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Firefly Poems

Table of Contents

  1. The Birth of the Firefly by Doris Kenyon
  2. Firefly by Elizabeth Madox Roberts
  3. Fireflies by Bliss Carman
  4. Fireflies by Edgar Fawcett
  5. The Fire-Fly by John B. Tabb
  6. The Earliest Fire-Fly by Thomas Hill
  7. The Fire-Flies in the Wheat by Harriet Prescott Spofford
  8. The Fireflies by Horace Dumont Herr
  9. Fireflies by Horatio Nelson Powers
  10. Fire-flies by Agnes Mary Frances Robinson
  11. The Firefly by Sam Walter Foss

  1. The Birth of the Firefly

    by Doris Kenyon

    Dewdrop trembled on an aspen leaf;
    Above, a nightingale
    Sent through the dark his first low note of grief,
    Across the shadowy vale;

    And as that note throbbed on the sentient air,
    Wrung from a heart forlorn,
    The dewdrop slipped into the dusk, and there
    A firefly was born.

  2. Firefly

    by Elizabeth Madox Roberts

    A little light is going by,
    Is going up to see the sky,
    A little light with wings.

    I never could have thought of it,
    To have a little bug all lit
    And made to go on wings.

  3. Fireflies

    by Bliss Carman

    The fireflies across the dusk
    Are flashing signals through the gloom—
    Courageous messengers of light
    That dare immensities of doom.

    About the seeding meadow-grass,
    Like busy watchmen in the street,
    They come and go, they turn and pass,
    Lighting the way for Beauty's feet.

    Or up they float on viewless wings
    To twinkle high among the trees,
    And rival with soft glimmerings
    The shining of the Pleiades.

    The stars that wheel above the hill
    Are not more wonderful to see,
    Nor the great tasks that they fulfill
    More needed in eternity.

  4. Fireflies

    by Edgar Fawcett

    I saw, one sultry night above a swamp,
    The darkness throbbing with their golden pomp!
    And long my dazzled sight did they entrance
    With the weird chaos of their dizzy dance!
    Quicker than yellow leaves, when gales despoil,

    Quivered the brilliance of their mute turmoil,
    Within whose light was intricately blent
    Perpetual rise, perpetual descent.
    As though their scintillant flickerings had met
    In the vague meshes of some airy net!
    And now mysteriously I seemed to guess,
    While watching their tumultuous loveliness,
    What fervor of deep passion strangely thrives
    In the warm richness of these tropic lives,
    Whose wings can never tremble but they show
    These hearts of living fire that beat below!

  5. The Fire-Fly

    by John B. Tabb

    "Are you flying through the night
    Looking where to find me?"
    "Nay; I travel with a light
    For the folks behind me."

  6. The Earliest Fire-Fly

    by Thomas Hill

    Fearless little pioneer,
    Leader of thy race this year!
    Tiny spark of wondrous light,
    Wandering through the darksome night,
    Strangely pleasant is the sight
    Of thy vague, erratic flight.

    Soon thy light will be but lost,
    Mid thy fellows brilliant host,
    When the meadow lands shall be
    Gay with mimic galaxy.

    Finches prophesy the spring,
    Bobolinks its blossoms bring;
    But thy race, with bolder cheer,
    Say that summer now is here.
    Now the wild grape fills the air
    With a wealth of perfume rare;
    Roses bloom beside the way,
    Joy and fragrance fill the day;
    Now the sunlight's lengthened hours
    Ring with song and glow with flowers.
    Leader of the glittering band,
    Soon to follow thy command,
    Welcome, then, thou tiny spark,
    Seen against the woodland dark.

    Who had taught thee, underground,
    Ere thy wings thou yet hadst found;
    Who had taught thee thus to soar,
    Thus to flit the meadows o'er,
    Ere as yet thy cheering flame
    From its hiding places came?

    Never yet another's light
    Having met thy new-born sight,
    How wilt thou the difference know
    Twixt a mate s and rival s glow?
    How distinguish, in the dark,
    Either from a glow-worm's spark?
    Wonderful the mystery—
    What shall safely pilot thee,
    With unerring thread of fate
    To thine only rightful mate?

    Wanderer! thus, unto my sight,
    With more than stellar lustre bright I
    Ah! how gladly would I share
    Courage which can boldly dare
    Thus to mount on untried wing;
    Boldly thus thyself to fling,
    Whither heart within thee leads,
    Toward higher life and nobler deeds.

    Thus thou op'nest to mine eye
    Scenes above this star-paved sky.
    He who guides thy feeble race,
    Pours on man a richer grace.
    Outward eye hath never seen
    Canaan's fields of living green;
    Outward senses hear no song
    Sung the eternal choirs among;
    But the Son of God inspires
    In his saints, those warm desires,
    And that strong, unconquered will
    Which the heart with rapture fill.
    When He calls, they soar away,
    Freed from all this mortal clay,
    Finding true the joyous word:
    "Still together with the Lord."

