Verse > Anthologies > Francis T. Palgrave, ed. > The Golden Treasury
Francis T. Palgrave, ed. (1824–1897). The Golden Treasury.  1875.
W. Wordsworth
CCLXXXII. The Fountain
A Conversation.
WE talk'd with open heart, and tongue 
  Affectionate and true— 
A pair of friends, though I was young, 
  And Matthew seventy-two. 
We lay beneath a spreading oak,         5
  Beside a mossy seat; 
And from the turf a fountain broke 
  And gurgled at our feet. 
"Now, Matthew," said I, "let us match 
  This water's pleasant tune  10
With some old border-song, or catch 
  That suits a summer's noon; 
"Or of the church-clock and the chimes 
  Sing here beneath the shade 
That half-mad thing of witty rhymes  15
  Which you last April made!" 
In silence Matthew lay, and eyed 
  The spring beneath the tree; 
And thus the dear old man replied, 
  The gray-hair'd man of glee:  20
"No check, no stay this streamlet fears, 
  How merrily it goes! 
'Twill murmur on a thousand years, 
  And flow as now it flows. 
"And here, on this delightful day,  25
  I cannot choose but think 
How oft, a vigorous man, I lay 
  Beside this fountain's brink. 
"My eyes are dim with childish tears, 
  My heart is idly stirr'd,  30
For the same sound is in my ears 
  Which in those days I heard. 
"Thus fares it still in our decay: 
  And yet the wiser mind 
Mourns less for what age takes away,  35
  Than what it leaves behind. 
"The blackbird amid leafy trees, 
  The lark above the hill, 
Let loose their carols when they please, 
  Are quiet when they will.  40
"With Nature never do they wage 
  A foolish strife; they see 
A happy youth, and their old age 
  Is beautiful and free. 
"But we are press'd by heavy laws;  45
  And often, glad no more, 
We wear a face of joy, because 
  We have been glad of yore. 
"If there be one who need bemoan 
  His kindred laid in earth,  50
The household hearts that were his own,— 
  It is the man of mirth. 
"My days, my friend, are almost gone, 
  My life has been approved, 
And many love me; but by none  55
  Am I enough beloved." 
"Now both himself and me he wrongs, 
  The man who thus complains! 
I live and sing my idle songs 
  Upon these happy plains:  60
"And, Matthew, for thy children dead, 
  I'll be a son to thee!" 
At this he grasp'd my hand and said, 
  "Alas, that cannot be!" 
We rose up from the fountain-side,  65
  And down the smooth descent 
Of the green sheep-track did we glide, 
  And through the wood we went; 
And ere we came to Leonard's Rock 
  He sang those witty rhymes  70
About the crazy old church-clock, 
  And the bewilder'd chimes. 

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