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Best Famous Tortoise Poems

Here is a collection of the all-time best famous Tortoise poems. This is a select list of the best famous Tortoise poetry. Reading, writing, and enjoying famous Tortoise poetry (as well as classical and contemporary poems) is a great past time. These top poems are the best examples of tortoise poems.

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Written by John Betjeman | Create an image from this poem

Christmas

 The bells of waiting Advent ring,
The Tortoise stove is lit again
And lamp-oil light across the night
Has caught the streaks of winter rain
In many a stained-glass window sheen
From Crimson Lake to Hookers Green.
The holly in the windy hedge And round the Manor House the yew Will soon be stripped to deck the ledge, The altar, font and arch and pew, So that the villagers can say 'The church looks nice' on Christmas Day.
Provincial Public Houses blaze, Corporation tramcars clang, On lighted tenements I gaze, Where paper decorations hang, And bunting in the red Town Hall Says 'Merry Christmas to you all'.
And London shops on Christmas Eve Are strung with silver bells and flowers As hurrying clerks the City leave To pigeon-haunted classic towers, And marbled clouds go scudding by The many-steepled London sky.
And girls in slacks remember Dad, And oafish louts remember Mum, And sleepless children's hearts are glad.
And Christmas-morning bells say 'Come!' Even to shining ones who dwell Safe in the Dorchester Hotel.
And is it true, This most tremendous tale of all, Seen in a stained-glass window's hue, A Baby in an ox's stall ? The Maker of the stars and sea Become a Child on earth for me ? And is it true ? For if it is, No loving fingers tying strings Around those tissued fripperies, The sweet and silly Christmas things, Bath salts and inexpensive scent And hideous tie so kindly meant, No love that in a family dwells, No carolling in frosty air, Nor all the steeple-shaking bells Can with this single Truth compare - That God was man in Palestine And lives today in Bread and Wine.


Written by Marianne Moore | Create an image from this poem

A Grave

 Man looking into the sea,
taking the view from those who have as much right to it as
 you have to it yourself,
it is human nature to stand in the middle of a thing,
but you cannot stand in the middle of this;
the sea has nothing to give but a well excavated grave.
The firs stand in a procession, each with an emerald turkey— foot at the top, reserved as their contours, saying nothing; repression, however, is not the most obvious characteristic of the sea; the sea is a collector, quick to return a rapacious look.
There are others besides you who have worn that look— whose expression is no longer a protest; the fish no longer investigate them for their bones have not lasted: men lower nets, unconscious of the fact that they are desecrating a grave, and row quickly away-the blades of the oars moving together like the feet of water-spiders as if there were no such thing as death.
The wrinkles progress among themselves in a phalanx— beautiful under networks of foam, and fade breathlessly while the sea rustles in and out of the seaweed; the birds swim through the air at top speed, emitting cat-calls as heretofore— the tortoise-shell scourges about the feet of the cliffs, in motion beneath them; and the ocean, under the pulsation of lighthouses and noise of bell-bouys, advances as usual, looking as if it were not that ocean in which dropped things are bound to sink— in which if they turn and twist, it is neither with volition nor consciousness.
Written by Mark Doty | Create an image from this poem

