Charles Lamb

The Two Boys

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I saw a boy with eager eye
Open a book upon a stall,
And read as he'd devour it all:
Which when the stall-man did espy,
Soon to the boy I heard him call,
"You, sir, you never buy a book,
Therefore in one you shall not look."
The boy passed slowly on, and with a sigh
He wished he never had been taught to read,
Then of the old churl's books he should have had no need.


Of sufferings the poor have many,
Which never can the rich annoy.
I soon perceived another boy
Who looked as if he'd not had any
Food for that day at least, enjoy
The sight of cold meat in a tavern-larder.
This boy's case, thought I, is surely harder,
Thus hungry longing, thus without a penny,
Beholding choice of dainty dressed meat:
No wonder if he wish he ne'er had learned to eat.

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Charles Lamb