A Butterfly's Wing

by Unknown


BROTHER, do tell me,' a little ant said,
'What was it went flying just over my head?
'Twas caught in the sunbeam that pierces the yew;
Its colours were crimson, black, orange and blue.
It looked like a flag that the fairies might fly
If leading an army from here to the sky.
And out of the shadow it came from the lane
To flit through the light into shadow again.
O brother! dear brother! what could it have been?
Such colours, such beauty, I seldom have seen.
Look! there in the distance it flutters once more,
Now right and now left by the summer-house door.'
And like one bewitched he set off at a bound,
Though jungles of grasses grew thickly around.

'Heed not,' cried the other, 'so simple a thing;
'Tis nothing on earth but a butterfly's wing.
They flit through the garden all hours of the day,
They turn to each bud in a purposeless way,
And many a time have they halted to see
What fun could be made of my neighbours and me.
But who cares for them?  On their way let them go.
When the summer has passed they have nothing to show,
While one of our efforts more profit will bring
Than ten thousand strokes of a butterfly's wing.
Come! back to our work.'
And without more ado
He dug 'neath the soil where an artichoke grew.

The little ant followed, and though I must say
He worked in a rather preoccupied way,
He owned that to duty 'twas better to cling
Than follow the flight of a butterfly's wing.