Song at the Feast of Brougham Castle upon the Restoration of Lord Clifford, the Shepherd, to the Estates and Honours of his Ancestors

Original Text: 
William Wordsworth, Poems in Two Volumes (1807). See The Manuscript of William Wordsworth's Poems, in Two Volumes (1807): A Facsimile (London: British Library, 1984). bib MASS (Massey College, Toronto).
2And Emont's murmur mingled with the Song.--
3The words of ancient time I thus translate,
4A festal strain that hath been silent long:--
5     "From town to town, from tower to tower,
6     The red rose is a gladsome flower.
7     Her thirty years of winter past,
8     The red rose is revived at last;
9     She lifts her head for endless spring,
10     For everlasting blossoming:
11     Both roses flourish, red and white:
12     In love and sisterly delight
13     The two that were at strife are blended,
14     And all old troubles now are ended.--
15     Joy! joy to both! but most to her
16     Who is the flower of Lancaster!
17     Behold her how She smiles to-day
18     On this great throng, this bright array!
19     Fair greeting doth she send to all
20     From every corner of the hall;
21     But chiefly from above the board
22     Where sits in state our rightful Lord,
23     A Clifford to his own restored!
24          "They came with banner, spear, and shield;
25     And it was proved in Bosworth-field.
26     Not long the Avenger was withstood--
28     St. George was for us, and the might
29     Of blessed Angels crowned the right.
30     Loud voice the Land has uttered forth,
31     We loudest in the faithful north:
32     Our fields rejoice, our mountains ring,
33     Our streams proclaim a welcoming;
34     Our strong-abodes and castles see
35     The glory of their loyalty.
36          "How glad is Skipton at this hour--
37     Though lonely, a deserted Tower;
38     Knight, squire, and yeoman, page and groom,
39     We have them at the feast of Brough'm.
40     How glad Pendragon--though the sleep
41     Of years be on her!--She shall reap
42     A taste of this great pleasure, viewing
43     As in a dream her own renewing.
44     Rejoiced is Brough, right glad, I deem,
45     Beside her little humble stream;
47     Her statelier Eden's course to guard;
48     They both are happy at this hour,
49     Though each is but a lonely Tower:--
50     But here is perfect joy and pride
51     For one fair House by Emont's side,
52     This day, distinguished without peer,
53     To see her Master and to cheer--
54     Him, and his Lady-mother dear!
55          "Oh! it was a time forlorn
56     When the fatherless was born--
57     Give her wings that she may fly,
58     Or she sees her infant die!
59     Swords that are with slaughter wild
60     Hunt the Mother and the Child.
61     Who will take them from the light?
62     --Yonder is a man in sight--
63     Yonder is a house--but where?
64     No, they must not enter there.
65     To the caves, and to the brooks,
66     To the clouds of heaven she looks;
67     She is speechless, but her eyes
68     Pray in ghostly agonies.
69     Blissful Mary, Mother mild,
70     Maid and Mother undefiled,
71     Save a Mother and her Child!
72          "Now who is he that bounds with joy
73     On Carrock's side, a Shepherd-boy?
74     No thoughts hath he but thoughts that pass
75     Light as the wind along the grass.
76     Can this be He who hither came
77     In secret, like a smothered flame?
78     O'er whom such thankful tears were shed
79     For shelter, and a poor man's bread!
80     God loves the Child; and God hath willed
81     That those dear words should be fulfilled,
82     The Lady's words, when forced away
83     The last she to her Babe did say:
84     "My own, my own, thy fellow-guest
85     I may not be; but rest thee, rest,
86     For lowly shepherd's life is best!"
87          "Alas! when evil men are strong
88     No life is good, no pleasure long.
89     The Boy must part from Mosedale's groves,
90     And leave Blencathara's rugged coves,
91     And quit the flowers that summer brings
92     To Glenderamakin's lofty springs;
93     Must vanish, and his careless cheer
94     Be turned to heaviness and fear.
95     --Give Sir Lancelot Threlkeld praise!
