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A poem by Charles Lamb

The Ape

Title:     The Ape
Author: Charles Lamb [More Titles by Lamb]


An Ape is but a trivial beast,
Men count it light and vain;
But I would let them have their thoughts,
To have my Ape again.

To love a beast in any sort,
Is no great sign of grace;
But I have loved a flouting Ape's
'Bove any lady's face.

I have known the power of two fair eyes,
In smile, or else in glance,
And how (for I a lover was)
They make the spirits dance;

But I would give two hundred smiles,
Of them that fairest be,
For one look of my staring Ape,
That used to stare on me.

This beast, this Ape, it had a face--
If face it might be styl'd--
Sometimes it was a staring Ape,
Sometimes a beauteous child--

A Negro flat--a Pagod squat,
Cast in a Chinese mold--
And then it was a Cherub's face,
Made of the beaten gold!

But TIME, that's meddling, meddling still
And always altering things--
And, what's already at the best,
To alteration brings--

That turns the sweetest buds to flowers,
And chops and changes toys--
That breaks up dreams, and parts old friends,
And still commutes our joys--

Has changed away my Ape at last
And in its place convey'd,
Thinking therewith to cheat my sight,
A fresh and blooming maid!

And fair to sight is she--and still
Each day doth sightlier grow,
Upon the ruins of the Ape,
My ancient play-fellow!

The tale of Sphinx, and Theban jests,
I true in me perceive;
I suffer riddles; death from dark
Enigmas I receive:

Whilst a hid being I pursue,
That lurks in a new shape,
My darling in herself I miss--
And, in my Ape, THE APE.

[The end]
Charles Lamb's poem: Ape