William Wordsworth.

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Blind spirit, which is in the blood of all
Than that a child, more than all other gifts,
Brings hope with it, and forward looking


And stirrings of inquietude, when they
By tendency of nature needs must fail.
Exceeding was the love he bare to him,
His heart and his heart's joy! For often-

Old Michael, while he was a babe in arms,
Had done him female service, not alone
For pastime and delight, as is the use
Of fathers, but with patient mind enforced
To acts of tenderness; and he had rocked
His cradle 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


Had work by his own door, or when he sat
With sheep before him on his shepherd's

stool, [door

Beneath that large old oak, which near their
Stood, and, from its enormous breadth of


Chosen for the shearer's covert from the sun,
Thence in our rustic dialect was called
Vhe CLIPPING TREE,* a name which yt it

bears. [shade,

There, while they two were sitting in the
With others round them, earnest all and


Would Michael exercise his heart with looks
Of fond correction and reproof bestowed
Upon the child, if he disturbed the sheep
By catching at their legs, or with his shouts
Scared 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


* Clipping is the word used in the North of
England for shearing.

With iron, making it throughou. in all
Due requisites a perfect shepherd's staff,
And gave it to the boy; wherewith equipt
He as a watchman oftentimes was placed
At gate or gap, to stem or turn the flock;
And, to his office prematurely called,
There stood the urchin, as you will divine,
Something between a hindrance and a


And for this course not always, I believe,
Receiving from his father hire of praise;
Though nought was left undone which

staff or voice, [perform.

Cr looks, or threatening gestures could

But soon as Luke, full ten years old, could

stand [heights,

Against the mountain blasts; and to the

Not fearing toil, nor length of weary ways,

He with his father daily went, and they

Were as companions, why should I relate

That objects which the shepherd loved

before [came

Were dearer now? that from the boy there

Feelings and emanations things which


Light to the sun and music to the wind;
And that the old man's heart seemed bom


Thus in his father's sight the boy grew up;
And now when he had reached his eigh-
teenth year,
He was his comfort and his daily hope.

While in this sort the simple household

lived [came

From day to day, to Michael's ear there

Distressful tidings. Long before the time

Of which I sneak, the shepherd had been


In surety for his brother's son, a man
Of an industrious life, and ample means -
But unforeseen misfortunes suddenly
Had prest upon him, and old Michael
now [ture,

Was summoned to discharge the forfei.
A grievous penalty, but little less
Than half his substance. This unlooked-
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 sooi: as he had gathered so much


That he could look his trouble in the face-
It seemed that his sole refuge was to sell
A portion of his patrimonial fields.
Such was his first resolve; he thought again.



And his heart failed him. ' ' Isabel, " said he,
Two evenings after he had heard the news,
" I have been toiling more than seventy


And in the open sunshine of God's love
Have we all lived; 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 himself
Has scarcely been more diligent than I;
And I have lived to be a fool at last
To my own family. An evil man
That was, and made an evil choice, if he
Were false to us; and if he were not false,
There are ten thousand to whom Josslikethis
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 cheerful 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 know-


Another kinsman he will be our friend
In this distress. He is a prosperous man,
Thriving in trade and Luke to him shall

go, [thrift

And with his kinsman's help and his own
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, [paused,

What can be gained?" At this the old man
And Isabel sat silent, for her mind
Was busy, looking back into past times.
There's Richard Bateman, thought she to


He was a parish-boy at the church-door
They made a gathering for him, shillings,

pence, [bought

And halfpennies, wherewith the neighbours
A basket, which they filled 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 wondrous


And left estates and moneys to the poor,
And at his birthplace built a chapel floored
With marble, which he sent from foreign

lands. [sort,

These thoughts, and many others of like
Massed quickly through the mind of Isabel
And her face brightened. The old man

was glad.

And thus resumed : " Well, Isabel ! this


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. [best

Make ready Luke's best garments, of the
Buy for him more, and let us send him


To-morrow, or the next day, or to-night :
If he could go, the boy should go to-
night." [forth
Here Michael ceased, and to the fields went
With a light heart. The housewife foi five
days [long
\Vas restless morn and night, and all day
Wrought on with her best fingers to pre-

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 through the two last
nights [sleep :

Heard him, how he was troubled in his
And when they rose at morning she could
see [noon

That all his hopes were gone. That day at
She said to Luke, while they two by them-
selves [go:
Were sitting at the door, "Thou must not
We have no other child but thee to lose,
N'one to remember do not go away,
For if thou leave thy father he will die."
The youth made answer with a jocund

.voice ;

And Isabel, when she had told her fears,
Recovered heart. That evening her best


Did she bring forth, and all together sat
Like happy people round a Christmas fire.

