There Was A Boy

There was a Boy; ye knew him well, ye cliffs 
And islands of Winander!–many a time, 
At evening, when the earliest stars began 
To move along the edges of the hills, 
Rising or setting, would he stand alone, 
Beneath the trees, or by the glimmering lake; 
And there, with fingers interwoven, both hands 
Pressed closely palm to palm and to his mouth 
Uplifted, he, as through an instrument, 
Blew mimic hootings to the silent owls, 
That they might answer him.–And they would shout 
Across the watery vale, and shout again, 
Responsive to his call,–with quivering peals, 
And long halloos, and screams, and echoes loud 
Redoubled and redoubled; concourse wild 
Of jocund din! And, when there came a pause 
Of silence such as baffled his best skill: 
Then, sometimes, in that silence, while he hung 
Listening, a gentle shock of mild surprise 
Has carried far into his heart the voice 
Of mountain-torrents; or the visible scene 
Would enter unawares into his mind 
With all its solemn imagery, its rocks, 
Its woods, and that uncertain heaven received 
Into the bosom of the steady lake. 
This boy was taken from his mates, and died 
In childhood, ere he was full twelve years old. 
Pre-eminent in beauty is the vale 
Where he was born and bred: the churchyard hangs 
Upon a slope above the village-school; 
And, through that church-yard when my way has led 
On summer-evenings, I believe, that there 
A long half-hour together I have stood 
Mute–looking at the grave in which he lies! 
William Wordsworth

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