To His Wife (1804)

I rise, dear Mary, from the soundest rest,
A wandering, way-worn, musing, singing guest.
I claim the privilege of hill and plain;
Mine are the woods, and all that they contain;
The unpolluted gale, which sweeps the glade; 5
All the cool blessings of the solemn shade;
Health, and the flow of happiness sincere;
Yet there’s one wish,—I wish that thou wert here;
Free from the trammels of domestic care,
With me these dear autumnal sweets to share;10
To share my heart’s ungovernable joy;
And keep the birth-day of our poor lame boy.
Ah! that’s a tender string! Yet since I find
That scenes like these, can soothe the harass’d mind,
Trust me, ’twould set thy jaded spirits free, 15
To wander thus through vales and woods with me.
Thou know’st how much I love to steal away
From noise, from uproar, and the blaze of day;
With double transport would my heart rebound
To lead thee, where the clustering nuts are found;20
No toilsome efforts would our task demand,
For the brown treasure stoops to meet the hand.
Round the tall hazel, beds of moss appear
In green-swards nibbled by the forest deer,
Sun, and alternate shade; while o’er our heads 25
The cawing rook his glossy pinions spreads;
The noisy jay, his wild-woods dashing through;
The ring-dove’s chorus, and the rustling bough;
The far resounding gate; the kite’s shrill scream;
The distant ploughman’s halloo to his team.30
This is the chorus to my soul so dear;
It would delight thee too, wert thou but here:
For we might talk of home, and muse o’er days
Of sad distress, and Heaven’s mysterious ways;
Our chequer’d fortunes, with a smile retrace, 35
And build new hopes upon our infant race;
Pour our thanksgivings forth, and weep the while;
Or pray for blessings on our native isle.
But vain the wish—Mary, thy sighs forbear,
Nor grudge the pleasure which thou canst not share;40
Make home delightful, kindly wish for me,
And I’ll leave hills, and dales, and woods for thee.


*Dated by Bloomfield: ‘Whittlebury Forest, Sept. 16, 1804.’ BACK