Philosophy Phriday: Of the Ant

The Daily Ant hosts a weekly series, Philosophy Phridays, in which real philosophers share their thoughts at the intersection of ants and philosophy. This is the seventeenth contribution in the series, submitted posthumously by the Right Honorable Margaret Cavendish, Duchess of Newcastle.

[Editor’s note: a〈◊〉symbol indicates missing text]

Of the Ant

Mark but the little Ant, how she doth run,
In what a busie motion 〈◊〉 goeth on:
As if the ordered all the Worlds Affaires;
When tis but onely one small Straw shee bearcs.
But when they find a Flye, which on the ground lyes dead,
Lord, how they stir; so full is every Head.
Some with their Feet, and Mouths, draw it along,
Others their Tailes, and Shoulders thrust it on.
And if a Stranger Ant comes on that way,
Shee helpes them strait, nere asketh if shee may
Nor staies to ask Rewardes, but is well pleas’d:
Thus paies her selfe with her owne Paines, their Ease.
They live as the Lacedemonians did,
All is in Common, nothing is forbid.
No Private Feast, but altogether meet,
Whole some, though Plaine, in Publick do they eat.
They have no Envie, all Ambition’s downe,
There is no Superiority, or Clowne.
No Stately Palaces for Pride to dwell,
Their House is Common, called the 〈◊〉 Hill.
All help to build, and keep it in repaire,
No ‘speciall work-men, all Labourers they are.
No 〈◊〉 keep, no 〈◊〉 they have to sell,
For what each one doth eat, all welcome is, and well.
No Jealousie, each takes his Neighbours Wife,
Without Offence, which never breedeth 〈◊〉.
Nor fight they Duels, nor do give the Lye,
Their greatest Honour is to live, not dye.
For they, to keep in life, through Dangers run,
To get Provisions in ‘gainst Winter comes.
But many loose their Life, as Chance doth fall,
None is perpetuall, Death devoures all.

MargbigRight Honorable Margaret Cavendish, Duchess of Newcastle is a 17th-century English philosopher also known for her poetry, science fiction writing, and scientific work. For more on the Duchess, check out her academic website.