An Ape is but a trivial beast,
Men count it light and vain;
But I would let them have their thoughts,
To have my Ape again.

To love a beast in any sort
Is no great sign of grace;
But I have loved a flouting Ape's
'Bove any lady's face.

I have known the power of two fair eyes,
In smile or else in glance,
And how (for I a lover was)
They make the spirits dance;

But I would give two hundred smiles
Of them that fairest be,
For one look of my staring Ape
That used to stare on me.

This beast, this Ape, it had a face-
If face it might be styled-
Sometimes it was a staring Ape,
Sometimes a beauteous child-

A Negro flat-a Pagod squat,
Cast in a Chinese mould-
And then it was a Cherub's face
Made of the beaten gold!

But Time, that's meddling, meddling still,
And always altering things-
And what's already at the best
To alteration brings,

That turns the sweetest buds to flowers,
And chops and changes toys,
That breaks up dreams, and parts old friends,
And still commutes our joys-

Has changed away my Ape at last
And in its place conveyed,
Thinking therewith to cheat my sight,
A fresh and blooming maid!

And fair to sight is she-and still
Each day doth sightlier grow,
Upon the ruins of the Ape,
My ancient playfellow!

The tale of Sphinx, and Theban jests
I true in me perceive;
I suffer riddles; death from dark
Enigmas I receive:

Whilst a hid being I pursue,
That lurks in a new shape,
My darling in herself I miss,
And, in my ape, the ape.

1806.


About Charles Lamb


Charles Lamb was an English essayist, best known for his Essays of Elia and for the children's book Tales from Shakespeare, which he produced with his sister, Mary Lamb. Lamb has been referred to by E.V. Lucas, his principal biographer, as the most lovable figure in English literature. Lamb was honoured by The Latymer School, a grammar school in Edmonton, a suburb of London where he lived for a time; it has six houses, one of which, "Lamb", is named after Charles. Youth and Schooling Lamb was the son of Elizabeth Field and John Lamb. Lamb was the youngest child,... Read more...

Poet of the day

Isaac Rosenberg was an English poet of the First World War who was considered to be one of the greatest of all English war poets. His "Poems from the Trenches" are recognised as some of the most outstanding written during the First World War.

Isaac Rosenberg was born to Barnet...
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Poem of the day


Who will away to Athens with me? Who
Loves choral songs and maidens crown'd with flowers,
Unenvious? mount the pinnace; hoist the sail.
I promise ye, as many as are here,
Ye shall not, while ye tarry with me, taste
From unrinsed barrel the diluted...
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