William Wordsworth
Complete Poetical Works


WILD Redbreast! hadst thou at Jemima's lip
Pecked, as at mine, thus boldly, Love might say,
A half-blown rose had tempted thee to sip
Its glistening dews; but hallowed is the clay
Which the Muse warms; and I, whose head is grey,
Am not unworthy of thy fellowship;
Nor could I let one thought--one notion--slip
That might thy sylvan confidence betray.
For are we not all His without whose care
Vouchsafed no sparrow falleth to the ground?
Who gives his Angels wings to speed through air,
And rolls the planets through the blue profound;
Then peck or perch, fond Flutterer! nor forbear
To trust a Poet in still musings bound.



14 'Wild Redbreast,' etc.

This Sonnet, as Poetry, explains itself, yet the scene of the
incident having been a wild wood, it may be doubted, as a point of
natural history, whether the bird was aware that his attentions
were bestowed upon a human, or even a living creature. But a
Redbreast will perch upon the foot of a gardener at work, and
alight on the handle of the spade when his hand is half upon it--
this I have seen. And under my own roof I have witnessed affecting
instances of the creature's friendly visits to the chambers of
sick persons, as described in the verses to the Redbreast.
One of these welcome intruders used frequently to roost upon
a nail in the wall, from which a picture had hung, and was ready,
as morning came, to pipe his song in the hearing of the Invalid,
who had been long confined to her room. These attachments to a
particular person, when marked and continued, used to be reckoned
ominous; but the superstition is passing away.