Verse > Anthologies > Francis T. Palgrave, ed. > The Golden Treasury
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Francis T. Palgrave, ed. (1824–1897). The Golden Treasury.  1875.
 
W. Wordsworth
 
CCXIX. Simon Lee, the Old Huntsman
 
IN the sweet shire of Cardigan, 
Not far from pleasant Ivor Hall, 
An old man dwells, a little man— 
I've heard he once was tall. 
Full five-and-thirty years he lived         5
A running huntsman merry; 
And still the centre of his cheek 
Is red as a ripe cherry. 
  
No man like him the horn could sound, 
And hill and valley rang with glee  10
When Echo bandied, round and round, 
The halloo of Simon Lee. 
In those proud days he little cared 
For husbandry or tillage; 
To blither tasks did Simon rouse  15
The sleepers of the village. 
  
He all the country could outrun, 
Could leave both man and horse behind; 
And often, ere the chase was done, 
He reel'd and was stone-blind.  20
And still there's something in the world 
At which his heart rejoices; 
For when the chiming hounds are out, 
He dearly loves their voices. 
  
But oh, the heavy change!—bereft  25
Of health, strength, friends and kindred, see! 
Old Simon to the world is left 
In liveried poverty:— 
His master's dead, and no one now 
Dwells in the Hall of Ivor;  30
Men, dogs, and horses, all are dead— 
He is the sole survivor. 
  
And he is lean, and he is sick, 
His body, dwindled and awry, 
Rests upon ankles swoln and thick;  35
His legs are thin and dry. 
He has no son, he has no child; 
His wife, an aged woman, 
Lives with him, near the waterfall, 
Upon the village common.  40
  
Beside their moss-grown hut of clay, 
Not twenty paces from the door, 
A scrap of land they have, but they 
Are poorest of the poor. 
This scrap of land he from the heath  45
Enclosed when he was stronger; 
But what avails the land to them 
Which he can till no longer? 
  
Oft, working by her husband's side, 
Ruth does what Simon cannot do;  50
For she, with scanty cause for pride, 
Is stouter of the two. 
And though you with your utmost skill 
From labour could not wean them, 
'Tis little, very little, all  55
That they can do between them. 
  
Few months of life has he in store 
As he to you will tell, 
For still, the more he works, the more 
Do his weak ankles swell.  60
My gentle Reader, I perceive 
How patiently you've waited, 
And now I fear that you expect 
Some tale will be related. 
  
O Reader! had you in your mind  65
Such stores as silent thought can bring, 
O gentle Reader! you would find 
A tale in every thing. 
What more I have to say is short, 
And you must kindly take it.  70
It is no tale; but, should you think, 
Perhaps a tale you'll make it. 
  
One summer day I chanced to see 
This old man doing all he could 
To unearth the root of an old tree,  75
A stump of rotten wood. 
The mattock totter'd in his hand; 
So vain was his endeavour 
That at the root of the old tree 
He might have work'd for ever.  80
  
"You're overtask'd, good Simon Lee, 
Give me your tool," to him I said; 
And at the word right gladly he 
Received my proffer'd aid. 
I struck, and with a single blow  85
The tangled root I sever'd, 
At which the poor old man so long 
And vainly had endeavour'd. 
  
The tears into his eyes were brought, 
And thanks and praises seem'd to run  90
So fast out of his heart, I thought 
They never would have done.— 
I've heard of hearts unkind, kind deeds 
With coldness still returning; 
Alas! the gratitude of men  95
Has oftener left me mourning. 
 
 
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