Turtle Swan

 Because the road to our house
is a back road, meadowlands punctuated
by gravel quarry and lumberyard,
there are unexpected travelers
some nights on our way home from work.
Once, on the lawn of the Tool and Die Company, a swan; the word doesn't convey the shock of the thing, white architecture rippling like a pond's rain-pocked skin, beak lifting to hiss at my approach.
Magisterial, set down in elegant authority, he let us know exactly how close we might come.
After a week of long rains that filled the marsh until it poured across the road to make in low woods a new heaven for toads, a snapping turtle lumbered down the center of the asphalt like an ambulatory helmet.
His long tail dragged, blunt head jutting out of the lapidary prehistoric sleep of shell.
We'd have lifted him from the road but thought he might bend his long neck back to snap.
I tried herding him; he rushed, though we didn't think those blocky legs could hurry-- then ambled back to the center of the road, a target for kids who'd delight in the crush of something slow with the look of primeval invulnerability.
He turned the blunt spear point of his jaws, puffing his undermouth like a bullfrog, and snapped at your shoe, vising a beakful of-- thank God-- leather.
You had to shake him loose.
We left him to his own devices, talked on the way home of what must lead him to new marsh or old home ground.
The next day you saw, one town over, remains of shell in front of the little liquor store.
I argued it was too far from where we'd seen him, too small to be his.
.
.
though who could tell what the day's heat might have taken from his body.
For days he became a stain, a blotch that could have been merely oil.
I did not want to believe that was what we saw alive in the firm center of his authority and right to walk the center of the road, head up like a missionary moving certainly into the country of his hopes.
In the movies in this small town I stopped for popcorn while you went ahead to claim seats.
When I entered the cool dark I saw straight couples everywhere, no single silhouette who might be you.
I walked those two aisles too small to lose anyone and thought of a book I read in seventh grade, "Stranger Than Science," in which a man simply walked away, at a picnic, and was, in the act of striding forward to examine a flower, gone.
By the time the previews ended I was nearly in tears-- then realized the head of one-half the couple in the first row was only your leather jacket propped in the seat that would be mine.
I don't think I remember anything of the first half of the movie.
I don't know what happened to the swan.
I read every week of some man's lover showing the first symptoms, the night sweat or casual flu, and then the wasting begins and the disappearance a day at a time.
I don't know what happened to the swan; I don't know if the stain on the street was our turtle or some other.
I don't know where these things we meet and know briefly, as well as we can or they will let us, go.
I only know that I do not want you --you with your white and muscular wings that rise and ripple beneath or above me, your magnificent neck, eyes the deep mottled autumnal colors of polished tortoise-- I do not want you ever to die.
Written by David Herbert Lawrence | Create an image from this poem

Tortoise Shout

 I thought he was dumb, said he was dumb,
Yet I've heard him cry.
First faint scream, Out of life's unfathomable dawn, Far off, so far, like a madness, under the horizon's dawning rim, Far, far off, far scream.
Tortoise in extremis.
Why were we crucified into sex? Why were we not left rounded off, and finished in ourselves, As we began, As he certainly began, so perfectly alone? A far, was-it-audible scream, Or did it sound on the plasm direct? Worse than the cry of the new-born, A scream, A yell, A shout, A paean, A death-agony, A birth-cry, A submission, All tiny, tiny, far away, reptile under the first dawn.
War-cry, triumph, acute-delight, death-scream reptilian, Why was the veil torn? The silken shriek of the soul's torn membrane? The male soul's membrane Torn with a shriek half music, half horror.
Crucifixion.
Male tortoise, cleaving behind the hovel-wall of that dense female, Mounted and tense, spread-eagle, out-reaching out of the shell In tortoise-nakedness, Long neck, and long vulnerable limbs extruded, spreadeagle over her house-roof, And the deep, secret, all-penetrating tail curved beneath her walls, Reaching and gripping tense, more reaching anguish in uttermost tension Till suddenly, in the spasm of coition, tupping like a jerking leap, and oh! Opening its clenched face from his outstretched neck And giving that fragile yell, that scream, Super-audible, From his pink, cleft, old-man's mouth, Giving up the ghost, Or screaming in Pentecost, receiving the ghost.
His scream, and his moment's subsidence, The moment of eternal silence, Yet unreleased, and after the moment, the sudden, startling jerk of coition, and at once The inexpressible faint yell -- And so on, till the last plasm of my body was melted back To the primeval rudiments of life, and the secret.
So he tups, and screams Time after time that frail, torn scream After each jerk, the longish interval, The tortoise eternity, Age-long, reptilian persistence, Heart-throb, slow heart-throb, persistent for the next spasm.
I remember, when I was a boy, I heard the scream of a frog, which was caught with his foot in the mouth of an up-starting snake; I remember when I first heard bull-frogs break into sound in the spring; I remember hearing a wild goose out of the throat of night Cry loudly, beyond the lake of waters; I remember the first time, out of a bush in the darkness, a nightingale's piercing cries and gurgles startled the depths of my soul; I remember the scream of a rabbit as I went through a wood at midnight; I remember the heifer in her heat, blorting and blorting through the hours, persistent and irrepressible, I remember my first terror hearing the howl of weird, amorous cats; I remember the scream of a terrified, injured horse, the sheet-lightning, And running away from the sound of a woman in labour, something like an owl whooing, And listening inwardly to the first bleat of a lamb, The first wail of an infant, And my mother singing to herself, And the first tenor singing of the passionate throat of a young collier, who has long since drunk himself to death, The first elements of foreign speech On wild dark lips.
And more than all these, And less than all these, This last, Strange, faint coition yell Of the male tortoise at extremity, Tiny from under the very edge of the farthest far-off horizon of life.
The cross, The wheel on which our silence first is broken, Sex, which breaks up our integrity, our single inviolability, our deep silence, Tearing a cry from us.
Sex, which breaks us into voice, sets us calling across the deeps, calling, calling for the complement, Singing, and calling, and singing again, being answered, having found.
Torn, to become whole again, after long seeking for what is lost, The same cry from the tortoise as from Christ, the Osiris-cry of abandonment, That which is whole, torn asunder, That which is in part, finding its whole again throughout the universe.
Written by John Greenleaf Whittier | Create an image from this poem

