood Which slopes down to the Sea.
How loudly his sweet voice he rears! He loves to talk with Marineres
That come from a far Contrée.

He kneels at morn and noon and eve– He hath a cushion plump:
It is the moss, that wholly hides The rotted old Oak-stump.

The Skiff-boat ne’rd: I heard them talk, “Why, this is strange, I trow!
“Where are those lights so many and fair “That signal made but now?

“Strange, by my faith!” the Hermit said– “And they answer’d not our cheer.
“The planks look warp’d, and see those sails “How thin they are and sere!
“I never saw aught like to them
“Unless perchance it were

“The skeletons of leaves that lag
“My forest brook along:
“When the Ivy-tod is heavy with snow, “And the Owlet whoops to the wolf below “That eats the she-wolf’s young.

“Dear Lord! it has a fiendish look”– (The Pilot made reply)
“I am a-fear’d.–“Push on, push on!” Said the Hermit cheerily.

The Boat came closer to the Ship,
But I ne spake ne stirr’d!
The Boat came close beneath the Ship, And strait a sound was heard!

Under the water it rumbled on,
Still louder and more dread:
It reach’d the Ship, it split the bay; The Ship went down like lead.

Stunn’d by that loud and dreadful sound, Which sky and ocean smote:
Like one that hath been seven days drown’d My body lay afloat:
But, swift as dreams, myself I found Within the Pilot’s boat.

Upon the whirl, where sank the Ship, The boat spun round and round:
And all was still, save that the hill Was telling of the sound.

I mov’d my lips: the Pilot shriek’d And fell down in a fit.
The Holy Hermit rais’d his eyes
And pray’d where he did sit.

I took the oars: the Pilot’s boy,
Who now doth crazy go,
Laugh’d loud and long, and all the while His eyes went to and fro,
“Ha! ha!” quoth he–“full plain I see, “The devil knows how to row.”

And now all in mine own Countrée
I stood on the firm land!
The Hermit stepp’d forth from the boat, And scarcely he could stand.

“O shrieve me, shrieve me, holy Man!” The Hermit cross’d his brow–
“Say quick,” quoth he, “I bid thee say “What manner man art thou?”

Forthwith this frame of mine was wrench’d With a woeful agony,
Which forc’d me to begin my tale
And then it left me free.

Since then at an uncertain hour,
Now oftimes and now fewer,
That anguish comes and makes me tell My ghastly aventure.

I pass, like night, from land to land; I have strange power of speech;
The moment that his face I see
I know the man that must hear me; To him my tale I teach.

What loud uproar bursts from that door! The Wedding-guests are there;
But in the Garden-bower the Bride And Bride-maids singing are:
And hark the little Vesper-bell
Which biddeth me to prayer.

O Wedding-guest! this soul hath been Alone on a wide wide sea:
So lonely ’twas, that God himself Scarce seemed there to be.

O sweeter than the Marriage-feast,
‘Tis sweeter far to me
To walk together to the Kirk
With a goodly company.

To walk together to the Kirk
And all together pray,
While each to his great father bends, Old men, and babes, and loving friends, And Youths, and Maidens gay.

Farewell, farewell! but this I tell To thee, thou wedding-guest!
He prayeth well who loveth well
Both man and bird and beast.

He prayeth best who loveth best,
All things both great and small: For the dear God, who loveth us,
He made and loveth all.

The Marinere, whose eye is bright,
Whose beard with age is hoar,
Is gone; and now the wedding-guest Turn’d from the bridegroom’s door.

He went, like one that hath been stunn’d And is of sense forlorn:
A sadder and a wiser man
He rose the morrow morn.


I never saw the man whom you describe.

‘Tis strange! he spake of you familiarly As mine and Albert’s common Foster-mother.

Now blessings on the man, whoe’er he be, That joined your names with mine! O my sweet lady, As often as I think of those dear times When you two little ones would stand at eve On each side of my chair, and make me learn All you had learnt in the day; and how to talk In gentle phrase, then bid me sing to you– ‘Tis more like heaven to come than what _has_ been.

O my dear Mother! this strange man has left me Troubled with wilder fancies, than the moon Breeds in the love-sick maid who gazes at it, Till lost in inward vision, with wet eye She gazes idly!–But that entrance, Mother!

Can no one hear? It is a perilous tale!

No one.

