The Leech Gatherer – one of the worst jobs?

I’m usually quite resilient to creepy-crawlies or nasty things… I’m not that keen on cockroaches, which is understandable, but spiders, I like, daddy-long-legs I don’t mind, and apart from their desire to hurl themselves against windows and make me jump I don’t mind may bugs. One thing which always makes me shudder and I’ve n idea why, is the leech… Those cousins of the noble garden worm who hang about in water and fasten onto warm-blooded creatures to suck their blood… yuk! Double yuk! Bleagh! That’s nasty! Yes I know they are medical leeches which are used in operations to help stop blood clotting, and I know if I had to have one used on me I’d grit my teeth and let it happen… but really… I just don’t like them. Maybe it was the scene in ‘The African Queen’ where Humphrey Bogart gets attacked… and that was in black and white with no nasty close-ups, but I just don’t like them. I’m pulling a face right now just writing about them.

As an introduction to the reason for writing this, I’ll mention the fact that some poems, or lines of poetry get stuck in my head and I quote them almost automatically at certain moments’ ‘Into the Valley of Death rode the six hundred’ for example. Whenever it comes on to rain suddenly, I always think ‘The rain came suddenly, and fell in floods’ which comes from the poem called ‘The Leech Gatherer’ by William Wordsworth. It isn’t raining today, but here are the first three stanzas of this lovely poem:

The leech gatherer, or resolution and independence

There was a roaring in the wind all night;
The rain came heavily and fell in floods;
But now the sun is rising calm and bright;
The birds are singing in the distant woods;
Over his own sweet voice the stock-dove broods;
The jay makes answer as the magpie chatters;
And all the air is filled with pleasant noise of waters.

All things that love the sun are out of doors;
The sky rejoices in the morning’s birth;
The grass is bright with rain-drops; -on the moors
The hare is running races in her mirth;
And with her feet she from the plashy earth
Raises a mist; that, glittering in the sun,
Runs with her all the way, wherever she doth run.

I was a traveller then upon the moor;
I saw the hare that raced about with joy;
I heard the woods and distant waters roar;
Or heard them not, as happy as a boy:
The pleasant season did my heart employ:
My old remembrances went from me wholly;
And all the ways of men, so vain and melancholy!

William Wordsworth


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