Little Lettice is dead, they say

    LITTLE Lettice is dead, they say, 
    The brown sweet child that rolled in the hay ; 
    Ah, where shall we find her? 
    For the neighbours pass 
    To the pretty lass, 
    In a linen cere-cloth to wind her. 

    If her sister were set to search 

    The nettle-green nook beside the church, 

    And the way were shown her 

    Through the coffin-gate 

    To her dead playmate, 
    She would fly too frighted to own her. 

    Should she come at a noonday call, 
    Ah, stealthy, stealthy, with no footfall, 

    And no laughing chatter. 

    To her mother 'twere worse 

    Than a barren curse 
    That her own little wench should pat her. 

    Little Lettice is dead and gone ! 

    The stream by her garden wanders on  

    Through the rushes wider; 

    She fretted to know 

    How its bright drops grow 
    On the hills, but no hand would guide her. 

    Little Lattice is dead and lost ! 

    Her willow-tree boughs by storm are tossed -

    O the swimming sallows ! — 

    Where she crouched to find 

    The nest of the wind 
    Like a water-fowls in the shallows. 

    Little Lettice is out of sight ! 

    The river-bed and the breeze are bright : 

    Ay me, were it sinning 

    To dream that she knows 

    Where the soft wind rose 
    That her willow-branches is thinning ? 

    Little Lettice has lost her name, 

    Slipt away from our praise and our blame ; 

    Let not love pursue her, 

    But conceive her free 

    Where the bright drops be 
    On the hills, and no longer rue her !