Beggars by William Wordsworth

She had a tall man’s height or more;

Her face from summer’s noontide heat

No bonnet shaded, but she wore

A mantle, to her very feet

Descending with a graceful flow,

And on her head a cap as white as new-fallen snow.

Her skin was of Egyptian brown:

Haughty, as if her eye had seen

Its own light to a distance thrown,

She towered, fit person for a Queen

To lead those ancient Amazonian files;

Or ruling Bandit’s wife among the Grecian isles.

Advancing, forth she stretched her hand

And begged an alms with doleful plea

That ceased not; on our 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

A pair of little Boys at play,

Chasing a crimson butterfly;

The taller followed with his hat in hand,

Wreathed round with yellow flowers the gayest of the land.

The other wore a rimless crown

With leaves of laurel stuck about;

And, while both followed up and down,

Each whooping with a merry shout,

In their fraternal features I could trace

Unquestionable lines of that wild Suppliant’s face.

Yet ‘they’, so blithe of heart, seemed fit

For finest tasks of earth or air:

Wings let them have, and they might flit

Precursors to Aurora’s car,

Scattering fresh flowers; though happier far, I ween,

To hunt their fluttering game o’er rock and level green.

They dart across my path—but 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 answered—”she is dead:”

I looked reproof, they saw, but neither hung his head.

“She has been dead, Sir, many a day.”

“Hush, boys! you’re telling me a lie;

It was your Mother, as I say!”

And, in the twinkling of an eye,

“Come! Come!” cried one, and without more ado,

Off to some other play the joyous Vagrants flew!

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