My husband’s father told it me, Poor old Leoni!–Angels rest his soul! He was a woodman, and could fell and saw With lusty arm. You know that huge round beam Which props the hanging wall of the old chapel? Beneath that tree, while yet it was a tree He found a baby wrapt in mosses, lined With thistle-beards, and such small locks of wool As hang on brambles. Well, he brought him home, And reared him at the then Lord Velez’ cost. And so the babe grew up a pretty boy,
A pretty boy, but most unteachable– And never learnt a prayer, nor told a bead, But knew the names of birds, and mocked their notes, And whistled, as he were a bird himself: And all the autumn ’twas his only play To get the seeds of wild flowers, and to plant them With earth and water, on the stumps of trees. A Friar, who gathered simples in the wood, A grey-haired man–he loved this little boy, The boy loved him–and, when the Friar taught him, He soon could write with the pen: and from that time, Lived chiefly at the Convent or the Castle. So he became a very learned youth.
But Oh! poor wretch!–he read, and read, and read, ‘Till his brain turned–and ere his twentieth year, He had unlawful thoughts of many things: And though he prayed, he never loved to pray With holy men, nor in a holy place–
But yet his speech, it was so soft and sweet, The late Lord Velez ne’er was wearied with him. And once, as by the north side of the Chapel They stood together, chained in deep discourse, The earth heaved under them with such a groan, That the wall tottered, and had well-nigh fallen Right on their heads. My Lord was sorely frightened; A fever seized him, and he made confession Of all the heretical and lawless talk
Which brought this judgment: so the youth was seized And cast into that hole. My husband’s father Sobbed like a child–it almost broke his heart: And once as he was working in the cellar, He heard a voice distinctly; ’twas the youth’s, Who sung a doleful song about green fields, How sweet it were on lake or wild savannah, To hunt for food, and be a naked man,
And wander up and down at liberty. He always doted on the youth, and now
His love grew desperate; and defying death, He made that cunning entrance I described: And the young man escaped.

‘Tis a sweet tale:
Such as would lull a listening child to sleep, His rosy face besoiled with unwiped tears.– And what became of him?

He went on ship-board With those bold voyagers, who made discovery Of golden lands. Leoni’s younger brother Went likewise, and when he returned to Spain, He told Leoni, that the poor mad youth, Soon after they arrived in that new world, In spite of his dissuasion, seized a boat, And all alone, set sail by silent moonlight Up a great river, great as any sea,
And ne’er was heard of more: but ’tis supposed, He lived and died among the savage men.


–Nay, Traveller! rest. This lonely yew-tree stands Far from all human dwelling: what if here No sparkling rivulet spread the verdant herb; What if these barren boughs the bee not loves; Yet, if the wind breathe soft, the curling waves, That break against the shore, shall lull thy mind By one soft impulse saved from vacancy.

–Who he was
That piled these stones, and with the mossy sod First covered o’er, and taught this aged tree, Now wild, to bend its arms in circling shade, I well remember.–He was one who own’d No common soul. In youth, by genius nurs’d, And big with lofty views, he to the world Went forth, pure in his heart, against the taint Of dissolute tongues, ‘gainst jealousy, and hate, And scorn, against all enemies prepared, All but neglect: and so, his spirit damped At once, with rash disdain he turned away, And with the food of pride sustained his soul In solitude.–Stranger! these gloomy boughs Had charms for him; and here he loved to sit, His only visitants a straggling sheep, The stone-chat, or the glancing sand-piper; And on these barren rocks, with juniper, And heath, and thistle, thinly sprinkled o’er, Fixing his downward eye, he many an hour A morbid pleasure nourished, tracing here An emblem of his own unfruitful life:
And lifting up his head, he then would gaze On the more distant scene; how lovely ’tis Thou seest, and he would gaze till it became Far lovelier, and his heart could not sustain The beauty still more beauteous. Nor, that time, Would he forget those beings, to whose minds, Warm from the labours of benevolence,
The world, and man himself, appeared a scene Of kindred loveliness: then he would sigh With mournful joy, to think that others felt What he must never feel: and so, lost man! On visionary views would fancy feed,
Till his eye streamed with tears. In this deep vale He died, this seat his only monument.

