This week our Featured Poem celebrates the most important meal of the day, Breakfast by British poet Mary Lamb.
With schools breaking up for the summer holidays and many teenagers enjoying a spell of long-awaited lie-ins, their breakfast times may break away from family routines and slip into lunchtime or later, perhaps causing a little disorder in the family home. Mary Lamb’s poem reminds us that this isn’t a modern phenomena with “sleepy Robert” in her poem, Breakfast.
Born in 1764, Mary Lamb writes about the coming together of a family over breakfast, “the welcomer of new-born days”. The social gathering of sitting down around the table, “refreshed by sleep”, Lamb reflects on the lively sounds of the morning meal such as the kettle on the fire.
But “sleepy Robert” cannot be stirred even by these sounds. For him, that breakfast time is a moment of quiet away from the hubbub of the family table.
Whether Lamb is critical of sleepy Robert’s lie ins or whether she has excused his absence from the table as “his own pleasure“, it may feel a familiar tussle for families thrown out of routine by the coming of the summer holidays.