96     Hear it, good man, old in days!
97     Thou tree of covert and of rest
98     For this young Bird that is distrest;
99     Among thy branches safe he lay,
100     And he was free to sport and play,
101     When falcons were abroad for prey.
102          "A recreant harp, that sings of fear
103     And heaviness in Clifford's ear!
104     I said, when evil men are strong,
105     No life is good, no pleasure long,
106     A weak and cowardly untruth!
107     Our Clifford was a happy Youth,
108     And thankful through a weary time,
109     That brought him up to manhood's prime.
110     --Again he wanders forth at will,
111     And tends a flock from hill to hill:
112     His garb is humble; ne'er was seen
113     Such garb with such a noble mien;
114     Among the shepherd-grooms no mate
115     Hath he, a Child of strength and state!
116     Yet lacks not friends for simple glee,
117     Nor yet for higher sympathy.
118     To his side the fallow-deer
119     Came and rested without fear;
120     The eagle, lord of land and sea,
121     Stooped down to pay him fealty;
123     Through Bowscale-tarn did wait on him;
124     The pair were servants of his eye
125     In their immortality;
126     And glancing, gleaming, dark or bright,
127     Moved to and fro, for his delight.
128     He knew the rocks which Angels haunt
129     Upon the mountains visitant;
130     He hath kenned them taking wing:
131     And into caves where Faeries sing
132     He hath entered; and been told
133     By Voices how men lived of old.
134     Among the heavens his eye can see
135     The face of thing that is to be;
136     And, if that men report him right,
137     His tongue could whisper words of might.
138     --Now another day is come,
139     Fitter hope, and nobler doom;
140     He hath thrown aside his crook,
141     And hath buried deep his book;
142     Armour rusting in his halls
143     On the blood of Clifford calls,--
144     'Quell the Scot,' exclaims the Lance--
145     Bear me to the heart of France,
146     Is the longing of the Shield--
147     Tell thy name, thou trembling field;
148     Field of death, where'er thou be,
149     Groan thou with our victory!
150     Happy day, and mighty hour,
151     When our Shepherd, in his power,
152     Mailed and horsed, with lance and sword,
153     To his ancestors restored
154     Like a re-appearing Star,
155     Like a glory from afar
156     First shall head the flock of war!"
157Alas! the impassioned minstrel did not know
158How, by Heaven's grace, this Clifford's heart was framed:
159How he, long forced in humble walks to go,
160Was softened into feeling, soothed, and tamed.
161Love had he found in huts where poor men lie;
162His daily teachers had been woods and rills,
163The silence that is in the starry sky,
164The sleep that is among the lonely hills.
165In him the savage virtue of the Race,
166Revenge and all ferocious thoughts were dead:
167Nor did he change; but kept in lofty place
168The wisdom which adversity had bred.
169Glad were the vales, and every cottage-hearth;
170The Shepherd-lord was honoured more and more;
171And, ages after he was laid in earth,
172"The good Lord Clifford" was the name he bore.


1] Henry Lord Clifford, the subject of this poem, was a partisan of the House of Lancaster. After the overwhelming defeat of the Lancastrians at Towton Field in 1461, he was "deprived of his estate and honours during the space of twenty-four years; all which time he lived as a shepherd in Yorkshire, or in Cumberland, where the estate of his father-in-law (Sir Lancelot Threlkeld) lay. He was restored to his estate and honours in the first year of Henry the Seventh." (Wordsworth) Threlkeld was actually Clifford's step-father (correction courtesy of Keith Wren), for which see Arthur Mee's The Lake Counties: Cumberland Westmorland (London: Hodder and Stoughton, 1937) under "Threlkeld", or Henry Summerson's ."Clifford, John, ninth Baron Clifford (1435.-1461),." Oxford Dictionary of National Biography, ed. H. C. G. Matthew and Brian Harrison (Oxford: OUP, 2004). Back to Line
27] "Earth helped him with the cry of blood: This line is from The Battle of Bosworth Field, by Sir John Beaumont (brother of the dramatist)" (Wordsworth). The line is: "The earth assists thee with its cry of blood." Back to Line
46] She that keepeth watch and ward: Appleby Castle. Back to Line
122] Allusion to a local superstition. Back to Line
Publication Start Year: 
RPO poem Editors: 
J. R. MacGillivray
RPO Edition: 
3RP 2.389.