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William Stanley Braithwaite, ed. The Book of Georgian Verse. 1909.

The Grandame

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

The name and date to the chance passenger.

For lowly born was she, and long had eat

Well-earn’d, the bread of service;—her’s was else

A mounting spirit, one that entertain’d

Scorn of base action, deed dishonourable,

Or aught unseemly. I remember well

Her reverend image: I remember, too,

With what a zeal she serv’d her Master’s house;

And how the prattling tongue of garrulous age

Delighted to recount the oft-told tale;

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;

Relationship remote, or near of kin;

Of friends offended, family disgraced—

Maiden high born, but wayward, disobeying

Parental strict injunction, and regardless

Of unmix’d blood, and ancestry remote,

Stooping to wed with one of low degree.

But these are not thy praises: and I wrong

Thy honour’d memory, recording chiefly

Things light or trivial. Better ’twere to tell,

How with a nobler zeal, and warmer love,

She serv’d her Heavenly Master. I have seen

That reverend form bent down with age and pain,

And rankling malady: yet not for this

Ceas’d she to praise her Maker, or withdrew

Her trust from Him, her faith, and humble hope—

So meekly had she learn’d to bear her cross—

For she had studied patience in the school

Of Christ; much comfort she had thence deriv’d,

And was a follower of the Nazarene.