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My fire is dead: it knew no pain;
Yet is it dead, and I remain:
All stiff with ice the ashes lie;
And they are dead, and I will die.
When I was well, I wished to live,
For clothes, for warmth, for food, and fire;
But they to me no joy can give,
No pleasure now, and no desire.
Then here contented will I lie!
Alone, I cannot fear to die.
Alas! ye might have dragged me on
Another day, a single one!
Too soon I yielded to despair;
Why did ye listen to my prayer?
When ye were gone, my limbs were stronger;
And O, how grievously I rue,
That, afterwards, a little longer,
My friends, I did not follow you!
For strong and without pain I lay,
Dear friends, when ye were gone away.
My child! they gave thee to another,
A woman who was not thy mother.
When from my arms my babe they took,
On me how strangely did he look!
Through his whole body something ran,
A most strange working did I see;
-As if he strove to be a man,
That he might pull the sledge for me:
And then he stretched his arms, how wild!
O mercy! like a helpless child.
My little joy my little pride!
In two days more I must have died.
Then do not weep and grieve for me;
I feel I must have died with thee.
O wind, that o'er my head art flying
The way my friends their course did bend,
I should not feel the pain of dying,
Could I with thee a message send;
Too soon, my friends, ye went away;
For I had many things to say.
I'll follow you across the snow;
Ye travel heavily and slow;
In spite of all my weary pain,
I'll look upon your tents again.
- My fire is dead, and snowy white
The water which beside it stood:
The wolf has come to me to-night,
And he has stolen away my food.
For ever left alone am I;
Ther wherefore should I fear to die?
Young as I am, my course is run,
I shall not see another sun;
I cannot lift my limbs to know
If they have any life or no.
My poor forsaken child, if I
For once could have thee close to me,
With happy heart I then would die,
And my last thought would happy be;
But thou, dear babe, art far away,
Nor shall I see another day
DEPARTED child! I could forget thee once
Though at my bosom nursed; this woeful gain
Thy dissolution brings, that in my soul
Is present and perpetually abides
A shadow, never, never to be displaced
By the returning substance, seen or touched,
Seen by mine eyes, or clasped in my embrace.
Absence and death how differ they! and how
Shall I admit that nothing can restore
What one short sigh so easily removed?
Death, life, and sleep, reality and thought,
Assist me, God, their boundaries to know,
O teach me calm submission to thy Will!
So clear, so bright, our fathers said
He wears a jewel in his head!
And when, upon some showery day,
Into a path or public way
A frog leaps out from bordering grass,
Startling the timid as they pass,
Do you observe him, and endeavour
To take the intruder into favour;
Learning from him to find a reason
The mother, in her turns of anguish, worse
Than desolate; for ofttimes from the sound
Of the survivor's sweetest voice (dear child,
He knew it not) and from his happiest looks,
Did she extract the food of self-reproach,
As one that lived ungrateful for the stay
By Heaven afforded to uphold her maimed
And tottering spirit. And full oft the boy,
Now first acquainted with distress and grief,
Shrunk from his mother's presence, shunned with fear For a light heart in a dull season.
And you may love him in the pool,
That is for him a happy school,
In which he swims as taught by nature,
Fit pattern for a human creature,
Glancing amid the water bright,
And sending upward sparkling light.
Her sad approach, and stole away to find,
In his known haunts of joy where'er he might,
A more congenial object. But, as time
Softened her pangs and reconciled the child
To what he saw, he gradually returned,
Like a scared bird encouraged to renew
A broken intercourse; and, while his eyes
Were yet with pensive fear and gentle awe
Turned upon her who bore him, she would stoop
To imprint a kiss that lacked not power to spread
Faint colour over both their pallid cheeks,
And stilled his tremulous lip. Thus they were calmed
And cheered; and now together breathe fresh air
In open fields; and when the glare of day
Is gone, and twilight to the mother's wish
Befriends the observance, readily they join
In walks whose boundary is the lost one's grave,
Which he with flowers hath planted, finding there
Amusement, where the mother does not miss
Dear consolation, kneeling on the turf
In prayer, yet blending with that solemn rite
Of pious faith the vanities of grief;
For such, by pitying Angels and by Spirits
Transferred to regions upon which the clouds
Of our weak nature rest not, must be deemed
Those willing tears, and unforbidden sighs,
And all those tokens of a cherished sorrow,
Which, soothed and sweetened by the grace of Heaven Soft as the dying throb of the lyre.
As now it is, seems to her own fond heart,
Immortal as the love that gave it being.
LOVING AND LIKING:
IRREGULAR VERSES, ADDRESSED TO A CHILD.
