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William Wordsworth - Yarrow River
William Wordsworth

William Wordsworth  (1770 - 1850)
Portrait by William Shuter (1798)

Romantic poems

Yarrow Unvisited


Yarrow Revisited

The things of reality are far more beautiful
than things of imagination.


  Yarrow Unvisited

From Stirling castle we had seen
The mazy Forth unravelled;
Had trod the banks of Clyde, and Tay,
And with the Tweed had travelled;
And when we came to Clovenford,
Then said my "winsome Marrow ,"
"Whate'er betide, we'll turn aside,
And see the Braes of Yarrow."

"Let Yarrow folk, frae Selkirk town,
Who have been buying, selling,
Go back to Yarrow, 'tis their own;
Each maiden to her dwelling!
On Yarrow's banks let her herons feed,
Hares couch, and rabbits burrow!
But we will downward with the Tweed
Nor turn aside to Yarrow.

"There's Galla Water, Leader Haughs,
Both lying right before us;
And Dryborough, where with chiming Tweed
The lintwhites sing in chorus;
There's pleasant Tiviot-dale, a land
Made blithe with plough and harrow:
Why throw away a needful day
To go in search of Yarrow?

"What's Yarrow but a river bare,
That glides the dark hills under?
There are a thousand such elsewhere
As worthy of your wonder."
—Strange words they seemed of slight and scorn;
My True-love sighed for sorrow;
And looked me in the face, to think
I thus could speak of Yarrow!

"Oh! green," said I, "are Yarrow's holms,
And sweet is Yarrow flowing!
Fair hangs the apple frae the rock,
But we will leave it growing.
O'er hilly path, and open Strath,
We'll wander Scotland thorough;
But, though so near, we will not turn
Into the dale of Yarrow.

"Let beeves and home-bred kine partake
The sweets of Burn-mill meadow,
The swan on still St. Mary's Lake
Float double, swan and shadow!
We will not see them; will not go,
To-day, nor yet to-morrow;
Enough if in our hearts we know
There's such a place as Yarrow.

"Be Yarrow stream unseen, unknown!
It must, or we shall rue it:
We have a vision of our own;
Ah! why should we undo it?
The treasured dreams of times long past,
We'll keep them, winsome Marrow!
For when we'er there, although 'tis fair,
'Twill be another Yarrow!

"If Care with freezing years should come,
And wandering seem but folly,—
Should we be loth to stir from home,
And yet be melancholy;
Should life be dull, and spirits low,
'Twill soothe us in our sorrow,
That earth has something yet to show,
The bonny holms of Yarrow!"


In the second half of the 1790’s Wordsworth became
very unhappy for various reasons.
To overcome this depression, he went for a tour
to Scotland with his sister, Dorothy.
However, he discovered that he could not enjoy
the beauty of nature as he used to do.
So he told his beloved sister that they should
never go to Yarrow...

Upward

  Yarrow Revisited

The gallant Youth, who may have gained, 
      Or seeks, a "winsome Marrow," 
Was but an Infant in the lap 
      When first I looked on Yarrow; 
Once more, by Newark's Castle-gate 
      Long left without a warder, 
I stood, looked, listened, and with Thee, 
      Great Minstrel of the Border! 

Grave thoughts ruled wide on that sweet day, 
      Their dignity installing 
In gentle bosoms, while sere leaves 
      Were on the bough, or falling; 
But breezes played, and sunshine gleamed- 
      The forest to embolden; 
Reddened the fiery hues, and shot 
      Transparence through the golden. 

For busy thoughts the Stream flowed on 
      In foamy agitation; 
And slept in many a crystal pool 
      For quiet contemplation: 
No public and no private care 
      The freeborn mind enthralling, 
We made a day of happy hours, 
      Our happy days recalling. 

Brisk Youth appeared, the Morn of youth, 
      With freaks of graceful folly,- 
Life's temperate Noon, her sober Eve, 
      Her Night not melancholy; 
Past, present, future, all appeared 
      In harmony united, 
Like guests that meet, and some from far, 
      By cordial love invited. 

And if, as Yarrow, through the woods 
      And down the meadow ranging, 
Did meet us with unaltered face, 
      Though we were changed and changing; 
If, then, some natural shadows spread 
      Our inward prospect over, 
The soul's deep valley was not slow 
      Its brightness to recover. 

Eternal blessings on the Muse, 
      And her divine employment! 
The blameless Muse, who trains her Sons 
      For hope and calm enjoyment; 
Albeit sickness, lingering yet, 
      Has o'er their pillow brooded; 
And Care waylays their steps-a Sprite 
      Not easily eluded. 

For thee, O Scott! compelled to change 
      Green Eildon-hill and Cheviot 
For warm Vesuvio's vine-clad slopes; 
      And leave thy Tweed and Tiviot 
For mild Sorrento's breezy waves; 
      May classic Fancy, linking 
With native Fancy her fresh aid, 
      Preserve thy heart from sinking! 

Oh! while they minister to thee, 
      Each vying with the other, 
May Health return to mellow Age 
      With Strength, her venturous brother; 
And Tiber, and each brook and rill 
      Renowned in song and story, 
With unimagined beauty shine, 
      Nor lose one ray of glory! 

For Thou, upon a hundred streams, 
      By tales of love and sorrow, 
Of faithful love, undaunted truth 
      Hast shed the power of Yarrow; 
And streams unknown, hills yet unseen, 
      Wherever they invite Thee, 
At parent Nature's grateful call, 
      With gladness must requite Thee. 

A gracious welcome shall be thine, 
      Such looks of love and honour 
As thy own Yarrow gave to me 
      When first I gazed upon her; 
Beheld what I had feared to see, 
      Unwilling to surrender 
Dreams treasured up from early days, 
      The holy and the tender. 

And what, for this frail world, were all 
      That mortals do or suffer, 
Did no responsive harp, no pen, 
      Memorial tribute offer? 
Yea, what were mighty Nature's self? 
      Her features, could they win us, 
Unhelped by the poetic voice 
      That hourly speaks within us? 

Nor deem that localized Romance 
      Plays false with our affections; 
Unsanctifies our tears-made sport 
      For fanciful dejections: 
Ah, no! the visions of the past 
      Sustain the heart in feeling 
Life as she is-our changeful Life, 
      With friends and kindred dealing. 

Bear witness, Ye, whose thoughts that day 
      In Yarrow's groves were centred; 
Who through the silent portal arch 
      Of mouldering Newark entered; 
And clomb the winding stair that once 
      Too timidly was mounted 
By the "last Minstrel,"(not the last!) 
      Ere he his Tale recounted. 

Flow on for ever, Yarrow Stream! 
      Fulfil thy pensive duty, 
Well pleased that future Bards should chant 
      For simple hearts thy beauty; 
To dream-light dear while yet unseen, 
      Dear to the common sunshine, 
And dearer still, as now I feel, 
      To memory's shadowy moonshine!

William Wordsworth journeyed down the length
of the Yarrow in the company of James Hogg
and the subsequent publication of "Yarrow
Visited" in 1814 and "Yarrow Revisited"
in 1838.






Upward

William Wordsworth - Poems (English)

John Keats - Poems (English)

Lord Byron - Poems (English)

Robert Browning - Poems (English)

Alfred Tennyson - Poems (English)

Alfred Tennyson - De dochter van de molenaar
(Dutch/Nederlands)


S.T. Coleridge - Kubla Khan (English)

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© Gaston D'Haese: 02-07-2005.
Update 08-06-2017.