Verse > William Wordsworth > Complete Poetical Works
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THE WIDOW ON WINDERMERE SIDE

                                   I

          HOW beautiful when up a lofty height
          Honour ascends among the humblest poor,
          And feeling sinks as deep! See there the door
          Of One, a Widow, left beneath a weight
          Of blameless debt. On evil Fortune's spite
          She wasted no complaint, but strove to make
          A just repayment, both for conscience-sake
          And that herself and hers should stand upright
          In the world's eye. Her work when daylight failed
          Paused not, and through the depth of night she kept
          Such earnest vigils, that belief prevailed
          With some, the noble Creature never slept;
          But, one by one, the hand of death assailed
          Her children from her inmost heart bewept.

                                   II

          The Mother mourned, nor ceased her tears to flow,
          Till a winter's noonday placed her buried Son
          Before her eyes, last child of many gone--
          His raiment of angelic white, and lo!
          His very feet bright as the dazzling snow
          Which they are touching; yea far brighter, even
          As that which comes, or seems to come, from heaven,
          Surpasses aught these elements can show.
          Much she rejoiced, trusting that from that hour
          Whate'er befell she could not grieve or pine;
          But the Transfigured, in and out of season,
          Appeared, and spiritual presence gained a power
          Over material forms that mastered reason.
          Oh, gracious Heaven, in pity make her thine!

                                  III

          But why that prayer? as if to her could come
          No good but by the way that leads to bliss
          Through Death,--so judging we should judge amiss.
          Since reason failed want is her threatened doom,
          Yet frequent transports mitigate the gloom:
          Nor of those maniacs is she one that kiss
          The air or laugh upon a precipice;
          No, passing through strange sufferings toward the tomb
          She smiles as if a martyr's crown were won:
          Oft, when light breaks through clouds or waving trees,
          With outspread arms and fallen upon her knees
          The Mother hails in her descending Son
          An Angel, and in earthly ecstasies
          Her own angelic glory seems begun.
                                                              1842.


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