Nurse Green

Charles Lamb 1775 (Inner Temple, London) – 1834 (Edmonton, London)

'Your prayers you have said, and you've wished good night:
What cause is there yet keeps my darling awake?
This throb in your bosom proclaims some affright
Disturbs your composure. Can innocence quake?

'Why thus do you cling to my neck, and enfold me,
What fear unimparted your quiet devours?'
'O mother, there's reason-for Susan has told me,
A dead body lies in the room next to ours.'

'I know it; and, but for forgetfulness, dear,
I meant you the coffin this day should have seen,
And read the inscription, and told me the year
And day of the death of your poor old Nurse Green.'

'O not for the wealth of the world would I enter
A chamber wherein a dead body lay hid,
Lest somebody bolder than I am should venture
To go near the coffin and lift up the lid.'

'And should they do so and the coffin uncover,
The corpse underneath it would be no ill sight;
This frame, when its animal functions are over,
Has nothing of horror the living to fright.

To start at the dead is preposterous error,
To shrink from a foe that can never contest;
Shall that which is motionless move thee to terror;
Or thou become restless, 'cause they are at rest?

To think harm of her our good feelings forbid us
By whom when a babe you were dandled and fed;
Who living so many good offices did us,
I ne'er can persuade me would hurt us when dead.

But if no endeavour your terrors can smother,
If vainly against apprehension you strive,
Come, bury your fears in the arms of your mother;
My darling, cling close to me, I am alive.'

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Submitted on May 13, 2011

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Charles Lamb

Charles Lamb was an English essayist, poet, and antiquarian, best known for his Essays of Elia and for the children's book Tales from Shakespeare, co-authored with his sister, Mary Lamb (1764–1847). Friends with such literary luminaries as Samuel Taylor Coleridge, Robert Southey, William Wordsworth, and William Hazlitt, Lamb was at the centre of a major literary circle in England. He has been referred to by E. V. Lucas, his principal biographer, as "the most lovable figure in English literature". more…

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"Nurse Green" Poetry.net. STANDS4 LLC, 2020. Web. 10 Aug. 2020. <https://www.poetry.net/poem/5357/nurse-green>.

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