Verse > Anthologies > Edmund Clarence Stedman, ed. > A Victorian Anthology, 1837–1895
Edmund Clarence Stedman, ed. (1833–1908).  A Victorian Anthology, 1837–1895.  1895.
Michael Field
LITTLE Lettice is dead, they say,
The brown, sweet child who rolled in the hay;
  Ah, where shall we find her?
  For the neighbors pass
  To the pretty lass,        5
In a linen cere-cloth to wind her.
If her sister were set to search
The nettle-green nook beside the church,
  And the way were shown her
  Through the coffin-gate        10
  To her dead playmate,
She would fly too frightened to own her.
Should she come at a noonday call,
Ah, stealthy, stealthy, with no footfall,
  And no laughing chatter,        15
  To her mother ’t were worse
  Than a barren curse
That her own little wench should pat her.
Little Lettice is dead and gone!
The stream by her garden wanders on        20
  Through the rushes wider;
  She fretted to know
  How its bright drops grow
On the hills, but no hand would guide her.
Little Lettice is dead and lost!        25
Her willow-tree boughs by storm are tost—
  Oh, the swimming sallows!—
  Where she crouched to find
  The nest of the wind
Like a water-fowl’s in the shallows.        30
Little Lettice is out of sight!
The river-bed and the breeze are bright:
  Ay me, were it sinning
  To dream that she knows
  Where the soft wind rose        35
That her willow-branches is thinning?
Little Lettice has lost her name,
Slipt away from our praise and our blame;
  Let not love pursue her,
  But conceive her free        40
  Where the bright drops be
On the hills, and no longer rue her!

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