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Short poem

Henry David Thoreau (1817-1862)

I Am a Parcel of Vain Strivings Tied

              1I am a parcel of vain strivings tied
              2        By a chance bond together,
              3Dangling this way and that, their links
              4        Were made so loose and wide,
              5                           Methinks,
              6              For milder weather.

              7A bunch of violets without their roots,
              8        And sorrel intermixed,
              9Encircled by a wisp of straw
            10        Once coiled about their shoots,
            11                           The law
            12              By which I'm fixed.

            13A nosegay which Time clutched from out
            14        Those fair Elysian fields,
            15With weeds and broken stems, in haste,
            16        Doth make the rabble rout
            17                           That waste
            18              The day he yields.

            19And here I bloom for a short hour unseen,
            20        Drinking my juices up,
            21With no root in the land
            22        To keep my branches green,
            23                           But stand
            24              In a bare cup.

            25Some tender buds were left upon my stem
            26        In mimicry of life,
            27But ah! the children will not know,
            28        Till time has withered them,
            29                           The woe
            30              With which they're rife.

            31But now I see I was not plucked for naught,
            32        And after in life's vase
            33Of glass set while I might survive,
            34        But by a kind hand brought
            35                           Alive
            36              To a strange place.

            37That stock thus thinned will soon redeem its hours,
            38        And by another year,
            39Such as God knows, with freer air,
            40        More fruits and fairer flowers
            41                           Will bear,
            42              While I droop here.

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: Collected Poems of Henry David Thoreau, ed. Carl Bode (Baltimore: The Johns Hopkins Press, 1964): 81-82. PS 3041 .B6 1964 Robarts Library
RPO poem editor: Ian Lancashire
RP edition: 2004
Recent editing: 1:2004/8/12

Other poems by Henry David Thoreau