William Wordsworth

The Kitten and Falling Leaves

That way look, my Infant, lo!

What a pretty baby-show!

See the Kitten on the wall,

Sporting with the leaves that fall,

Withered leaves—one—two—and three—

From the lofty elder tree!

Through the calm and frosty air

Of this morning bright and fair,

Eddying round and round they sink

Softly, slowly: one might think,

From the motions that are made,

Every little leaf conveyed

Sylph or Faery hither tending—

To this lower world descending,

Each invisible and mute,

In his wavering parachute.

—But the Kitten, how she starts,

Crouches, stretches, paws, and darts!

First at one, and then its fellow,

Just as light and just as yellow;

There are many now—now one—

Now they stop and there are none:

What intenseness of desire

In her upward eye of fire!

With a tiger-leap halfway

Now she meets the coming prey,

Lets it go as fast, and then

Has it in her power again:

Now she works with three or four,

Like an Indian conjurer;

Quick as he in feats of art,

Far beyond in joy of heart.

Were her antics played in the eye

Of a thousand standers-by,

Clapping hands with shout and stare,

What would little Tabby care

For the plaudits of the crowd?

Over happy to be proud,

Over wealthy in the treasure

Of her own exceeding pleasure!

'Tis a pretty baby-treat;

Nor, I deem, for me unmeet;

Here, for neither Babe nor me,

Other play-mate can I see.

Of the countless living things,

That with stir of feet and wings

(In the sun or under shade,

Upon bough or grassy blade)

And with busy revellings,

Chirp and song, and murmurings,

Made this orchard's narrow space,

And this vale so blithe a place;

Multitudes are swept away

Never more to breathe the day:

Some are sleeping; some in bands

Travelled into distant lands;

Others slunk to moor and wood,

Far from human neighbourhood;

And, among the Kinds that keep

With us closer fellowship,

With us openly abide,

All have laid their mirth aside.

Where is he that giddy Sprite,

Blue-cap, with his colours bright,

Who was blest as bird could be,

Feeding in the apple-tree;

Made such wanton spoil and rout,

Turning blossoms inside out;

Hung—head pointing towards the ground—

Fluttered, perched, into a round

Bound himself, and then unbound;

Lithest, gaudiest Harlequin!

Prettiest Tumbler ever seen!

Light of heart and light of limb;

What is now become of Him?

Lambs, that through the mountains went

Frisking, bleating merriment,

When the year was in its prime,

They are sobered by this time.

If you look to vale or hill,

If you listen, all is still,

Save a little neighbouring rill,

That from out the rocky ground

Strikes a solitary sound.

Vainly glitter hill and plain,

And the air is calm in vain;

Vainly Morning spreads the lure

Of a sky serene and pure;

Creature none can she decoy

Into open sign of joy:

Is it that they have a fear

Of the dreary season near?

Or that other pleasures be

Sweeter even than gaiety?

Yet, whate'er enjoyments dwell

In the impenetrable cell

Of the silent heart which Nature

Furnishes to every creature;

Whatsoe'er we feel and know

Too sedate for outward show,

Such a light of gladness breaks,

Pretty Kitten! from thy freaks—

Spreads with such a living grace

O'er my little Dora's face;

Yes, the sight so stirs and charms

Thee, Baby, laughing in my arms,

That almost I could repine

That your transports are not mine,

That I do not wholly fare

Even as ye do, thoughtless pair!

And I will have my careless season

Spite of melancholy reason,

Will walk through life in such a way

That, when time brings on decay,

Now and then I may possess

Hours of perfect gladsomeness.

—Pleased by any random toy;

By a kitten's busy joy,

Or an infant's laughing eye

Sharing in the ecstasy;

I would fare like that or this,

Find my wisdom in my bliss;

Keep the sprightly soul awake,

And have faculties to take,

Even from things by sorrow wrought,

Matter for a jocund thought,

Spite of care, and spite of grief,

To gambol with Life's falling Leaf.