Poems (Wordsworth, 1815)/Volume 1/There was a Boy

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POEMS

OF THE IMAGINATION.




I.



There was a Boy; ye knew him well, ye Cliffs
And Islands of Winander!—many a time,
At evening, when the earliest stars began
To move along the edges of the hills,
Rising or setting, would he stand alone,
Beneath the trees, or by the glimmering lake;
And there, with fingers interwoven, both hands
Pressed closely palm to palm and to his mouth
Uplifted, he, as through an instrument,
Blew mimic hootings to the silent owls
That they might answer him.—And they would shout
Across the watery vale, and shout again
Responsive to his call,—with quivering peals,
And long halloos, and screams, and echoes loud
Redoubled and redoubled; concourse wild
Of mirth and jocund din! And, when it chanced
That pauses of deep silence mocked his skill,
Then, sometimes, in that silence, while he hung
Listening, a gentle shock of mild surprise
Has carried far into his heart the voice
Of mountain torrents; or the visible scene
Would enter unawares into his mind
With all its solemn imagery, its rocks,
Its woods, and that uncertain heaven, received
Into the bosom of the steady lake.


This Boy was taken from his Mates, and died
In childhood, ere he was full twelve years old.
Fair are the woods, and beauteous is the spot,
The Vale where he was born: the Church-yard hangs
Upon a slope above the village-school;
And there, along that bank, when I have passed
At evening, I believe, that oftentimes
A long half-hour together I have stood
Mute—looking at the grave in which he lies!