Edmund Clarence Stedman, ed. (1833–1908). A Victorian Anthology, 1837–1895. 1895.

Michael Field



LITTLE Lettice is dead, they say,

The brown, sweet child who rolled in the hay;

Ah, where shall we find her?

For the neighbors pass

To the pretty lass,

In a linen cere-cloth to wind her.

If her sister were set to search

The nettle-green nook beside the church,

And the way were shown her

Through the coffin-gate

To her dead playmate,

She would fly too frightened to own her.

Should she come at a noonday call,

Ah, stealthy, stealthy, with no footfall,

And no laughing chatter,

To her mother ’t were worse

Than a barren curse

That her own little wench should pat her.

Little Lettice is dead and gone!

The stream by her garden wanders on

Through the rushes wider;

She fretted to know

How its bright drops grow

On the hills, but no hand would guide her.

Little Lettice is dead and lost!

Her willow-tree boughs by storm are tost—

Oh, the swimming sallows!—

Where she crouched to find

The nest of the wind

Like a water-fowl’s in the shallows.

Little Lettice is out of sight!

The river-bed and the breeze are bright:

Ay me, were it sinning

To dream that she knows

Where the soft wind rose

That her willow-branches is thinning?

Little Lettice has lost her name,

Slipt away from our praise and our blame;

Let not love pursue her,

But conceive her free

Where the bright drops be

On the hills, and no longer rue her!