Verse > Anthologies > Louis Untermeyer, ed. > Modern American Poetry
Louis Untermeyer, ed. (1885–1977). Modern American Poetry.  1919.
Charlotte Perkins S. Gilman. 1860–
22. A Conservative
THE garden beds I wandered by 
  One bright and cheerful morn, 
When I found a new-fledged butterfly, 
  A-sitting on a thorn, 
A black and crimson butterfly         5
  All doleful and forlorn. 
I thought that life could have no sting 
  To infant butterflies, 
So I gazed on this unhappy thing 
  With wonder and surprise.  10
While sadly with his waving wing 
  He wiped his weeping eyes. 
Said I, "What can the matter be? 
  Why weepest thou so sore? 
With garden fair and sunlight free  15
  And flowers in goodly store,"— 
But he only turned away from me 
  And burst into a roar. 
Cried he, "My legs are thin and few 
  Where once I had a swarm!  20
Soft fuzzy fur—a joy to view— 
  Once kept my body warm, 
Before these flapping wing-things grew, 
  To hamper and deform!" 
At that outrageous bug I shot  25
  The fury of mine eye; 
Said I, in scorn all burning hot, 
  In rage and anger high, 
"You ignominious idiot! 
  Those wings are made to fly!"  30
"I do not want to fly," said he, 
  "I only want to squirm!" 
And he drooped his wings dejectedly, 
  But still his voice was firm: 
"I do not want to be a fly!  35
  I want to be a worm! 
O yesterday of unknown lack 
  To-day of unknown bliss! 
I left my fool in red and black; 
  The last I saw was this,—  40
The creature madly climbing back 
  Into his chrysalis. 

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