Oft I had heard of Lucy Gray,
And when I cross'd the Wild,
I chanc'd to see at break of day
The solitary Child.
No mate, no comrade Lucy knew:
She dwelt on a wide Moor,
The sweetest Thing that ever grew
Beside a human door!
You yet may spy the Fawn at play,
The Hare upon the Green;
But the sweet face of Lucy Gray
Will never more be seen.
"To-night will be a stormy night
You to the Town must go,
And take a lantern, Child, to light
Your Mother through the snow."
"That, Father! will I gladly do,
'Tis scarcely afternoon--
The minster-clock has just struck two,
And yonder is the moon"
At this the Father rais'd his hook
And snapped a faggot-band;
He plied his work, and Lucy took
The lantern in her hand.
Not blither is the mountain roe,
With many a wanton stroke
Her feet disperse the powd'ry snow
That rises up like smoke.
The storm came on before its time
She wandered up and down
And many a hill did Lucy climb
But never reach'd the Town.
The wretched Parents all that night
Went shouting far and wide;
But there was neither sound nor sight
To serve them for a guide.
At day-break on a hill they stood
That overlook'd the Moor;
And thence they saw the Bridge of wood,
A furlong from their door.
And now they homeward turn'd and cry'd
"In Heaven we all shall meet;"
When in the snow the Mother spied
The print of Lucy's feet.
Then downward from the steep hill's edge
They track'd the foot-marks small;
And through the broken hawthorn hedge,
And by the long stone-wall;
And then an open field they cross'd,
The marks were still the same;
They track'd them on, nor ever lost,
And to the Bridge they came.
They follow'd from the snowy bank
Those foot-marks, one by one,
Into the middle of the plank
And further there were none.
Yet some maintain that to this day
She is a living Child,
That you may see sweet Lucy Gray
Upon the lonesome Wild.
O'er rough and smooth she trips along,
And never looks behind;
And sings a solitary song
That whistles in the wind.
This poem by William Wordsworth, 1799, describes the death of a woodsman's daughter who lives alone with her parents far from civilisation. During a snowstorm she apparently falls off a wooden bridge and perishes, but her body is never found. Although this poem appears overly sentimental to more recent readers, it fulfils Wordsworth's goals in the Lyrical Ballads of writing passionate poetry using everyday language; it is perhaps precisely this combination that now dismays the modern sensibility.
He used the traditional stanza form of the English folk ballad (alternating 8 and 6 syllable lines in an iambic meter), which is found in many of the Lyrical Ballads, in the contributions of both Wordsworth and Samuel Taylor Coleridge (see, for example, Coleridge's The Rime of the Ancient Mariner). One assumes that the references to her father's hook and "faggot-bands" refers to his job of tying bundles of twigs into faggots, the hook one of of his woodsman's tools.
El Dorado Toys sells a Lucy Gray doll designed by Wendy Lawton and described thus:
With lantern in hand, Lucy sets out to meet her mother. William Wordsworth's poignant poem tells the haunting outcome of Lucy Gray's fateful journey. Lucy is a porcelain and wood 16" doll limited to an edition of 350. This doll features an intricately jointed wooden body. Thirteen joints allow for maximum poseability.