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William Stanley Braithwaite, ed. The Book of Georgian Verse. 1909.

To a Highland Girl

William Wordsworth (1770–1850)

SWEET Highland Girl, a very shower

Of beauty is thy earthly dower!

Twice seven consenting years have shed

Their utmost bounty on thy head:

And these grey rocks; that household lawn;

Those trees, a veil just half withdrawn;

This fall of water that doth make

A murmur near the silent lake;

This little bay; a quiet road

That holds in shelter thy Abode—

In truth together do ye seem

Like something fashioned in a dream;

Such Forms as from their covert peep

When earthly cares are laid asleep!

But, O fair Creature! in the light

Of common day, so heavenly bright,

I bless Thee, Vision as thou art,

I bless thee with a human heart;

God shield thee to thy latest years!

Thee, neither know I, nor thy peers;

And yet my eyes are filled with tears.

With earnest feeling I shall pray

For thee when I am far away:

For never saw I mien, or face,

In which more plainly I could trace

Benignity and home-bred sense

Ripening in perfect innocence.

Here scattered, like a random seed,

Remote from men, Thou dost not need

The embarrassed look of shy distress,

And maidenly shamefacedness:

Thou wear’st upon thy forehead clear

The freedom of a Mountaineer:

A face with gladness overspread!

Soft smiles, by human kindness bred!

And seemliness complete, that sways

Thy courtesies, about thee plays;

With no restraint, but such as springs

From quick and eager visitings

Of thoughts that lie beyond the reach

Of thy few words of English speech:

A bondage sweetly brooked, a strife

That gives thy gestures grace and life!

So have I, not unmoved in mind,

Seen birds of tempest-loving kind,

Thus beating up against the wind.

What hand but would a garland cull

For thee who art so beautiful?

O happy pleasure! here to dwell

Beside thee in some heathy dell;

Adopt your homely ways, and dress,

A Shepherd, thou a Shepherdess!

But I could frame a wish for thee

More like a grave reality:

Thou art to me but as a wave

Of the wild sea; and I would have

Some claim upon thee, if I could,

Though but of common neighbourhood,

What joy to hear thee, and to see!

Thy elder Brother I would be,

Thy Father—anything to thee!

Now thanks to Heaven! that of its grace

Hath led me to this lonely place.

Joy have I had; and going hence

I bear away my recompence.

In spots like these it is we prize

Our Memory, feel that she hath eyes:

Then, why should I be loth to stir?

I feel this place was made for her;

To give new pleasure like the past,

Continued long as life shall last.

Nor am I loth, though pleased at heart,

Sweet Highland Girl! from thee to part;

For I, methinks, till I grow old,

As fair before me shall behold,

As I do now, the Cabin small,

The Lake, the Bay, the Waterfall;

And Thee, the Spirit of them all!