Helen Darbishire and Ernest De Selincourt (eds), The Poetical Works of William Wordsworth, Vol. 3: Miscellaneous Sonnets; Memorials of Various Tours; Poems to National Independence and Liberty; The Egyptian Maid; The River Duddon Series; The White Doe and Other Narrative Poems; Ecclesiastical Sonnets (Second Edition)

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pg 73Editor’s NoteVITO A HIGHLAND GIRL,at inversneyde, upon loch lomond

[Composed 1803.—Published 1807.]

  • 1Sweet Highland Girl, a very shower
  • 2Of beauty is thy earthly dower!
  • 3Twice seven consenting years have shed
  • 4Their utmost bounty on thy head:
  • Critical Apparatus5And these grey rocks; that household lawn;
  • 6Those trees, a veil just half withdrawn;
  • 7This fall of water that doth make
  • 8A murmur near the silent lake;
  • 9This little bay; a quiet road
  • 10That holds in shelter thy Abode—
  • Critical Apparatus11In truth together do ye seem
  • 12Like something fashioned in a dream;
  • 13Such Forms as from their covert peep
  • 14When earthly cares are laid asleep!
  • Critical Apparatus15But, O fair Creature! in the light
  • 16Of common day, so heavenly bright,
  • Critical Apparatus17I bless Thee, Vision as thou art,
  • 18I bless thee with a human heart;
  • 19God shield thee to thy latest years!
  • Critical Apparatus20Thee, neither know I, nor thy peers;
  • 21And yet my eyes are filled with tears.
  • 22  With earnest feeling I shall pray
  • 23For thee when I am far away:
  • 24For never saw I mien, or face,
  • 25In which more plainly I could trace
  • 26Benignity and home-bred sense
  • 27Ripening in perfect innocence.
  • 28Here scattered, like a random seed,
  • 29Remote from men, Thou dost not need
  • 30The embarrassed look of shy distress,
  • 31And maidenly shamefacedness:
  • pg 7432Thou wear'st upon thy forehead clear
  • 33The freedom of a Mountaineer:
  • 34A face with gladness overspread!
  • 35Soft smiles, by human kindness bred!
  • 36And seemliness complete, that sways
  • 37Thy courtesies, about thee plays;
  • 38With no restraint, but such as springs
  • 39From quick and eager visitings
  • 40Of thoughts that lie beyond the reach
  • 41Of thy few words of English speech:
  • 42A bondage sweetly brooked, a strife
  • 43That gives thy gestures grace and life!
  • 44So have I, not unmoved in mind,
  • 45Seen birds of tempest-loving kind—
  • 46Thus beating up against the wind.
  • 47  What hand but would a garland cull;
  • 48For thee who art so beautiful?
  • 49O happy pleasure! here to dwell
  • 50Beside thee in some heathy dell;
  • 51Adopt your homely ways, and dress,
  • 52A Shepherd, thou a Shepherdess!
  • 53But I could frame a wish for thee
  • 54More like a grave reality:
  • 55Thou art to me but as a wave
  • 56Of the wild sea; and I would have
  • 57Some claim upon thee, if I could,
  • 58Though but of common neighbourhood.
  • 59What joy to hear thee, and to see!
  • 60Thy elder Brother I would be,
  • 61Thy Father—anything to thee!
  • 62  Now thanks to Heaven! that of its grace
  • 63Hath led me to this lonely place.
  • 64Joy have I had; and going hence
  • 65I bear away my recompense.
  • 66In spots like these it is we prize
  • 67Our Memory, feel that she hath eyes:
  • 68Then, why should I be loth to stir?
  • 69I feel this place was made for her;
  • 70To give new pleasure like the past,
  • 71Continued long as life shall last.
  • pg 7572Nor am I loth, though pleased at heart,
  • 73Sweet Highland Girl! from thee to part;
  • 74For I, methinks, till I grow old,
  • 75As fair before me shall behold,
  • 76As I do now, the cabin small,
  • 77The lake, the bay, the waterfall;
  • 78And Thee, the Spirit of them all!

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Notes

Editor’s Note
p. 73. VI. To a Highland Girl: "This delightful creature and her demeanour are particularly described in my Sister's Journal, The sort of prophecy with which the verses conclude has, through God's goodness, been realized; and now, approaching on the close of my 73rd year, I have a most vivid remembrance of her and the beautiful objects with which she was surrounded. She is alluded to in the poem of the 'Three Cottage Girls' among my Continental Memorials. In illustration of this class of poems I have scarcely anything to say beyond what is anticipated in my Sister's faithful and admirable Journal."—I. F. For a description of the girl and her companion v. D. W.'s Recollections under Aug. 26; she concludes: "At this day the innocent merriment of the girls, with their kindness to us, and the beautiful figure and face of the elder come to my mind whenever I think of the ferry-house and waterfall of Loch Lomond." D. W. tells us that the poem was written "not long after our return from Scotland".
In edd. 1815, 1820 it was placed among Poems of the Imagination.
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VI. 5–6 these … that … Those 1845: these … this … These MS.-1832: those … that … Those 1837–43
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11 so 1827–32, 1845: ye do MS.-1820: In truth, unfolding thus, ye seem 1837–43
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15–16 added 1845
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17 so 1845: Yet dream and [or 1837–43] vision MS.-1843
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20 Thee, neither know I, 1845: I neither know Thee, MS.-1843
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