The Barefoot Boy

 Blessings on thee, little man,
Barefoot boy, with cheek of tan!
With thy turned-up pantaloons,
And thy merry whistled tunes;
With thy red lip, redder still
Kissed by strawberries on the hill;
With the sunshine on thy face,
Through thy torn brim's jaunty grace;
From my heart I give thee joy, -
I was once a barefoot boy!
Prince thou art, - the grown-up man
Only is republican.
Let the million-dollared ride! Barefoot, trudging at his side, Thou hast more than he can buy In the reach of ear and eye, - Outward sunshine, inward joy: Blessings on thee, barefoot boy! Oh for boyhood's painless play, Sleep that wakes in laughing day, Health that mocks the doctor's rules, Knowledge never learned of schools, Of the wild bee's morning chase, Of the wild-flower's time and place, Flight of fowl and habitude Of the tenants of the wood; How the tortoise bears his shell, How the woodchuck digs his cell, And the ground-mole sinks his well; How the robin feeds her young, How the oriole's nest is hung; Where the whitest lilies blow, Where the freshest berries grow, Where the ground-nut trails its vine, Where the wood-grape's clusters shine; Of the black wasp's cunning way, Mason of his walls of clay, And the architectural plans Of gray hornet artisans! For, eschewing books and tasks, Nature answers all he asks; Hand in hand with her he walks, Face to face with her he talks, Part and parcel of her joy, - Blessings on the barefoot boy! Oh for boyhood's time of June, Crowding years in one brief moon, When all things I heard or saw, Me, their master, waited for.
I was rich in flowers and trees, Humming-birds and honey-bees; For my sport the squirrel played, Plied the snouted mole his spade; For my taste the blackberry cone Purpled over hedge and stone; Laughed the brook for my delight Through the day and through the night, Whispering at the garden wall, Talked with me from fall to fall; Mine the sand-rimmed pickerel pond, Mine the walnut slopes beyond, Mine, on bending orchard trees, Apples of Hesperides! Still as my horizon grew, Larger grew my riches too; All the world I saw or knew Seemed a complex Chinese toy, Fashioned for a barefoot boy! Oh for festal dainties spread, Like my bowl of milk and bread; Pewter spoon and bowl of wood, On the door-stone, gray and rude! O'er me, like a regal tent, Cloudy-ribbed, the sunset bent, Purple-curtained, fringed with gold, Looped in many a wind-swung fold; While for music came the play Of the pied frogs' orchestra; And, to light the noisy choir, Lit the fly his lamp of fire.
I was monarch: pomp and joy Waited on the barefoot boy! Cheerily, then, my little man, Live and laugh, as boyhood can! Though the flinty slopes be hard, Stubble-speared the new-mown sward, Every morn shall lead thee through Fresh baptisms of the dew; Every evening from thy feet Shall the cool wind kiss the heat: All too soon these feet must hide In the prison cells of pride, Lose the freedom of the sod, Like a colt's for work be shod, Made to tread the mills of toil, Up and down in ceaseless moil: Happy if their track be found Never on forbidden ground; Happy if they sink not in Quick and treacherous sands of sin.
Ah! that thou couldst know thy joy, Ere it passes, barefoot boy!


