Verse > William Wordsworth > Complete Poetical Works



          AGE! twine thy brows with fresh spring flowers,
          And call a train of laughing Hours;
          And bid them dance, and bid them sing;
          And thou, too, mingle in the ring!
          Take to thy heart a new delight;
          If not, make merry in despite
          That there is One who scorns thy power:--
          But dance! for under Jedborough Tower,
          A Matron dwells who, though she bears
          The weight of more than seventy years,
          Lives in the light of youthful glee,                        10
          And she will dance and sing with thee.
            Nay! start not at that Figure--there!
          Him who is rooted to his chair!
          Look at him--look again! for he
          Hath long been of thy family.
          With legs that move not, if they can,
          And useless arms, a trunk of man,
          He sits, and with a vacant eye;
          A sight to make a stranger sigh!
          Deaf, drooping, that is now his doom:                       20
          His world is in this single room:
          Is this a place for mirthful cheer?
          Can merry-making enter here?
            The joyous Woman is the Mate
          Of him in that forlorn estate!
          He breathes a subterraneous damp;
          But bright as Vesper shines her lamp:
          He is as mute as Jedborough Tower:
          She jocund as it was of yore,
          With all its bravery on; in times                           30
          When all alive with merry chimes,
          Upon a sun-bright morn of May,
          It roused the Vale to holiday.
            I praise thee, Matron! and thy due
          Is praise, heroic praise, and true!
          With admiration I behold
          Thy gladness unsubdued and bold:
          Thy looks, thy gestures, all present
          The picture of a life well spent:
          This do I see; and something more;                          40
          A strength unthought of heretofore!
          Delighted am I for thy sake;
          And yet a higher joy partake:
          Our Human-nature throws away
          Its second twilight, and looks gay;
          A land of promise and of pride
          Unfolding, wide as life is wide.
            Ah! see her helpless Charge! enclosed
          Within himself it seems, composed;
          To fear of loss, and hope of gain,                          50
          The strife of happiness and pain,
          Utterly dead! yet in the guise
          Of little infants, when their eyes
          Begin to follow to and fro
          The persons that before them go,
          He tracks her motions, quick or slow,
          Her buoyant spirit can prevail
          Where common cheerfulness would fail;
          She strikes upon him with the heat
          Of July suns; he feels it sweet;                            60
          An animal delight though dim!
          'Tis all that now remains for him!
            The more I looked, I wondered more--
          And, while I scanned them o'er and o'er,
          Some inward trouble suddenly
          Broke from the Matron's strong black eye--
          A remnant of uneasy light,
          A flash of something over-bright!
          Nor long this mystery did detain
          My thoughts;--she told in pensive strain                    70
          That she had borne a heavy yoke,
          Been stricken by a twofold stroke;
          Ill health of body; and had pined
          Beneath worse ailments of the mind.
            So be it!--but let praise ascend
          To Him who is our lord and friend!
          Who from disease and suffering
          Hath called for thee a second spring;
          Repaid thee for that sore distress
          By no untimely joyousness;                                  80
          Which makes of thine a blissful state;
          And cheers thy melancholy Mate!



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