If thou be one whose heart the holy forms Of young imagination have kept pure,
Stranger! henceforth be warned; and know, that pride, Howe’er disguised in its own majesty,
Is littleness; that he, who feels contempt For any living thing, hath faculties
Which he has never used; that thought with him Is in its infancy. The man, whose eye
Is ever on himself, doth look on one, The least of nature’s works, one who might move The wise man to that scorn which wisdom holds Unlawful, ever. O, be wiser thou!
Instructed that true knowledge leads to love, True dignity abides with him alone
Who, in the silent hour of inward thought, Can still suspect, and still revere himself, In lowliness of heart.



No cloud, no relique of the sunken day Distinguishes the West, no long thin slip Of sullen Light, no obscure trembling hues. Come, we will rest on this old mossy Bridge! You see the glimmer of the stream beneath, But hear no murmuring: it flows silently O’er its soft bed of verdure. All is still, A balmy night! and tho’ the stars be dim, Yet let us think upon the vernal showers That gladden the green earth, and we shall find A pleasure in the dimness of the stars. And hark! the Nightingale begins its song, “Most musical, most melancholy”[1] Bird! A melancholy Bird? O idle thought!
In nature there is nothing melancholy. –But some night-wandering Man, whose heart was pierc’d With the remembrance of a grievous wrong, Or slow distemper or neglected love,
(And so, poor Wretch! fill’d all things with himself And made all gentle sounds tell back the tale Of his own sorrows) he and such as he
First nam’d these notes a melancholy strain; And many a poet echoes the conceit,
Poet, who hath been building up the rhyme When he had better far have stretch’d his limbs Beside a brook in mossy forest-dell
By sun or moonlight, to the influxes Of shapes and sounds and shifting elements Surrendering his whole spirit, of his song And of his fame forgetful! so his fame Should share in nature’s immortality,
A venerable thing! and so his song Should make all nature lovelier, and itself Be lov’d, like nature!–But ’twill not be so; And youths and maidens most poetical
Who lose the deep’ning twilights of the spring In ball-rooms and hot theatres, they still Full of meek sympathy must heave their sighs O’er Philomela’s pity-pleading strains. My Friend, and my Friend’s Sister! we have learnt A different lore: we may not thus profane Nature’s sweet voices always full of love And joyance! ‘Tis the merry Nightingale That crowds, and hurries, and precipitates With fast thick warble his delicious notes, As he were fearful, that an April night Would be too short for him to utter forth His love-chant, and disburthen his full soul Of all its music! And I know a grove
Of large extent, hard by a castle huge Which the great lord inhabits not: and so This grove is wild with tangling underwood, And the trim walks are broken up, and grass, Thin grass and king-cups grow within the paths. But never elsewhere in one place I knew So many Nightingales: and far and near In wood and thicket over the wide grove They answer and provoke each other’s songs– With skirmish and capricious passagings, And murmurs musical and swift jug jug
And one low piping sound more sweet than all– Stirring the air with such an harmony, That should you close your eyes, you might almost Forget it was not day! On moonlight bushes, Whose dewy leafits are but half disclos’d, You may perchance behold them on the twigs, Their bright, bright eyes, their eyes both bright and full, Glistning, while many a glow-worm in the shade Lights up her love-torch.

A most gentle maid
Who dwelleth in her hospitable home Hard by the Castle, and at latest eve, (Even like a Lady vow’d and dedicate
To something more than nature in the grove) Glides thro’ the pathways; she knows all their notes, That gentle Maid! and oft, a moment’s space, What time the moon was lost behind a cloud, Hath heard a pause of silence: till the Moon Emerging, hath awaken’d earth and sky
With one sensation, and those wakeful Birds Have all burst forth in choral minstrelsy, As if one quick and sudden Gale had swept An hundred airy harps! And she hath watch’d Many a Nightingale perch giddily
On blosmy twig still swinging from the breeze, And to that motion tune his wanton song, Like tipsy Joy that reels with tossing head.

Farewell, O Warbler! till to-morrow eve, And you, my friends! farewell, a short farewell! We have been loitering long and pleasantly, And now for our dear homes.–That strain again! Full fain it would delay me!–My dear Babe, Who, capable of no articulate sound,
Mars all things with his imitative lisp, How he would place his hand beside his ear, His little hand, the small forefinger up, And bid us listen! And I deem it wise
To make him Nature’s playmate. He knows well The evening star: and once when he awoke In most distressful mood (some inward pain Had made up that strange thing, an infant’s dream) I hurried with him to our orchard plot, And he beholds the moon, and hush’d at once Suspends his sobs, and laughs most silently, While his fair eyes that swam with undropt tears Did glitter in the yellow moon-beam! Well– It is a father’s tale. But if that Heaven Should give me life, his childhood shall grow up Familiar with these songs, that with the night He may associate Joy! Once more farewell, Sweet Nightingale! once more, my friends! farewell.

