William Wordsworth

Print

Nutting

from

Lyrical Ballads (Volume II, 1800)

 
                                      It seems a day,
  (I speak of one from many singled out)
  One of those heavenly days which cannot die,
  When forth I sallied from our cottage-door,1
5   And with a wallet o'er my shoulder slung,
  A nutting crook in hand, I turn'd my steps
  Towards the distant woods, a Figure quaint,
  Trick'd out in proud disguise of Beggar's weeds
  Put on for the occasion, by advice
10   And exhortation of my frugal Dame.
  Motley accoutrements! of power to smile
  At thorns, and brakes, and brambles, and, in truth,
  More ragged than need was. Among the woods,
  And o'er the pathless rocks, I forc'd my way
15   Until, at length, I came to one dear nook
  Unvisited, where not a broken bough
  Droop'd with its wither'd leaves, ungracious sign
  Of devastation, but the hazels rose
  Tall and erect, with milk-white clusters hung,
20   A virgin scene!-A little while I stood,
  Breathing with such suppression of the heart
  As joy delights in; and with wise restraint
  Voluptuous, fearless of a rival, eyed
  The banquet, or beneath the trees I sate
25   Among the flowers, and with the flowers I play'd;
  A temper known to those, who, after long
  And weary expectation, have been bless'd
  With sudden happiness beyond all hope.-
  -Perhaps it was a bower beneath whose leaves
30   The violets of five seasons re-appear
  And fade, unseen by any human eye,
  Where fairy water-breaks do murmur on
  For ever, and I saw the sparkling foam,
  And with my cheek on one of those green stones
35   That, fleec'd with moss, beneath the shady trees,
  Lay round me scatter'd like a flock of sheep,
  I heard the murmur and the murmuring sound,
  In that sweet mood when pleasure loves to pay
  Tribute to ease, and, of its joy secure
40   The heart luxuriates with indifferent things,
  Wasting its kindliness on stocks and stones,
  And on the vacant air. Then up I rose,
  And dragg'd to earth both branch and bough, with crash
  And merciless ravage; and the shady nook
45   Of hazels, and the green and mossy bower
  Deform'd and sullied, patiently gave up
  Their quiet being: and unless I now
  Confound my present feelings with the past,
  Even then, when, from the bower I turn'd away,
50   Exulting, rich beyond the wealth of kings
  I felt a sense of pain when I beheld
  The silent trees and the intruding sky. -
 
  Then, dearest Maiden! move along these shades
  In gentleness of heart with gentle hand
55   Touch, - for there is a Spirit in the woods.
 
 
  1 The house at which I was boarded during the time I was at School.

First published 1800.

Contributed by Robert Clark.