Charles Lamb

The End Of May

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"Our governess is not in school,
So we may talk a bit;
Sit down upon this little stool,
Come, little Mary, sit:


"And, my dear playmate, tell me why
In dismal black you're drest?
Why does the tear stand in your eye?
With sobs why heaves your breast?


"When we're in grief, it gives relief
Our sorrows to impart;
When you've told why, my dear, you cry,
'Twill ease your little heart."


"O, it is trouble very bad
Which causes me to weep;
All last night long we were so sad,
Not one of us could sleep.


"Beyond the seas my father went,
'Twas very long ago;
And he last week a letter sent
(I told you so, you know)


"That he was safe in Portsmouth bay,
And we should see him soon,
Either the latter end of May,
Or by the first of June.


"The end of May was yesterday,
We all expected him;
And in our best clothes we were dressed,
Susan, and I, and Jim.


"O how my poor dear mother smiled,
And clapped her hands for joy;
She said to me, 'Come here, my child,
And Susan, and my boy.


"'Come all, and let us think,' said she,
'What we can do to please
Your father, for to-day will he
Come home from off the seas.


"'That you have won, my dear young son,
A prize at school, we'll tell,
Because you can, my little man,
In writing all excel:


"'And you have made a poem, nearly
All of your own invention:
Will not your father love you dearly
When this to him I mention?


"'Your sister Mary, she can say
Your poetry by heart;
And to repeat your verses may
Be little Mary's part.


"'Susan, for you, I'll say you do
Your needlework with care,
And stitch so true the wristbands new
Dear father's soon to wear!'


"'O hark!' said James; 'I hear one speak;
'Tis like a seaman's voice.'--
Our mother gave a joyful shriek;
How did we all rejoice!


"'My husband's come!' 'My father's here!'
But O, alas, it was not so;
It was not as we said:
A stranger seaman did appear,
On his rough cheek there stood a tear,
For he brought to us a tale of woe,--
Our father dear was dead."

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Charles Lamb