Poetry Explorer- Classic Contemporary Poetry, IMMORTALITY, by JOSEPH JEFFERSON

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IMMORTALITY, by            
First Line: Two caterpillars crawling on a leaf
Last Line: A sign of immortality.
Subject(s): Cape Cod

TWO caterpillars crawling on a leaf
By some strange accident in contact came;
Their conversation, passing all belief,
Was that same argument, the very same,
That has been "proed and conned" from man to man,
Yea, ever since this wondrous world began.
The ugly creatures,
Deaf and dumb and blind,
Devoid of features
That adorn mankind,
Were vain enough, in dull and wordy strife,
To speculate upon a future life.
The first was optimistic, full of hope;
The second, quite dyspeptic, seemed to mope.
Said number one, "I'm sure of our salvation."
Said number two, "I'm sure of our damnation;
Our ugly forms alone would seal our fates
And bar our entrance through the golden gates.
Suppose that death should take us unawares,
How could we climb the golden stairs?
If maidens shun us as they pass us by,
Would angels bid us welcome in the sky?
I wonder what great crimes we have committed,
That leave us so forlorn and so unpitied.
Perhaps we've been ungrateful, unforgiving;
'Tis plain to me that life's not worth the living."
"Come, come, cheer up," the jovial worm replied,
"Let's take a look upon the other side;
Suppose we cannot fly like moths or millers,
Are we to blame for being caterpillars?
Will that same God that doomed us crawl the earth,
A prey to every bird that's given birth,
Forgive our captor as he eats and sings,
And damn poor us because we have not wings?
If we can't skim the air like owl or bat,
A worm will turn 'for a' that.'"
They argued through the summer; autumn nigh,
The ugly things composed themselves to die;
And so, to make their funeral quite complete,
Each wrapped him in his little winding sheet.
The tangled web encompassed them full soon,
Each for his coffin made him a cocoon,
All through the winter's chilling blast they lay
Dead to the world, aye, dead as human clay.
Lo, spring comes forth with all her warmth and love;
She brings sweet justice from the realms above;
She breaks the chrysalis, she resurrects the dead;
Two butterflies ascend encircling her head.
And so this emblem shall forever be
A sign of immortality.

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