The Cricket

Original Text: 

Frederick Goddard Tuckerman. "The Cricket." Ed. Mordecai Marcus. The Massachusetts Review 2.1 (Autumn 1960): 33-38; from Frederick Goddard Tuckerman, The Cricket, Printed from His Notebooks with Permission of His Granddaughter Margaret Tuckerman Clark (Cummington, MA.: Cummington Press, 1950).

1I
2The humming bee purrs softly o'er his flower,
3   From lawn and thicket
5   From hour to hour;
6Each has his bard, and thou, ere day be done
7   Shalt have no wrong;
8So bright that murmur mid the insect crowd
9Muffled and lost in bottom grass, or loud
11Shall I not take to help me in my song
12   A little cooing cricket?
13II
14The afternoon is sleepy!, let us lie
15Beneath these branches, whilst the burdened brook
16Muttering and moaning to himself goes by,
17And mark our minstrel's carol, whilst we look
18Toward the faint horizon, swooning-blue.
19   Or in a garden bower
21   Of hanging green;
22   Light glimmering through: --
24Let bloom, with poppy's dark refreshing flower;
25Let the dead fragrance round our temples beat,
26Stunning the sense to slumber; whilst between
27The falling water and fluttering wind
28   Mingle and meet
29   Murmur and mix,
30No few faint pipings from the glades behind,
31   Or alder-thicks;
32But louder as the day declines,
33From tingling tassel blade and sheath,
34Rising from nets of river-vines
36   Above, beneath,
37   At every breath: --
38At hand, around, illimitably
39Rising and falling like the sea,
40   Acres of cricks!
41III
42Dear to the child who hears thy rustling voice
43Cease at his footstep, though he hears thee still,
44Cease and resume, with vibrance crisp and shrill,
45Thou sittest in the sunshine to rejoice!;
46Night lover too; bringer of all things dark,
47And rest and silence; yet thou bringest to me
48Always that burthen of the unresting sea
49The moaning cliffs, the low rocks blackly stark;
50These upland inland fields no more I view,
51But the long flat seaside beach, the wild seamew,
52   And the overturning wave!
53Thou bringest too, dim accents from the grave
54To him who walketh when the day is dim,
55Dreaming of those who dream no more of him---
56With edg'd remembrances of joy and pain:
57And heyday looks and laughter come again;
58Forms that in happy sunshine lie and leap,
59With faces where but now a gap must be
60Renunciations, and partitions deep,
61And perfect tears, and crowning vacancy!
62And to thy poet at the twilights hush
63No chirping touch of lips with tittering blush,
64But wringing arms, hearts wild with love and wo
65Closed eyes, and kisses that would not let go.
66IV
67So wert thou loved in that old graceful time
68   When Greece was fair,
69While god and hero hearkened to thy chime
70   Softly astir
72Long-drawn, with shimmering sails of swan and ship
73   And ship and swan --
74      Or where
78Its breathings mild? say! did the grasshopper
79Sit golden in thy purple hair
81   Or wert thou mute
83And by the water and along the hill
84That thirsty tinkle in the herbage still,
85Though the lost forest wailed to horns of Arcady?
86V
87   Like the Enchanter old --
88Who sought mid the dead water's weeds and scum
89For evil growths beneath the moonbeam cold,
91And touched the leaf that opened both his ears
92So that articulate voices now he hears
93In cry of beast or bird or insect's hum --
94Might I but find thy knowledge in thy song!
95   That twittering tongue
96Ancient as light, returning like the years.
97   So might I be
98Unwise to sing, thy true interpreter
99Thro denser stillness and in sounder dark
100Than ere thy notes have pierced to harrow me,
101   So might I stir
102   The world to hark
103   To thee my lord and lawgiver
104   And cease my quest,
105Content to bring thy wisdom to the world
106Content to gain at last some low applause
107   Now low, now lost
108Like thine from mossy stone amid the stems and straws
109   Or garden-grave mound tricked and drest --
110   Powdered and pearled
111   By stealing frost --
113For larger would be less indeed, and like
114The ceaseless simmer in the summer grass
115To him who toileth in the windy field,
116   Or where the sunbeams strike
117Naught in innumerable numerousness.
118   So might I much possess
119   So much must yield.
120But failing this, the dell and grassy dike
121The water and the waste shall still be dear
122   And all the pleasant plots and places
123Where thou hast sung and I have hung
124   To ignorantly hear. --
125Then cricket sing thy song, or answer mine
126Thine whispers blame, but mine has naught but praises
127It matters not. -- Behold the autumn goes,
128   The Shadow grows,
129The moments take hold of eternity;
130Even while we stop to wrangle or repine
131   Our lives are gone
132   Like thinnest mist,
133Like yon escaping colour in the tree: --
134Rejoice! rejoice! whilst yet the hours exist
135Rejoice or mourn, and let the world swing on
136Unmoved by Cricket-song of thee or me.

Notes

4] dogday: midsummer. Back to Line
10] pale: stake. Back to Line
20] trammeled: constrained. Back to Line
23] hop: twining plant with medicinal, narcotic flowers. Back to Line
35] winrows: wind-rows, hay swept into rows.
ricks: haystacks. Back to Line
71] Caÿster: river (Küçük Menderes today) in western Turkey. Back to Line
75] Eurotas: major river in the Peloponnese that flows into the Laconian Gulf. Back to Line
76] they: thy? Back to Line
77] Xenaphyle: unidentified. Back to Line
80] Psammathe: Greek goddess of sandy beaches. Back to Line
82] Pan: god of nature in mythology, and the only Greek diety who (reportedly) died. Back to Line
90] mandrake: poisonous fork-rooted plant.
dorcynium: possibly dorycnium, of the lotus family. Back to Line
112] euphorbias: spurge. Back to Line
Publication Start Year: 
1950
RPO poem Editors: 
Data entry: Sharine Leung
RPO Edition: 
2012
Rhyme: 
Form: