William Wordsworth

The Sailor's Mother

One morning (raw it was and wet--- A foggy day in winter time) A Woman on the road I met, Not old, though something past her prime: Majestic in her person, tall and straight; And like a Roman matron's was her mien and gait. The ancient spirit is not dead; Old times, thought I, are breathing there; Proud was I that my country bred Such strength, a dignity so fair: She begged an alms, like one in poor estate; I looked at her again, nor did my pride abate. When from these lofty thoughts I woke, "What is it," said I, "that you bear, Beneath the covert of your Cloak, Protected from this cold damp air? " She answered, soon as she the question heard, "A simple burthen, Sir, a little Singing-bird." And, thus continuing, she said, "I had a Son, who many a day Sailed on the seas, but he is dead; In Denmark he was cast away: And I have travelled weary miles to see If aught which he had owned might still remain for me. The bird and cage they both were his: 'Twas my Son's bird; and neat and trim He kept it: many voyages The singing-bird had gone with him; When last he sailed, he left the bird behind; From boding's, as might be, that hung upon his mind. He to a fellow-lodger's care Had left it, to be watched and fed, And pipe its song in safety;---there I found it when my Son was dead; And now, God help me for my little wit! I bear it with me, Sir;---he took so much delight in it."

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