Formicid Form: The Ants

The Daily Ant maintains “Formicid Form”, a Sunday ant poetry series. When possible, our Verse Correspondant, Natalia Piland, provides a short commentary at the end of each poem. Enjoy!


The Ants

By John Clare

What wonder strikes the curious, while he views
The black ant’s city, by a rotten tree,
Or woodland bank! In ignorance we muse:
Pausing, annoyed, –we know not what we see,
Such government and thought there seem to be;
Some looking on, and urging some to toil,
Dragging their loads of bent-stalks slavishly:
And what’s more wonderful, when big loads foil
One ant or two to carry, quickly then
A swarm flock round to help their fellow-men*.
Surely they speak a language whisperingly,
Too fine for us to hear; and sure their ways
Prove they have kings and laws, and that they be
Deformed remnants of the Fairy-days.

*All worker ants are female, but we allow Clare some poetic license here.


NPG 1469; John Clare by William Hilton
John Clare

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