Ye little snails,
With slippery tails,
Who noiselessly travel
Along this gravel,
By a silvery path of slime unsightly,
I learn that you visit my pea-rows nightly.
Felonious your visit, I guess!
And I give you this warning,
That, every morning,
I'll strictly examine the pods;
And if one I hit on,
With slaver or spit on,
Your next meal will be with the gods.
I own you're a very ancient race,
And Greece and Babylon were amid;
You have tenanted many a royal dome,
And dwelt in the oldest pyramid;
The source of the Nile! - O, you have been there!
In the ark was your floodless bed;
On the moonless night of Marathon
You crawled o'er the mighty dead;
But still, though I reverence your ancestries,
I don't see why you should nibble my peas.
The meadows are yours, - the hedgerow and brook,
You may bathe in their dews at morn;
By the aged sea you may sound your shells,
On the mountains erect your horn;
The fruits and the flowers are your rightful dowers,
Then why - in the name of wonder -
Should my six pea-rows be the only cause
To excite your midnight plunder!
I have never disturbed your slender shells;
You have hung round my aged walk;
And each might have sat, till he died in his fat,
Beneath his own cabbage-stalk:
But now you must fly from the soil of your sires;
Then put on your liveliest crawl,
And think of your poor little snails at home,
Now orphans or emigrants all.
Utensils domestic and civil and social
I give you an evening to pack up;
But if the moon of this night does not rise
on your flight,
Tomorrow I'll hang each man Jack up.
You'll think of my peas and your thievish tricks,
With tears of slime, when crossing the Styx.