Come, my little Robert

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Lyrics

Come, my little Robert, near
Fie! what filthy hands are here
Who, that e’er could understand
The rare structure of a hand
With its branching fingers fine
Work itself of hands divine
Strong, yet delicately knit
For ten thousand uses fit
Overlaid with so clear skin
You may see the blood within
Who this hand would choose to cover
With a crust of dirt all over
Till it look’d in hue and shape
Like the forefoot of an ape
Man or boy that works or plays
In the fields or the highways
May, without offence or hurt
From the soil contract a dirt
Which the next clear spring or river
Washes out and out for ever
But to cherish stains impure
Soil deliberate to endure
On the skin to fix a stain
Till it works into the grain
Argues a degenerate mind
Sordid, slothful, ill-inclined
Wanting in that self-respect
Which does virtue best protect
All-endearing cleanliness
Virtue next to godliness
Easiest, cheapest, needfull’st duty
To the body health and beauty
Who that’s human would refuse it
When a little water does it

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