Home  »  The Oxford Book of English Verse  »  578. Hester

Arthur Quiller-Couch, ed. 1919. The Oxford Book of English Verse: 1250–1900.

Charles Lamb. 1775–1834

578. Hester

WHEN maidens such as Hester die 
Their place ye may not well supply, 
Though ye among a thousand try 
      With vain endeavour. 
A month or more hath she been dead,         5
Yet cannot I by force be led 
To think upon the wormy bed 
      And her together. 
A springy motion in her gait, 
A rising step, did indicate  10
Of pride and joy no common rate, 
      That flush’d her spirit: 
I know not by what name beside 
I shall it call: if ’twas not pride, 
It was a joy to that allied,  15
      She did inherit. 
Her parents held the Quaker rule, 
Which doth the human feeling cool; 
But she was train’d in Nature’s school; 
      Nature had blest her.  20
A waking eye, a prying mind; 
A heart that stirs, is hard to bind; 
A hawk’s keen sight ye cannot blind; 
      Ye could not Hester. 
My sprightly neighbour! gone before  25
To that unknown and silent shore, 
Shall we not meet, as heretofore, 
      Some summer morning— 
When from thy cheerful eyes a ray 
Hath struck a bliss upon the day,  30
A bliss that would not go away, 
      A sweet forewarning?