[1] “_Most musical, most melancholy_.” This passage in Milton possesses an excellence far superior to that of mere description: it is spoken in the character of the melancholy Man, and has therefore a _dramatic_ propriety. The Author makes this remark, to rescue himself from the charge of having alluded with levity to a line in Milton: a charge than which none could be more painful to him, except perhaps that of having ridiculed his Bible.


By Derwent’s side my Father’s cottage stood, (The Woman thus her artless story told) One field, a flock, and what the neighbouring flood Supplied, to him were more than mines of gold. Light was my sleep; my days in transport roll’d: With thoughtless joy I stretch’d along the shore My father’s nets, or watched, when from the fold High o’er the cliffs I led my fleecy store, A dizzy depth below! his boat and twinkling oar.

My father was a good and pious man, An honest man by honest parents bred,
And I believe that, soon as I began To lisp, he made me kneel beside my bed, And in his hearing there my prayers I said: And afterwards, by my good father taught, I read, and loved the books in which I read; For books in every neighbouring house I sought, And nothing to my mind a sweeter pleasure brought.

Can I forget what charms did once adorn My garden, stored with pease, and mint, and thyme, And rose and lilly for the sabbath morn? The sabbath bells, and their delightful chime; The gambols and wild freaks at shearing time; My hen’s rich nest through long grass scarce espied; The cowslip-gathering at May’s dewy prime; The swans, that, when I sought the water-side, From far to meet me came, spreading their snowy pride.

The staff I yet remember which upbore The bending body of my active sire;
His seat beneath the honeyed sycamore When the bees hummed, and chair by winter fire; When market-morning came, the neat attire With which, though bent on haste, myself I deck’d; My watchful dog, whose starts of furious ire, When stranger passed, so often I have check’d; The red-breast known for years, which at my casement peck’d.

The suns of twenty summers danced along,– Ah! little marked, how fast they rolled away: Then rose a mansion proud our woods among, And cottage after cottage owned its sway, No joy to see a neighbouring house, or stray Through pastures not his own, the master took; My Father dared his greedy wish gainsay; He loved his old hereditary nook,
And ill could I the thought of such sad parting brook.

But, when he had refused the proffered gold, To cruel injuries he became a prey,
Sore traversed in whate’er he bought and sold: His troubles grew upon him day by day, Till all his substance fell into decay. His little range of water was denied;[2] All but the bed where his old body lay, All, all was seized, and weeping, side by side, We sought a home where we uninjured might abide.

Can I forget that miserable hour,
When from the last hill-top, my sire surveyed, Peering above the trees, the steeple tower, That on his marriage-day sweet music made? Till then he hoped his bones might there be laid, Close by my mother in their native bowers: Bidding me trust in God, he stood and prayed,– I could not pray:–through tears that fell in showers, Glimmer’d our dear-loved home, alas! no longer ours!

There was a youth whom I had loved so long, That when I loved him not I cannot say. ‘Mid the green mountains many and many a song We two had sung, like little birds in May. When we began to tire of childish play We seemed still more and more to prize each other: We talked of marriage and our marriage day; And I in truth did love him like a brother, For never could I hope to meet with such another.

His father said, that to a distant town He must repair, to ply the artist’s trade. What tears of bitter grief till then unknown! What tender vows our last sad kiss delayed! To him we turned:–we had no other aid. Like one revived, upon his neck I wept, And her whom he had loved in joy, he said He well could love in grief: his faith he kept; And in a quiet home once more my father slept.

Four years each day with daily bread was blest, By constant toil and constant prayer supplied. Three lovely infants lay upon my breast; And often, viewing their sweet smiles, I sighed, And knew not why. My happy father died When sad distress reduced the children’s meal: Thrice happy! that from him the grave did hide The empty loom, cold hearth, and silent wheel, And tears that flowed for ills which patience could not heal.

