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

William Wordsworth

395. Lucy


STRANGE fits of passion have I known:

And I will dare to tell,

But in the lover’s ear alone,

What once to me befell.

When she I loved look’d every day

Fresh as a rose in June,

I to her cottage bent my way,

Beneath an evening moon.

Upon the moon I fix’d my eye,

All over the wide lea;

With quickening pace my horse drew nigh

Those paths so dear to me.

And now we reach’d the orchard-plot;

And, as we climb’d the hill,

The sinking moon to Lucy’s cot

Came near and nearer still.

In one of those sweet dreams I slept,

Kind Nature’s gentlest boon!

And all the while my eyes I kept

On the descending moon.

My horse moved on; hoof after hoof

He raised, and never stopp’d:

When down behind the cottage roof,

At once, the bright moon dropp’d.

What fond and wayward thoughts will slide

Into a lover’s head!

‘O mercy!’ to myself I cried,

‘If Lucy should be dead!’


She dwelt among the untrodden ways

Beside the springs of Dove;

A maid whom there were none to praise,

And very few to love.

A violet by a mossy stone

Half-hidden from the eye!

—Fair as a star, when only one

Is shining in the sky.

She lived unknown, and few could know

When Lucy ceased to be;

But she is in her grave, and, O!

The difference to me!


I travell’d among unknown men

In lands beyond the sea;

Nor, England! did I know till then

What love I bore to thee.

’Tis past, that melancholy dream!

Nor will I quit thy shore

A second time, for still I seem

To love thee more and more.

Among thy mountains did I feel

The joy of my desire;

And she I cherish’d turn’d her wheel

Beside an English fire.

Thy mornings show’d, thy nights conceal’d

The bowers where Lucy play’d;

And thine too is the last green field

That Lucy’s eyes survey’d.


Three years she grew in sun and shower;

Then Nature said, ‘A lovelier flower

On earth was never sown:

This child I to myself will take;

She shall be mine, and I will make

A lady of my own.

‘Myself will to my darling be

Both law and impulse: and with me

The girl, in rock and plain,

In earth and heaven, in glade and bower,

Shall feel an overseeing power

To kindle or restrain.

‘She shall be sportive as the fawn

That wild with glee across the lawn

Or up the mountain springs;

And her’s shall be the breathing balm,

And her’s the silence and the calm

Of mute insensate things.

‘The floating clouds their state shall lend

To her; for her the willow bend;

Nor shall she fail to see

E’en in the motions of the storm

Grace that shall mould the maiden’s form

By silent sympathy.

‘The stars of midnight shall be dear

To her; and she shall lean her ear

In many a secret place

Where rivulets dance their wayward round,

And beauty born of murmuring sound

Shall pass into her face.

‘And vital feelings of delight

Shall rear her form to stately height,

Her virgin bosom swell;

Such thoughts to Lucy I will give

Where she and I together live

Here in this happy dell.’

Thus Nature spake—The work was done—

How soon my Lucy’s race was run!

She died, and left to me

This heath, this calm and quiet scene;

The memory of what has been,

And never more will be.


A slumber did my spirit seal;

I had no human fears:

She seem’d a thing that could not feel

The touch of earthly years.

No motion has she now, no force;

She neither hears nor sees;

Roll’d round in earth’s diurnal course

With rocks, and stones, and trees.