Richard Lovelace

(1618-1657 / London / England)

The Ant - Poem by Richard Lovelace

I.

Forbear, thou great good husband, little ant;
A little respite from thy flood of sweat!
Thou, thine own horse and cart under this plant,
Thy spacious tent, fan thy prodigious heat;
Down with thy double load of that one grain!
It is a granarie for all thy train.

II.

Cease, large example of wise thrift, awhile
(For thy example is become our law),
And teach thy frowns a seasonable smile:
So Cato sometimes the nak'd Florals saw.
And thou, almighty foe, lay by thy sting,
Whilst thy unpay'd musicians, crickets, sing.

III.

Lucasta, she that holy makes the day,
And 'stills new life in fields of fueillemort,
Hath back restor'd their verdure with one ray,
And with her eye bid all to play and sport,
Ant, to work still! age will thee truant call;
And to save now, th'art worse than prodigal.

IV.

Austere and cynick! not one hour t' allow,
To lose with pleasure, what thou gotst with pain;
But drive on sacred festivals thy plow,
Tearing high-ways with thy ore-charged wain.
Not all thy life-time one poor minute live,
And thy ore-labour'd bulk with mirth relieve?

V.

Look up then, miserable ant, and spie
Thy fatal foes, for breaking of their law,
Hov'ring above thee: Madam Margaret Pie:
And her fierce servant, meagre Sir John Daw:
Thy self and storehouse now they do store up,
And thy whole harvest too within their crop.

VI.

Thus we unthrifty thrive within earth's tomb
For some more rav'nous and ambitious jaw:
The grain in th' ant's, the ant in the pie's womb,
The pie in th' hawk's, the hawk ith' eagle's maw.
So scattering to hord 'gainst a long day,
Thinking to save all, we cast all away.


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Read poems about / on: husband, horse, sometimes, work, smile, pain, life, lost



Poem Submitted: Friday, January 3, 2003



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