Thursday, March 1, 2012

Bigger Picture Moments: From the School Cafeteria, Snow Out the Window and Thinking about Wordsworth's Lucy Gray

My students told me yesterday morning that life is supposed to take an ironic turn on Leap Day.

Well, that afternoon, hours before March, it started snowing. At the high school, the classrooms have small windows to the outside. We could see the snow. I raised the blinds in class to watch and let my students watch.

It is mesmerizing, this snow after a long winter with few flakes.

In the cafeteria, a colleague told me he is heading north as soon as he can; he lives in the mountains and worries about getting home.

I stayed late to give a test to a student about the Romantic poets. I was to wait in my classroom as snow powdered the trees and she answered questions about William Wordsworth's "Intimations of Immortality."

While the class doesn't read his poem "Lucy Gray," I was reminded of her. From the inside looking out, snow comforts me. Outside, it makes me think of the dangers of ice and cold.

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.

We're seeing the Bigger Picture through simple moments -- moments that force us to stop and take notice of the ways our worlds are important, meaningful, and beautiful. Please join us here today! Grab the button, link up, and read a few others to encourage them as they walk this journey of intentional living.


  1. A lovely mystery!
    Still no snow in Kansas. I miss it!

  2. Oh what a touching poem. I really don't spend enough time reading poetry, so thank you for sharing this one. Something about the imagery of the child and the snow and the sense of sadness calls to mind "The Little Match Girl" - one of my favorite stories when I was growing up. Now I'm going to look up "Intimations of Immortality." Thanks for the prod to do so!

  3. From a former English teacher ... there's power in those words. Those poems. Those books that hold great thought. I could so easily get swept away by the words of others in relation to my own daily happenings.