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by William Cullen Bryant


[WRITTEN IN 1831] -

I heard a beeon a summer day

Brisk and busyand ripe for quarrel-

Bustlingand buzzingand bouncing away

In the fragrant depth of an old tar-barrel. -

Do you ask what his buzzing was all about?

Ohhe was wondrous shrewd and critical:

'Twas sport to hear him scold and flout

And the topics he chose were all political. -

And first and foremost he buzzed of tar

And called the heads of the government asses

To let it be carried off so far

And changedat Trinidadfor molasses. -

For we got the West India trade too soon

From the British folks- he had not a doubt of it;

For himselfhe'd have scorned the thing "as a boon"

But kept at work till he cheated them out of it. -

Then plaintive and piteous his humming grew

And I thought him complaining of indigestion;

But I listened againand at length I knew

He had got upon the Indian question. -

The worldhe declaredwould all look glum

To see us coax the Cherokee nation

From their fathers' gravesfrom the whites and rum

Their pockets lined with a compensation. -

Nexttones of fury and wrath were heard-

And I started back with sudden wonder;

For the staves were shakenthe hoops were jarred

And it seemed the barrel was filled with thunder. -

"'Twas a crime to fill the land with groans

'Twas a deed" he said"most foul and ugly

To turn our poor unfortunate drones

From the public hivewhere they lodged so snugly." -

And next- but I started at the sound

Of noses blown and people walking;

And I saw some thirty Nationals round

And found I had dozed while Ketchum was talking. - -