Charles Lamb Poems

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Charles Lamb
Charles Lamb (London, 10 February 1775 Edmonton, 27 December 1834) was an English essayist with Welsh heritage, best known for his Essays of Elia and for the children's book Tales from Shakespeare, which he produced along with his sister, Mary Lamb (17641847). Lamb was the youngest child of John Lamb, a lawyer's clerk. He was born in Crown Office Row, Inner Temple, London, and spent his youth there, later going away to school at Christ's Hospital. There he formed a close friendship with Samuel Taylor Coleridge which would last for many years. After leaving school in 1789 at age 14, "an inconquerable impediment" in his speech disqualified him for a clerical career. For a short time he worked in the office of Joseph Paice, a London merchant, and then for twenty-three weeks, until 8 February 1792, he held a small post in the Examiner's Office of the South Sea House. Its subsequent downfall in a pyramid scheme after Lamb left would be contrasted to the company's prosperity in the first Elia essay. On April 5, 1792 he went to work in the Accountant's Office for British East India Company, the death of his father's employer having ruined the family's fortunes. Charles and his sister Mary both suffered periods of mental illness, and Charles spent six weeks in a psychiatric hospital during 1795. He was, however, already making his name as a poet. On September 22, 1796, a terrible event occurred: Mary, "worn down to a state of extreme nervous misery by attention to needlework by day and to her mother at night," was seized with acute mania and stabbed her mother to the heart with a table knife. With the help of friends Lamb succeeded in obtaining his sister's release from what would otherwise have been lifelong imprisonment, on the condition that he take personal responsibility for her safekeeping. In 1799, John Lamb died, leaving Charles, aged 24, to carry on as best he could. Mary came to live again with him in Pentonville, and in 1800 they set up a shared home at Mitre Court Buildings in the Temple, where they lived until 1809.

morning on the lièvre
 
 
Far above us where a jay
Screams his matins to the day,
Capped with gold and amethyst,... [read poem]
to the ottawa
 
 
Dear dark-brown waters full of all the stain
Of sombre spruce-woods and the forest fens,
L... [read poem]
a niagara landscape
 
 
Heavy with haze that merges and melts free
Into the measureless depth on either hand,
... [read poem]
on passing the new menin gate
 
 
Who will remember, passing through this Gate,
The unheroic Dead who fed the guns?
Who shal... [read poem]
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