A Very Happy Christmas to all readers of
The Land of Lost Content
My offering this year is the wonderful poem by William Wordsworth, ‘Minstrels.’
The minstrels played their Christmas tune
To-night beneath my cottage-eaves;
While, smitten by a lofty moon,
The encircling laurels, thick with leaves,
Gave back a rich and dazzling sheen,
That overpowered their natural green.
Through hill and valley every breeze
Had sunk to rest with folded wings:
Keen was the air, but could not freeze,
Nor check, the music of the strings;
So stout and hardy were the band
That scraped the chords with strenuous hand.
And who but listened?--till was paid
Respect to every inmate's claim,
The greeting given, the music played
In honour of each household name,
Duly pronounced with lusty call,
And "Merry Christmas" wished to all.
'Minstrels' is from Wordsworth's collection The River Duddon, a Series of Sonnets which were published in 1820. They were dedicated to the poet's younger brother Dr. Christopher Wordsworth. The cycle opens with a dedicatory poem addressed 'To the Rev. Dr.W-' who at the time was Rector of St Mary's Church, Lambeth.
The poem quoted above refers to the annual visit of the Christmas minstrels to the poet's house at Rydal Mount.
The River Duddon is described thus in the collected edition of Wordsworth's Poems:- 'This River Duddon rises upon Wrynose Fell, on the confines of Westmoreland, Cumberland, and Lancashire ; and, having served as a boundary to the two last Counties for the space of about twenty-five miles, enters the Irish Sea, between the Isle of Walney and the Lordship of Millum'. It remains one of the most attractive rivers in the Lake District.