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Written at Goslar in Germany. It was founded on a circumstance told me by my Sister, of a little girl who, not far from Halifax in Yorkshire, was bewildered in a snow-storm. Her footsteps were traced by her parents to the middle of the lock of a canal, and no other vestige of her, The backward or forward, could be traced. body however was found in the canal. The way in which the incident was treated and the spiritualizing of the character might furnish hints for contrasting the imaginative influences which I have endeavored to throw over common life with Crabbe's matter of fact style of treating subjects of the same kind. This is not spoken to his disparagement, far from it, but to direct the attention of thoughtful readers, into whose hands these notes may fall, to a comparison that may both enlarge the circle of their sensibilities, and tend to produce in them a catholic judg ment. (Wordsworth.)

See also Henry Crabb Robinson's Diary, Sept. 11, 1816.

1799. 1800.

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At this the Father raised his hook,
And snapped a fagot band;
He plied his work ;-and Lucy took
The lantern in her hand.

Not blither is the mountain roe:
With many a wanton stroke
Her feet disperse the powdery snow,
That rises up like smoke.

The storm came on before its time:
She wandered up and down;
And many a hill did Lucy climb:
But never reached the town.

The wretched parents all that night
Went shouting far and wide;
But there was neither sound nor sight
To serve them for a guide.

At daybreak on the hill they stood
That overlooked the moor;
And thence they saw the bridge of wood,
A furlong from their door.

They wept-and, turning homeward, cried,

In heaven we all shall meet ;" -When in the snow the mother spied 'The print of Lucy's feet.

Then downwards from the steep hill's
They tracked the footmarks small;
And through the broken



And by the long stone-wall;

And then an open field they crossed:
The marks were still the same;
They tracked them on, nor ever lost;
And to the bridge they came.

They followed from the snowy bank
Those footmarks, one by one,
Into the middle of the plank;
And further there were none !

-Yet some maintain that to this day She is a living child;

That you may see sweet Lucy Gray Upon the lonesome wild.

D'er rough and smooth she trips along,
And never looks behind;
And sings a solitary song
That whistles in the wind.

1799. 1800.



Written at Town-end, Grasmere, about the same time as "The Brothers." The Sheepfold, on which so much of the poem turns, remains, or rather the ruins of it. The character and circumstances of Luke were taken from a family to whom had belonged, many years before, the house we lived in at Town end, along with some fields and woodlands on the eastern shore of Grasmere. The name of the Evening Star was not in fact given to this house, but to another on the same side of the valley, more to the north. (Wordsworth.)

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He had so often climbed; which had impressed

So many incidents upon his mind Of hardship, skill or courage, joy or fear;

Which, like a book, preserved the memory

Of the dumb animals, whom he had saved,

Had fed or sheltered, linking to such acts

The certainty of honorable gain ; Those fields, those hills-what could they less? had laid

Strong hold on his affections, were to him

A pleasurable feeling of blind love,
The pleasure which there is in life itself.
His days had not been passed in sin-

His Helpmate was a comely matron,
Though younger than himself full twenty

She was a woman of a stirring life, Whose heart was in her house: two wheels she had

Of antique form: this large, for spinning wool;

That small, for flax; and if one wheel had rest

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There, while they two were sitting in the shade,

With others round them, earnest all and blithe,

Would Michael exercise his heart with looks

Of fond correction and reproof bestowed Upon the Child, if he disturbed the sheep

By catching at their legs, or with his shouts

Scared them, while they lay still beneath the shears.

And when by Heaven's good grace the boy grew up

A healthy Lad, and carried in his cheek Two steady roses that were five years old;

Then Michael from a winter coppice cut With his own hand a sapling, which he hooped

With iron, making it throughout in all Due requisites a perfect shepherd's staff, And gave it to the Boy; wherewith equipt

He as a watchman oftentimes was placed

At gate or gap, to stem or turn the flock;

And, to his office prematurely called, There stood the urchin, as you will divine, Something between a hindrance and a help;

And for this cause not always, I believe, Receiving from his Father hire of praise ; Though nought was left undone which staff, or voice,

Or looks, or threatening gestures, could perform.

But soon as Luke, full ten years old, could stand

Against the mountain blasts; and to the heights,

Not fearing toil, nor length of weary


He with his Father daily went, and they Were as companions, why should I relate That objects which the Shepherd loved before

Were dearer now? that from the Boy there came Feelings and emanations-things which


Light to the sun and music to the wind;
And that the old Man's heart seemed born
Thus in his Father's sight the Boy grew


And now, when he had reached his eighteenth year,

He was his comfort and his daily hope. While in this sort the simple household lived

From day to day, to Michael's ear there


Distressful tidings. Long before the time

Of which I speak, the Shepherd had been bound

In surety for his brother's son, a man
Of an industrious life, and ample means;
But unforeseen misfortunes suddenly
Had prest upon him; and old Michael


Was summoned to discharge the forfeit


A grievous penalty, but little less Than half his substance. This unlooked. for claim,

At the first hearing, for a moment took More hope out of his life than he supposed

That any old man ever could have lost.

As soon as he had armed himself with strength

To look his trouble in the face, it seemed The Shepherd's sole resource to sell at


A portion of his patrimonial fields. Such was his first resolve; he thought again, And his heart failed him. "Isabel," said he,

Two evenings after he had heard the news, "I have been toiling more than seventy years,

And in the open sunshine of God's love Have we all lived; yet if these fields of


Should pass into a stranger's hand, I think

That I could not lie quiet in my grave.
Our lot is a hard lot; the sun himself
Has scarcely been more diligent than I ;
And I have lived to be a fool at last
To my own family. An evil man
That was, and made an evil choice, if he
Were false to us; and if he were not

There are ten thousand to whom loss like this

Had been no sorrow. I forgive him ;— but "Twere better to be dumb than to talk thus.

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