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Beggars

She had a tall Man's height, or more;
No bonnet screen'd her from the heat;
A long drab-colour'd 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, 10
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 20
A pair of little Boys at play,
Chasing a crimson butterfly;
The Taller follow'd with his hat in hand,
Wreath'd 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 follow'd up and down,
Each whooping with a merry shout;
Two Brothers seem'd they, eight and ten years old;
And like that Woman's face as gold is like to gold. 30

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, 40
"Come, come!" cried one; and, without more ado,
Off to some other play they both together flew.


William Wordsworth