Robert Frost


An ant on the tablecloth Ran into a dormant moth Of many times his size. He showed not the least surprise. His business wasn’t with such. He gave it scarcely a touch, And was off on his duty run. Yet if he encountered one Of the hive’s enquiry squad Whose work is to find out God And the nature of time and space, He would put him onto the case. Ants are a curious race; One crossing with hurried tread The body of one of their dead Isn’t given a moment’s arrest- Seems not even impressed. But he no doubt reports to any With whom he crosses antennae, And they no doubt report To the higher-up at court. Then word goes forth in Formic: ‘Death’s come to Jerry McCormic, Our selfless forager Jerry. Will the special Janizary Whose office it is to bury The dead of the commissary Go bring him home to his people. Lay him in state on a sepal. Wrap him for shroud in a petal. Embalm him with ichor of nettle. This is the word of your Queen.’ And presently on the scene Appears a solemn mortician; And taking formal position, With feelers calmly atwiddle, Seizes the dead by the middle, And heaving him high in air, Carries him out of there. No one stands round to stare. It is nobody else’s affair It couldn’t be called ungentle But how thoroughly departmental

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