Ten years ago, or maybe twenty,
There lived an ant named John J. Plenty.
And every day, come rain, come shine,
John J. would take his place in line
With all the other ants. All day
He hunted seeds to haul away,
Or beetle eggs, or bits of bread.
These he would carry on his head
Back to his house. And John J., he
Was happy as an ant can be
When he was carrying a load
Big as a barn along the road.
The work was hard, but all John J. —
Or any other ant — would say
Was “More! Get more! No time to play!
Winter is coming.”
All day long from rose to rose
Dan played the music the summer knows,
Of the sun and rain through the tall corn rows,
And of time as it comes, and of love as it grows.
And all the summer stirred to hear
The voice of the music. Far and near
The grasses swayed, and the sun and shade
Danced to the love the music played.
And Dan played on for the world to turn,
While his little wife lay on a fringe of fern,
And heard the heart of summer ringing,
Sad and sweet to the fiddle’s singing.
So the sun came up and the sun went down.
So summer changed from green to brown.
So autumn changed from brown to gold.
And the music sang, “The world grows old,
But never my song. The song stays new,
My sad sweet love, as the thought of you.”
And summer and autumn dreamed and found
The name of the world in that sad sweet sound
Of the music telling how time grows old.
Fields held their breath to hear it told.
The trees bent down from the hills to hear.
A flower uncurled to shed a tear
For the sound of the music. And field and hill
Woke from the music, sad and still.
So John J. Plenty waited and fasted.
As for the winter, it lasted and lasted.
He nibbled a crumb one day in ten.
But he shook with terror even then
When the thought of how he might be wasting
All that food he was hardly tasting.
And that’s how it went.
From far and near, from blade to blade,
He heard the song that springtime played.
It’s a softer fiddle than autumn knows
When the fiddler goes down tall corn rows,
But the same far song. It grows and grows,
And spring and summer stir to hear
The music sounding far and near.
And the grasses sway, and the sun and shade
Dance when they hear the music played.
It was Dan, still singing for time to turn
While his little wife lay on a fringe of fern
And heard the heart of the springtime ringing
Sweet and new as the fiddle’s singing.
I guess he recovered. I hope he did.
I don’t know where the Fiddler hid
With his pretty wife from ice and snow.
I guess about all I really know
Is — save a little or save a lot,
You have to eat some of what you’ve got.
And — say what you like as you trudge along,
The world won’t turn without a song.