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Short poem

Sarah Morgan Bryan Piatt (1836-1919)

Why Should We Care?

              1Well, if the bee should sting the flower to death,
              2    With just one drop of honey for the stinging;
              3If the high bird should break its airy breath,
              4    And lose the song forever with the singing,
              5        Why should I care?

              6If in our magic-books no charm is found
              7    To call back last night’s moon from last night’s distance;
              8If violets cannot stay the whole year round,
              9    Spite of their odor and the dew’s resistance,
            10        Why should we care?

            11If hands nor hearts like ours have strength to hold
            12    Fierce shining toys, nor treasures sweet and simple;
            13If nothing can be held for love or gold;
            14    If kisses cannot keep a baby’s dimple,
            15        Why should we care?

            16If sand is in the south, frost in the north,
            17    And sorrow everywhere, and passionate yearning;
            18If stars fade from the skies; if men go forth
            19    From their own thresholds and make no returning,
            20        Why should we care?

            21If this same world can never be the same
            22    After this instant, but grows grayer, older,
            23And nearer to the silence whence it came;
            24    If faith itself is fainter, stiller, colder,
            25        Why should we care?

            26And if the grass is but a pretty vail
            27    Spread on our graves to hide them when we enter;
            28And, after we are gone, if light should fail,
            29    And fires should eat the green world to its center,
            30        Why should we care?

            31If tears were dry, and laughter should seem strange;
            32    And if the soul should doubt itself and falter;
            33Since God is God, and He can never change,
            34    The fashions of the earth and Heaven may alter,
            35        Why should we care?

Online text copyright © 2004, Ian Lancashire for the Department of English, University of Toronto.
Published by the Web Development Group, Information Technology Services, University of Toronto Libraries.

Original text: Palace-Burner: The Selected Poetry of Sarah Piatt, ed. Paula Bennett (Chicago: University of Illinois Press, 2001): 40-41.
Publication date note: The Independent, 1872
RPO poem editor: Ian Lancashire
RP edition: 2004
Recent editing: 1:2004/4/15

Form: quintains
Rhyme: ababc dedec ...

Other poems by Sarah Morgan Bryan Piatt