Beggars. William Wordsworth – 1802.


Play an audio version of this poem.

She had a tall Man's height, or more;
⁠No bonnet screened her from the heat;
⁠A long drab-coloured Cloak she wore,
⁠A Mantle reaching to her feet:
⁠What other dress she had I could not know;
Only she wore a Cap that was as white as snow.

⁠In all my walks, through field or town,
⁠Such Figure had I never seen:
⁠Her face was of Egyptian brown:
⁠Fit person was she for a Queen,
⁠To head those ancient Amazonian files:
Or ruling Bandit's Wife, among the Grecian Isles.

⁠Before me begging did she stand,
⁠Pouring out sorrows like a sea;
⁠Grief after grief: on English Land
⁠Such woes I knew could never be;
⁠And yet a boon I gave her; for the Creature
Was beautiful to see; "a Weed of glorious feature!"

⁠I left her, and pursued my way;
⁠And soon before me did espy
⁠A pair of little Boys at play,
⁠Chasing a crimson butterfly;
⁠The Taller followed with his hat in hand,
Wreathed round with yellow flow'rs, the gayest of the land.

⁠The Other wore a rimless crown,
⁠With leaves of laurel stuck about:
⁠And they both followed up and down,
⁠Each whooping with a merry shout;
⁠Two Brothers seemed they, eight and ten years old;
And like that Woman's face as gold is like to gold.

⁠They bolted on me thus, and lo!
⁠Each ready with a plaintive whine;
⁠Said I, "Not half an hour ago
⁠Your Mother has had alms of mine."
⁠"That cannot be," one answer'd, "She is dead."
"Nay but I gave her pence, and she will buy you bread."

⁠"She has been dead, Sir, many a day."
⁠"Sweet Boys, you're telling me a lie;
⁠"It was your Mother, as I say,"
⁠And in the twinkling of an eye,
⁠"Come, come!" cried one; and, without more ado,
Off to some other play they both together flew.

Poet's Corner

Like so many, my first contact with poetry was at school. In my teens I tried my hand at poetry and found that I rather enjoyed it. As a musician, poetry enabled me to write songs - really cool to be a teenager and strumming out your own songs (badly in my case) on the guitar. I decided to build this site alongside a corresponding YouTube channel (Poets' Corner) and include both a narrated version of each poem along with the printed version. Having always loved (and many times visited) The Lake District in northwest England it seemed only right to start with Wiliam Wordsworth and, once I've created a significant body of his work, I'll start working on other poets.

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