The Sister’s Expostulation on the Brother’s learning Latin

By Charles Lamb and Mary Lamb

Illustrated by Winifred Green

Illustration for The Sister’s Expostulation on the Brother’s learning Latin by Winifred Green

Shut these odious books up, brother;

They have made you quite another

Thing from what you used to be:

Once you liked to play with me,

Now you leave me all alone,

And are so conceited grown

With your Latin, you’ll scarce look

Upon any English book.

We had used on winter eves

To con over Shakespeare’s leaves,

Or on Milton’s harder sense

Exercise our diligence,

And you would explain with ease

The obscurer passages;

Find me out the prettiest places,

The poetic turns and graces,

Which, alas I now you are gone,

I must puzzle out alone;

And oft miss the meaning quite,

Wanting you to set me right.

All this comes since you’ve been under

Your new master. I much wonder

What great charm it is you see

In those words, musa, musce;

Or in what do they excel

Our word song. It sounds as well

To my fancy as the other.

Now believe me, dearest brother,

I would give my finest frock

And my cabinet and stock

Of new playthings, every toy,

I would give them all with joy,

Could I you returning see

Back to English and to me.

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

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