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Stedman and Hutchinson, comps. A Library of American Literature:
An Anthology in Eleven Volumes. 1891.
Vols. IX–XI: Literature of the Republic, Part IV., 1861–1889

The First Cricket

By William Dean Howells (1837–1920)

AH me! is it then true that the year has waxed unto waning,

And that so soon must remain nothing but lapse and decay,—

Earliest cricket, that out of the midsummer midnight complaining,

All the faint summer in me takest with subtle dismay?

Though thou bringest no dream of frost to the flowers that slumber,

Though no tree for its leaves, doomed of thy voice, maketh moan,

Yet with th’ unconscious earth’s boded evil my soul thou dost cumber,

And in the year’s lost youth makest me still lose my own.

Answerest thou, that when nights of December are blackest and bleakest,

And when the fervid grate feigns me a May in my room,

And by my hearthstone gay, as now sad in my garden, thou creakest,—

Thou wilt again give me all,—dew and fragrance and bloom?

Nay, little poet! full many a cricket I have that is willing,

If I but take him down out of his place on my shelf,

Me blither lays to sing than the blithest known to thy shrilling,

Full of the rapture of life, May, morn, hope, and—himself:

Leaving me only the sadder; for never one of my singers

Lures back the bee to his feast, calls back the bird to his tree.

Hast thou no art can make me believe, while the summer yet lingers,

Better than bloom that has been red leaf and sere that must be?