Poetry Explorer- Classic Contemporary Poetry, THE FILBERT, by ROBERT SOUTHEY

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Classic and Contemporary Poetry

THE FILBERT, by             Poet's Biography
First Line: Nay, gather not that filbert, nicholas
Last Line: And stoic independence of mankind.
Subject(s): Animals

Nay, gather not that Filbert, Nicholas,
There is a maggot there, . . it is his house, . .
His castle, . . oh commit not burglary!
Strip him not naked, . . 'tis his clothes, his shell,
His bones, the case and armour of his life,
And thou shalt do no murder, Nicholas!
It were an easy thing to crack that nut
Or with thy crackers or thy double teeth,
So easily may all things be destroy'd!
But 'tis not in the power of mortal man
To mend the fracture of a filbert shell.
There were two great men once amused themselves
Watching two maggots run their wriggling race,
And wagering on their speed; but Nick, to us
It were no sport to see the pamper'd worm
Roll out and then draw in his folds of fat,
Like to some Barber's leathern powder-bag
Wherewith he feathers, frosts, or cauliflowers
Spruce Beau, or Lady fair, or Doctor grave.
Enough of dangers and of enemies
Hath Nature's wisdom for the worm ordain'd,
Increase not thou the number! Him the Mouse
Gnawing with nibbling tooth the shell's defence,
May from his native tenement eject;
Him may the Nut-hatch, piercing with strong bill,
Unwittingly destroy; or to his hoard
The Squirrel bear, at leisure to be crack'd.
Man also hath his dangers and his foes
As this poor Maggot hath; and when I muse
Upon the aches, anxieties, and fears,
The Maggot knows not, Nicholas, methinks
It were a happy metamorphosis
To be enkernell'd thus: never to hear
Of wars, and of invasions, and of plots,
Kings, Jacobines, and Tax-commissioners;
To feel no motion but the wind that shook
The Filbert Tree, and rock'd us to our rest;
And in the middle of such exquisite food
To live luxurious! The perfection this
Of snugness! it were to unite at once
Hermit retirement, Aldermanic bliss,
And Stoic independence of mankind.

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