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Charles Lamb lived in England and was a noted
writer of the Romantic period. His pen name was Elia; his writing are known
for its "humor, whimsy, and faint overtones of pathos." (Benets.)
Though not coming from the privileged class, through the intercession of his
father's employer, young Lamb, in 1782, was received by the school of Christ's
Church. Leigh Hunt and S. T. Coleridge were to become Lamb's school chums.
Lamb suffered from a stammer, and, thus, was unable to go on to an intellectual career as possibly might otherwise have been available to him, such as that as a teacher. He did, however, obtain a job at East India House, a job which gave him considerable security, and, too, allow him time to pursue his interest in writing.
Charles Lamb endeared himself to his friends, as William Hazlitt put it, "not less by his foibles than his virtues; he insures their esteem by the one, and does not wound their self-love by the other. He gains ground in the opinion of others by making to advances in his own." (Hazlitt's The Spirit of the Age, p. 298.)
Lamb's writing can be found in Percy Fitzgerald's six volume work: The Life, Letters and Writings of Charles Lamb (London: Gibbings, 1897).
The Old Familiar Faces
1 I have had playmates, I have had companions,
2 In my days of childhood, in my joyful school-days,
3 All, all are gone, the old familiar faces.
4 I have been laughing, I have been carousing,
5 Drinking late, sitting late, with my bosom cronies,
6 All, all are gone, the old familiar faces.
7 I loved a love once, fairest among women;
8 Closed are her doors on me, I must not see her --
9 All, all are gone, the old familiar faces.
10 I have a friend, a kinder friend has no man;
11 Like an ingrate, I left my friend abruptly;
12 Left him, to muse on the old familiar faces.
13 Ghost-like, I paced round the haunts of my childhood.
14 Earth seemed a desart I was bound to traverse,
15 Seeking to find the old familiar faces.
16 Friend of my bosom, thou more than a brother,
17 Why wert not thou born in my father's dwelling?
18 So might we talk of the old familiar faces --
19 How some they have died, and some they have left me,
20 And some are taken from me; all are departed;
21 All, all are gone, the old familiar faces.
© 2000 Elena and Yacov Feldman