In the month of January, when Dora and I were walking from Town-
end, Grasmere, across the vale, snow being on the ground, she
espied, in the thick though leafless hedge, a bird's nest half
filled with snow. Out of this comfortless appearance arose this
Sonnet, which was, in fact, written without the least reference to
any individual object, but merely to prove to myself that I could,
if I thought fit, write in a strain that Poets have been fond of.
On the 14th of February in the same year, my daughter, in a
sportive mood, sent it as a Valentine, under a fictitious name, to
her cousin C. W.
WHY art thou silent! Is thy love a plant
Of such weak fibre that the treacherous air
Of absence withers what was once so fair?
Is there no debt to pay, no boon to grant?
Yet have my thoughts for thee been vigilant--
Bound to thy service with unceasing care,
The mind's least generous wish a mendicant
For nought but what thy happiness could spare.
Speak--though this soft warm heart, once free to hold
A thousand tender pleasures, thine and mine,
Be left more desolate, more dreary cold
Than a forsaken bird's-nest filled with snow
'Mid its own bush of leafless eglantine--
Speak, that my torturing doubts their end may know!