The First Tooth

By Charles Lamb and Mary Lamb

Illustrated by Winifred Green

Sister

Through the house what busy joy

Just because the infant boy

Has a tiny tooth to show!

I have got a double row,

All as white and all as small;

Yet no one cares for mine at all.

He can say but half a word,

Yet that single sound’s preferr’d

To all the words that I can say

In the longest summer day.

He cannot walk; yet if he put

With mimic motion out his foot,

As if he thought he were advancing,

It’s prized more than my best dancing.

Illustration for The First Tooth by Winifred Green

Brother

Sister, I know you jesting are,

Yet O! of jealousy beware.

If the smallest seed should be

In your mind, of jealousy,

It will spring and it will shoot

Till it bear the baneful fruit.

I remember you, my dear,

Young as is this infant here.

There was not a tooth of those

Your pretty even ivory rows,

But as anxiously was watch’d

Till it burst its shell new-hatch’d

As if it a phoenix were,

Or some other wonder rare.

So when you began to walk—

So when you began to talk—

As now, the same encomiums pass’d

‘Tis not fitting this should last

Longer than our infant days;

A child is fed with milk and praise.

From Poetry for Children, by Charles and Mary Lamb
London: J.M. Dent & Co., 1898.

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