I charge you by your life, go back to death.
This glebe is sick, this wind is foul of breath.
Stay: feed the worms.
“Oh! every clod
Is faint, and falters from the war of growth
And crumbles in a dreary dust of sloth,
“What need, what need,
To hide with flowers the curse upon the hills,
Or sanctify the banks of sluggish rills
Where vapors breed?
“And — if needs must —
Advance, O Summer-heats! upon the land,
And bake the bloody mould to shards and sand
“Before your birth,
Burn up, O Roses! with your dainty flame.
Good Violets, sweet Violets, hide shame
Below the earth.
“Ye silent Mills,
Reject the bitter kindness of the moss.
O Farms! protest if any tree emboss
The barren hills.
“Young Trade is dead,
And swart Work sullen sits in the hillside fern
And folds his arms that find no bread to earn,
And bows his head.
Albeit the towns have left you place to play,
I charge you, sport not. Winter owns to-day,
Stay: feed the worms.”
Prattville, Alabama, 1868.