With daylight Isabel resumed her work;

And all the ensuing week the house ap-

As cheerful as a grove in spring : at length

The expected letter from their kinsman

With kind assurances that he would do

His utmost for the welfare of the boy ;

To which, requests were added, that forth-
with [more

He might be sent to him. Ten times or

The letter was read over ; Isabel

Went forth to show it to the neighbour?
round ;

Nor was there at that time on English land


A. prouder heart than Luke's. When Isabel
Had to her house returned, the old man

said, [word

"He shall depart to-morrow." To this
The housewife answered, talking much of


Which, if at such short notice he should go,
Would surely be forgotten. But at length
She gave consent, and Michael was at


Near the tumultuous brook of Green-
head Ghyll,

In that deep valley, Michael had designed
To build a sheep-fold ; and, before he


The tidings of his melancholy loss,
For this same purpose he had gathered up
A heap of stones, which by the streamlet's


Lay thrown together, ready for the work.
With Luke that evening thitherward he
walked ; [stopped,

And soon as they had reached the place he
And thus the old man spake to him. " My
son, [heart

To-morrow thou wilt leave me: with full
I look upon thee, for thou art the aame
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 [After thou

Of things thou canst not know of.

First cam'st into the world as oft befalls
To new-born infants thou didst sleep
away [tongue

Two days, and blessings from thy father's
Then fell upon thee. Day by day passed


And still I loved thee with increasing love.
Never to living ear came sweeter sounds
Than when I heard thee by our own fire-
side [tune ;
First uttering, without words, a natural
When thou, a feeding babe, didst in thy
joy [lowed month,
Sing at thy mother's breast. Month fol-
And in the open fields my life was passed
And on the mountains, else I think that
thou [knees.
Hadst been brought up upon thy father's
But we were playmates, Luke: among
these hills, [young
As well thou know'st, in us the old and
Have played together, nor with me didst

Lack any pleasure which a boy can know.'
Luke had a manly heart ; but at these

words [his hand,

He sobbed aloud. The old man grasped
And said, " Nay, do not take it so I see
That these are things of which I need not


Even to the utmost I have been to (he;
A kind and a good father : and herein
I but repay a gift which I myself
Received at others' hands; for, though now


Beyond the common life of man, I still
Remember them who loved me in my


Both of them sleep together: here they lived
As all their forefathers had done ; and when
At length their time was come, they were

not loath

To give their bodies to the family mould.
I wished that thou shouldst live the life

they lived.

But 'tis a long time to look back, my son,
And see so little gain from threescore years.
These fields were burthened when they

came to me ;

Till I was forty years of age, not more
Than half of my inheritance was mine.
I toiled and toiled ; God blessed me in my

work, [was free.

And till these three weeks past the land
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 shouldst go." At this the old

man paused ; [they stood,

Then, pointing to the stones near which
Thus, after a short silence, he resumed :
" This was a work for us ; and now, my


It is a work for me. But, lay one stone
Here, lay it for me, Luke, with thine own

hands. [live

Nay, boy, be of good hope; we both may
To see a better day. At eighty-four
I still am strong and hale ; do thou thy


I will do mine. I will begin again
With many tasks that were resigned to thee;
Up to the heights, and in among the


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 ! [ing fast

Thy heart these two weeks has been beat-
With many hopes It should be so Yes

ves -



T knew that thou couldst 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, think of me, my son,
And of this moment ; hither turn thy

thoughts, | fear

And God will strengthen thee : amid all
And all temptation, Luke, I pray that thou
Mayst bear in mind the life thy fathers


Who, being innocent, did for that cause
Bestir them in good deeds. Now, fare

thee well [wilt see

When thou return's!, thou in this place
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

stooped down,

And, as his father had requested, laid
The first stone of the sheep-fold. At the

sight [his heart

The old man's grief broke from him ; to
He pressed his son, he kissed him and

wept ;

And to the house together they returned.
Hushed was that house in peace, or

seeming peace, [the boy

Ere the night fell ; with morrow's dawn
Began his journey, and when he /lad


The public way, he put on a bold face ;
And all the neighbours as he passed their

doors [prayers,

Came forth with wishes and with farewell
That followed him till he was out of sight.

A good report did froHi their kinsman


Of Luke and his well-doing : and the boy
Wrote loving letters, full of wondrous news,
Which, as the housewife phrased it, were


"The prettiest letters that were ever seen."
Both parents read them with rejoicing

hearts. [again

So, many months passed on : and once
The shepherd went about his daily work
With confident and cheerful thoughts ; and

now [hour

Sometimes when he could find a leisure

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 overset the brain, or break the

heart : [well

I have conversed with more than one who
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 [rocks

Of an unusual strength. Among the
He went, and still looked up upon the sun,
And listened to the wind ; and as before
Performed all kinds of labour for his sheep,
And for the land his small inheritance.
And to that hollow dell from time to


Did he repair, to build the fold of which
His flock had need. "Tis not forgotten yeC
The pity which was then in every heart
For the old man and 'tis believed by all
That many and many a day he thithe?