‘Twas a hard change, an evil time was come; We had no hope, and no relief could gain. But soon, with proud parade, the noisy drum Beat round, to sweep the streets of want and pain. My husband’s arms now only served to strain Me and his children hungering in his view: In such dismay my prayers and tears were vain: To join those miserable men he flew;
And now to the sea-coast, with numbers more, we drew.

There foul neglect for months and months we bore, Nor yet the crowded fleet its anchor stirred. Green fields before us and our native shore, By fever, from polluted air incurred,
Ravage was made, for which no knell was heard. Fondly we wished, and wished away, nor knew, ‘Mid that long sickness, and those hopes deferr’d, That happier days we never more must view: The parting signal streamed, at last the land withdrew,

But from delay the summer calms were past. On as we drove, the equinoctial deep
Ran mountains–high before the howling blaft. We gazed with terror on the gloomy sleep Of them that perished in the whirlwind’s sweep, Untaught that soon such anguish must ensue, Our hopes such harvest of affliction reap, That we the mercy of the waves should rue. We reached the western world, a poor, devoted crew.

Oh! dreadful price of being to resign All that is dear _in_ being! better far In Want’s most lonely cave till death to pine, Unseen, unheard, unwatched by any star; Or in the streets and walks where proud men are, Better our dying bodies to obtrude,
Than dog-like, wading at the heels of war, Protract a curst existence, with the brood That lap (their very nourishment!) their brother’s blood.

The pains and plagues that on our heads came down, Disease and famine, agony and fear,
In wood or wilderness, in camp or town, It would thy brain unsettle even to hear. All perished–all, in one remorseless year, Husband and children! one by one, by sword And ravenous plague, all perished: every tear Dried up, despairing, desolate, on board A British ship I waked, as from a trance restored.

Peaceful as some immeasurable plain By the first beams of dawning light impress’d, In the calm sunshine slept the glittering main. The very ocean has its hour of rest,
That comes not to the human mourner’s breast. Remote from man, and storms of mortal care, A heavenly silence did the waves invest; I looked and looked along the silent air, Until it seemed to bring a joy to my despair.

Ah! how unlike those late terrific sleeps! And groans, that rage of racking famine spoke, Where looks inhuman dwelt on festering heaps! The breathing pestilence that rose like smoke! The shriek that from the distant battle broke! The mine’s dire earthquake, and the pallid host Driven by the bomb’s incessant thunder-stroke To loathsome vaults, where heart-sick anguish toss’d, Hope died, and fear itself in agony was lost!

Yet does that burst of woe congeal my frame, When the dark streets appeared to heave and gape, While like a sea the storming army came, And Fire from Hell reared his gigantic shape, And Murder, by the ghastly gleam, and Rape Seized their joint prey, the mother and the child! But from these crazing thoughts my brain, escape! –For weeks the balmy air breathed soft and mild, And on the gliding vessel Heaven and Ocean smiled.

Some mighty gulph of separation past, I seemed transported to another world:– A thought resigned with pain, when from the mast The impatient mariner the sail unfurl’d, And whistling, called the wind that hardly curled The silent sea. From the sweet thoughts of home, And from all hope I was forever hurled. For me–farthest from earthly port to roam Was best, could I but shun the spot where man might come.

And oft, robb’d of my perfect mind, I thought At last my feet a resting-place had found: Here will I weep in peace, (so fancy wrought,) Roaming the illimitable waters round;
Here watch, of every human friend disowned, All day, my ready tomb the ocean-flood– To break my dream the vessel reached its bound: And homeless near a thousand homes I stood, And near a thousand tables pined, and wanted food.

By grief enfeebled was I turned adrift, Helpless as sailor cast on desart rock; Nor morsel to my mouth that day did lift, Nor dared my hand at any door to knock. I lay, where with his drowsy mates, the cock From the cross timber of an out-house hung; How dismal tolled, that night, the city clock! At morn my sick heart hunger scarcely stung, Nor to the beggar’s language could I frame my tongue.

So passed another day, and so the third: Then did I try, in vain, the crowd’s resort, In deep despair by frightful wishes stirr’d, Near the sea-side I reached a ruined fort: There, pains which nature could no more support, With blindness linked, did on my vitals fall; Dizzy my brain, with interruption short Of hideous sense; I sunk, nor step could crawl, And thence was borne away to neighbouring hospital.

