Fytte VI: Potters’ Clay

[An Allegorical Interlude]


‘Nec propter vitam vivendi perdere causas.’


THOUGH the pitcher that goes to the sparkling rill

Too oft gets broken at last,

There are scores of others its place to fill

When its earth to the earth is cast ;

Keep that pitcher at home, let it never roam,

But lie like a useless clod,

Yet sooner or later the hour will come

When its chips are thrown to the sod.


Is it wise, then, say, in the waning day,

When the vessel is crack’d and old,

To cherish the battered potter’s clay,

As though it were virgin gold ?

Take care of yourself, dull, boorish elf,

Though prudent and safe you seem,

Your pitcher will break on the musty shelf,

And mine by the dazzling stream.


Published in ‘Sea Spray and Smoke Drift’ (1867).