The Lambs of Grasmere

THE upland flocks grew starved and thinned;

Their shepherds scarce could feed the lambs

Whose milkless mothers butted them,

Or who were orphaned of their dams.

The lambs athirst for mother’s milk

Filled all the place with piteous sounds:

Their mothers’ bones made white for miles

The pastureless wet pasture grounds.

Day after day, night after night,

From lamb to lamb the shepherds went,

With teapots for the bleating mouths

Instead of nature’s nourishment.

The little shivering gaping things

Soon knew the step that brought them aid,

And fondled the protecting hand,

And rubbed it with a woolly head.

Then, as the days waxed on to weeks,

It was a pretty sight to see

These lambs with frisky heads and tails

Skipping and leaping on the lea,

Bleating in tender, trustful tones,

Resting on rocky crag or mound.

And following the beloved feet

That once had sought for them and found.

These very shepherds of their flocks,

These loving lambs so meek to please,

Are worthy of recording words

And honour in their due degrees:

So I might live a hundred years,

And roam from strand to foreign strand,

Yet not forget this flooded spring

And scarce-saved lambs of Westmoreland

From: Goblin Market, The Prince’s Progress and Other Poems.
Christina Rosetti. London: Macmillan 1879.

Christina Rossetti

(Christina Rossetti Poems)    (British Poets)    (Female Poets)