The Spider and the Bee

Louisa Sarah Guggenberger Bevington

He had closed his volume of theorie;
He rose from his restful reverie,
"The world must be saved by sympathie."

He wandered forth in the summery air
Not much he knew of the stress of care
And nothing at all of the thing: Despair.

Pain was "pain," and four letters long;
And "force" five letters and always wrong;
"Sympathy" said so 'twixt song and song.

In a rose-bush a spider's net spied he,
So neat, so clever, so orderlie;
And, lo! in its meshes a honey-bee.

The spider was large and her web was tough;
She watched till the bee had struggled enough
Before it was worth her while to be rough.

But a hole in her institution, you see,
Must never be made by struggles of bee;
Oh, preposterous thought! Oh, catastrophe!

So she rushed, and she clutched, and she bit, and she wove,
As spiders will weave whose ancestors throve:
And vainly the bee in its agony strove.

And he who stood by felt his sympathie
Enlisted for spider, enlisted for bee
"I wish you may both survive" said he.

O grand old Nature! who gives reward,
And honey to busy bees doth afford,
And honey and bee to the spider's hoard.

Oh, poor bee! buzzing in vain, in vain,
I sympathise, too, in your arduous strain!
May bees of the future escape such pain!

To free you by Force were a serious wrong,
For spiders have lived in that way so long
They "work" at their nets, so neat, so strong.

Besides, Coercion! so wicked, you see!
To compel that fat spider to set you free
Were "in principle" evil, for you and for me.

Be sure I am sorry; perhaps some day
Spiders will cease to subsist on prey,
Or honey-bees fly no more in their way.

So the sun went down, and the spider fed
On the agonised honey bee not yet dead;
And sympathy sighed, and went home to bed.

What of the tale? Well, it isn't exact;
Yet it hints at an ugly and pitiful fact.
"Philosophy" severing language from fact,

Sympathy's name is a shibboleth spoken;
Dreams of web-spinners be speedily broken!
This story one tiny superfluous token.

A Tale for the Times.

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