The Silk-Worm's Will

By Hannah Flagg Gould

On a plain rush hurdle a silk-worm lay,
When a proud young princess came that way;
The haughty child of a human king
Threw a sidelong glance at the humble thing,
That received with silent gratitude
From the mulberry leaf her simple food,
And shrunk, half scorn and half disgust,
Away from her sister child of the dust;
Declaring she never yet could see
Why a reptile form like this should be;
And that she was not made with nerves so firm,
As calmly to stand by a ‘crawling worm!’
With mute forbearance the silk-worm took
The taunting words and the spurning look.
Alike a stranger to self and pride,
She’d no disquiet from aught beside;
And lived of a meekness and peace possessed,
Which these debar from the human breast.
She only wished, for the harsh abuse,
To find some way to become of rise
To the haughty daughter of lordly man;
And thus did she lay a noble plan
To teach her wisdom and make it plain,
That the humble worm was not made in vain;
A plan so generous, deep and high,
That, to carry it out, she must even die!
‘No more,’ said she, ‘will I drink or eat!
I’ll spin and weave me a winding sheet,
To wrap me up from the sun’s clear light, And hide thy form from her wounded sight.
In secret then, till my end draws nigh,
I’ll toil for her; and, when I die,
I’ll leave behind, as a farewell boon
To the proud young princess, my whole cocoon,
To be reeled and wove to a shining lace,
And hung in a veil o’er her scornful face!
And when she can calmly draw her breath
Through the very threads that have caused my death;
When she finds, at length, she has nerves so firm,
As to wear the shroud of a crawling worm,
May she bear in mind, that she walks with pride
In the winding sheet where the silk-worm died!’

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