Charles Lamb was an essayist, poet, and contemporary of Wordsworth, Coleridge, and Hazlitt, who he counted among his friends. But despite his avant-garde and expansive literary circle, Lamb’s conservative poetry never displays any of the traits of Romanticism. He did not have the love of nature or the radical political beliefs that defined the major poets of that era, and remained uncommitted on those issues. In his poetry, he preferred realistic human interaction and stayed away from the personal poetry of his peers. In “Thoughtless Cruelty,” Lamb displays this characteristic impersonal tone as he discusses the difference between animal and human life.
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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...