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, lyin^, at his feet.
The length of full seven years from time to

time [wrought,

He at the building of this sheep-fold
And left the work unfinished when he died.
Three years, or little more, did Isabel
Survive her husband : at her death thf


Was sold, and went into a stranger's h^nd.
The cottage which was named theEVENiNG

STAR [the ground

Is gone the ploughshare has been through
On which it stood ; great changes have

been wrought [is left

In all the neighbourhood : yet the oak
That grew beside their door ; and the re-

Of the unfinished sheep-fold may be seen
Beside the boisterous brook of Green-head






MY DEAR FRIEND, When I sent you,
a few weeks ago, the Tale of Peter Bell,
you asked " why THE WAGGONER was
not added ?" To say the truth, from the
higher tone of imagination, and the deeper
touches of passion aimed at in the former,
I apprehended, this little piece could not
accompany it without disadvantage. In
the year 1806, if I am not mistaken, THE
WAGGONER was read to you in manu-
script : and, as you have remembered it
for so long a time, I am the more en-
couraged to hope, that, since the localities
on which it partly depends did not prevent
its being interesting to you, it may prove
acceptable to others. Being therefore in
some measure the cause of its present
appearance, you must allow me the grati-
fication of inscribing it to you ; in acknow-
ledgment of the pleasure I have derived
from your writings, and of the high esteem
with which I am, very truly yours,


RYDAL MOUNT, May 20, 1819.


Tis spent this burning day of June !
Soft darkness o'er its latest gleams is steal-
The dor-hawk, solitary bird, [ing ;

Round the dim crags on heavy pinions


Buzzes incessantly, a tiresome tune ;
That constant voice is all that can be heard
In silence deeper far than that of deepest

noon !

Confiding glow-worms ! 'tis a night
Propitious to your earth-born light ;,
But, where the scattered stars are seen
In hazy straits the clouds between,
Each, in his station twinkling not,
Seems changed into a pallid spot.
The air. as in a lion's den,
Is close and hot ; and now and then
Comes a tired and sultry breeze
With a haunting and a panting,
Like the stifling of disease ;
The mountains rise to wondrous height,
And in the heavens there hangs aweight ;
But the dews allay the heat,
And the silence makes it sweet.

Hush, there is some one on the stir !
Tis Benjamin the waggoner ;
Who long hath trod this toilsome way,
Companion of the night and day.
That far-off tinkling's drowsy cheer,
Mixed with a faint yet grating sound
In a moment lost and found,
The wain announces by whose side.
Along the banks of Rydal Mere,
He paces on, a trusty guide,
Listen ! you can scarcely hear !
Hither he his course is bending ;-
Now he leaves the lower ground,
And up the craggy hill ascending
Many a stop and stay he makes,
Many a breathing-fit he takes ;
Steep the way and wearisome,
Yet all the while his whip is dumb !

The horses have worked with right good


And now have gained the top of the jiill ;
He was patient they were strong
And now they smoothly glide along,
Gathering breath, and pleased to win
The praises of mild Benjamin.
Heaven shield him from mishap and snare
But why so early with this prayer ?
Is it for threatenings in the sky ?
Or for some other danger nigh ?
No, none is near him yet, though he
Be one of much infirmity ;
For, at the bottom of the brow,
Where once the DOVE and Ol.iVE-BOUGH
Offered a greeting of good ale
To all who entered Grasmere Vale ;
And called on him who must depart
To leave it with a jovial heart ;
There, where the DOVE and OLIVE-BOUGH
Once hung, a poet harbours now,
A simple water-drinking bard ;
Why need our hero, then, (though frail
His best resolves) be on his guard?
He marches by, secure and bold,
Yet, while he thinks on times of old,
It seems that all looks wondrous cold ;
He shrugs hisshoulders shakes his head -
And, for the honest folk within,
It is a doubt with Benjamin
Whether they be alive or dead !

Here is no danger, none at all !
Beyond his wish is he secure ;
But pass a mile and then for trial,
Then for the pride of self-flenial ;
If he resist that tempting door,
Which with such friendly voice w
If he resist those casement panes,



And that bright gleam which thence will

Upon his leaders' bells and manes, [fall

Inviting him with cheerful lure ;

For still, though all be dark elsewhere,

Some shining notice will be there,

Of open house and ready fare.

