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To A Young Lady, On Being Too Fond Of Music

Charles Lamb 1775 (Inner Temple, London) – 1834 (Edmonton, London)

Why is your mind thus all day long
Upon your music set;
Till reason's swallowed in a song,
Or idle canzonet?

I grant you, Melesinda, when
Your instrument was new,
I was well pleased to see you then
Its charms assiduous woo.

The rudiments of any art
Or mastery that we try,
Are only on the learner's part
Got by hard industry.

But you are past your first essays;
Whene'er you play, your touch,
Skilful and light, ensures you praise:
All beyond that's too much.

Music's sweet uses are, to smooth
Each rough and angry passion;
To elevate at once, and soothe:
A heavenly recreation.

But we misconstrue, and defeat
The end of any good;
When what should be our casual treat,
We make our constant food.

While, to the exclusion of the rest,
This single art you ply,
Your nobler studies are supprest,
Your books neglected lie.

Could you in what you so affect
The utmost summit reach;
Beyond what fondest friends expect,
Or skilfullest masters teach:

The skill you learned would not repay
The time and pains it cost,
Youth's precious season thrown away,
And reading-leisure lost.

A benefit to books we owe
Music can ne'er dispense;
The one does only sound bestow,
The other gives us sense.

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Submitted on May 13, 2011

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Charles Lamb

Charles Lamb was an English essayist, poet, and antiquarian, best known for his Essays of Elia and for the children's book Tales from Shakespeare, co-authored with his sister, Mary Lamb (1764–1847). Friends with such literary luminaries as Samuel Taylor Coleridge, Robert Southey, William Wordsworth, and William Hazlitt, Lamb was at the centre of a major literary circle in England. He has been referred to by E. V. Lucas, his principal biographer, as "the most lovable figure in English literature". more…

All Charles Lamb poems | Charles Lamb Books

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