Doggerel: ‘Hail To Thee, Blithe Spirit!’
From Strange Free World:
Hail to thee, blithe spirit!
Bird thou never wert.
In the yellow light of the cankered sun,
Thy grain becomes the dirt.
Lower – and yet lower still –
The earthworm tends thy heart;
‘Til slow time and tender warmth
Break thy caul apart.
There penetrates the apple’s root,
Whose boughs have swollen swift;
And ripe they loose their seasoned fruit
To suckle eager lips.
Thy brethren fair alight in squall,
To feed upon the meat;
Their former peer heeds not their call:
Thine ears are made of peat.
Thou neared heaven more than ever could I,
Now out pourest thy heart into loam;
Whereon looked thou with thine bright eye,
There liest thou now in the gloam.
What objects are the fountains
Of thy happy veins?
Dost the mole make mountains
Of thy choice remains?
Bird of rapture, what sweet thoughts are thine,
Now thy seat is in the larvae’s mine?
Rain-awaken’d flowers –
Whose lace tendrils shy from light –
Feast upon thy bowels,
And shimmer with delight.
Simple earthbound creatures
Who once had envied you
Now scattering unbeholden
Thy former golden hue.
In the midst of earth’s caress,
Thy lesson we must learn:
He who increases his flesh
But multiplies food for the worm.