Written by David Herbert Lawrence | Create an image from this poem

Baby Tortoise

 You know what it is to be born alone,
Baby tortoise!
The first day to heave your feet little by little from the shell,
Not yet awake,
And remain lapsed on earth,
Not quite alive.
A tiny, fragile, half-animate bean.
To open your tiny beak-mouth, that looks as if it would never open, Like some iron door; To lift the upper hawk-beak from the lower base And reach your skinny little neck And take your first bite at some dim bit of herbage, Alone, small insect, Tiny bright-eye, Slow one.
To take your first solitary bite And move on your slow, solitary hunt.
Your bright, dark little eye, Your eye of a dark disturbed night, Under its slow lid, tiny baby tortoise, So indomitable.
No one ever heard you complain.
You draw your head forward, slowly, from your little wimple And set forward, slow-dragging, on your four-pinned toes, Rowing slowly forward.
Whither away, small bird? Rather like a baby working its limbs, Except that you make slow, ageless progress And a baby makes none.
The touch of sun excites you, And the long ages, and the lingering chill Make you pause to yawn, Opening your impervious mouth, Suddenly beak-shaped, and very wide, like some suddenly gaping pincers; Soft red tongue, and hard thin gums, Then close the wedge of your little mountain front, Your face, baby tortoise.
Do you wonder at the world, as slowly you turn your head in its wimple And look with laconic, black eyes? Or is sleep coming over you again, The non-life? You are so hard to wake.
Are you able to wonder? Or is it just your indomitable will and pride of the first life Looking round And slowly pitching itself against the inertia Which had seemed invincible? The vast inanimate, And the fine brilliance of your so tiny eye, Challenger.
Nay, tiny shell-bird, What a huge vast inanimate it is, that you must row against, What an incalculable inertia.
Challenger, Little Ulysses, fore-runner, No bigger than my thumb-nail, Buon viaggio.
All animate creation on your shoulder, Set forth, little Titan, under your battle-shield.
The ponderous, preponderate, Inanimate universe; And you are slowly moving, pioneer, you alone.
How vivid your travelling seems now, in the troubled sunshine, Stoic, Ulyssean atom; Suddenly hasty, reckless, on high toes.
Voiceless little bird, Resting your head half out of your wimple In the slow dignity of your eternal pause.
Alone, with no sense of being alone, And hence six times more solitary; Fulfilled of the slow passion of pitching through immemorial ages Your little round house in the midst of chaos.
Over the garden earth, Small bird, Over the edge of all things.
Traveller, With your tail tucked a little on one side Like a gentleman in a long-skirted coat.
All life carried on your shoulder, Invincible fore-runner.
Written by David Herbert Lawrence | Create an image from this poem

