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 !