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Majestic in her person, tall and straight;

And like a Roman matron's was her mien and gait.

The ancient spirit is not dead;

Old times, thought I, are breathing there;
Proud was I that my country bred

Such strength, a dignity so fair:

She begged an alms, like one in poor estate; I looked at her again, nor did my pride abate.

When from these lofty thoughts I woke, "What is it," said I, "that you bear, Beneath the covert of your cloak,

Protected from this cold damp air ?”

She answered, soon as she the question heard, "A simple burthen, Sir, a little singing-bird."

And, thus continuing, she said,
"I had a son, who many a day
Sailed on the seas, but he is dead;
In Denmark he was cast away:

And I have travelled weary miles to see

If aught which he had owned might still remain for


"The bird and cage they both were his : 'Twas my son's bird; and neat and trim He kept it many voyages

The singing-bird had gone with him;

When last he sailed, he left the bird behind; From bodings, as might be, that hung upon his mind.

"He to a fellow-lodger's care

Had left it, to be watched and fed,
And pipe its song in safety; there
I found it when my son was dead;

And now, God help me for my little wit!

I bear it with me, Sir; he took so much delight in it."



IF from the public way you turn your steps
Up the tumultuous brook of Green-head Ghyll,
You will suppose that with an upright path
Your feet must struggle; in such bold ascent
The pastoral mountains front you, face to face.
But, courage! for around that boisterous brook
The mountains have all opened out themselves,
And made a hidden valley of their own.
No habitation can be seen; but they
Who journey thither find themselves alone
With a few sheep, with rocks and stones, and kites
That overhead are sailing in the sky.

It is in truth an utter solitude;

Nor should I have made mention of this dell
But for one object which you might pass by,
Might see and notice not. Beside the brook
Appears a straggling heap of unhewn stones!
And to that simple object appertains
A story, unenriched with strange events,
Yet not unfit, I deem, for the fire-side,
Or for the summer shade. It was the first
Of those domestic tales that spake to me
Of shepherds, dwellers in the valleys, men
Whom I already loved ;-not verily

For their own sakes, but for the fields and hills
Where was their occupation and abode.
And hence this tale, while I was yet a boy
Careless of books, yet having felt the power
Of Nature, by the gentle agency

Of natural objects, led me on to feel

For passions that were not my own, and think
(At random and imperfectly indeed)

On man, the heart of man, and human life.
Therefore, although it be a history

Homely and rude, I will relate the same

For the delight of a few natural hearts;
And, with yet fonder feeling, for the sake
Of youthful poets, who among these hills
Will be my second self when I am gone.

UPON the forest-side in Grasmere vale
There dwelt a shepherd, Michael was his name;
An old man, stout of heart, and strong of limb.
His bodily frame had been from youth to age
Of an unusual strength: his mind was keen,
Intense, and frugal, apt for all affairs,

And in his shepherd's calling he was prompt
And watchful more than ordinary men.
Hence had he learned the meaning of all winds,
Of blasts of every tone; and oftentimes,
When others heeded not, he heard the South
Make subterraneous music, like the noise
Of bagpipes on distant Highland hills.

The shepherd, at such warning, of his flock
Bethought him, and he to himself would say,
"The winds are now devising work for me!"
And, truly, at all times, the storm, that drives
The traveller to a shelter, summoned him
Up to the mountains: he had been alone
Amid the heart of many thousand mists,
That came to him, and left him, on the heights.
So lived he till his eightieth year was past.
And grossly that man errs, who should suppose
That the green valleys, and the streams and rocks,
Were things indifferent to the shepherd's thoughts.
Fields, where with cheerful spirits he had breathed
The common air; hills, which with vigorous step
He had so often climbed; which had impressed
So many incidents upon his mind

Of hardship, skill or courage, joy or fear;
Which, like a book, preserved the memory
Of the dumb animals, whom he had saved,
Had fed or sheltered, linking to such acts
The certainty of honourable gain;

Those fields, those hills, what could they less? had laid

Strong hold on his affections, were to him
A pleasurable feeling of blind love,
The pleasure which there is in life itself.

His days had not been passed in singleness.
His helpmate was a comely matron, old,
Though younger than himself full twenty years.
She was a woman of a stirring life,

Whose heart was in her house: two wheels she had
Of antique form; this large, for spinning wool ;
That small, for flax; and, if one wheel had rest,
It was because the other was at work.

The pair had but one inmate in their house,
An only child, who had been born to them
When Michael, telling o'er his years, began
To deem that he was old,-in shepherd's phrase,
With one foot in the grave.
This only son,

With two brave sheep-dogs tried in many a storm,
The one of an inestimable worth,

Made all their household.

I may truly say,

That they were as a proverb in the vale

For endless industry. When day was gone,
And from their occupations out of doors

The son and father were come home, even then,
Their labour did not cease; unless when all
Turned to the cleanly supper-board, and there,
Each with a mess of pottage and skimmed milk,
Sat round the basket piled with oaten cakes,

And their plain home-made cheese. Yet when the meal

Was ended, Luke (for so the son was named)
And his old father both betook themselves
To such convenient work as might employ
Their hands by the fire-side; perhaps to card
Wool for the housewife's spindle, or repair
Some injury done to sickle, flail, or scythe,
Or other implement of house or field.

Down from the ceiling, by the chimney's edge,
That in our ancient uncouth country style

With huge and black projection overbrowed
Large space beneath, as duly as the light
Of day grew dim the housewife hung a lamp;
An aged utensil, which had performed
Service beyond all others of its kind.
Early at evening did it burn-and late,
Surviving comrade of uncounted hours,
Which, going by from year to year, had found,
And left, the couple neither gay perhaps

Nor cheerful, yet with objects and with hopes,
Living a life of eager industry.

And now, when Luke had reached his eighteenth


There by the light of this old lamp they sate,
Father and son, while far into the night
The housewife plied her own peculiar work,
Making the cottage through the silent hours
Murmur as with the sound of summer flies.
This light was famous in its neighbourhood,
And was a public symbol of the life

That thrifty pair had lived. For, as it chanced,
Their cottage on a plot of rising ground

Stood single, with large prospect, north and south,
High into Easedale, up to Dunmail-Raise,
And westward to the village near the lake;
And from this constant light, so regular,
And so far seen, the house itself, by all
Who dwelt within the limits of the vale,

Both old and young, was named THE EVENING

Thus living on through such a length of years,
The shepherd if he loved himself, must needs
Have loved his helpmate; but to Michael's heart
This son of his old age was yet more dear,
Less from instinctive tenderness, the same
Fond spirit that blindly works in the blood of all,
Than that a child, more than all other gifts
That earth can offer to declining man,

Brings hope with it, and forward-looking thoughts,

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