Tortoise Family Connections

 On he goes, the little one,
Bud of the universe,
Pediment of life.
Setting off somewhere, apparently.
Whither away, brisk egg? His mother deposited him on the soil as if he were no more than droppings, And now he scuffles tinily past her as if she were an old rusty tin.
A mere obstacle, He veers round the slow great mound of her -- Tortoises always foresee obstacles.
It is no use my saying to him in an emotional voice: "This is your Mother, she laid you when you were an egg.
" He does not even trouble to answer: "Woman, what have I to do with thee?" He wearily looks the other way, And she even more wearily looks another way still, Each with the utmost apathy, Incognisant, Unaware, Nothing.
As for papa, He snaps when I offer him his offspring, Just as he snaps when I poke a bit of stick at him, Because he is irascible this morning, an irascible tortoise Being touched with love, and devoid of fatherliness.
Father and mother, And three little brothers, And all rambling aimless, like little perambulating pebbles scattered in the garden, Not knowing each other from bits of earth or old tins.
Except that papa and mama are old acquaintances, of course, Though family feeling there is none, not even the beginnings.
Fatherless, motherless, brotherless, sisterless Little tortoise.
Row on then, small pebble, Over the clods of the autumn, wind-chilled sunshine, Young gaiety.
Does he look for a companion? No, no, don't think it.
He doesn't know he is alone; Isolation is his birthright, This atom.
To row forward, and reach himself tall on spiny toes, To travel, to burrow into a little loose earth, afraid of the night, To crop a little substance, To move, and to be quite sure that he is moving: Basta! To be a tortoise! Think of it, in a garden of inert clods A brisk, brindled little tortoise, all to himself -- Adam! In a garden of pebbles and insects To roam, and feel the slow heart beat Tortoise-wise, the first bell sounding From the warm blood, in the dark-creation morning.
Moving, and being himself, Slow, and unquestioned, And inordinately there, O stoic! Wandering in the slow triumph of his own existence, Ringing the soundless bell of his presence in chaos, And biting the frail grass arrogantly, Decidedly arrogantly.
Written by David Herbert Lawrence | Create an image from this poem

Tortoise Shell

 The Cross, the Cross
Goes deeper in than we know,
Deeper into life;
Right into the marrow
And through the bone.
Along the back of the baby tortoise The scales are locked in an arch like a bridge, Scale-lapping, like a lobster's sections Or a bee's.
Then crossways down his sides Tiger-stripes and wasp-bands.
Five, and five again, and five again, And round the edges twenty-five little ones, The sections of the baby tortoise shell.
Four, and a keystone; Four, and a keystone; Four, and a keystone; Then twenty-four, and a tiny little keystone.
It needed Pythagoras to see life playing with counters on the living back Of the baby tortoise; Life establishing the first eternal mathematical tablet, Not in stone, like the Judean Lord, or bronze, but in life-clouded, life-rosy tortoise shell.
The first little mathematical gentleman Stepping, wee mite, in his loose trousers Under all the eternal dome of mathematical law.
Fives, and tens, Threes and fours and twelves, All the volte face of decimals, The whirligig of dozens and the pinnacle of seven.
Turn him on his back, The kicking little beetle, And there again, on his shell-tender, earth-touching belly, The long cleavage of division, upright of the eternal cross And on either side count five, On each side, two above, on each side, two below The dark bar horizontal.
The Cross! It goes right through him, the sprottling insect, Through his cross-wise cloven psyche, Through his five-fold complex-nature.
So turn him over on his toes again; Four pin-point toes, and a problematical thumb-piece, Four rowing limbs, and one wedge-balancing head, Four and one makes five, which is the clue to all mathematics.
The Lord wrote it all down on the little slate Of the baby tortoise.
Outward and visible indication of the plan within, The complex, manifold involvednes,s of an individual creature Plotted out On this small bird, this rudiment, This little dome, this pediment Of all creation, This slow one.
Written by Andrew Marvell | Create an image from this poem

