The Fountain by William Wordsworth

Updated: May 13, 2020

This is a follow up to the previous poem "The Two April Mornings." Here Wordsworth is exploring character that we tend to spend very little time thinking about. In other words, they are on the edge of our consciousness.

How can a young person learn from an old person? It seems paradoxical that you have to experience something in order to understand it and yet elders are constantly giving advice based on their experiences.

This poem is a conversation poem. Young and old are sitting beneath a tree by a natural fountain, when seemingly out of nowhere, the old man grows melancholy. He's remembering his past.

The poem explores loss and grief and has the very memorable lines: "

the wiser mind Mourns less for what Age takes away, Than what it leaves behind."


The Fountain

A Conversation

We talked with open heart, and tongue

Affectionate and true,

A pair of friends, though I was young,

And Matthew seventy-two.

We lay beneath a spreading oak,

Beside a mossy seat;

And from the turf a fountain broke

And gurgled at our feet.

`Now, Matthew!' said I, `let us match

This water's pleasant tune

With some old border-song, or catch

That suits a summer's noon;

`Or of the church-clock and the chimes

Sing here beneath the shade

That half-mad thing of witty rhymes

Which you last April made!'