Yarrow Unvisited

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 Library, Toronto).
See the various Poems the scene of which is laid upon the banks of the Yarrow; in particular, the exquisite Ballad of Hamilton beginning--
Busk ye, busk ye, my bonny, bonny Bride,
Busk ye, busk ye, my winsome Marrow!
2The mazy Forth unravelled;
3Had trod the banks of Clyde, and Tay,
4And with the Tweed had travelled;
5And when we came to Clovenford,
7"Whate'er betide, we'll turn aside,
8And see the Braes of Yarrow."
9"Let Yarrow folk, frae Selkirk town,
10Who have been buying, selling,
11Go back to Yarrow, 'tis their own;
12Each maiden to her dwelling!
13On Yarrow's banks let her herons feed,
14Hares couch, and rabbits burrow!
15But we will downward with the Tweed
16Nor turn aside to Yarrow.
18Both lying right before us;
19And Dryborough, where with chiming Tweed
21There's pleasant Tiviot-dale, a land
22Made blithe with plough and harrow:
23Why throw away a needful day
24To go in search of Yarrow?
25"What's Yarrow but a river bare,
26That glides the dark hills under?
27There are a thousand such elsewhere
28As worthy of your wonder."
29--Strange words they seemed of slight and scorn;
30My True-love sighed for sorrow;
31And looked me in the face, to think
32I thus could speak of Yarrow!
34And sweet is Yarrow flowing!
35Fair hangs the apple frae the rock,
36But we will leave it growing.
38We'll wander Scotland thorough;
39But, though so near, we will not turn
40Into the dale of Yarrow.
41"Let beeves and home-bred kine partake
42The sweets of Burn-mill meadow,
43The swan on still St. Mary's Lake
44Float double, swan and shadow!
45We will not see them; will not go,
46To-day, nor yet to-morrow;
47Enough if in our hearts we know
48There's such a place as Yarrow.
49"Be Yarrow stream unseen, unknown!
50It must, or we shall rue it:
51We have a vision of our own;
52Ah! why should we undo it?
53The treasured dreams of times long past,
54We'll keep them, winsome Marrow!
55For when we'er there, although 'tis fair,
56'Twill be another Yarrow!
57"If Care with freezing years should come,
58And wandering seem but folly,--
59Should we be loth to stir from home,
60And yet be melancholy;
61Should life be dull, and spirits low,
62'Twill soothe us in our sorrow,
63That earth has something yet to show,
64The bonny holms of Yarrow!"


1] Written during Wordsworth's tour in Scotland in 1803. Yarrow is the scene of several ballads. Wordsworth had in mind Logan's Braes of Yarrow, Willie's Drowned in Yarrow, and probably others. Back to Line
6] Marrow: mate, companion. He is addressing his sister Dorothy. Back to Line
17] The Galla and the Leader are both tributaries of the Tweed.
Haughs: low-lying meadows. Back to Line
20] lintwhites: linnets. Back to Line
33] holms: low-lying meadows. Back to Line
37] Strath: valley. Back to Line
RPO poem Editors: 
J. R. MacGillivray
RPO Edition: 
3RP 2.376.