Friday, June 5, 2015

Poetry Friday: Squirrels, Transcendalists, Talents

I watched a Western Gray Squirrel jump along the fence at my mother's house today - fat little guy, but nimble. It's hard not to like a squirrel, even if it is, by nature, a scold, and even if it eats the cherries from my cherry trees before they can ripen - squirrels are in cahoots with the crows on this. They also bury peanut shells around/among the perennials in my yard - where they get the peanuts, I have no idea, but when I turn the dirt, I find the shells. Still, I like squirrels. Such tails! Such chatter! Such unrepentant self-regard! In their honor, I offer up this poem by Ralph Waldo Emerson, who must have felt the same about the critters. The bottom line of this fable is right there for all to see: "Talents differ."


The mountain and the squirrel  
Had a quarrel;  
And the former called the latter ‘Little Prig.’
Bun replied,  
‘You are doubtless very big;         
But all sorts of things and weather  
Must be taken in together,  
To make up a year  
And a sphere.  
And I think it no disgrace  
To occupy my place.  
If I’m not so large as you,  
You are not so small as I,  
And not half so spry.  
I’ll not deny you make  
A very pretty squirrel track;  
Talents differ; all is well and wisely put;  
If I cannot carry forests on my back,  
Neither can you crack a nut.’

I think I'll memorize this poem, and when things come along that I don't understand, I'll just say, "...all sorts of things and weather / Must be taken in together, / To make up a year / And a sphere."  Thanks again to Mr. Emerson, for transcendentalism and for thoughts on the souls of things large and small.
Ralph Waldo Emerson
 The round-up for today's Poetry Friday is over at Buffy's Blog  (thanks, Buffy.) Head over there to see what other people have posted.


  1. It always amazes me to see squirrels in cities where trees are in short supply, but, as Emerson points out, everyone has talents. Squirrels' are survival and the ability to entertain humans.

  2. I think there must be a crow/squirrel infestation in Seattle this year, Diane. It's crazy how many there are. Soon, they will be all that's left in Seattle, people having moved out to the Burbs. :-) (Wouldn't you love to see a crow and squirrel face off - who would win. Oh, the crows, I guess.) By the way, I cannot tell you how much I love your Scrapbook Project. I have been thinking about it all day.

  3. A fine poem! We are inundated with squirrels as well and they are fun to watch. Years ago we had a very tame female whom we mistakenly named "Samuel." She was so polite -- waited at the top of the bannister for us to throw peanuts on the steps, not jumping down to take any until we had closed the door. When she was hungry, she'd peer into the kitchen and patiently wait. Her male counterparts, by contrast, hung on the window screens and scratched on the doors. Rude and noisy. I imagine we have hundreds of buried peanuts in our yard.

  4. Happy to see a squirrel poem and thoughts today! I spend too much time watching our squirrels and chipmunks--but they are constantly entertaining. I love that squirrel perspective in the final line--Neither can you crack a nut.

  5. Julie, thanks so much for your comment about the Scrapbook Project. When I clicked on the link I received yesterday and reread the poems I had thoughts like, "should I have put this out there?" and "it's so un-special"--all the typical self-doubt stuff. I've got to learn to like the final work. I so enjoy the process!

  6. I agree -- this is one to memorize!

  7. I love hearing Ralph's voice here within the squirrel's. My first book contains my ode to squirrels; they never get old (as a topic) and are both wise and witty, prudent and preposterous. I need to work on memorizing more poems. Tips for older brains?

  8. Appreciations for bringing me to Emerson's delightful "Fable." I agree about not begrudging the squirrels their place among the plants. We have outfoxed their digging up of our herb & vegetable seedlings by resorting to putting plants to big pots.

    Curious - about those peanut shells!
    Thereby hangs a another tale...