A Chrysalis

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A Chrysalis
by Mary Emily Bradley
"A Chrysalis" is a favourite poem with John Burroughs, and is found, too, in Stedman's collection. We all come to a point in life where we need to burst the shell and fly away into the new realm. (1835-98.)

    My little Mädchen found one day
    A curious something in her play,
    That was not fruit, nor flower, nor seed;
    It was not anything that grew,
    Or crept, or climbed, or swam, or flew;
    Had neither legs nor wings, indeed;
    And yet she was not sure, she said,
    Whether it was alive or dead.

    She brought it in her tiny hand
    To see if I would understand,
    And wondered when I made reply,
   "You've found a baby butterfly."
   "A butterfly is not like this,"
    With doubtful look she answered me.
    So then I told her what would be
    Some day within the chrysalis:
    How, slowly, in the dull brown thing
    Now still as death, a spotted wing,
    And then another, would unfold,
    Till from the empty shell would fly
    A pretty creature, by and by,
    All radiant in blue and gold.

   "And will it, truly?" questioned she--
    Her laughing lips and eager eyes
    All in a sparkle of surprise--
   "And shall your little Mädchen see?"
   "She shall!" I said. How could I tell
    That ere the worm within its shell
    Its gauzy, splendid wings had spread,
    My little Mädchen would be dead?

    To-day the butterfly has flown,--
    She was not here to see it fly,--
    And sorrowing I wonder why
    The empty shell is mine alone.
    Perhaps the secret lies in this:
    I too had found a chrysalis,
    And Death that robbed me of delight
    Was but the radiant creature's flight!

This work was published before January 1, 1923, and is in the public domain worldwide because the author died at least 100 years ago.