Poetry Out Loud: Isabella Callery recites “Thoughtless Cruelty” by Charles Lamb


THOUGHTLESS CRUELTY, BY CHARLES LAMB There, Robert, you have kill’d that fly — , 
And should you thousand ages try The life you’ve taken to supply, 
You could not do it. You surely must have been devoid 
Of thought and sense, to have destroy’d A thing which no way you annoy’d — 
You’ll one day rue it. Twas but a fly perhaps you’ll say, 
That’s born in April, dies in May; That does but just learn to display 
His wings one minute, And in the next is vanish’d quite. A bird devours it in his flight — 
Or come a cold blast in the night, There’s no breath in it. The bird but seeks his proper food — 
And Providence, whose power endu’d That fly with life, when it thinks good, 
May justly take it. But you have no excuses for’t — 
A life by Nature made so short, Less reason is that you for sport 
Should shorter make it. A fly a little thing you rate — 
But, Robert do not estimate A creature’s pain by small or great; 
The greatest being Can have but fibres, nerves, and flesh, 
And these the smallest ones possess, Although their frame and structure less 
Escape our seeing.

4 thoughts on “Poetry Out Loud: Isabella Callery recites “Thoughtless Cruelty” by Charles Lamb

  1. What a sensitive and quietly forceful interpretation! Well done!

  2. There, Robert, you have kill'd that fly — ,

    2And should you thousand ages try

    3The life you've taken to supply,

    4    You could not do it.

    5You surely must have been devoid

    6Of thought and sense, to have destroy'd

    7A thing which no way you annoy'd —

    8    You'll one day rue it.

    9Twas but a fly perhaps you'll say,

    10That's born in April, dies in May;

    11That does but just learn to display

    12    His wings one minute,

    13And in the next is vanish'd quite.

    14A bird devours it in his flight —

    15Or come a cold blast in the night,

    16    There's no breath in it.

    17The bird but seeks his proper food —

    18And Providence, whose power endu'd

    19That fly with life, when it thinks good,

    20    May justly take it.

    21But you have no excuses for't —

    22A life by Nature made so short,

    23Less reason is that you for sport

    24    Should shorter make it.

    25A fly a little thing you rate —

    26But, Robert do not estimate

    27A creature's pain by small or great;

    28    The greatest being

    29Can have but fibres, nerves, and flesh,

    30And these the smallest ones possess,

    31Although their frame and structure less

    32    Escape our seeing.

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