Charles Lamb

(10 February 1775 – 27 December 1834 / London)

The Butterfly - Poem by Charles Lamb

SISTER.
Do, my dearest brother John,
Let that butterfly alone.

BROTHER.
What harm now do I do?
You're always making such a noise-

SISTER.
O fie, John; none but naughty boys
Say such rude words as you.

BROTHER.
Because you're always speaking sharp:
On the same thing you always harp.
A bird one may not catch,
Nor find a nest, nor angle neither,
Nor from the peacock pluck a feather,
But you are on the watch
To moralize and lecture still.

SISTER.
And ever lecture, John, I will,
When such sad things I hear.
But talk not now of what is past;
The moments fly away too fast,
Though endlessly they seem to last
To that poor soul in fear.

BROTHER.
Well, soon (I say) I'll let it loose;
But, sister, you talk like a goose,
There's no soul in a fly.

SISTER.
It has a form and fibres fine,
Were tempered by the hand divine
Who dwells beyond the sky.
Look, brother, you have hurt its wing-
And plainly by its fluttering
You see it's in distress.
Gay painted coxcomb, spangled beau,
A butterfly is called, you know,
That's always in full dress:
The finest gentleman of all
Insects he is-he gave a ball,
You know the poet wrote.
Let's fancy this the very same,
And then you'll own you've been to blame
To spoil his silken coat.

BROTHER.
Your dancing, spangled, powdered beau,
Look, through the air I've let him go:
And now we're friends again.
As sure as he is in the air,
From this time, Ann, I will take care,
And try to be humane.


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Poem Submitted: Saturday, April 10, 2010



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