It’s rather unwise perhaps
But they’ll never think of the wardrobe-shelves.
I’m happy in every hair of my fur;
They may keep the hamper and hay themselves.
THE MILL STREAM.
One of a hundred little rills—
Born in the hills,
Nourished with dews by the earth, and with tears by the sky,
Sang—“Who so mighty as I?
The farther I flow
The bigger I grow.
I, who was born but a little rill,
Now turn the big wheel of the mill,
Though the surly slave would rather stand still.
Old, and weed-hung, and grim,
I am not afraid of him;
For when I come running and dance on his toes,
With a creak and a groan the monster goes.
And turns faster and faster,
As he learns who is master,
Round and round,
Till the corn is ground,
And the miller smiles as he stands on the bank,
And knows he has me to thank.
Then when he swings the fine sacks of flour,
I feel my power;
But when the children enjoy their food,
I know I’m not only great but good!”
Furthermore sang the brook—
“Who loves the beautiful, let him look!
Garlanding me in shady spots
Are blue as the summer sky:
Who so lovely as I?
My King-cups of gold
Shine from the shade of the alders old,
Stars of the stream!—
At the water-rat’s threshold they gleam.
The Frog-bit spreads me its blossoms of snow,
And in masses
The Willow-herb, the flags, and the grasses,
Reeds, rushes, and sedges,
Flower and fringe and feather my edges.
To be beautiful is not amiss,
But to be loved is more than this;
And who more sought than I,
By all that run or swim or crawl or fly?
Sober shell-fish and frivolous gnats,
The poet with rippling rhymes so fluent,
Boys with boats playing truant,
Cattle wading knee-deep for water;
And the flower-plucking parson’s daughter.
Down in my depths dwell creeping things
Who rise from my bosom on rainbow wings,
For—too swift for a school-boy’s prize—
Hither and thither above me dart the prismatic-hued dragon-flies.
At my side the lover lingers,
And with lack-a-daisical fingers,
The Weeping Willow, woe-begone,
Strives to stay me as I run on.”
There came an hour
When all this beauty and love and power
But a small thing to that Mill Stream.
And then his cry
Was, “Why, oh! why
Am I thus surrounded
With checks and limits, and bounded
By bank and border
To keep me in order,
Against my will?
I, who was born to be free and unfettered—a mountain rill!
But for these jealous banks, the good
Of my gracious and fertilizing flood