Subscribe for ad free access & additional features for teachers. Authors: 267, Books: 3,607, Poems & Short Stories: 4,435, Forum Members: 71,154, Forum Posts: 1,238,602, Quizzes: 344

The Matron of Jedborough and her Husband


At Jedborough we went into private Lodgings for a few
days; and the following Verses were called forth by
the character, and domestic situation, of our Hostess.


Age! twine thy brows with fresh spring flowers!
And call a train of laughing Hours;
And bid them dance, and bid them sing;
And Thou, too, mingle in the Ring!
Take to thy heart a new delight;
If not, make merry in despite!
For there is one who scorns thy power.
--But dance! for under Jedborough Tower
There liveth in the prime of glee,
A Woman, whose years are seventy-three, 10
And She will dance and sing with thee!

Nay! start not at that Figure--there!
Him who is rooted to his chair!
Look at him--look again! for He
Hath long been of thy Family.
With legs that move not, if they can,
And useless arms, a Trunk of Man,
He sits, and with a vacant eye;
A Sight to make a Stranger sigh!
Deaf, drooping, that is now his doom: 20
His world is in this single room:
Is this a place for mirth and cheer?
Can merry-making enter here?

The joyous Woman is the Mate
Of Him in that forlorn estate!
He breathes a subterraneous damp,
But bright as Vesper shines her lamp:
He is as mute as Jedborough Tower;
She jocund as it was of yore,
With all it's bravery on; in times, 30
When, all alive with merry chimes,
Upon a sun-bright morn of May,
It rouz'd the Vale to Holiday.

I praise thee, Matron! and thy due
Is praise; heroic praise, and true!
With admiration I behold
Thy gladness unsubdued and bold:
Thy looks, thy gestures, all present
The picture of a life well-spent:
This do I see; and something more; 40
A strength unthought of heretofore!
Delighted am I for thy sake;
And yet a higher joy partake.
Our Human-nature throws away
It's second Twilight, and looks gay:
A Land of promise and of pride
Unfolding, wide as life is wide.

Ah! see her helpless Charge! enclos'd
Within himself, as seems; compos'd;
To fear of loss, and hope of gain, 50
The strife of happiness and pain,
Utterly dead! yet, in the guise
Of little Infants, when their eyes
Begin to follow to and fro
The persons that before them go,
He tracks her motions, quick or slow.
Her buoyant Spirit can prevail
Where common cheerfulness would fail:
She strikes upon him with the heat
Of July Suns; he feels it sweet; 60
An animal delight though dim!
'Tis all that now remains for him!

I look'd, I scann'd her o'er and o'er;
The more I look'd I wonder'd more:
When suddenly I seem'd to espy
A trouble in her strong black eye;
A remnant of uneasy light,
A flash of something over-bright!
And soon she made this matter plain;
And told me, in a thoughtful strain, 70
That she had borne a heavy yoke,
Been stricken by a twofold stroke;
Ill health of body; and had pin'd
Beneath worse ailments of the mind.

So be it! but let praise ascend
To Him who is our Lord and Friend!
Who from disease and suffering
Hath call'd for thee a second Spring;
Repaid thee for that sore distress
By no untimely joyousness; 80
Which makes of thine a blissful state;
And cheers thy melancholy Mate!


William Wordsworth