Charles Lamb

(10 February 1775 – 27 December 1834 / London)

The Broken Doll - Poem by Charles Lamb

An infant is a selfish sprite;
But what of that? the sweet delight
Which from participation springs,
Is quite unknown to these young things.
We elder children then will smile
At our dear little John awhile,
And bear with him, until he see
There is a sweet felicity
In pleasing more than only one
Dear little craving selfish John.

He laughs, and thinks it a fine joke,
That he our new wax doll has broke.
Anger will never teach him better;
We will the spirit and the letter
Of courtesy to him display
By taking in a friendly way
These baby frolics; till he learn
True sport from mischief to discern.

Reproof a parent's province is:
A sister's discipline is this;
By studied kindness to effect
A little brother's young respect.
What is a doll? a fragile toy.
What is its loss? if the dear boy,
Who half perceives he's done amiss,
Retain impression of the kiss
That followed instant on his cheek;
If the kind, loving words we speak
Of 'Never mind it,' 'We forgive,'-
If these in his short memory live
Only, perchance, for half a day-
Who minds a doll-if that should lay
The first impression in his mind
That sisters are to brothers kind?
For thus the broken doll may prove
Foundation to fraternal love.

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Poem Submitted: Saturday, April 10, 2010

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