The Plaint of the Cottontails

By George Sterling

Deem it not strange that we, the small,
    Are timorous of earth,
And fail to find existence all
    A thing of thoughtless mirth:
Now, as the cloudy sunset wanes,
    The lean coyote prowls,
And on the silent willow-lanes
    Come twilight and the owls.

Loving them not, we mostly seek
    Near man our habitat,
And thence, in lieu of fang or beak,
    Goes forth the prowling cat.
O ye who seem her willing slaves,
    That such deceit can be !
It is not mice the sleek one craves
    But our small progeny.

Deem it not strange that we should sigh
    Rabbinical "Alas!"
The tilting hawk Is on the sky,
    The bull-snake in the grass.
What of man's little love, they too
    Incur his hostile powers;
But where can other creatures view
    A nursery like ours?

Our direst foe we name the last,
    And him we daily name.
Of him coyotes stand aghast;
    For him the cat is tame;
For him we run with stinging flanks,
    Or die at set of sun:
O peril of our thinning ranks—
    The small boy with a gun !

It is common lot of bide
    By the blackberry walls,
Or where along the riverside
    The thrush ere twilight calls.
It is our common lot to wait
    Too long by but a breath;
Then speaks, abrupt, the urchin Fate:
    A bang, a kick—and death !

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