A GREAT honey-bee bustled over the lea,
Then stopped in a field of white clover
To load up his thigh, till he scarcely could fly
The wide sloping meadow-land over.
He sneered, as he flew, at the dragon-fly blue,
At the swallow so airily winging.
The clear, lazy brook, droning tunes in a nook,
The bobolink, joyfully singing.
As she went on her way, Cloverhead heard him say,
Like a Pharisee noisily praying,
"How well it would be, if the creatures like me
Worked always, and never were playing !
"Yon stream, with a will should be turning a mill;
That dragon-fly, learn to make honey;
That pert bobolink, I do really think,
If he sings, should be singing for money."
So Busy Bee sped, till he bumped his wise head
On a cherry bough whitely in flower;
Fresh, dainty, and fair, sat a butterfly there,
Like a queen in a summer-laid bower.
"O Butterfly gay, have you aught laid away?
Don't you know you're a terrible sinner
To idle your time while yet in your prime,
Having nothing laid up for your dinner?"
Fair Butterfly laughed, as a dewdrop she quaffed
From a cherry-bloom softly unfolding:
"Good-bye, Busy Bee; don't be worrying me
With your lectures and wearisome scolding.
"I fancy He knows that the fair ruddy rose
For a wheat-ear was never intended;
The jewel that burns, as the humming-bird turns,
His hand from the rainbow has blended.
"You work all the day—'tis a honey-bee's way;
The Lord made you homely and busy;
What use would it be for a creature like me
To be grumbling, and work myself dizzy?
"And then, don't you see, you insensible bee,
How our world, made of fibre and feather,
Would say I was queer, stepping out of my sphere,
Strong-minded and wrong altogether?
"I wish you no ill. You work with a will;
But I ll swing, if I like, on a thistle,
Fan faint little flowers in odorous bowers,
And wait for the quail's warning whistle.
"I'll sit in the sun till the summer is done;
But long ere the cold sobbing weather
I'll pack up my clothes in the heart of a rose,
And we ll perish like vagrants together."