Vachel Lindsay

November 10, 1879 – December 5, 1931 / Springfield, Illinois

The Mouse That Gnawed The Oak-Tree Down

The mouse that gnawed the oak-tree down
Began his task in early life.
He kept so busy with his teeth
He had no time to take a wife.

He gnawed and gnawed through sun and rain
When the ambitious fit was on,
Then rested in the sawdust till
A month of idleness had gone.

He did not move about to hunt
The coteries of mousie-men.
He was a snail-paced, stupid thing
Until he cared to gnaw again.

The mouse that gnawed the oak-tree down,
When that tough foe was at his feet—
Found in the stump no angel-cake
Nor buttered bread, nor cheese, nor meat—
The forest-roof let in the sky.
“This light is worth the work,” said he.
“I’ll make this ancient swamp more light,”
And started on another tree.
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