Fragment in Imitation of Wordsworth by Catherine Maria Fanshawe

There is a river clear and fair,
‘Tis neither broad nor narrow;
It winds a little here and there
It winds about like any hare;
And then it holds as straight a course
As, on the turnpike road, a horse,
Or, through the air, an arrow.

The trees that grow upon the shore
Have grown a hundred years or more;
So long there is no knowing:
Old Daniel Dobson does not know
When first those trees began to grow;
But still they grew, and grew, and grew,
As if they’d nothing else to do,
But ever must be growing.

The impulses of air and sky
Have reared their stately heads so high,
And clothed their boughs with green;
Their leaves the dews of evening quaff,
And when the wind blows loud and keen,
I’ve seen the jolly timbers laugh,
And shake their sides with merry glee
Wagging their heads in mockery.

Fixed are their feet in solid earth
Where winds can never blow;
But visitings of deeper birth
Have reached their roots below.
For they have gained the river’s brink
And of the living waters drink.

There’s little Will, a five years’ child
He is my youngest boy;
To look on eyes so fair and wild,
It is a very joy.
He hath conversed with sun and shower,
And dwelt with every idle flower,
As fresh and gay as them.
He loiters with the briar-rose,
The blue-bells are his playfellows,
That dance upon their slender stem.

And I have said, my little Will,
Why should he not continue still
A thing of Nature’s rearing?
A thing beyond the world’s control
A living vegetable soul,
No human sorrow fearing.

It were a blessed sight to see
That child become a willow-tree,
His brother trees among.
He’d be four times as tall as me,
And live three times as long.


Date: 1865 (published)

By: Catherine Maria Fanshawe (1765-1834)

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