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Charles and Mary Lamb


Anger in its time and place
May assume a kind of grace.
It must have some reason in it,
And not last beyond a minute.
If to further lengths it go,
It does into malice grow.
'Tis the difference that we see
Twixt the serpent and the bee.
If the latter you provoke,
It inflicts a hasty stroke.
Puts you to some little pain,
But it never stings again.
Close in tufted bush or brake
Lurks the poison-swelled snake
Nursing up his cherish'd wrath;
In the purlieux of his path,
In the cold, or in the warm,
Mean him good, or mean him harm,
Whensoever fete may bring you,
The vile snake will always sting you.


This poem is in the public domain.


Charles (1775 - 1834) and Mary (1764 - 1847) Lamb were English siblings best known for their book, Tales of Shakespeare, a juvenile simplification of twenty of the bard's plays, which has never been out of print since its first publication in 1807. Both worked at other jobs for most of their adult lives--Charles as an accounting clerk for the British East India Tea Company; Mary, as a dressmaker, doing their writing on the side. Despite their 11-year age difference, Charles and Mary were close from very beginning. They wrote three books together, numerous ones individually, and often shared living quarters. (Neither sibling married, though Charles was in love several times.) Despite enjoying an active social life and quite a bit of renown during their day (Charles' best buddy for most of his life was fellow poet Samuel Coleridge), both suffered from mental illness that kept them in and out of asylums throughout their lives. Charles' depression was exacerbated by alcohol abuse, while Mary's nervous breakdown from constant caregiving in stressful circumstances resulted in the accidental stabbing of her mother. The tragedy was chalked up to temporary insanity, and Mary was released under the guardianship of her brother. Ironically, much of what these siblings produced were carefree, happy poems and tales for children.



Post New Comment:
Thank you for this interesting post!
Posted 10/11/2016 02:54 PM
Great post, we should all remember. Interesting bio on these two poets.
Posted 10/11/2016 10:22 AM
Everyone possesses a finer self and a less-than-finer self.The eternal struggle is which is allowed to, or made to, triumph over the other.
Posted 10/11/2016 09:23 AM
All of this is so true; anger is just as they describe.
Posted 10/11/2016 08:00 AM
Wonderful poem. Good advice.
Posted 10/11/2016 07:43 AM
Well chosen, Jayne. Alongside well written by Charles & Mary. Thanks again.
Posted 10/11/2016 07:28 AM

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