The place to Benjamin full well
Is known, and by as strong a spell
As used to be that sign of love
And hope the OLIVE-BOUGH and DOVE
He knows it to his cost, good man !
Who does not know the famous SWAN ?
Uncouth although the object be,
An image of perplexity ;
Yet not the less it is our boast,
For it was painted by the host ;
His own conceit the figure planned,
'Twas coloured all by his own hand ;
And that frail child of thirsty clay,
Of whom I sing Ibis rustic lay,
Could tell with self-dissatisfaction
Quaint stories of the bird's attraction !*

Well ! that is past and in despite
Of open door and shining light.
And now the conqueror essays
The long ascent of Dunmail-raise ;
And with his team is gentle here
As when he clomb from Rydal Mere ;
His whip they do not dread his voice
They only hear it to rejoice.
To stand or go is at their pleasure ; t
Their efforts and their time they measure
By generous pride within the breast
And, while they strain, and while they rest,
He thus pursues his thoughts at leisure.

Now am I fairly safe to-night
And never was my heart more light.
I trespassed lately worse than ever
But Heaven will bless a good endeavour ;
And, to my soul's delight, 1 find
The evil one is left behind.
Yes, let my master fume and fret,
Here am I with my horses yet!
My jolly team, he finds that ye
Will work for nobody but me!
Good proof of this the country gained,
One day, when ye were vexed and strained
I ntrusted to another's care,
And forced unworthy stripes to bear.
Here was it on this rugged spot
Which now, contented with our lot,

We climb that, piteously abused,

Ye plunged in anger and confused :

As chance would have it, passing by

I saw you in your jeopardy :

A word from me was like a charm

The ranks were taken with one mind ;

And your huge burthen, safe from harm,

Moved like a vessel in the wind !

Yes, without me, up hills so high

"iis vain to strive for mastery

Then grieve not, jolly team ! though tough

The road we travel, steep and rough.

Though Rydal-heights and Dunmail-raise,

And all their fellow banks and braes,

Full often make you stretch and strain,

And halt for breath and halt again,

Yet to their sturdmess 'tis owing

That side by side we still are going !

While Benjamin in earnest mood
His meditations thus pursued,
A storm, which had been smothered long.
Was growing inwardly more strong ;
And, in its struggles to get free.
Was busily employed as he.
The thunder had begun to growl
He heard not, too intent of soul ;
The a ; r was now without a breath
He marked not that 'twas still as death.
But soon large drops upon his head
Fell with the weight of drops of lead ;
He starts and, at the admonition,
Takes a survey of his condition.
The road is black before his eyes,
Glimmering faintly where it lies ;
Black is the sky and every hill,
Up to the sky, is blacker still ;
A huge and melancholy room,
Hung round and overhung with gloorr. I
Save that above a single height
Is to be seen a lurid light,
Above Helm-cragi a streak half dead.
A burning of portentous red ;
And, near that lurid light, full well
The ASTROLOGER, sage Sidrophel,
Where at his desk and book he sits,
Puzzling on high his curious wits ;
He whose domain is held in common
With no one but the ANCIENT WOMAN,
Cowering beside her rifted cell ;
As if intent on magic spell ;
Dread pair, that spite of wind and weather,
Still sit upon Helm-crag together !

t A mountain of Grasmere, the broken summit

This rude piece of self-taught art (such is , of which presents two figures, full as distinctly
the progress of refinement) has been supplanted j shaped as that of the famous Cobbler, nenr
by a professional production. | Arroquhar, in Scotland.



The ASTROLOGER was not unseen
By solitary Benjamin :
But total darkness came anon,
And he and everything was gone.
And suddenly a ruffling breeze, [trees

(That would have sounded through the
Had aught of sylvan growth been there)
Was felt throughout the region bare :
The rain rushed down the road was bat-

As with the force of billows shattered ;
The horses are dismayed, nor know
Whether they should stand o. go ;
And Benjamin is groping near them,
Sees nothing, and can scarcely hear them.
He is astounded, wonder not,
With such a charge in such a spot ;
Astounded in the mountain gap
By peals of thunder, clap on clap !
And many a terror-striking flash ;
And somewhere, as it seems, a crash,
Among the rocks ; with weight of rain,
And sullen motions long and slow,
That to a dreary distance go
Till, breaking in upon the dying strain,
Arending o'er his head begins the frayagain.

Meanwhile, uncertain what to do,
And oftentimes compelled to halt,
The horses cautiously pursue
Their way, without mishap or fault ;
And now have reached that pile of stones,
Heaped over brave King Dunmail's bones ;
He who had once supreme command,
Last king of rocky Cumberland ;
His bones, and those of all his power,
Slain here in a disastrous hour !

When, passing through this narrow
Stony, and dark, and desolate, [strait,
Benjamin can faintly hear
A voice that comes from some one near,
A female voice : "Whoe'er you be,

Online LibraryWilliam WordsworthThe complete works of Wordsworth → online text (page 13 of 86)