Extempore Effusion upon the Death of James Hogg

Original Text: 
William Wordsworth, Yarrow Revisited, and Other Poems (London: Longman, 1835). B-10 4884 Fisher Rare Book Library (Toronto).
2I saw the Stream of Yarrow glide
4The Ettrick Shepherd was my guide.
6Through groves that had begun to shed
7Their golden leaves upon the pathways,
8My steps the Border-minstrel led.
10'Mid mouldering ruins low he lies;
11And death upon the braes of Yarrow,
12Has closed the Shepherd-poet's eyes:
13Nor has the rolling year twice measured,
14From sign to sign, its stedfast course,
15Since every mortal power of Coleridge
16Was frozen at its marvellous source;
17The rapt One, of the godlike forehead,
18The heaven-eyed creature sleeps in earth:
21Like clouds that rake the mountain-summits,
22Or waves that own no curbing hand,
23How fast has brother followed brother,
24From sunshine to the sunless land!
25Yet I, whose lids from infant slumber
26Were earlier raised, remain to hear
27A timid voice, that asks in whispers,
28"Who next will drop and disappear?"
29Our haughty life is crowned with darkness,
31On which with thee, O Crabbe! forth-looking,
32I gazed from Hampstead's breezy heath.
33As if but yesterday departed,
34Thou too art gone before; but why,
36Should frail survivors heave a sigh?
37Mourn rather for that holy Spirit,
38Sweet as the spring, as ocean deep;
39For Her who, ere her summer faded,
40Has sunk into a breathless sleep.
42For slaughtered Youth or love-lorn Maid!
43With sharper grief is Yarrow smitten,
44And Ettrick mourns with her their Poet dead.


1] "These verses were written extempore, immediately after reading a notice of the Ettrick Shepherd's death in the Newcastle paper, to the Editor of which I sent a copy for publication." Hogg died on November 21, 1835. He was a shepherd, sheep-farmer, and minor poet whose considerable reputation was enhanced by the fact that he was an "uneducated" writer. Wordsworth refers to six of his literary friends or acquaintances who had died within the previous three years: Hogg, Scott, Coleridge, Lamb, Crabbe, and Felicia Hemans.1-4.
On September 2, 1814; on an earlier tour of the Border region, in 1803, Wordsworth had decided not to "turn aside to Yarrow" (Yarrow Unvisited). Back to Line
3] Ettrick: river and parish of Selkirkshire. The Ettrick, joined by the Yarrow, flows into the Tweed. Back to Line
5] On September 20, 1831, just before Scott's departure for Italy (see note to the previous poem). Back to Line
9] Scott died in September 1832, and was buried amid the "mouldering ruins" of Melrose Abbey. Back to Line
19] the frolic and the gentle: adjectives chosen as true of Lamb and a lamb. Back to Line
20] lonely hearth. Mary Lamb, who was her brother's housekeeper, suffered recurring spells of insanity and confinement in an asylum. Back to Line
30] Wordsworth mentioned in a note on this poem that he had frequently met Crabbe at the home of a common friend who lived at Hampstead, and he referred to "our rambles together on Hampstead Heath." Back to Line
35] Crabbe had lived to be seventy-eight; Felicia Hemans died at forty-two. Back to Line
41] Wordsworth had in mind, particularly, the story of the ballad entitled The Braes of Yarrow. It is glanced at, presumably, at line 11. Back to Line
Publication Start Year: 
RPO poem Editors: 
J. R. MacGillivray
RPO Edition: 
3RP 2.400.