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

William Wordsworth

375. Yarrow Revisited

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 cordial 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 Tiviot

For mild Sorrento’s breezy waves;

May classic Fancy, linking

With native Fancy her fresh aid,

Preserve thy heart from sinking!

Oh! 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 honour

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 enter’d;

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 for ever, 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!