Mark but the little ant, how she doth run,
In what a busy motion she goes1 on,
As if she ordered all the world’s affairs,
When ’tis but only one small straw she bears.
But when they find a fly, which on the ground lies2 dead, 5
Lord,3 how they stir!4 So5 full is every head.6
Some with their feet and mouths draw it along,7
Others, their tails and shoulders thrust it on.8
And if a stranger ant comes on that way,
She helps them straight, ne’er asketh if she may, 10
Nor stays to have9 rewards, but is well pleased;
Thus pays herself with her own pains, their ease.10
They live as the Lacedemonians did,
All is in11 common; nothing is forbid.
No private feast, but altogether meet, 15
And wholesome food,12 though plain, in public eat.13
They have no envy; all ambition’s down;
There is neither superior, nor14 clown.
No stately palaces15 for pride to dwell:16
Their house is common, called the ants’ hill. 20
All help to build, and keep it in repair;
No ’special workmen, but all lab’rers17 are.
No markets keep,18 no meat have they19 to sell,
For what each eats,20 all welcome are,21 and well.
No jealousy, each takes his neighbor’s wife 25
Without offense, which never breedeth strife.
They22 fight no23 duels, nor do give the lie;
Their greatest honor is to live, not die.
For they, to keep up24 life, through dangers venture25
To get provisions in against the winter.26 30
But many lose their life, as chance doth fall.
None is perpetual; Death devours27 all.
- goes] goeth 1653
- But when they find a fly, which on the ground lies] And when a Fly doth on the Ground lye 1664; And when a Flye doth on the Ground lye 1668
- Lord,] Lord! 1664
- stir!] stir; 1653 stir, 1664
- So] how 1664, 1668
- head.] Head! 1664, 1668
- with their feet and mouths draw it along,] it along with Feet and Mouths do Trail, 1664; it a-long with Feet and Mouths do trail; 1668
- Others, their tails and shoulders thrust it on.] And some thrust on with Shoulder and with Tail; 1664; And some thrust on with Shoulder, and with Tail; 1668
- have] ask 1653
- Thus pays herself with her own pains, their ease.] T’have Labour for her Pains, so they be Eas’d. 1664; T’have Labour for her Pains, so they be eas’d. 1668
- All is in] All is 1664; For, all is 1668. In the 1664 Errata list, “All is Common” is corrected to “for all is common”; this correction is also carried forward into 1668.
- And wholesome food,] Wholesome, 1653
- eat.] do they eat. 1653
- neither superior, nor] no Superiority, or 1653
- stately palaces] Palaces 1664, 1668
- to dwell:] erect they will, 1664; erect they will; 1668
- but all lab’rers] all Labourers they 1653
- keep,] Kept, 1664; kept, 1668
- have they] they have 1653
- eats,] one doth eat, 1653
- are,] is, 1653, 1664
- They] Nor 1653
- no] they 1653
- up] in 1653
- venture] run, 1653
- against the winter.] ’gainst Winter comes. 1653
- devours] devoureth 1664, 1668