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Poems Every Child Should Know by  Mary E. Burt


 

 

A CHRYSALIS

"A Chrysalis" is a favourite poem with John Burroughs, and is found, too, in Stedman's collection. We all come to a point in life where we need to burst the shell and fly away into the new realm. (1835-98.)

My little Mädchen found one day

A curious something in her play,

That was not fruit, nor flower, nor seed;

It was not anything that grew,

Or crept, or climbed, or swam, or flew;

Had neither legs nor wings, indeed;

And yet she was not sure, she said,

Whether it was alive or dead.


She brought it in her tiny hand

To see if I would understand,

And wondered when I made reply,

"You've found a baby butterfly."

"A butterfly is not like this,"

With doubtful look she answered me.

So then I told her what would be

Some day within the chrysalis:


[150]

How, slowly, in the dull brown thing

Now still as death, a spotted wing,

And then another, would unfold,

Till from the empty shell would fly

A pretty creature, by and by,

All radiant in blue and gold.


"And will it, truly?" questioned she—

Her laughing lips and eager eyes

All in a sparkle of surprise—

"And shall your little Mädchen see?"

"She shall!" I said. How could I tell

That ere the worm within its shell

Its gauzy, splendid wings had spread,

My little Mädchen would be dead?


To-day the butterfly has flown,—

She was not here to see it fly,—

And sorrowing I wonder why

The empty shell is mine alone.

Perhaps the secret lies in this:

I too had found a chrysalis,

And Death that robbed me of delight

Was but the radiant creature's flight!


MARY EMILY BRADLEY.


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