Poetry Explorer- Classic Contemporary Poetry, WHAT THE FROGS SING, by PHOEBE CARY



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WHAT THE FROGS SING, by             Poet's Biography
First Line: I've got such a cold I cannot sing
Last Line: There's nobody knows but himself and me.
Subject(s): Animals; Frogs


"I'VE got such a cold I cannot sing,"
Said a bull-frog living close to the spring, --
"And it keeps me all the time so hoarse,
That my voice is very bass of course.
I hate to live in this nasty bog;
It isn't fit for a decent frog:
Now there's that bird, just hear the note
So soft and sweet, from out her throat."
He said, as a thrush in the tree above
Was trilling her liquid song of love:
"And what pretty feathers on her back.
While mine is mottled, yellow and black;
And then for moving she has her wings,
They must be very handy things; --
And this all comes, as one may see,
Just from living up in a tree;
She'd look as queer as I do, I'll bet,
If she had to live down here in the wet,
And be as hoarse, if doomed to tramp
About all day where her feet got damp.

"As the world is managed, I do declare,
Things do not seem exactly fair;
For instance, here on the ground I lie,
While the bird lives up there, high and dry;
Some frogs may n't care, perhaps they don't,
But I can't stand such things and I won't;
So I'll see if I can't make a rise.
Who knows what he can do till he tries?"

So this cunning frog he winked his eye,
He was lying low and playing sly;
For he did not want the frogs about
To find his precious secret out:
But when they were all in the mud a-bed,
And the thrush in her wing had hid her head,
Then Mr. Bull his legs uncurled,
And began to take a start in the world.
'T was from the foot of the tree to hop,
But how was he to reach the top?
For it was n't fun, as he learned in time,
To climb with feet not made to climb;
And twenty times he fell on his head,
But he would n't give it up, he said,
For nobody saw him in the dark.
So he clutched once more at the scraggy bark,
And just as the stars were growing dim,
He sat and swung on the topmost limb;
He was damp with sweat from foot to head;
"Why it's wet enough up here," he said,
"And I've been nicely fooled, I see,
In thinking it dry to live in a tree.
Why what with the rain, and with the dews,
I shall have more water than I can use!"
And so he sat there, gay as a grig,
And saw the sun rise bright and big;
And when he caught the thrush's note,
He, too, began to tune his throat;
But his style of music seemed to sound
Even worse than it did on the ground;
So all the frightened birds took wing,
And he felt, himself, that it was n't the thing,
Though he said, "I don't believe what I've heard
That a frog in a tree won't be a bird."

But soon the sun rose higher and higher,
And froggy's back got drier and drier.
Till he thought perhaps it might be better,
If the place was just a little wetter;
But when he felt the mid-day glare,
He said "high life was a poor affair!"
No wings on his back were coming out,
He did n't feel even a feather sprout;
He couldn't sing; and began to see
He was just a bull-frog up a tree;
But he feared the sneers of his friends in the bog,
For he was proud as any other frog;
And he knew, if they saw him coming down,
He would be the laugh and jest of the town.
So he waited there, while his poor dry back
Seemed burning up, and ready to crack;
His yellow sides looked pale and dim,
And his eyes with tears began to swim,
And he said, "You learn when you come to roam,
That nature is nature, and home is home."

And when at last the sun was gone,
And the shadows cool were stealing on,
With many a slow and feeble hop
He got himself away from the top;
He reached the trunk, and then with a bound
He landed safely on the ground,
And managed back to the spring to creep,
While all his friends were fast asleep.
Next morning, those who were sitting near,
Saw that he looked a little queer,
So they asked, hoping to have some fun,
Where he had been, and what he had done.
Now, though our hero scorned to lie,
He thought he had a right to be sly;
For, said he, if the fellows find me out,
I'd better have been "up the spout."
So he told them he'd been very dry,
And, to own the truth, got rather high!

Then all the frogs about the spring
Began at once this song to sing:
First high it rose, and then it sunk: --
"A frog-got-drunk-got-drunk-got-drunk --
We'll-search-the-spring-for-his-whiskey-jug --
Ka-chee, ka-chi, ka-cho, ka-chug!"
And my story's true, as you may know,
For still the bull-frogs sing just so;
But that Mr. Bull was up a tree,
There's nobody knows but himself and me.





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