Yarrow Revisited

By William Wordsworth 1770–1850 William Wordsworth
The gallant Youth, who may have gained,
      Or seeks, a "winsome Marrow,"
Was but an Infant in the lap
      When first I looked on Yarrow;
Once more, by Newark's Castle-gate
      Long left without a warder,
I stood, looked, listened, and with Thee,
      Great Minstrel of the Border!

Grave thoughts ruled wide on that sweet day,
      Their dignity installing
In gentle bosoms, while sere leaves
      Were on the bough, or falling;
But breezes played, and sunshine gleamed-
      The forest to embolden;
Reddened the fiery hues, and shot
      Transparence through the golden.

For busy thoughts the Stream flowed on
      In foamy agitation;
And slept in many a crystal pool
      For quiet contemplation:
No public and no private care
      The freeborn mind enthralling,
We made a day of happy hours,
      Our happy days recalling.

Brisk Youth appeared, the Morn of youth,
      With freaks of graceful folly,-
Life's temperate Noon, her sober Eve,
      Her Night not melancholy;
Past, present, future, all appeared
      In harmony united,
Like guests that meet, and some from far,
      By cordial love invited.

And if, as Yarrow, through the woods
      And down the meadow ranging,
Did meet us with unaltered face,
      Though we were changed and changing;
If, then, some natural shadows spread
      Our inward prospect over,
The soul's deep valley was not slow
      Its brightness to recover.

Eternal blessings on the Muse,
      And her divine employment!
The blameless Muse, who trains her Sons
      For hope and calm enjoyment;
Albeit sickness, lingering yet,
      Has o'er their pillow brooded;
And Care waylays their steps-a Sprite
      Not easily eluded.

For thee, O Scott! compelled to change
      Green Eildon-hill and Cheviot
For warm Vesuvio's vine-clad slopes;
      And leave thy Tweed and Tiviot
For mild Sorrento's breezy waves;
      May classic Fancy, linking
With native Fancy her fresh aid,
      Preserve thy heart from sinking!

Oh! while they minister to thee,
      Each vying with the other,
May Health return to mellow Age
      With Strength, her venturous brother;
And Tiber, and each brook and rill
      Renowned in song and story,
With unimagined beauty shine,
      Nor lose one ray of glory!

For Thou, upon a hundred streams,
      By tales of love and sorrow,
Of faithful love, undaunted truth
      Hast shed the power of Yarrow;
And streams unknown, hills yet unseen,
      Wherever they invite Thee,
At parent Nature's grateful call,
      With gladness must requite Thee.

A gracious welcome shall be thine,
      Such looks of love and honour
As thy own Yarrow gave to me
      When first I gazed upon her;
Beheld what I had feared to see,
      Unwilling to surrender
Dreams treasured up from early days,
      The holy and the tender.

And what, for this frail world, were all
      That mortals do or suffer,
Did no responsive harp, no pen,
      Memorial tribute offer?
Yea, what were mighty Nature's self?
      Her features, could they win us,
Unhelped by the poetic voice
      That hourly speaks within us?

Nor deem that localized Romance
      Plays false with our affections;
Unsanctifies our tears-made sport
      For fanciful dejections:
Ah, no! the visions of the past
      Sustain the heart in feeling
Life as she is-our changeful Life,
      With friends and kindred dealing.

Bear witness, Ye, whose thoughts that day
      In Yarrow's groves were centred;
Who through the silent portal arch
      Of mouldering Newark entered;
And clomb the winding stair that once
      Too timidly was mounted
By the "last Minstrel,"(not the last!)
      Ere he his Tale recounted.

Flow on for ever, Yarrow Stream!
      Fulfil thy pensive duty,
Well pleased that future Bards should chant
      For simple hearts thy beauty;
To dream-light dear while yet unseen,
      Dear to the common sunshine,
And dearer still, as now I feel,
      To memory's shadowy moonshine!

Discover this poem’s context and related poetry, articles, and media.

Poet William Wordsworth 1770–1850



Subjects Friends & Enemies, Health & Illness, Living, Seas, Rivers, & Streams, Youth, Nature, Relationships

Poetic Terms Common Measure, Rhymed Stanza, Ballad

 William  Wordsworth


Discussing prose written by poets, Joseph Brodsky has remarked, “the tradition of dividing literature into poetry and prose dates from the beginnings of prose, since it was only in prose that such a distinction could be made.” This insight is worth bearing in mind when considering the various prose works of the poet William Wordsworth. For Wordsworth poetic composition was a primary mode of expression; prose was secondary. . . .

Continue reading this biography

Poems by William Wordsworth

Poem Categorization

SUBJECT Friends & Enemies, Health & Illness, Living, Seas, Rivers, & Streams, Youth, Nature, Relationships



Poetic Terms Common Measure, Rhymed Stanza, Ballad

Report a problem with this poem

Originally appeared in Poetry magazine.

This poem has learning resources.

This poem is good for children.

This poem has related video.

This poem has related audio.