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English Poetry II: From Collins to Fitzgerald.
The Harvard Classics. 1909–14.

William Wordsworth

373. Yarrow Unvisited


FROM Stirling Castle we had seen

The mazy Forth unravell’d,

Had trod the banks of Clyde and Tay,

And with the Tweed had travell’d;

And when we came to Clovenford,

Then said my ‘winsome Marrow,’

‘Whate’er betide, we’ll turn aside,

And see the Braes of Yarrow.’

‘Let Yarrow folk, frae Selkirk town,

Who have been buying, selling,

Go back to Yarrow, ’tis their own,

Each maiden to her dwelling!

On Yarrow’s banks let herons feed,

Hares couch, and rabbits burrow;

But we will downward with the Tweed,

Nor turn aside to Yarrow.

‘There’s Galla Water, Leader Haughs,

Both lying right before us;

And Dryburgh, where with chiming Tweed

The lintwhites sing in chorus;

There’s pleasant Teviotdale, a land

Made blythe with plough and harrow:

Why throw away a needful day

To go in search of Yarrow?

‘What’s Yarrow but a river bare

That glides the dark hills under?

There are a thousand such elsewhere

As worthy of your wonder.’

—Strange words they seem’d of slight and scorn;

My true-love sigh’d for sorrow,

And look’d me in the face, to think

I thus could speak of Yarrow!

‘O green,’ said I, ‘are Yarrow’s holms.

And sweet is Yarrow flowing!

Fair hangs the apple frae the rock,

But we will leave it growing.

O’er hilly path and open strath

We’ll wander Scotland thorough;

But, though so near, we will not turn

Into the dale of Yarrow.

‘Let beeves and home-bred kine partake

The sweets of Burn-mill meadow;

The swan on still Saint Mary’s Lake

Float double, swan and shadow!

We will not see them; will not go

To-day, nor yet to-morrow;

Enough if in our hearts we know

There’s such a place as Yarrow.

‘Be Yarrow stream unseen, unknown;

It must, or we shall rue it:

We have a vision of our own,

Ah! why should we undo it?

The treasured dreams of times long past,

We’ll keep them, winsome Marrow!

For when we’re there, although ’tis fair,

’Twill be another Yarrow!

‘If care with freezing years should come

And wandering seem but folly,—

Should we be loth to stir from home,

And yet be melancholy;

Should life be dull, and spirits low,

’Twill soothe us in our sorrow

That earth has something yet to show,

The bonny holms of Yarrow!’