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Classic and Contemporary Poetry

THE CRICKET, by             Poem Explanation         Poet's Biography
First Line: The humming bee purrs softly o'er his flower
Last Line: Unmoved by cricket song of thee or me.
Subject(s): Crickets

The humming bee purrs softly o'er his flower;
From lawn and thicket
The dogday locust singeth in the sun
From hour to hour:
Each has his bard, and thou, ere day be done,
Shalt have no wrong.
So bright that murmur mid the insect crowd,
Muffled and lost in bottom-grass, or loud
By pale and picket:
Shall I not take to help me in my song
A little cooing cricket?
The afternoon is sleepy; let us lie
Beneath these branches whilst the burdened brook,
Muttering and moaning to himself, goes by,
And mark our minstrel's carol whilst we look
Toward the faint horizon swooning blue.
Or in a garden bower,
Trellised and trammeled with deep drapery
Of hanging green,
Light glimmering through --
There let the dull hop be,
Let bloom, with poppy's dark refreshing flower:
Let the dead fragrance round our temples beat,
Stunning the sense to slumber, whilst between
The falling water and fluttering wind
Mingle and meet,
Murmur and mix,
No few faint pipings from the glades behind,
Or alder-thicks:
But louder as the day declines,
From tingling tassel, blade, and sheath,
Raising from nets of river vines,
Winrows and ricks,
Above, beneath,
At every breath,
At hand, around, illimitably
Rising and falling like the sea,
Acres of cricks!
Dear to the child who hears thy rustling voice
Cease at his footstep, though he hears thee still,
Cease and resume with vibrance crisp and shrill,
Thou sittest in the sunshine to rejoice.
Night lover too; bringer of all things dark
And rest and silence; yet thou bringest to me
Always that burthen of the unresting Sea,
The moaning cliffs, the low rocks blackly stark;
These upland inland fields no more I view,
But the long flat seaside beach, the wild seamew,
And the overturning wave!
Thou bringest too, dim accents from the grave
To him who walketh when the day is dim,
Dreaming of those who dream no more of him,
With edged remembrances of joy and pain;
And heyday looks and laughter come again:
Forms that in happy sunshine lie and leap,
With faces where but now a gap must be,
Renunciations, and partitions deep
And perfect tears, and crowning vacancy!
And to thy poet at the twilight's hush,
No chirping touch of lips with laugh and blush,
But wringing arms, hearts wild with love and woe,
Closed eyes, and kisses that would not let go!
So wert thou loved in that old graceful time
When Greece was fair,
While god and hero hearkened to thy chime;
Softly astir
Where the long grasses fringed Cayster's lip;
Long-drawn, with glimmering sails of swan and ship,
And ship and swan;
Or where
Reedy Eurotas ran.
Did that low warble teach thy tender flute
Its breathings mild? say! did the grasshopper
Sit golden in thy purple hair
O Psammathe?
Or wert thou mute,
Grieving for Pan amid the alders there?
And by the water and along the hill
That thirsty tinkle in the herbage still,
Though the lost forest wailed to horns of Arcady?
Like the Enchanter old --
Who sought mid the dead water's weeds and scum
For evil growths beneath the moonbeam cold,
Or mandrake or dorcynium;
And touched the leaf that opened both his ears,
So that articulate voices now he hears
In cry of beast, or bird, or insect's hum, --
Might I but find thy knowledge in thy song!
That twittering tongue,
Ancient as light, returning like the years.
So might I be,
Unwise to sing, thy true interpreter
Through denser stillness and in sounder dark,
Than ere thy notes have pierced to harrow me.
So might I stir
The world to hark
To thee my lord and lawgiver,
And cease my quest:
Content to bring my wisdom to the world;
Content to gain at last some low applause,
Now low, now lost
Like thine from mossy stone, amid the stems and straws,
Or garden gravemound tricked and dressed --
Powdered and pearled
By stealing frost --
In dusky rainbow beauty of euphorbias!
For larger would be less indeed, and like
The ceaseless simmer in the summer grass
To him who toileth in the windy field,
Or where the sunbeams strike,
Naught in innumerable numerousness.
So might I much possess,
So much must yield;
But failing this, the dell and grassy dike,
The water and the waste shall still be dear,
And all the pleasant plots and places
Where thou hast sung, and I have hung
To ignorantly hear.
Then Cricket, sing thy song! or answer mine!
Thine whispers blame, but mine has naught but praises.
It matters not. Behold! the autumn goes,
The shadow grows,
The moments take hold of eternity;
Even while we stop to wrangle or repine
Our lives are gone --
Like thinnest mist,
Like yon escaping color in the tree;
Rejoice! rejoice! whilst yet the hours exist --
Rejoice or mourn, and let the world swing on
Unmoved by cricket song of thee or me.

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