Charles Lamb

10 February 1775 – 27 December 1834 / London

On A Picture Of The Finding Of Moses By Pharoah's Daughter

This picture does the story express
Of Moses in the bulrushes.
How livelily the painter's hand
By colours makes us understand!
Moses that little infant is.
This figure is his sister. This
Fine stately lady is no less
A personage than a princess,
Daughter of Pharaoh, Egypt's king;
Whom Providence did hither bring
This little Hebrew child to save.
See how near the perilous wave
He lies exposëd in the ark,
His rushy cradle, his frail bark!
Pharaoh, king of Egypt land,
In his greatness gave command
To his slaves, they should destroy
Every new-born Hebrew boy.
This Moses was an Hebrew's son.
When he was born, his birth to none
His mother told, to none revealed,
But kept her goodly child concealed.
Three months she hid him; then she wrought
With bulrushes this ark, and brought
Him in it to this river's side,
Carefully looking far and wide
To see that no Egyptian eye
Her ark-hid treasure should espy.
Among the river-flags she lays
The child. Near him his sister stays.
We may imagine her affright,
When the king's daughter is in sight.
Soon the princess will perceive
The ark among the flags, and give
Command to her attendant maid
That its contents shall be displayed.
Within the ark the child is found,
And now he utters mournful sound.
Behold he weeps, as if he were
Afraid of cruel Egypt's heir!
She speaks, she says, 'This little one
I will protect, though he the son
Be of an Hebrew.' Every word
She speaks is by the sister heard.-
And now observe, this is the part
The painter chose to show his art.
Look at the sister's eager eye,
As here she seems advancing nigh.
Lowly she bends, says, 'Shall I go
And call a nurse to thee? I know
A Hebrew woman liveth near,
Great lady, shall I bring her here?'
See! Pharaoh's daughter answers, 'Go.'-
No more the painter's art can show.
He cannot make his figures move.-
On the light wings of swiftest love
The girl will fly to bring the mother
To be the nurse, she'll bring no other.
To her will Pharaoh's daughter say,
'Take this child from me away:
For wages nurse him. To my home
At proper age this child may come.
When to our palace he is brought,
Wise masters shall for him be sought
To train him up, befitting one
I would protect as my own son.
And Moses be a name unto him,
Because I from the waters drew him.'
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