Recovery came with food: but still, my brain Was weak, nor of the past had memory.
I heard my neighbours, in their beds, complain Of many things which never troubled me; Of feet still bustling round with busy glee, Of looks where common kindness had no part, Of service done with careless cruelty, Fretting the fever round the languid heart, And groans, which, as they said, would make a dead man start.

These things just served to stir the torpid sense, Nor pain nor pity in my bosom raised.
Memory, though slow, returned with strength; and thence Dismissed, again on open day I gazed,
At houses, men, and common light, amazed. The lanes I sought, and as the sun retired, Came, where beneath the trees a faggot blazed; The wild brood saw me weep, my fate enquired, And gave me food, and rest, more welcome, more desired.

My heart is touched to think that men like these, The rude earth’s tenants, were my first relief: How kindly did they paint their vagrant ease! And their long holiday that feared not grief, For all belonged to all, and each was chief. No plough their sinews strained; on grating road No wain they drove, and yet, the yellow sheaf In every vale for their delight was stowed: For them, in nature’s meads, the milky udder flowed.

Semblance, with straw and pauniered ass, they made Of potters wandering on from door to door: But life of happier sort to me pourtrayed, And other joys my fancy to allure;
The bag-pipe dinning on the midnight moor In barn uplighted, and companions boon Well met from far with revelry secure, In depth of forest glade, when jocund June Rolled fast along the sky his warm and genial moon.

But ill it suited me, in journey dark O’er moor and mountain, midnight theft to hatch; To charm the surly house-dog’s faithful bark. Or hang on tiptoe at the lifted latch; The gloomy lantern, and the dim blue match, The black disguise, the warning whistle shrill, And ear still busy on its nightly watch, Were not for me, brought up in nothing ill; Besides, on griefs so fresh my thoughts were brooding still.

What could I do, unaided and unblest? Poor Father! gone was every friend of thine: And kindred of dead husband are at best Small help, and, after marriage such as mine, With little kindness would to me incline. Ill was I then for toil or service fit: With tears whose course no effort could confine, By high-way side forgetful would I sit Whole hours, my idle arms in moping sorrow knit.

I lived upon the mercy of the fields, And oft of cruelty the sky accused;
On hazard, or what general bounty yields, Now coldly given, now utterly refused, The fields I for my bed have often used: But, what afflicts my peace with keenest ruth Is, that I have my inner self abused,
Foregone the home delight of constant truth, And clear and open soul, so prized in fearless youth.

Three years a wanderer, often have I view’d, In tears, the sun towards that country tend Where my poor heart lost all its fortitude: And now across this moor my steps I bend– Oh! tell me whither–for no earthly friend Have I.–She ceased, and weeping turned away, As if because her tale was at an end
She wept;–because she had no more to say Of that perpetual weight which on her spirit lay.

[2] Several of the Lakes in the north of England are let out to different Fishermen, in parcels marked out by imaginary lines drawn from rock to rock.


Oh! what’s the matter? what’s the matter? What is’t that ails young Harry Gill?
That evermore his teeth they chatter, Chatter, chatter, chatter still.
Of waistcoats Harry has no lack,
Good duffle grey, and flannel fine; He has a blanket on his back,
And coats enough to smother nine.

In March, December, and in July,
“Tis all the same with Harry Gill; The neighbours tell, and tell you truly, His teeth they chatter, chatter still. At night, at morning, and at noon,
‘Tis all the same with Harry Gill; Beneath the sun, beneath the moon,
His teeth they chatter, chatter still.

Young Harry was a lusty drover,
And who so stout of limb as he?
His cheeks were red as ruddy clover, His voice was like the voice of three. Auld Goody Blake was old and poor,
Ill fedd she was, and thinly clad; And any man who pass’d her door,
Might see how poor a hut she had.

All day she spun in her poor dwelling, And then her three hours’ work at night! Alas! ’twas hardly worth the telling,
It would not pay for candle-light. –This woman dwelt in Dorsetshire,
Her hut was on a cold hill-side,
And in that country coals are dear, For they come far by wind and tide.

By the same fire to boil their pottage, Two poor old dames, as I have known,
Will often live in one small cottage, But she, poor woman, dwelt alone.
‘Twas well enough when summer came, The long, warm, lightsome summer-day,
Then at her door the _canty_ dame Would sit, as any linnet gay.

