The Ants

By William Empson

We tunnel through your noonday out to you.

We carry our tube’s narrow darkness there

where, nostrum-plastered, with prepared air,

with old men running and trains whining through

We ants may tap your aphids for your dew.

You may not wish their sucking or our care;

Our all-but freedom, too, your branch must bear,

High as roots’ depth in earth, all earth to view.

No, by too much this station the air nears.

How small a chink lets in how dire a foe.

What though the garden in one glance appears?

Winter will come and all her leaves will go.

We do not know what skeleton endures.

Carry at least her parasites below.

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