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    The Last of the Flock

    by William Wordsworth
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    In distant countries I have been,
    And yet I have not often seen
    A healthy man, a man full grown,
    Weep in the public roads alone.
    But such a one, on English ground,
    And in the broad high-way, I met;
    Along the broad high-way he came,
    His cheeks with tears were wet.
    Sturdy he seemed, though he was sad;
    And in his arms a lamb he had.

    He saw me, and he turned aside,
    As if he wished himself to hide:
    Then with his coat he made essay
    To wipe those briny tears away.
    I follow'd him, and said, "My friend
    What ails you? wherefore weep you so?"
    --"Shame on me, Sir! this lusty lamb,
    He makes my tears to flow.
    To-day I fetched him from the rock;
    He is the last of all my flock."

    When I was young, a single man,
    And after youthful follies ran.
    Though little given to care and thought,
    Yet, so it was, a ewe I bought;
    And other sheep from her I raised,
    As healthy sheep as you might see,
    And then I married, and was rich
    As I could wish to be;
    Of sheep I numbered a full score,
    And every year increas'd my store.

    Year after year my stock it grew,
    And from this one, this single ewe,
    Full fifty comely sheep I raised,
    As sweet a flock as ever grazed!
    Upon the mountain did they feed;
    They throve, and we at home did thrive.
    --This lusty lamb of all my store
    Is all that is alive;
    And now I care not if we die,
    And perish all of poverty.

    Six children, Sir! had I to feed,
    Hard labour in a time of need!
    My pride was tamed, and in our grief,
    I of the parish ask'd relief.
    They said I was a wealthy man;
    My sheep upon the mountain fed,
    And it was fit that thence I took
    Whereof to buy us bread:
    "Do this; how can we give to you,"
    They cried, "what to the poor is due?"

    I sold a sheep as they had said,
    And bought my little children bread,
    And they were healthy with their food;
    For me it never did me good.
    A woeful time it was for me,
    To see the end of all my gains,
    The pretty flock which I had reared
    With all my care and pains,
    To see it melt like snow away!
    For me it was a woeful day.

    Another still! and still another!
    A little lamb, and then its mother!
    It was a vein that never stopp'd,
    Like blood-drops from my heart they dropp'd.
    Till thirty were not left alive
    They dwindled, dwindled, one by one,
    And I may say that many a time
    I wished they all were gone:
    They dwindled one by one away;
    For me it was a woeful day.

    To wicked deeds I was inclined,
    And wicked fancies cross'd my mind,
    And every man I chanc'd to see,
    I thought he knew some ill of me.
    No peace, no comfort could I find,
    No ease, within doors or without,
    And crazily, and wearily
    I went my work about.
    Oft-times I thought to run away;
    For me it was a woeful day.

    Sir! 'twas a precious flock to me,
    As dear as my own children be;
    For daily with my growing store
    I loved my children more and more.
    Alas! it was an evil time;
    God cursed me in my sore distress,
    I prayed, yet every day I thought
    I loved my children less;
    And every week, and every day,
    My flock, it seemed to melt away.

    They dwindled. Sir, sad sight to see!
    From ten to five, from five to three,
    A lamb, a weather, and a ewe;
    And then at last, from three to two;
    And of my fifty, yesterday
    I had but only one,
    And here it lies upon my arm,
    Alas! and I have none;
    To-day I fetched it from the rock;
    It is the last of all my flock.

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