Poetry Explorer- Classic Contemporary Poetry, ON SEEING A DROWNING MOTH, by ALICE CARY

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ON SEEING A DROWNING MOTH, by             Poet's Biography
First Line: Poor little moth! Thy summer sports were done
Last Line: Men make their fate, and do not fate obey.
Subject(s): Fate; Moths; Destiny

POOR little moth! thy summer sports were done,
Had I not happened by this pool to lie;
But thou hast pierced my conscience very sore
With thy vain flounderings, so come ashore
In the safe hollow of my helpful hand, --
Rest thee a little on the warm, dry sand,
Then crawling out into the friendly sun,
As best thou mayest, get thy wet wings dry.
Aye, it has touched my conscience, little moth,
To see thy bright wings made for other use,
Haply for just a moment's chance abuse,
Dragging thee, thus, to death; yet am I loath
To heed the lesson, for I fain would lie
Along the margin of this water low
And watch the sunshine run in tender gleams
Down the gray elders -- watch those flowers of light, --
If flowers they be, and not the golden dreams
Left in her grassy pillows by the night, --
The dandelions, that trim the shadows so,
And watch the wild flag, with her eyes of blue
Wide open for the sun to look into, --
Her green skirts laid along the wind, and she,
As if to mar fair fortune wantonly,
Wading along the water, half her height.
Fain would I lie, with arms across my breast,
As quiet as yon wood-duck on her nest,
That sits the livelong day with ruffled quills,
Waiting to see the little yellow bills
Breach the white walls about them, -- would that I
Could find out some sweet charm wherewith to buy
A too uneasy conscience, -- then would Rest
Gather and fold me to itself; and last,
Forgetting the hereafter and the past,
My soul would have the present for its guest,
And grow immortal.
So, my little fool,
Thou 'rt back upon the water! Lord! how vain
The strife to save or man or moth from pain
Merited justly, -- having thy wild way
To travel all the air, thou comest here
To try with spongy feet the treacherous pool;
Well, thou at least hast made one truth more clear, --
Men make their fate, and do not fate obey.

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