Verse > William Wordsworth > Complete Poetical Works
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THERE WAS A BOY

 THERE was a Boy; ye knew him well, ye cliffs And islands of Winander!--many a time, At evening, when the earliest stars began To move along the edges of the hills, Rising or setting, would he stand alone, Beneath the trees, or by the glimmering lake; And there, with fingers interwoven, both hands Pressed closely palm to palm and to his mouth Uplifted, he, as through an instrument, Blew mimic hootings to the silent owls, 10 That they might answer him.--And they would shout Across the watery vale, and shout again, Responsive to his call,--with quivering peals, And long halloos, and screams, and echoes loud Redoubled and redoubled; concourse wild Of jocund din! And, when there came a pause Of silence such as baffled his best skill: Then, sometimes, in that silence, while he hung Listening, a gentle shock of mild surprise Has carried far into his heart the voice 20 Of mountain-torrents; or the visible scene Would enter unawares into his mind With all its solemn imagery, its rocks, Its woods, and that uncertain heaven received Into the bosom of the steady lake. This boy was taken from his mates, and died In childhood, ere he was full twelve years old. Pre-eminent in beauty is the vale Where he was born and bred: the churchyard hangs Upon a slope above the village-school; 30 And, through that church-yard when my way has led On summer-evenings, I believe, that there A long half-hour together I have stood Mute--looking at the grave in which he lies! 1799. 


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