Lyrical Ballads, with other poems, by William Wordsworth

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,

Beside a mossy seat,

And from the turf a fountain broke,

And gurgled at our feet.

Now, Matthew, let us try to match

This water’s pleasant tune

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

Which you last April made!

On silence Matthew lay, and eyed

The spring beneath the tree;

And thus the dear old Man replied,

The grey-hair’d Man of glee.

“Down to the vale this water steers,

How merrily it goes!

Twill murmur on a thousand years,

And flow as now it flows.”

And here, on this delightful day,

I cannot chuse 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,

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

Than what it leaves behind.

The blackbird in the summer trees,

The lark upon the hill,

Let loose their carols when they please,

Are quiet when they will.

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,

And often, glad no more,

We wear a face of joy, because

We have been glad of yore.

If there is one who need bemoan

His kindred laid in earth,

The houshold hearts that were his own,

It is the man of mirth.

“My days, my Friend, are almost gone,

My life has been approv’d,

And many love me, but by none

Am I enough belov’d.”

“Now both himself and me he wrongs,

The man who thus complains!

I live and sing my idle songs

Upon these happy plains,”

“And, Matthew, for thy Children dead

I’ll be a son to thee!”

At this he grasp’d his hands, and said,

“Alas! that cannot be.”

We rose up from the fountain-side,

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

About the crazy old church-clock

And the bewilder’d chimes.

Last updated Sunday, March 27, 2016 at 12:02