Verse > William Wordsworth > Complete Poetical Works


          NOW when the primrose makes a splendid show,
          And lilies face the March-winds in full blow,
          And humbler growths as moved with one desire
          Put on, to welcome spring, their best attire,
          Poor Robin is yet flowerless; but how gay
          With his red stalks upon this sunny day!
          And, as his tufts of leaves he spreads, content
          With a hard bed and scanty nourishment,
          Mixed with the green, some shine not lacking power
          To rival summer's brightest scarlet flower;                 10
          And flowers they well might seem to passers-by
          If looked at only with a careless eye;
          Flowers--or a richer produce (did it suit
          The season) sprinklings of ripe strawberry fruit.
          But while a thousand pleasures come unsought,
          Why fix upon his wealth or want a thought?
          Is the string touched in prelude to a lay
          Of pretty fancies that would round him play
          When all the world acknowledged elfin sway?
          Or does it suit our humour to commend                       20
          Poor Robin as a sure and crafty friend,
          Whose practice teaches, spite of names to show
          Bright colours whether they deceive or no?--
          Nay, we would simply praise the free good-will
          With which, though slighted, he, on naked hill
          Or in warm valley, seeks his part to fill;
          Cheerful alike if bare of flowers as now,
          Or when his tiny gems shall deck his brow:
          Yet more, we wish that men by men despised,
          And such as lift their foreheads overprized,                30
          Should sometimes think, where'er they chance to spy
          This child of Nature's own humility,
          What recompence is kept in store or left
          For all that seem neglected or bereft;
          With what nice care equivalents are given,
          How just, how bountiful, the hand of Heaven.
                                                        March 1840.



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