Sarah Josepha Hale


There is no form upon our earth
That bears the mighty Maker's seal,
But has some charm:-to draw this forth,
We must have hearts to feel.
I saw a fair young girl-her face
Was sweet as dream of cherished friend-
Just at the age when childhood's grace
And maiden softness blend.
A silk-worm in her hand she laid,
Nor fear, nor yet disgust was stirred;
But gaily with her charge she played,
As 'twere a nestling bird.
She raised it to her dimpled cheek,
And let it rest and revel there,-
O, why for outward beauty seek-
Love makes its favourites fair!
That worm-I should have shrunk, in truth,
To feel the reptile o'er me move;
But, loved by innocence and youth,
I deemed it worthy love.
Would we, I thought, the soul imbue,
In early life, with sympathies
For every harmless thing, and view
Such creatures formed to please:
And when with usefulness combined,
Give them our love and gentle care-
O, we might have a world as kind
As God has made it fair!
There is no form upon our earth,
Bearing the mighty Maker's seal,
But has some charm:-to call this forth
We need but hearts to feel.


The moral of this poem is similar to that of "Mary's Lamb"-holding up a young girl as exemplary in her gentleness, an ideal for the forming of republican citizens-but this poem highlights the tensions surrounding this ideal more clearly than does "Mary's Lamb" (though one might ponder why the teacher sends the lamb away, particularly given the Christian symbolic burden lambs bear). The interpretive temptations that this poem poses for post-Freudian readers seem worth following through.