The Character Of Holland

 Holland, that scarce deserves the name of Land,
As but th'Off-scouring of the Brittish Sand;
And so much Earth as was contributed
By English Pilots when they heav'd the Lead;
Or what by th' Oceans slow alluvion fell,
Of shipwrackt Cockle and the Muscle-shell;
This indigested vomit of the Sea
Fell to the Dutch by just Propriety.
Glad then, as Miners that have found the Oar, They with mad labour fish'd the Land to Shoar; And div'd as desperately for each piece Of Earth, as if't had been of Ambergreece; Collecting anxiously small Loads of Clay, Less then what building Swallows bear away; Transfursing into them their Dunghil Soul.
How did they rivet, with Gigantick Piles, Thorough the Center their new-catched Miles; And to the stake a strugling Country bound, Where barking Waves still bait the forced Ground; Building their watry Babel far more high To reach the Sea, then those to scale the Sky.
Yet still his claim the Injur'd Ocean laid, And oft at Leap-frog ore their Steeples plaid: As if on purpose it on Land had come To shew them what's their Mare Liberum.
A daily deluge over them does boyl; The Earth and Water play at Level-coyl; The Fish oft-times the Burger dispossest, And sat not as a Meat but as a Guest; And oft the Tritons and the Sea-Nymphs saw Whole sholes of Dutch serv'd up for Cabillan; Or as they over the new Level rang'd For pickled Herring, pickled Heeren chang'd.
Nature, it seem'd, asham'd of her mistake, Would throw their land away at Duck and Drake.
Therefore Necessity, that first made Kings, Something like Government among them brings.
For as with Pygmees who best kills the Crane, Among the hungry he that treasures Grain, Among the blind the one-ey'd blinkard reigns, So rules among the drowned he that draines.
Not who first see the rising Sun commands, But who could first discern the rising Lands.
Who best could know to pump an Earth so leak Him they their Lord and Country's Father speak.
To make a Bank was a great Plot of State; Invent a Shov'l and be a Magistrate.
Hence some small Dyke-grave unperceiv'd invades The Pow'r, and grows as 'twere a King of Spades.
But for less envy some Joynt States endures, Who look like a Commission of the Sewers.
For these Half-anders, half wet, and half dry, Nor bear strict service, nor pure Liberty.
'Tis probable Religion after this Came next in order; which they could not miss.
How could the Dutch but be converted, when Th' Apostles were so many Fishermen? Besides the Waters of themselves did rise, And, as their Land, so them did re-baptise.
Though Herring for their God few voices mist, And Poor-John to have been th' Evangelist.
Faith, that could never Twins conceive before, Never so fertile, spawn'd upon this shore: More pregnant then their Marg'ret, that laid down For Hans-in-Kelder of a whole Hans-Town.
Sure when Religion did it self imbark, And from the east would Westward steer its Ark, It struck, and splitting on this unknown ground, Each one thence pillag'd the first piece he found: Hence Amsterdam, Turk-Christian-Pagan-Jew, Staple of Sects and Mint of Schisme grew; That Bank of Conscience, where not one so strange Opinion but finds Credit, and Exchange.
In vain for Catholicks our selves we bear; The Universal Church is onely there.
Nor can Civility there want for Tillage, Where wisely for their Court they chose a Village.
How fit a Title clothes their Governours, Themselves the Hogs as all their Subjects Bores Let it suffice to give their Country Fame That it had one Civilis call'd by Name, Some Fifteen hundred and more years ago, But surely never any that was so.
See but their Mairmaids with their Tails of Fish, Reeking at Church over the Chafing-Dish.
A vestal Turf enshrin'd in Earthen Ware Fumes through the loop-holes of wooden Square.
Each to the Temple with these Altars tend, But still does place it at her Western End: While the fat steam of Female Sacrifice Fills the Priests Nostrils and puts out his Eyes.
Or what a Spectacle the Skipper gross, A Water-Hercules Butter-Coloss, Tunn'd up with all their sev'ral Towns of Beer; When Stagg'ring upon some Land, Snick and Sneer, They try, like Statuaries, if they can, Cut out each others Athos to a Man: And carve in their large Bodies, where they please, The Armes of the United Provinces.
But when such Amity at home is show'd; What then are their confederacies abroad? Let this one court'sie witness all the rest; When their hole Navy they together prest, Not Christian Captives to redeem from Bands: Or intercept the Western golden Sands: No, but all ancient Rights and Leagues must vail, Rather then to the English strike their sail; to whom their weather-beaten Province ows It self, when as some greater Vessal tows A Cock-boat tost with the same wind and fate; We buoy'd so often up their Sinking State.
Was this Jus Belli & Pacis; could this be Cause why their Burgomaster of the Sea Ram'd with Gun-powder, flaming with Brand wine, Should raging hold his Linstock to the Mine? While, with feign'd Treaties, they invade by stealth Our sore new circumcised Common wealth.
Yet of his vain Attempt no more he sees Then of Case-Butter shot and Bullet-Cheese.
And the torn Navy stagger'd with him home, While the Sea laught it self into a foam, 'Tis true since that (as fortune kindly sports,) A wholesome Danger drove us to our ports.
While half their banish'd keels the Tempest tost, Half bound at home in Prison to the frost: That ours mean time at leisure might careen, In a calm Winter, under Skies Serene.
As the obsequious Air and waters rest, Till the dear Halcyon hatch out all its nest.
The Common wealth doth by its losses grow; And, like its own Seas, only Ebbs to flow.
Besides that very Agitation laves, And purges out the corruptible waves.
And now again our armed Bucentore Doth yearly their Sea-Nuptials restore.
And how the Hydra of seaven Provinces Is strangled by our Infant Hercules.
Their Tortoise wants its vainly stretched neck; Their Navy all our Conquest or our Wreck: Or, what is left, their Carthage overcome Would render fain unto our better Rome.
Unless our Senate, lest their Youth disuse, The War, (but who would) Peace if begg'd refuse.
For now of nothing may our State despair, Darling of Heaven, and of Men the Care; Provided that they be what they have been, Watchful abroad, and honest still within.
For while our Neptune doth a Trident shake, Blake, Steel'd with those piercing Heads, Dean, Monck and And while Jove governs in the highest Sphere, Vainly in Hell let Pluto domineer.
Written by John Greenleaf Whittier | Create an image from this poem

