The Sailor’s Mother. William Wordsworth – 1802.


Play an audio version of this poem.

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,
⁠With the first word I had to spare
⁠I said to her, "Beneath your Cloak
⁠What's that which on your arm you bear?"
⁠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 far as Hull, to see
What clothes he might have left, or other property.

⁠"The Bird and Cage they both were his;
⁠'Twas my Son's Bird; and neat and trim
⁠He kept it: many voyages
⁠His Singing-bird hath gone with him;
⁠When last he sailed he left the Bird behind;
As it might be, perhaps, from bodings of his mind.

⁠"He to a Fellow-lodger's care
⁠Had left it, to be watched and fed,
⁠Till he came back again; and there
⁠I found it when my Son was dead;
⁠And now, God help me for my little wit!
I trail it with me, Sir! he took so much delight in it."

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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