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The wretched parents all that night
Went shouting far and wide ;
But there was neither sound nor sight
To serve them for a guide,
At day-break on a hill they stood
That overlooked the moor ;
And thence they saw the bridge of wood,
A furlong from their door.
They wept—and, turning homeward, cried, 'In heaven we all shall meet !' _When in the snow the mother spied The print of Lucy's feet.
Then downwards from the steep hill's edge
They tracked the footmarks small;
And through the broken hawthorn hedge,
And by the long stone-wall :
And then an open field they crossed ;
The marks were still the same ;
They tracked them on, nor ever lost ;
And to the bridge they came.
They followed from the snowy bank
Those footmarks, one by one,
Into the middle of the plank;
And further there were none !
-Yet some maintain that to this day
She is a living child ;
That you may see sweet Lucy Gray
Upon the lonesome wild.
O’er rough and smooth she trips along,
And never looks behind ;
And sings a solitary song
That whistles in the wind.
She dwelt among the untrodden ways
Beside the springs of Dove,
A Maid whom there were none to praise
And very few to love :
A violet by a mossy stone
Half hidden from the eye !
- Fair as a star, when only one
Is shining in the sky.
She lived unknown, and few could know
When Lucy ceased to be ;
But she is in her grave, and, oh,
The difference to me!
Three years she grew in sun and shower,
Then Nature said, 'A lovelier flower
On earth was never sown ;
This Child I to myself will take,
She shall be mine, and I will make
A Lady of my own.
Myself will to my darling be
Both law and impulse : and with me
The Girl, in rock and plain,
In earth and heaven, in glade and bower,
Shall feel an overseeing power
To kindle or restrain.
She shall be sportive as the fawn
That wild with glee across the lawn
Or up the mountain springs ;
And hers shall be the breathing balm,
And hers the silence and the calm
Of mute insensate things.
The floating clouds their state shall lend
To her ; for her the willow bend;
Nor shall she fail to see
Even in the motions of the Storm
Grace that shall mould the Maiden's form
By silent sympathy.
The stars of midnight shall be dear
To her; and she shall lean her ear
In many a secret place
Where rivulets dance their wayward round,
And beauty born of murmuring sound
Shall pass into her face.
And vital feelings of delight
Shall rear her form to stately height,
Her virgin bosom swell ;
Such thoughts to Lucy I will give
While she and I together live
Here in this happy dell.'
Thus Nature spake—The work was done-
How soon my Lucy's race was run !
She died, and left to me
This heath, this calm, and quiet scene ;
The memory of what has been,
And never more will be.
A slumber did my spirit seal ;
I had no human fears :
She seemed a thing that could not feel
The touch of earthly years.
No motion has she now, no force ;
She neither hears nor sees;
Rolled round in earth's diurnal course,
With rocks, and stones, and trees.
We walked along, while bright and red
Uprose the morning sun ;
And Matthew stopped, he looked, and said,
The will of God be done !'
A village schoolmaster was he,
With hair of glittering grey;
As blithe a man as you could see
On a spring holiday.
And on that morning, through the grass,
And by the steaming rills,
We travelled merrily, to pass
A day among the hills.
Our work,' said I, 'was well begun :
Then, from thy breast what thought,
Beneath so beautiful a sun,
So sad a sigh has brought ?'
A second time did Matthew stop,
And fixing still his eye
Upon the eastern mountain-top,
To me he made reply:
'Yon cloud with that long purple cleft
Brings fresh into my mind
A day like this which I have left
Full thirty years behind.
And just above yon slope of corn
Such colours, and no other,
Were in the sky, that April morn,
Of this the very brother.
With rod and line I sued the sport
Which that sweet season gave,
And, to the church-yard come, stopped short
Beside my daughter's grave.
Nine summers had she scarcely seen,
The pride of all the vale :
And then she sang ;-she would have been
A very nightingale.
Six feet in earth my Emma lay;
And yet I loved her more,
For so it seemed, than till that day
I e'er had loved before.
And, turning from her grave, I met,
Beside the churchyard yew,
A blooming Girl, whose hair was wet
With points of morning dew.
A basket on her head she bare ;
Her brow was smooth and white :
To see a child so very fair,
It was a pure delight !
No fountain from its rocky cave
E’er tripped with foot so free;
She seemed as happy as a wave
That dances on the sea.
There came from me a sigh of pain
Which I could ill confine ;
I looked at her, and looked again :
And did not wish her mine!'
Matthew is in his grave, yet now,
Methinks, I see him stand,
As at that moment, with a bough
Of wilding in his hand.