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Poems

To a caty-did

In a branch of a willow hid
Sings the evening Caty-did.
From the lofty locust bough
Feeding on a drop of dew,
In her suit of green array'd
Hear her singing in the shade
Caty-did, Caty-did, Caty-did!

While upon a leaf you tread,
Or repose your little head,
On your sheet of shadows laid,
All the day you nothing said.
Half the night your cheery tongue
Revell'd out its little song,
Nothing else but Caty-did.

From your lodgings on the leaf
Did you utter joy or grief--?
Did you only mean to say,
I have had my summer's day,
And am passing, soon away
To the grave of Caty-did:--
Poor, unhappy Caty-did!

But you would have utter'd more
Had you known of nature's power--
From the world when you retreat,
And a leaf's your winding sheet,
Long before your spirit fled,
Who can tell but nature said,
Live again, my Caty-did!
Live, and chatter Caty-did.

Tell me, what did Caty do?
Did she mean to trouble you?--
Why was Caty not forbid
To trouble little Caty-did?--
Wrong, indeed at you to sling,
Hurting no one while you sing
Caty-did! Caty-did! Caty-did!

Why continue to complain?
Caty tells me, she again
Will not give you plague or pain:--
Caty says you may be hid;
Caty will not go to bed
While you sing us Caty-did.
Caty-did! Caty-did! Caty-did!

But, while singing, you forgot
To tell us what did Caty not:
Caty-did not think of cold,
Flocks retiring to the fold,
Winter, with his wrinkles old,
Winter, that yourself foretold
When you gave us Caty-did.

Stay, securely in your nest;
Caty now, will do her best,
All she can, to make you blest;
But, you want no human aid--
Nature, when she form'd you, said,
"Independent you are made,
My dear little Caty-did:
Soon yourself must disappear
With the verdure of the year,"--
And to go, we know not where,
With your song of Caty-did.

1815

 

Caty-did: "A well known insect, when full grown, about two inches in length, and of the exact color of a green leaf. It is of the genus cicada, or grasshopper kind, inhabiting the green foliage of trees and singing such a note as Caty-did in the evening, towards autumn." (Freneau's note)