Sunday Poetry – William Wordsworth

On the last Sunday morning in April, here’s a lovely, melancholy poem by Wordsworth, Two April Mornings. This is one of the poems that Wordsworth wrote when he was staying in Goslar in Germany in 1798-9 with his sister, Dorothy. It was apparently the coldest winter of the century & Wordsworth wrote lyrics about home to relieve his homesickness. In Juliet Barker’s biography of Wordsworth, she quotes a letter he wrote, “The people of the house used to say, rather unfeelingly, that they expected I should be frozen to death some night.” Instead of improving his German, he stayed wrapped up in blankets & his greatcoat, writing about his childhood.

We walked along, while bright and red
Uprose the morning sun;
And Matthew stopped, he looked, and said,
‘The will of God be done!’

A village schoolmaster was he,
With hair of glittering grey;
As blithe a man as yon could see
On a spring holiday.

And on that morning, through the grass,
And by the steaming rills,
We travelled merrily, to pass
A day among the hills.

‘Our work,’ said I, ‘was well begun,
Then, from thy breast what thought,
Beneath so beautiful a sun,
So sad a sigh has brought?’

A second time did Matthew stop;
And fixing still his eye
Upon the eastern mountain-top,
To me he made reply:

‘Yon cloud with that long purple cleft
Brings fresh into my mind
A day like this which I have left
Full thirty years behind.

‘And just above yon slope of corn
Such colours, and no other,
Were in the sky, that April morn,
Of this the very brother.

‘With rod and line I sued the sport
Which that sweet season gave,
And, to the church-yard come, stopped short
Beside my daughter’s grave.

‘Nine summers had she scarcely seen,
The pride of all the vale;
And then she sang;–she would have been

A very nightingale.

‘Six feet in earth my Emma lay;
And yet I loved her more,
For so it seemed, than till that day
I e’er had loved before.

‘And, turning from her grave, I met,
Beside the church-yard yew,
A blooming Girl, whose hair was wet
With points of morning dew.

‘A basket on her head she bare;
Her brow was smooth and white:
To see a child so very fair,
It was a pure delight!

‘No fountain from its rocky cave
E’er tripped with foot so free;
She seemed as happy as a wave
That dances on the sea.

‘There came from me a sigh of pain
Which I could ill confine;
I looked at her, and looked again:
And did not wish her mine!’

Matthew is in his grave, yet now,
Methinks, I see him stand,
As at that moment, with a bough
Of wilding in his hand.

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