Verse > William Wordsworth > Complete Poetical Works
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ELEGIAC STANZAS

IN MEMORY OF MY BROTHER, JOHN WORDSWORTH,

COMMANDER OF THE E. I. COMPANY'S SHIP THE EARL OF ABERGAVENNY IN WHICH HE PERISHED BY CALAMITOUS SHIPWRECK, FEB. 6, 1805.

                                   I

          THE Sheep-boy whistled loud, and lo!
          That instant, startled by the shock,
          The Buzzard mounted from the rock
          Deliberate and slow:
          Lord of the air, he took his flight;
          Oh! could he on that woeful night
          Have lent his wing, my Brother dear,
          For one poor moment's space to Thee,
          And all who struggled with the Sea,
          When safety was so near.

                                   II

          Thus in the weakness of my heart
          I spoke (but let that pang be still)
          When rising from the rock at will,
          I saw the Bird depart.
          And let me calmly bless the Power
          That meets me in this unknown Flower.
          Affecting type of him I mourn!
          With calmness suffer and believe,
          And grieve, and know that I must grieve,
          Not cheerless, though forlorn.

                                  III

          Here did we stop; and here looked round
          While each into himself descends,
          For that last thought of parting Friends
          That is not to be found.
          Hidden was Grasmere Vale from sight,
          Our home and his, his heart's delight,
          His quiet heart's selected home.
          But time before him melts away,
          And he hath feeling of a day
          Of blessedness to come.

                                   IV

          Full soon in sorrow did I weep,
          Taught that the mutual hope was dust,
          In sorrow, but for higher trust,
          How miserably deep!
          All vanished in a single word,
          A breath, a sound, and scarcely heard:
          Sea--Ship--drowned--Shipwreck--so it came,
          The meek, the brave, the good, was gone;
          He who had been our living John
          Was nothing but a name.

                                   V

          That was indeed a parting! oh,
          Glad am I, glad that it is past;
          For there were some on whom it cast
          Unutterable woe.
          But they as well as I have gains;--
          From many a humble source, to pains
          Like these, there comes a mild release;
          Even here I feel it, even this Plant
          Is in its beauty ministrant
          To comfort and to peace.

                                   VI

          He would have loved thy modest grace,
          Meek Flower! To Him I would have said,
          "It grows upon its native bed
          Beside our Parting-place;
          There, cleaving to the ground, it lies
          With multitude of purple eyes,
          Spangling a cushion green like moss;
          But we will see it, joyful tide!
          Some day, to see it in its pride,
          The mountain will we cross."

                                  VII

          --Brother and Friend, if verse of mine
          Have power to make thy virtues known,
          Here let a monumental Stone
          Stand--sacred as a Shrine;
          And to the few who pass this way,
          Traveller or Shepherd, let it say,
          Long as these mighty rocks endure,--
          Oh do not Thou too fondly brood,
          Although deserving of all good,
          On any earthly hope, however pure!
                                                                   1805.


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