Verse > Anthologies > T. H. Ward, ed. > The English Poets > Vol. IV. Wordsworth to Rossetti
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Thomas Humphry Ward, ed.  The English Poets.  1880–1918.
Vol. IV. The Nineteenth Century: Wordsworth to Rossetti
 
The Grandame
By Charles Lamb (1775–1834)
 
                ON the green hill top,
Hard by the house of prayer, a modest roof,
And not distinguished from its neighbour-barn,
Save by a slender-tapering length of spire,
The Grandame sleeps. A plain stone barely tells        5
The name and date to the chance passenger.
For lowly born was she, and long had eat,
Well-earned, the bread of service:—hers was else
A mounting spirit, one that entertained
Scorn of base action, deed dishonourable,        10
Or aught unseemly. I remember well
Her reverend image: I remember, too,
With what a zeal she served her master’s house:
And how the prattling tongue of garrulous age
Delighted to recount the oft-told tale        15
Or anecdote domestic. Wise she was,
And wondrous skilled in genealogies,
And could in apt and voluble terms discourse
Of births, of titles, and alliances;
Of marriages, and intermarriages;        20
Relationship remote, or near of kin;
Of friends offended, family disgraced—
Maiden high-born, but wayward, disobeying
Parental strict injunction, and regardless
Of unmixed blood, and ancestry remote,        25
Stooping to wed with one of low degree.
But these are not thy praises; and I wrong
Thy honoured memory, recording chiefly
Things light or trivial. Better ’twere to tell,
How with a nobler zeal, and warmer love,        30
She served her heavenly master. I have seen
That reverend form bent down with age and pain
And rankling malady. Yet not for this
Ceased she to praise her Maker, or withdrew
Her trust in him, her faith, and humble hope—        35
So meekly had she learned to bear her cross—
For she had studied patience in the school
Of Christ, much comfort she had thence derived,
And was a follower of the Nazarene.
 
 
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