Telling the Bees

 Here is the place; right over the hill 
Runs the path I took; 
You can see the gap in the old wall still, 
And the stepping-stones in the shallow brook.
There is the house, with the gate red-barred, And the poplars tall; And the barn's brown length, and the cattle-yard, And the white horns tossing above the wall.
There are the beehives ranged in the sun; And down by the brink Of the brook are her poor flowers, weed-o'errun, Pansy and daffodil, rose and pink.
A year has gone, as the tortoise goes, Heavy and slow; And the same rose blows, and the same sun glows, And the same brook sings of a year ago.
There 's the same sweet clover-smell in the breeze; And the June sun warm Tangles his wings of fire in the trees, Setting, as then, over Fernside farm.
I mind me how with a lover's care From my Sunday coat I brushed off the burrs, and smoothed my hair, And cooled at the brookside my brow and throat.
Since we parted, a month had passed, -- To love, a year; Down through the beeches I looked at last On the little red gate and the well-sweep near.
I can see it all now, -- the slantwise rain Of light through the leaves, The sundown's blaze on her window-pane, The bloom of her roses under the eaves.
Just the same as a month before, -- The house and the trees, The barn's brown gable, the vine by the door, -- Nothing changed but the hives of bees.
Before them, under the garden wall, Forward and back, Went drearily singing the chore-girl small, Draping each hive with a shred of black.
Trembling, I listened: the summer sun Had the chill of snow; For I knew she was telling the bees of one Gone on the journey we all must go! Then I said to myself, "My Mary weeps For the dead to-day: Haply her blind old grandsire sleeps The fret and the pain of his age away.
" But her dog whined low; on the doorway sill, With his cane to his chin, The old man sat; and the chore-girl still Sung to the bees stealing out and in.
And the song she was singing ever since In my ear sounds on: -- "Stay at home, pretty bees, fly not hence! Mistress Mary is dead and gone!"
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