But when the ice our streams did fetter, Oh! then how her old bones would shake! You would have said, if you had met her, ‘Twas a hard time for Goody Blake.
Her evenings then were dull and dead; Sad case it was, as you may think,
For very cold to go to bed,
And then for cold not sleep a wink.

Oh joy for her! when e’er in winter The winds at night had made a rout,
And scatter’d many a lusty splinter, And many a rotten bough about.
Yet never had she, well or sick,
As every man who knew her says,
A pile before-hand, wood or stick, Enough to warm her for three days.

Now, when the frost was past enduring, And made her poor old bones to ache,
Could any thing be more alluring, Than an old hedge to Goody Blake?
And now and then, it must be said, When her old bones were cold and chill, She left her fire, or left her bed,
To seek the hedge of Harry Gill.

Now Harry he had long suspected
This trespass of old Goody Blake, And vow’d that she should be detected, And he on her would vengeance take.
And oft from his warm fire he’d go, And to the fields his road would take, And there, at night, in frost and snow, He watch’d to seize old Goody Blake.

And once, behind a rick of barley,
Thus looking out did Harry stand; The moon was full and shining clearly, And crisp with frost the stubble-land. –He hears a noise–he’s all awake–
Again?–on tip-toe down the hill
He softly creeps–‘Tis Goody Blake, She’s at the hedge of Harry Gill.

Right glad was he when he beheld her: Stick after stick did Goody pull,
He stood behind a bush of elder,
Till she had filled her apron full. When with her load she turned about,
The bye-road back again to take,
He started forward with a shout,
And sprang upon poor Goody Blake.

And fiercely by the arm he took her, And by the arm he held her fast,
And fiercely by the arm he shook her, And cried, “I’ve caught you then at last!” Then Goody, who had nothing said,
Her bundle from her lap let fall; And kneeling on the sticks, she pray’d To God that is the judge of all.

She pray’d, her wither’d hand uprearing, While Harry held her by the arm–
“God! who art never out of hearing, “O may he never more be warm!”
The cold, cold moon above her head, Thus on her knees did Goody pray,
Young Harry heard what she had said, And icy-cold he turned away.

He went complaining all the morrow
That he was cold and very chill:
His face was gloom, his heart was sorrow, Alas! that day for Harry Gill!
That day he wore a riding-coat,
But not a whit the warmer he:
Another was on Thursday brought,
And ere the Sabbath he had three.

‘Twas all in vain, a useless matter, And blankets were about him pinn’d;
Yet still his jaws and teeth they clatter, Like a loose casement in the wind.
And Harry’s flesh it fell away;
And all who see him say ’tis plain, That, live as long as live he may,
He never will be warm again.

No word to any man he utters,
A-bed or up, to young or old;
But ever to himself he mutters,
“Poor Harry Gill is very cold.”
A-bed or up, by night or day;
His teeth they chatter, chatter still. Now think, ye farmers all, I pray,
Of Goody Blake and Harry Gill.


It is the first mild day of March:
Each minute sweeter than before,
The red-breast sings from the tall larch That stands beside our door.

There is a blessing in the air,
Which seems a sense of joy to yield To the bare trees, and mountains bare, And grass in the green field.

My Sister! (’tis a wish of mine)
Now that our morning meal is done, Make haste, your morning task resign;
Come forth and feel the sun.

Edward will come with you, and pray, Put on with speed your woodland dress, And bring no book, for this one day
We’ll give to idleness.

No joyless forms shall regulate
Our living Calendar:
We from to-day, my friend, will date The opening of the year.

Love, now an universal birth.
From heart to heart is stealing,
From earth to man, from man to earth, –It is the hour of feeling.

One moment now may give us more
Than fifty years of reason;
Our minds shall drink at every pore The spirit of the season.

Some silent laws our hearts may make, Which they shall long obey;
We for the year to come may take
Our temper from to-day.

And from the blessed power that rolls About, below, above;
We’ll frame the measure of our souls, They shall be tuned to love.

Then come, my sister! come, I pray, With speed put on your woodland dress, And bring no book; for this one day
We’ll give to idleness.


In the sweet shire of Cardigan,
Not far from pleasant Ivor-hall,
An old man dwells, a little man,
I’ve heard he once was tall.
Of years he has upon his back,
No doubt, a burthen weighty;
He says he is three score and ten, But others say he’s eighty.

