The Ant.[67.1]

A poem by Richard Lovelace

I.
Forbear, thou great good husband, little ant;
A little respite from thy flood of sweat!
Thou, thine own horse and cart under this plant,
Thy spacious tent, fan thy prodigious heat;
Down with thy double load of that one grain!
It is a granarie for all thy train.

II.
Cease, large example of wise thrift, awhile
(For thy example is become our law),
And teach thy frowns a seasonable smile:
So Cato sometimes the nak'd Florals saw.[67.2]
And thou, almighty foe, lay by thy sting,
Whilst thy unpay'd musicians, crickets, sing.

III.
LUCASTA, she that holy makes the day,
And 'stills new life in fields of fueillemort,[67.3]
Hath back restor'd their verdure with one ray,
And with her eye bid all to play and sport,
Ant, to work still! age will thee truant call;
And to save now, th'art worse than prodigal.

IV.
Austere and cynick! not one hour t' allow,
To lose with pleasure, what thou gotst with pain;
But drive on sacred festivals thy plow,
Tearing high-ways with thy ore-charged wain.
Not all thy life-time one poor minute live,
And thy ore-labour'd bulk with mirth relieve?

V.
Look up then, miserable ant, and spie
Thy fatal foes, for breaking of their[67.4] law,
Hov'ring above thee: Madam MARGARET PIE:
And her fierce servant, meagre Sir JOHN DAW:
Thy self and storehouse now they do store up,
And thy whole harvest too within their crop.

VI.
Thus we unt[h]rifty thrive within earth's tomb
For some more rav'nous and ambitious jaw:
The grain in th' ant's, the ant[67.5] in the pie's womb,
The pie in th' hawk's, the hawk[67.6] ith' eagle's maw.
So scattering to hord 'gainst a long day,
Thinking to save all, we cast all away.

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