Charles Lamb

(10 February 1775 – 27 December 1834 / London)

The Coffee Slips - Poem by Charles Lamb

Whene'er I fragrant coffee drink,
I on the generous Frenchman think,
Whose noble perseverance bore
The tree to Martinico's shore.
While yet her colony was new,
Her island products but a few,
Two shoots from off a coffee-tree
He carried with him o'er the sea.
Each little tender coffee slip
He waters daily in the ship,
And as he tends his embryo trees,
Feels he is raising midst the seas
Coffee groves, whose ample shade
Shall screen the dark Creolian maid.
But soon, alas! his darling pleasure
In watching this his precious treasure
Is like to fade,-for water fails
On board the ship in which he sails.
Now all the reservoirs are shut,
The crew on short allowance put;
So small a drop is each man's share,
Few leavings you may think there are
To water these poor coffee plants;-
But he supplies their gasping wants,
Even from his own dry parchëd lips
He spares it for his coffee slips.
Water he gives his nurslings first,
Ere he allays his own deep thirst
Lest, if he first the water sip,
He bear too far his eager lip.
He sees them droop for want of more;-
Yet when they reach the destined shore,
With pride the heroic gardener sees
A living sap still in his trees.
The islanders his praise resound;
Coffee plantations rise around;
And Martinico loads her ships
With produce from those dear-saved slips.

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Poem Submitted: Saturday, April 10, 2010

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