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William Cullen Bryant's "To a Mosquito"

The following is the complete text of William Cullen Bryant's poem, "To a Mosquito." The various books, short stories and poems we offer are presented free of charge with absolutely no advertising as a public service from Internet Accuracy Project.


Visit these other works by the "poet of nature," William Cullen Bryant
"The African Chief"
"The Ages"
"Among the Trees"
"Catterskill Falls"
"The Cloud on the Way"
A collection of his short poems
"The Death of Slavery"
"Earth"
"The Embargo"
"A Forest Hymn"
"The Fountain"
"Hymn to Death"
"A Legend of the Delawares"

"A Meditation on Rhode Island Coal"
"The Night Journey of a River"
"The Old Man's Counsel"
"The Planting of the Apple-Tree"
"The Prairies"
"A Rain-Dream"
"The Rats and Mice"
"The Rivulet"
"The Song of the Sower"
"Thanatopsis"
"The Two Graves"
"A Winter Piece"

To see all available titles by other authors, drop by our index of free books alphabetized by author or arranged alphabetically by title.

Potential uses for the free books, stories and prose we offer
* Rediscovering an old favorite book, short story or poem.
* Bibliophiles expanding their collection of public domain eBooks at no cost.
* Teachers trying to locate a free online copy of a short story or poem for use in the classroom.


NOTE: We try to present these classic literary works as they originally appeared in print. As such, they sometimes contain adult themes, offensive language, typographical errors, and often utilize unconventional, older, obsolete or intentionally incorrect spelling and/or punctuation conventions.


"To a Mosquito" by William Cullen Bryant

TO A MOSQUITO

BY WILLIAM CULLEN BRYANT


Fair insect! that, with threadlike legs spread out,
And blood-extracting bill and filmy wing,
Dost murmur, as thou slowly sail'st about,
In pitiless ears full many a plaintive thing,
And tell how little our large veins should bleed,
Would we but yield them to thy bitter need.

Unwillingly, I own, and, what is worse,
Full angrily, men hearken to thy plaint,
Thou gettest many a brush, and many a curse,
For saying thou art gaunt, and starved, and faint:
Even the old beggar, while he asks for food,
Would kill thee, hapless stranger, if he could.

I call thee stranger, for the town, I ween,
Has not the honor of so proud a birth,
Thou com'st from Jersey meadows, fresh and green,
The offspring of the gods, though born on earth;
For Titan was thy sire, and fair was she,
The ocean nymph, that nursed thy infancy.

Beneath the rushes was thy cradle swung,
And when, at length, thy gauzy wings grew strong,
Abroad to gentle airs their folds were flung,
Rose in the sky and bore thee soft along;
The south wind breathed to waft thee on thy way,
And danced and shone beneath the billowy bay.

Calm rose afar the city spires, and thence
Came the deep murmur of its throng of men,
And as its grateful odors met thy sense,
They seemed the perfumes of thy native fen.
Fair lay its crowded streets, and at the sight
Thy tiny song grew shriller with delight.

At length thy pinions fluttered in Broadway--
Ah, there were fairy steps, and white necks kissed
By wanton airs, and eyes whose killing ray
Shone through the snowy veils like stars through mist;
And fresh as morn, on many a cheek and chin,
Bloomed the bright blood through the transparent skin.

Sure these were sights to touch an anchorite!
What! do I hear thy slender voice complain?
Thou wailest when I talk of beauty's light,
As if it brought the memory of pain:
Thou art a wayward being--well--come near,
And pour thy tale of sorrow in my ear.

What sayest thou--slanderer!--rouge makes thee sick?
And China bloom at best is sorry food?
And Rowland's Kalydor, if laid on thick,
Poisons the thirsty wretch that bores for blood?
Go! 'twas a just reward that met thy crime--
But shun the sacrilege another time.

That bloom was made to look at, not to touch;
To worship, not approach, that radiant white;
And well might sudden vengeance light on such
As dared, like thee, most impiously to bite.
Thou shouldst have gazed at distance and admired,
Murmured thy adoration, and retired.

Thou'rt welcome to the town; but why come here
To bleed a brother poet, gaunt like thee?
Alas! the little blood I have is dear,
And thin will be the banquet drawn from me.
Look round--the pale-eyed sisters in my cell,
Thy old acquaintance, Song and Famine, dwell.

Try some plump alderman, and suck the blood
Enriched by generous wine and costly meat;
On well-filled skins, sleek as thy native mud,
Fix thy light pump and press thy freckled feet.
Go to the men for whom, in ocean's halls,
The oyster breeds, and the green turtle sprawls.

There corks are drawn, and the red vintage flows
To fill the swelling veins for thee, and now
The ruddy cheek and now the ruddier nose
Shall tempt thee, as thou flittest round the brow;
And when the hour of sleep its quiet brings,
No angry hands shall rise to brush thy wings.




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