Thoughtless Cruelty

By Charles Lamb 1775–1834 Charles Lamb
There, Robert, you have kill'd that fly — ,
And should you thousand ages try
The life you've taken to supply,
      You could not do it.

You surely must have been devoid
Of thought and sense, to have destroy'd
A thing which no way you annoy'd —
      You'll one day rue it.

Twas but a fly perhaps you'll say,
That's born in April, dies in May;
That does but just learn to display
      His wings one minute,

And in the next is vanish'd quite.
A bird devours it in his flight —
Or come a cold blast in the night,
      There's no breath in it.

The bird but seeks his proper food —
And Providence, whose power endu'd
That fly with life, when it thinks good,
      May justly take it.

But you have no excuses for't —
A life by Nature made so short,
Less reason is that you for sport
      Should shorter make it.

A fly a little thing you rate —
But, Robert do not estimate
A creature's pain by small or great;
      The greatest being

Can have but fibres, nerves, and flesh,
And these the smallest ones possess,
Although their frame and structure less
      Escape our seeing.

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Poet Charles Lamb 1775–1834

POET’S REGION England

SCHOOL / PERIOD Romantic

Subjects Pets, Crime & Punishment, Living, Social Commentaries, Time & Brevity, Relationships, Death

Poetic Terms Rhymed Stanza

 Charles  Lamb

Biography

Charles Lamb achieved lasting fame as a writer during the years 1820-1825, when he captivated the discerning English reading public with his personal essays in the London Magazine, collected as Essays of Elia (1823) and The Last Essays of Elia (1833). Known for their charm, humor, and perception, and laced with idiosyncrasies, these essays appear to be modest in scope, but their soundings are deep, and their ripples extend to . . .

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Poem Categorization

SUBJECT Pets, Crime & Punishment, Living, Social Commentaries, Time & Brevity, Relationships, Death

POET’S REGION England

SCHOOL / PERIOD Romantic

Poetic Terms Rhymed Stanza

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Originally appeared in Poetry magazine.

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