James and Mary Ford, eds. Every Day in the Year. 1902.

November 21

On the Death of James Hogg

By William Wordsworth (1770–1850)

  • Better known as the Ettrick Shepherd. He died Nov. 21, 1835.

  • WHEN first, descending from the moorlands,

    I saw the Stream of Yarrow glide

    Along a bare and open valley,

    The Ettrick Shepherd was my guide.

    When last along its banks I wandered,

    Through groves that had begun to shed

    Their golden leaves upon the pathways,

    My steps the Border-minstrel led.

    The mighty Minstrel breathes no longer,

    ’Mid mouldering ruins low he lies;

    And death upon the braes of Yarrow,

    Has closed the Shepherd-poet’s eyes:

    Nor has the rolling year twice measured,

    From sign to sign, its steadfast course,

    Since every mortal power of Coleridge

    Was frozen at its marvellous source;

    The rapt One, of the godlike forehead,

    The heaven-eyed creature sleeps in earth:

    And Lamb, the frolic and the gentle,

    Has vanished from his lonely hearth.

    Like clouds that rake the mountain-summits,

    Or waves that own no curbing hand,

    How fast has brother followed brother

    From sunshine to the sunless land!

    Yet I, whose lids from infant slumber

    Were earlier raised, remain to hear

    A timid voice, that asks in whispers,

    “Who next will drop and disappear?”

    Our haughty life is crowned with darkness,

    Like London with its own black wreath,

    On which with thee, O Crabbe! forthlooking,

    I gazed from Hampstead’s breezy heath.

    As if but yesterday departed,

    Thou too art gone before; but why,

    O’er ripe fruit, seasonably gathered,

    Should frail survivors heave a sigh?

    Mourn rather for that holy Spirit,

    Sweet as the spring, as ocean deep;

    For Her who, ere her summer faded,

    Had sunk into a breathless sleep.

    No more of old romantic sorrows,

    For slaughtered Youth or love-born Maid!

    With sharper grief is Yarrow smitten,

    And Ettrick mourns with her their Poet dead.