THERE's more in words than I can teach:
Yet listen, child! I would not preach;
But only give some plain directions
To guide your speech and your affections.
Say not you love a roasted fowl,
But you may love a screaming owl,
And, if you can, the unwieldy toad
That crawls from his secure abode
Within the mossy garden wall
When evening dews begin to fall.
O mark the beauty of his eye.
What wonders in that circle lie!
Nor blush if o'er your heart be stealing
A love for things that have no feeling:
The Spring's first rose by you espied,
May fill your breast with joyful pride;
And you may love the strawberry-flower,
And love the strawberry in its bower;
But when the fruit, so often praised
For beauty, to your lip is raised,
Say not you love the delicate treat,
But like it, enjoy it, and thankfully eat.
Long may you love your pensioner mouse,
Though one of a tribe that torment the house:
Nor dislike for her cruel sport the cat,
Deadly foe both of mouse and rat;
Remember she follows the law of her kind,
And instinct is neither wayward nor blind.
Then think of her beautiful gliding form,
Her tread that would scarcely crush a worm,
And her soothing song by the winter fire,
I would not circumscribe your love:
It may soar with the eagle and brood with the dove.
May pierce the earth with the patient mole,
Or track the hedgehog to his hole.
Loving and liking are the solace of life,
Rock the cradle of joy, smooth the death-bed of strife.
You love your father and your mother,
Your grown-up and your baby brother;
You love your sister, and your friends,
And countless blessings which God sends:
And while these right affections play,
You live each moment of your day;
They lead you on to full content,
And likings fresh and innocent,
That store the mind, the memory feed,
And prompt to many a gentle deed:
But likings come, and pass away;
'Tis love that remains till our latest day:
Our heavenward guide is holy love,
And will be our bliss with saints above.
SUGGESTED IN A WESTMORELAND COTTAGE.
DRIVEN in by Autumn's sharpening air
From half-stripped woods and pastures bare,
Brisk robin seeks a kindlier home:
Not like a beggar is he come,
But enters as a looked-for guest,
Confiding in his ruddy breast,
As if it were a natural shield
Charged with a blazon on the field,
Due to that good and pious deed
Of which we in the ballad read.
But pensive fancies putting by,
And wild-wood sorrows, speedily
He plays the expert ventriloquist;
And, caught by glimpses now-now missed,
Puzzles the listener with a doubt
If the soft voice he throws about
Comes from within doors or without!
Was ever such a sweet confusion,
Sustained by delicate illusion?
He's at your elbow to your feeling
The notes are from the floor or ceiling;
And there's a riddle to be guessed,
"Till you have marked his heaving chest,
And busy throat whose sink and swell
Betray the elf that loves to dwell
In Robin's bosom, as a chosen cell.
Heart-pleased we smile upon the bird If seen, and with like pleasure stirred Commend him, when he's only heard. But small and fugitive our gain Compared with hers who long hath lain, With languid limbs and patient head Reposing on a lone sick-bed; Where now, she daily hears a strain That cheats her of too busy cares, Eases her pain, and helps her prayers. And who but this dear bird beguiled The fever of that pale-faced child; Now cooling with his passing wing, Her forehead, like a breeze of Spring: Recalling now, with descant soft Shec round her pillow from aloft, Sweet thoughts of angels hovering nigh, And the invisible sympathy Of Matthew, Mark, and Luke, and John, Blessing the bed she lies upon?'* And sometimes, just as listening ends In slumber, with the cadence blends A dream of that low-warbled hymn
'Matthew, Mark, and Luke, and John, Bless the bed that I lie on,'
are part of a child's prayer, still in general use through the northern counties.
Which old folk, fondly pleased to trim
Lamps of faith, now burning dim,
Say that the cherubs carved in stone,
When clouds gave way at dead of night
And the ancient church was filled with light,
Used to sing in heavenly tone,
Above and round the sacred places
They guard, with winged baby-faces.
Thrice happy creature! in all lands
. Nurtured by hospitable hands:
Free entrance to this cot has he,
Entrance and exit both yet free;
And, when the keen unruffled weather
That thus brings man and bird together,
Shall with its pleasantness be past,
And casement closed and door made fast,
To keep at bay the howling blast,
He needs not fear the season's rage,
For the whole house is Robin's cage.
Whether the bird flit here or there,
O'er table lill, or perch on chair,
Though some may frown and make a stir
To scare him as a trespasser,
And he belike will flinch or start,
Good friends he has to take his part;
One chiefly, who with voice and look
Pleads for him from the chimney-nook,
Where sits the dame, and wears away
Her long and vacant holiday;
With images about her heart,
Reflected from the years gone by,
On human nature's second infancy.