A long blue livery-coat has he,
That’s fair behind, and fair before; Yet, meet him where you will, you see
At once that he is poor.
Full five and twenty years he lived A running huntsman merry;
And, though he has but one eye left, His cheek is like a cherry.

No man like him the horn could sound. And no man was so full of glee;
To say the least, four counties round Had heard of Simon Lee;
His master’s dead, and no one now Dwells in the hall of Ivor;
Men, dogs, and horses, all are dead; He is the sole survivor.

His hunting feats have him bereft
Of his right eye, as you may see: And then, what limbs those feats have left To poor old Simon Lee!
He has no son, he has no child,
His wife, an aged woman,
Lives with him, near the waterfall, Upon the village common.

And he is lean and he is sick,
His little body’s half awry
His ancles they are swoln and thick His legs are thin and dry.
When he was young he little knew
Of husbandry or tillage;
And now he’s forced to work, though weak, –The weakest in the village.

He all the country could outrun,
Could leave both man and horse behind; And often, ere the race was done,
He reeled and was stone-blind.
And still there’s something in the world At which his heart rejoices;
For when the chiming hounds are out, He dearly loves their voices!

Old Ruth works out of doors with him, And does what Simon cannot do;
For she, not over stout of limb,
Is stouter of the two.
And though you with your utmost skill From labour could not wean them,
Alas! ’tis very little, all
Which they can do between them.

Beside their moss-grown hut of clay, Not twenty paces from the door,
A scrap of land they have, but they Are poorest of the poor.
This scrap of land he from the heath Enclosed when he was stronger;
But what avails the land to them, Which they can till no longer?

Few months of life has he in store, As he to you will tell,
For still, the more he works, the more His poor old ancles swell.
My gentle reader, I perceive
How patiently you’ve waited,
And I’m afraid that you expect
Some tale will be related.

O reader! had you in your mind
Such stores as silent thought can bring, O gentle reader! you would find
A tale in every thing.
What more I have to say is short, I hope you’ll kindly take it;
It is no tale; but should you think, Perhaps a tale you’ll make it.

One summer-day I chanced to see
This old man doing all he could
About the root of an old tree,
A stump of rotten wood.
The mattock totter’d in his hand; So vain was his endeavour
That at the root of the old tree
He might have worked for ever.

“You’re overtasked, good Simon Lee, Give me your tool” to him I said;
And at the word right gladly he
Received my proffer’d aid.
I struck, and with a single blow
The tangled root I sever’d,
At which the poor old man so long And vainly had endeavour’d.

The tears into his eyes were brought, And thanks and praises seemed to run
So fast out of his heart, I thought They never would have done.
–I’ve heard of hearts unkind, kind deeds With coldness still returning.
Alas! the gratitude of men
Has oftner left me mourning.


I have a boy of five years old,
His face is fair and fresh to see; His limbs are cast in beauty’s mould,
And dearly he loves me.

One morn we stroll’d on our dry walk, Our quiet house all full in view,
And held such intermitted talk
As we are wont to do.

My thoughts on former pleasures ran; I thought of Kilve’s delightful shore, My pleasant home, when spring began,
A long, long year before.

A day it was when I could bear
To think, and think, and think again; With so much happiness to spare,
I could not feel a pain.

My boy was by my side, so slim
And graceful in his rustic dress! And oftentimes I talked to him,
In very idleness.

The young lambs ran a pretty race;
The morning sun shone bright and warm; “Kilve,” said I, “was a pleasant place, “And so is Liswyn farm.

“My little boy, which like you more,” I said and took him by the arm–
“Our home by Kilve’s delightful shore, “Or here at Liswyn farm?”

“And tell me, had you rather be,”
I said and held him by the arm,
“At Kilve’s smooth shore by the green sea, “Or here at Liswyn farm?”

In careless mood he looked at me,
While still I held him by the arm, And said, “At Kilve I’d rather be
“Than here at Liswyn farm.”

“Now, little Edward, say why so;
My little Edward, tell me why;”
“I cannot tell, I do not know,”
“Why this is strange,” said I.

“For, here are woods and green-hills warm; “There surely must some reason be
“Why you would change sweet Liswyn farm “For Kilve by the green sea.”

At this, my boy, so fair and slim,
Hung down his head, nor made reply; And five times did I say to him,
“Why? Edward, tell me why?”

His head he raised–there was in sight, It caught his eye, he saw it plain–
Upon the house-top, glittering bright,