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Poem by Frederick Locker-Lampson

The Russet Pitcher

    The Pitcher may go often to the Well, but it gets broken at last.

Away, ye simple ones, away!
   Bring no vain fancies hither;
The brightest dreams of youth decay,
   The fairest roses wither.

Aye, since this fountain first was plannd,
   And Dryad learnt to drink,
Have lovers held, knit hand in hand,
   Sweet parley at its brink.

From youth to age this waterfall
   Most tunefully flows on,
But where, aye! tell me where, are all
   Those constant lovers gone?

The falcon on the turtle preys,
   And fondest vows are lither,
The brightest dream of youth decays,
   The fairest roses wither.

Thy Russet Pitcher set adown,
   Fair maid, and list to one
Who much this sorry world hath known,
   A muser thereupon.

Though youth is ardent, gay, and bold,
   Youth flatters and beguiles,
Though Giles is young,and I am old,
   Neer trust thy heart to Giles.

Thy Pitcher may some luckless day
   Be broken coming hither,
Thy doting slave may prove a knave,
   The fairest roses wither.

She laughd outright, she scornd him quite,
   She filld her Russet Pitcher;
For that dear sight an anchorite
   Might deem himself the richer.

Ill-fated maiden! go thy ways,
   Thy lovers vows are lither,
The brightest dream of youth decays,
   The fairest roses wither.

* * * * *

These days are soon the days of yore;
   Six summers pass, and then
That musing man would see once more
   The fountain in the glen.

Again to stray where once he strayd,
   Those woods with verdure richer;
Half hoping to espy the maid
   Come tripping with her pitcher.

No light step comes, but, evil-starrd,
   He finds a mournful token,
There lies a Russet Pitcher marrd,
   The damsels pitcher broken!

Profoundly moved, that muser cried:
   The spoiler hath been hither;
O! would the maiden first had died,
   The fairest rose must wither!

The tender flowret blooms apace,
   But chilling winds blow oer;
It fades unheeded, and its place
   Shall never know it more.

He turnd from that accursèd ground,
   His world-worn bosom throbbing;
A bow-shot thence a child he found,
   The little man was sobbing.

He gently stroked that curly head,
   My child, what brings thee hither?
Weep not, my simple child, he said,
   Or let us weep together.

Thy world, I ween, my child, is green,
   As garden undefild,
Thy thoughts should run on mirth and fun,
   Where dost thou dwell, my child?

Twas then the tiny urchin spoke,
   My daddys Giles the ditcher;
I water fetch, and, oh!  Ive broke
   My mammys Russet Pitcher!

Frederick Locker-Lampson

Frederick Locker-Lampson's other poems:
  1. My Life Is A
  2. My Firstborn
  3. The Old Clerk
  4. The Pilgrims of Pall Mall
  5. St Georges, Hanover Square

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