LYRICAL BALLADS (1798) - William Wordsworth Samuel Taylor Coleridge Poems


Poems » william wordsworth samuel taylor coleridge » lyrical ballads (1798)






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

The majority of the following poems are to be
considered as experiments. They were written
chiefly with a view to ascertain how far the lan­
guage of conversation in the middle and lower
classes of society is adapted to the purposes of
poetic pleasure. Readers accustomed to the
[p.  ii] 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 auk­
wardness: 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 gratifica­
tion; 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 favorable 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.

[p.  iii] Readers of superior judgment may disapprove of the
style in which many of these pieces are execu­
ted it must be expected that many lines and phra­
ses will not exactly suit their taste. It will perhaps
appear to them, that wishing to avoid the pre­
valent fault of the day, the author has sometimes
descended too low, and that many of his expres­
sions are too familiar, and not of sufficient dig­
nity. It is apprehended, that the more con­
versant 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
[p.  iv] 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 hap­
pened 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 obser­
vation 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 per­
son: the character of the loquacious narrator will
sufficiently shew itself in the course of the story.
The Rime of the Ancyent Marinere was profes­
[p.  v] sedly 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 lan­
guage adopted in it has been equally intelligible
or 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.

[p.  [vi] ]

[p.  [vii] ]


The Rime of the Ancyent Marinere . . . . . . . . .   1
The Foster-Mother's Tale . . . . . . . . . . . . .  53
Lines left upon a Seat in a Yew-tree which stands
      near the Lake of Esthwaite . . . . . . . . . . .  59
The Nightingale, a Conversational Poem . . . . . .  63
The Female Vagrant . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .  69
Goody Blake and Harry Gill . . . . . . . . . . . .  85
Lines written at a small distance from my House,
        and sent by my little Boy to the Person to
        whom they are addressed  . . . . . . . . . . . .  95
Simon Lee, the old Huntsman  . . . . . . . . . . .  98
Anecdote for Fathers . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 105
We are seven . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 110
Lines written in early spring  . . . . . . . . . . 115
The Thorn  . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 117
The last of the Flock  . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 133
The Dungeon  . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 139
The Mad Mother . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 141
The Idiot Boy  . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 149
Lines written near Richmond, upon the Thames,
        at Evening   . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 180
Expostulation and Reply  . . . . . . . . . . . . . 183
The Tables turned; an Evening Scene, on the
        same subject . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 186
Old Man travelling . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 189
The Complaint of a forsaken Indian Woman . . . . . 193
The Convict  . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 197
Lines written a few miles above Tintern Abbey  . . 201

[p.  [viii] ]

[p.  [1] ] THE RIME





[p.  [2]]

[p.  [3]] ] ARGUMENT.

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.

[p.  [4]]

[p.  [5]] THE RIME





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.
[p.  6] 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.
[p.  7] 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.
[p.  8] 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.
[p.  9] 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!
[p.  10] 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.

[p.  11] II.

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.
[p.  12] 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.
T'was 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.
[p.  13] 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.
[p.  14] 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.

[p.  15] III.

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 dodged a water-sprite,
     It plung'd and tack'd and veer'd.
[p.  16] 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.
[p.  17] 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?
[p.  18] 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.
[p.  19] 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
     Oft darts the Spectre-ship;
While clombe above the Eastern bar
     The horned Moon, with one bright Star
Almost atween the tips.
[p.  20] 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.

[p.  21] IV.

"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.
[p.  22] 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.
[p.  23] 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--
[p.  24] 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.
[p.  25] 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.

[p.  26] V.

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.
[p.  27] 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.
[p.  28] 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 steer'd, the ship mov'd on;
     Yet never a breeze up-blew;
The Marineres all 'gan work the ropes,
     Where they were wont to do:
[p.  29] 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.
[p.  30] 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.
[p.  31] 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.
[p.  32] Till noon 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.
[p.  33] 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 retun'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.
[p.  34] The other was a softer voice,
     As soft as honey-dew:
Quoth he the man hath penance done,
     And penance more will do.

[p.  35] VI.


"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--
[p.  36] "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?

Second Voice.

"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.''
[p.  37] 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.
[p.  38] 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.
[p.  39] 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 countrée?
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.
[p.  40] 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.
[p.  41] 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?
[p.  42] 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.
[p.  43] 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.

[p.  44] VII.

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.
[p.  45] 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.
[p.  46] "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
[p.  47] 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."
[p.  48] And now all in my 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.
[p.  49] 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.
[p.  50] 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.
[p.  51] 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.

[p.  [52]]

[p.  [53]]





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
[p.  54] 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
[p.  55] 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,
[p.  56] 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.
At 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,
[p.  57] 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
[p.  58] 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.

[p.  [59]] LINES




--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
[p.  60] 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:
[p.  61] 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
[p.  62] 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
[p.  64] A pleasure in the dimness of the stars.
And hark! the Nightingale begins its song,
"Most musical, most melancholy"* 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
[p.  66] 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--
[p.  67] 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
[p.  68] 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
[p.  69] 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.

[p.  [70]

[p.  [69] THE


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.

[p.  70]  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.

[p.  71] 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

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.

[p.  72] 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;*
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!

[p.  73] 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.

[p.  74] 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.

[p.  75] 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 blast.
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.

[p.  76] 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.

[p.  77] 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!

[p.  78] 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:--