According to the Romantic Circles blog (not what it sounds like, but a site dedicated to scholarship on the English Romantic period), Bing Crosby’s final album is to be re-released soon, with formerly unreleased bonus material, including settings of works by well-known poets, including Wordsworth’s “Lucy Gray.” Weird, yet for some of us (or one of us?) a must-hear. Here’s the poem itself, with its direct sampling of British-isles folk ballad (and along with other Romantic and Victorian poems in this style, it had its own influence, in turn, on American country music):
Oft I had heard of Lucy Gray:
And, when I crossed the wild,
I chanced 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 raised 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 powdery 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 reached 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 overlooked the moor;
And thence they saw the bridge of wood,
A furlong from their door.
They wept–and, turning homeward, cried,
“In heaven we all shall meet;”
–When in the snow the mother spied
The print of Lucy’s feet.
Then downwards from the steep hill’s edge
They tracked the footmarks small;
And through the broken hawthorn hedge,
And by the long stone-wall;
And then an open field they crossed:
The marks were still the same;
They tracked them on, nor ever lost;
And to the bridge they came.
They followed from the snowy bank
Those footmarks, 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.