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

William Wordsworth

374. Yarrow Visited

[September, 1814]

AND is this—Yarrow?—This the stream

Of which my fancy cherish’d

So faithfully, a waking dream,

An image that hath perish’d?

O that some minstrel’s harp were near

To utter notes of gladness

And chase this silence from the air,

That fills my heart with sadness.

Yet why?—a silvery current flows

With uncontroll’d meanderings;

Nor have these eyes by greener hills

Been soothed, in all my wanderings.

And, through her depths, Saint Mary’s Lake

Is visibly delighted;

For not a feature of those hills

Is in the mirror slighted.

A blue sky bends o’er Yarrow Vale,

Save where that pearly whiteness

Is round the rising sun diffused,

A tender hazy brightness;

Mild dawn of promise! that excludes

All profitless dejection;

Though not unwilling here to admit

A pensive recollection.

Where was it that the famous Flower

Of Yarrow Vale lay bleeding?

His bed perchance was yon smooth mound

On which the herd is feeding:

And haply from this crystal pool

Now peaceful as the morning,

The water-Wraith ascended thrice,

And gave his doleful warning.

Delicious is the Lay that sings

The haunts of happy lovers,

The path that leads them to the grove,

The leafy grove that covers:

And pity sanctifies the verse

That paints, by strength of sorrow,

The unconquerable strength of love;

Bear witness, rueful Yarrow!

But thou that didst appear so fair

To fond imagination

Dost rival in the light of day

Her delicate creation:

Meek loveliness is round thee spread,

A softness still and holy:

The grace of forest charms decay’d,

And pastoral melancholy.

That region left, the vale unfolds

Rich groves of lofty stature,

With Yarrow winding through the pomp

Of cultivated Nature;

And rising from those lofty groves

Behold a ruin hoary,

The shatter’d front of Newark’s Towers,

Renown’d in Border story.

Fair scenes for childhood’s opening bloom,

For sportive youth to stray in,

For manhood to enjoy his strength,

And age to wear away in!

Yon cottage seems a bower of bliss,

A covert for protection

Of studious ease and generous cares

And every chaste affection!

How sweet on this autumnal day

The wild-wood fruits to gather,

And on my true-love’s forehead plant

A crest of blooming heather!

And what if I enwreathed my own?

’Twere no offence to reason;

The sober hills thus deck their brows

To meet the wintry season.

I see—but not by sight alone,

Loved Yarrow, have I won thee;

A ray of Fancy still survives—

Her sunshine plays upon thee!

Thy ever-youthful waters keep

A course of lively pleasure;

And gladsome notes my lips can breathe

Accordant to the measure.

The vapours linger round the heights,

They melt, and soon must vanish;

One hour is theirs, nor more is mine—

Sad thought! which I would banish,

But that I know, where’er I go,

Thy genuine image, Yarrow!

Will dwell with me, to heighten joy

And cheer my mind in sorrow.