HER eyes are wild, her head is bare,
The sun has burnt her coal-black hair;
Her eyebrows have a rusty stain,
And she came far from over the main.
She has a baby on her arm,
Or else she were alone:
And underneath the hay-stack warm, And on the greenwood stone,
She talked and sung the woods among, And it was in the English tongue.
"Sweet babe! they say that I am mad,
But nay, my heart is far too glad;
And I am happy when I sing
Full many a sad and doleful thing:
Then, lovely baby, do not fear!
pray thee have no fear of me; But safe as in a cradle, here
My lovely baby! thou shalt be:
To thee I know too much I owe;
I cannot work thee any woe.
POEMS FOUNDED ON THE AFFECTIONS.
The letter from which this extract is made, was published in 1838, by Sir Henry Bunbury, among some miscellaneous letters in his "Correspondence of Sir Thomas Hanmer, etc.," p. 436.
It is this poem of which Coleridge said "THE BROTHERS, that model of English pastoral, which I never yet read with unclouded eye." Biographia Literaria, Vol. II., chap. v., p. 85, Note, Edit. of 1847. Southey, writing to Coleridge, July 11, 1801, says:"God bless Wordsworth for that poem! (THE BROTHERS.")" Life and Correspondence of Southey, Vol. II., p. 150, chap. viii. — H. R.]
Note, p. 87.
[Extract from a letter addressed by Wordsworth to Charles James Fox in 1802, and accompanying a copy of the Poems:
"In the two poems, 'The Brothers' and 'Michael,' I have attempted to draw a picture of the domestic affections, as I know they exist amongst a class of men who are now almost confined to the north of England. They are small independent proprietors of land, here called statesmen,' men of respectable education, who daily labour on their own little properties. The domestic affections will always be strong amongst men who live in a country not crowded with population; if these men are placed above poverty. But, if they are proprietors of small estates which have descended to them from
their ancestors, the power which these affections will acquire amongst such men, is inconceivable by those who have only had an opportunity of observing hired labourers, farmers, and the manufacturing poor. Their little tract of land serves as a kind of permanent rallying point for their domestic feelings, as a tablet upon which they are written, which makes them objects of memory in a thousand instances when they would otherwise be forgotten. It is a fountain fitted to the nature of social man, from which supplies of affection as pure as his heart was intended for, are daily drawn. This class of men is rapidly disappearing. You, Sir, have a consciousness, upon which every good man will congratulate you, that the whole of your public conduct has in one way or other been directed to the preservation of this class of men, and those who hold similar situations. You have felt that the most sacred of all property is the property of the poor. The two poems that I have mentioned were written with a view to show that men who do not wear fine cloaths can feel deeply. Pectus enim est quod disertos facit, et vis mentis. Ideoque imperitis quoque, si modo sint aliquo affectu concitati, verba non desunt.' The poems are faithful copies from nature; and I hope whatever effect [In his editions of 1845 and 1850, the author has ex. they may have upon you, you will at least be able to perceive that they may excite profitable sympathies included the following stanza, which was the second in many kind and good hearts; and may in some small this piece in the earlier editions, to the readers of which degree enlarge our feelings of reverence for our species, it had become familiar, and is therefore preserved in and our knowledge of human nature, by showing that this note:
'Let other bards of angels sing.'
our best qualities are possessed by men whom we are too apt to consider, not with reference to the points in which they resemble us, but to those in which they manifestly differ from us."
'I travelled among unknown men.' ["Amongst the Poems founded on the Affections is one called, from its first line, 'I travelled among unknown men,' which ends with these lines, wherein the poet addresses his native land :
Such if thou wert in all men's view,
A universal show,
What would my fancy have to do?
My feelings to bestow? — H. R.]
Thy mornings showed, thy nights concealed
The bowers where Lucy played;
And thine too is the last green field
That Lucy's eyes surveyed.
A friend, a true poet himself, to whom I owe some new
insight into the merits of Mr. Wordsworth's poetry,
and who showed me to my surprise, that there were
nooks in that rich and varied region, some of the shy
treasures of which I was not perfectly acquainted with,
first made me feel the great beauty of this stanza; in
which the poet, as it were, spreads day and night over
the object of his affections, and seems, under the influ-
ence of passionate feeling, to think of England, whether
in light or darkness, only as her play-place and verdant
home.-S. C." (Sara Coleridge.) Biographia Lite-
raria of S. T. Coleridge, Vol. II., chap. ix., p. 173, Note,
Edit. of 1847.-H. R.]