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Poem by William Wordsworth
THE GALLANT youth who may have gained Or seeks a “winsome marrow,” Was but an infant in the lap When first I looked on Yarrow; Once more, by Newark’s castle-gate Long left without a warder, I stood, looked, listened, and with thee, Great Minstrel of the Border! Grave thoughts ruled wide on that sweet day, Their dignity installing In gentle bosoms, while sere leaves Were on the bough, or falling; But breezes played, and sunshine gleamed, The forest to embolden; Reddened the fiery hues, and shot Transparence through the golden. For busy thoughts the stream flowed on In foamy agitation; And slept in many a crystal pool For quiet contemplation: No public and no private care The freeborn mind enthralling, We made a day of happy hours, Our happy days recalling. Brisk Youth appeared, the morn of youth, With freaks of graceful folly,— Life’s temperate noon, her sober eve, Her night not melancholy; Past, present, future, all appeared In harmony united, Like guests that meet, and some from far, By cordlal love invited. And if, as Yarrow, through the woods And down the meadow ranging, Did meet us with unaltered face, Though we were changed and changing; If, then, some natural shadows spread Our inward prospect over, The soul’s deep valley was not slow Its brightness to recover. Eternal blessings on the Muse, And her divine employment! The blameless Muse, who trains her sons For hope and calm enjoyment! Albeit sickness, lingering yet, Has o’er their pillow brooded; And Care waylays their steps,—a sprite Not easily eluded. For thee, O Scott! compelled to change Green Eildon Hill and Cheviot For warm Vesuvio’s vine-clad slopes, And leave thy Tweed and Teviot For mild Sorrento’s breezy waves, May classic Fancy, linking With native Fancy her fresh aid, Preserve thy heart from sinking! O, while they minister to thee, Each vying with the other, May Health return to mellow age, With Strength, her venturous brother, And Tiber, and each brook and rill Renowned in song and story, With unimagined beauty shine, Nor lose one ray of glory! For thou, upon a hundred streams, By tales of love and sorrow, Of faithful love, undaunted truth, Hast shed the power of Yarrow; And streams unknown, hills yet unseen, Wherever they invite thee, At parent Nature’s grateful call, With gladness must requite thee. A gracious welcome shall be thine, Such looks of love and honor As thy own Yarrow gave to me When first I gazed upon her; Beheld what I had feared to see, Unwilling to surrender Dreams treasured up from early days, The holy and the tender. And what, for this frail world, were all That mortals do or suffer, Did no responsive harp, no pen, Memorial tribute offer? Yea, what were mighty Nature’s self, Her features, could they win us, Unhelped by the poetic voice That hourly speaks within us? Nor deem that localized Romance Plays false with our affections; Unsanctifies our tears, made sport For fanciful dejections: Ah, no! the visions of the past Sustain the heart in feeling Life as she is,—our changeful life, With friends and kindred dealing. Bear witness, ye, whose thoughts that day In Yarrow’s groves were centred; Who through the silent portal arch Of mouldering Newark entered, And clomb the winding stair that once Too timidly was mounted By the “last Minstrel,” (not the last!) Ere he his Tale recounted. Flow on forever, Yarrow stream! Fulfil thy pensive duty, Well pleased that future bards should chant For simple hearts thy beauty; To dream-light dear while yet unseen, Dear to the common sunshine, And dearer still, as now I feel, To memory’s shadowy moonshine!
Poem Theme: Yarrow (Scotland)
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