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Poems (Wordsworth, 1815)/Volume 1/The Childless Father

For other versions of this work, see The Childless Father.

XVIII.

THE CHILDLESS FATHER.

 


 

"Up, Timothy, up with your Staff and away!
Not a soul in the village this morning will stay;
The Hare has just started from Hamilton's grounds,
And Skiddaw is glad with the cry of the hounds."


—Of coats and of jackets gray, scarlet, and green,
On the slopes of the pastures all colours were seen;
With their comely blue aprons, and caps white as snow,
The Girls on the hills made a holiday show.


The bason of box-wood[1], just six months before,
Had stood on the table at Timothy's door;
A Coffin through Timothy's threshold had past;
One Child did it bear, and that Child was his last.


Now fast up the dell came the noise and the fray,
The horse and the horn, and the hark! hark away!
Old Timothy took up his staff, and he shut
With a leisurely motion the door of his hut.


Perhaps to himself at that moment he said,
"The key I must take, for my Ellen is dead."
But of this in my ears not a word did he speak,
And he went to the chase with a tear on his cheek.

  1. In several parts of the North of England, when a funeral takes place, a bason full of Sprigs of Box-wood is placed at the door of the house from which the Coffin is taken up, and each person who attends the funeral ordinarily takes a Sprig of this Box-wood, and throws it into the grave of the deceased.