by Vachel Lindsay (1879 - 1931)

The mouse that gnawed the oak‑tree down
Language: English 
The mouse that gnawed the oak-tree down
Began his task in early life.
He kept so busy with his teeth
He had no time to take a wife.
He gnawed and gnawed through sun and rain
When the ambitious fit was on.
Then rested in the sawdust till
A month of idleness had gone.
He did not move about to hunt
The coteries of mousie-men.
He was a snail-paced, stupid thing
Until he cared to gnaw again.
The mouse that gnawed the oak-tree down,
When that tough foe was at his feet -- 
Found in the stump no angel-cake,
Nor buttered bread, nor cheese nor meat -- 
The forest roof let in the sky.
"This light is worth the work" said he.
"I'll make this ancient swamp more light."
And started on another tree.

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Musical settings (art songs, Lieder, mélodies, (etc.), choral pieces, and other vocal works set to this text), listed by composer (not necessarily exhaustive)


Researcher for this text: Emily Ezust [Administrator]

This text was added to the website: 2008-07-02
Line count: 20
Word count: 132