578. Hester

Charles Lamb. 1775-1834

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,
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
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,
      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.

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
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,
A bliss that would not go away,
      A sweet forewarning?

The Oxford Book of English Verse, HTML edition