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 !