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LUCY GRAY

OR, SOLITUDE

          OFT I had heard of Lucy Gray:
          And, when I crossed the wild,
          I chanced to see at break of day
          The solitary child.

          No mate, no comrade Lucy knew;
          She dwelt on a wide moor,
          --The sweetest thing that ever grew
          Beside a human door!

          You yet may spy the fawn at play,
          The hare upon the green;                                    10
          But the sweet face of Lucy Gray
          Will never more be seen.

          "To-night will be a stormy night--
          You to the town must go;
          And take a lantern, Child, to light
          Your mother through the snow."

          "That, Father! will I gladly do:
          'Tis scarcely afternoon--
          The minster-clock has just struck two,
          And yonder is the moon!"                                    20

          At this the Father raised his hook,
          And snapped a faggot-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;                                   30
          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 day-break on a hill they stood
          That overlooked the moor;
          And thence they saw the bridge of wood,
          A furlong from their door.                                  40

          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 edge
          They tracked the footmarks small;
          And through the broken hawthorn hedge,
          And by the long stone-wall;

          And then an open field they crossed:
          The marks were still the same;                              50
          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.                                     60

          O'er rough and smooth she trips along,
          And never looks behind;
          And sings a solitary song
          That whistles in the wind.
                                                              1799.


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