Charles Lamb

The Beggar-Man

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Abject, stooping, old, and wan,
See yon wretched beggar-man;
Once a father's hopeful heir,
Once a mother's tender care.
When too young to understand
He but scorched his little hand,
By the candle's flaming light
Attracted, dancing, spiral, bright,
Clasping fond her darling round,
A thousand kisses healed the wound.
Now abject, stooping, old, and wan,
No mother tends the beggar-man.


Then nought too good for him to wear,
With cherub face and flaxen hair,
In fancy's choicest gauds arrayed,
Cap of lace with rose to aid,
Milk-white hat and feather blue,
Shoes of red, and coral too
With silver bells to please his ear,
And charm the frequent ready tear.
Now abject, stooping, old, and wan,
Neglected is the beggar-man.


See the boy advance in age,
And learning spreads her useful page;
In vain! for giddy pleasure calls,
And shows the marbles, tops, and balls.
What's learning to the charms of play?
The indulgent tutor must give way.
A heedless wilful dunce, and wild,
The parents' fondness spoiled the child;
The youth in vagrant courses ran;
Now abject, stooping, old, and wan,
Their fondling is the beggar-man.

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Charles Lamb