William Wordsworth

The Fountain

We talked 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!' said I, `let us 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!' In silence Matthew lay, and eyed The spring beneath the tree; And thus the dear old man replied, The grey-haired man of glee: `No check, no stay, this streamlet fears, How merrily it goes! 'Twill murmur on a thousand years And flow as now it flows. `And here, on this delightful day, I cannot choose 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 stirred, 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 amid leafy trees, The lark above 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 pressed by heavy laws; And often, glad no more, We wear a face of joy, because We have been glad of yore. `If there be one who need bemoan His kindred laid in earth, The household hearts that were his own, - It is the man of mirth. `My days, my friend, are almost gone, My life has been approved, And many love me; but by none Am I enough beloved.' `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 grasped my hand 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 bewildered chimes.

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