Page images

She sat like one past all relief ;

Sob after sob she forth did send In wretchedness, as if her grief

Could never, never have an end.

“ My child, in Durham do you dwell ?"

She checked herself in her distress, And said, “My name is Alice Fell;

I'm fatherless and motherless.

“And I to Durham, sir, belong :"

Again, as if the thought would choke Her very heart, her grief grew strong :

And all was for her tattered cloak!

The chaise drove on, our journey's end

Was nigh ; and sitting by my side, As if she had lost her only friend,

She wept, nor would be pacified.

Up to the tavern-door we post;

Of Alice and her grief I told, And I gave money to the host,

To buy a new cloak for the old.

And let it be of duffil gray,

As warm a cloak as man can sell!” Proud creature was she the next day, The little orphan, Alice Fell !



Where art thou, my beloved son,

Where art thou, worse to me than dead ? Oh, find me, prosperous or undone!

Or, if the grave be now thy bed, Why am I ignorant of the same, That I may rest : and neither blame Nor sorrow may attend thy name?

Seven years, alas ! to have received

No tidings of an only child ;
To have despaired, have hoped, believed,

And been for evermore beguiled ;
Sometimes with thoughts of very bliss !
I catch at them, and then I miss ;
Was ever darkness like to this?

He was among the prime in worth,

An object beauteous to behold;
Well born, well bred : I sent him forth

Ingenuous, innocent, and bold:
If things ensued that wanted grace,
As hath been said, they were not base;
And never blush was on my face.

Ah ! little doth the young one dream,

When full of play and childish cares, What power is in his wildest scream,

Heard by his mother unawares ! He knows it not, he cannot guess; Years to a mother bring distress; But do not make her love the less,

Neglect me! no, I suffered long

From that ill thought; and, being blind, Said, “Pride shall help me in my wrong;

Kind mother have I been, as kind As ever breathed :' and that is true; I've wet my path with tears like dew, Weeping for him when no one knew.

My son, if thou be humbled, poor,

Hopeless of honour and of gain,
Oh, do not dread thy mother's door;

Think not of me with grief and pain ;
I now can see with better eyes ;
And worldly grandeur I despise,
And fortune with her gifts and lies.

Alas! the fowls of heaven have wings,

And blasts of heaven will aid their flight; They mount-how short a voyage brings

The wanderers back to their delight !

Chains tie me down by land and sea ;
And wishes, vain as mine, may be,
All that is left to comfort thee.

[ocr errors]

Perhaps some dungeon hears the groan,

Maimed, mangled by inhuman men ;
Or thou upon a desert thrown

Inheritest the lion's den ;
Or hast been summoned to the deep,
Thou, thou and all thy mates, to keep
An incommunicable sleep.

I look for ghosts; but none will force

Their way to me ;—'tis falsely said
That there was ever intercourse

Between the living and the dead;
For, surely, then I should have sight
Of him I wait for day and night,
With love and longings infinite.

My apprehensions come in crowds ;

I dread the rustling of the grass :
The very shadows of the clouds

Have power to shake me as they pass ;
I question things, and do not find
One that will answer to my mind;
And all the world appears unkind.

Beyond participation lie

My troubles, and beyond relief : If any chance to heave a sigh,

They pity me, and not my grief. Then come to me, my son, or send Some tidings that my woes may end : I have no other earthly friend !


The days are cold, the nights are long,
The north-wind sings a doleful song ;
Then hush again upon my breast;
All merry things are now at rest,

Save thee, my pretty Love !

The kitten sleeps upon the hearth;
The crickets long have ceased their mirth;
There's nothing stirring in the house
Save one wee, hungry, nibbling mouse.

Then why so busy thou ?

Nay!.start not at that sparkling light;
'Tis but the moon that shines so bright
On the window-pane bedropped with rain :
Then, little Darling ! sleep again,
And wake when it is day!

By a female friend of Wordsworth.

« PreviousContinue »