  7. The Fire-Flies in the Wheat

    by Harriet Prescott Spofford

    Ah, never of a summer night
    Will life again be half as sweet
    As in that country of delight
    Where straying, staying, with happy feet,
    We watched the fire-flies in the wheat.

    Full dark and deep the starless night,
    Still throbbing with the summer heat;
    There was no ray of any light,
    But dancing, glancing, far and fleet,
    Only the fire-flies in the wheat.

    In that great country of delight,
    Where youth and love the borders meet,
    We paused and lingered for the sight,
    While sparkling, darkling, flashed the sheet
    Of splendid fire-flies in the wheat.

    That night the earth seemed but a height
    Whereon to rest our happy feet,
    Watching one moment that wide flight
    Where lightening, brightening, mount and meet
    Those burning fire-flies in the wheat.

    What whispered words whose memory might
    Make an old heart with madness beat,
    Whose sense no music can recite,
    That chasing, racing, rhythmic beat
    Sings out with fire-flies in the wheat.

    O never of such blest despite
    Dreamed I, whom fate was wont to cheat—
    And like a star your face, and white—
    While mingling, tingling, wild as sleet,
    Stormed all those fire-flies through the wheat.

    Though of that country of delight
    The farther bounds we shall not greet,
    Still, sweet of all, that summer night,
    That maddest, gladdest night most sweet,
    Watching the fire-flies in the wheat!

  8. The Fireflies

    by Horace Dumont Herr

    I saw them, I saw them,
    The fireflies tonight;
    They flashed to each other
    Their signals of light,
    And, knowing their cipher,
    I read them aright.

    Their flight was erratic—
    Now high and then low;
    In low-glooming treetops
    At times would they show,
    Then, dropping like meteors,
    In grass would they glow.

    The moon in first quarter
    Show'd faintly its ring;
    In alto and treble
    Did little frogs sing;
    While each dancing firefly
    Its lantern did swing.

    And then there was something—
    I can not tell why,
    That flashed o'er my spirit
    And on my soul's eye,
    Outmimicing radiance
    Of airy firefly.

    Again, in the seeming,
    At dusk of the day,
    As barefooted children
    On dusty road-way,
    The fireflies in bottles
    We prisoned in play.

    We kept them 'till morning,—
    Their brightness was gone;
    Mere bugs without luster
    They crawled every one;
    What gleamed in the moonlight
    The day had undone.

    And musing half sadly,
    I softly admit,
    Like bottled up fireflies,
    The dreams that once lit
    In star-light my spirit
    With dimness are smit.

    But sometimes in silence,
    When sitting alone,
    Flash out in the twilight,
    As erst they had shone,
    The day-faded visions
    That once I had known.

    And ever Suggestion
    Comes like a refrain,
    "When daylight is ended
    The fireflies again
    Will flash in the darkness
    Their luminous train."

    So, something within us,
    Like fireflies at play,
    Tho' fading in sunlight.
    At dose of the day
    Lights newly Hope's torches
    In flashing array.

    When Death would eclipse us,
    In soul and in face,
    (Like fireflies at ev'ning
    In crystalline vase)
    Our day-faded star-dreams
    Will shine with new grace.

    Then Silence and Myst'ry
    Grown vocal and bright,
    Shall voice our deep muteness,
    While fragrant and white,
    Fair tho'ts that were timid
    Shall blossom with light.

  9. Fireflies

    by Horatio Nelson Powers

    On the warm and perfumed dark
    Glows the firefly's tender spark.
    Copse, and dell and lonesome plain
    Catch the drops of lambent rain.
    Scattered swarms are snarled among
    Boughs where thrushes brood their young.
    Little cups of daisies hold
    Tapers that illume their gold.
    See! they light their floating lamps
    Where the katydid encamps,
    Glint the ripples soft and cool
    On the grassy-cinctured pool,
    Poise where blood-red roses burn,
    And rills creep under drooping fern,
    Weave inconstant spangles through
    Vines that drip with fragrant dew,
    And mid clumps of dusky pine
    In the mournful silence shine.
    They cling to tufts of the morass;
    The meadow lilies feel them pass;
    They deck the turf about the feet
    Of lovers hid in shadows sweet,
    And round the musing poet, gleam
    Like scintillations of his dream.

    O winged spark! effulgent mite!
    Live atom of the Infinite!
    Thou doest what for thee is done,
    In thy place faithful as the sun.
    Love's highest law compels thy heart;
    All that thou hast thou dost impart;
    Thy life is lighted at its core—
    Sages and saints achieve no more.

  10. Fire-flies

    by Agnes Mary Frances Robinson


    To-night I watch the fire-flies rise
    And shine along the air;
    They float beneath the starry skies,
    As mystical and fair,
    Above the hedge where dimly glows
    The deep gold of the Persian rose.

    I watch the fire-flies drift and float:
    Each is a dreamy flame,
    Star-coloured each, a starry mote,
    Like stars not all the same;
    But whiter some, or faintly green,
    Or wannest blue was ever seen.

    They cross and cross and disappear,
    And then again they glow;
    Still drifting faintly there and here,
    Still crossing to and fro,
    As though in all their wandering
    They wove a wide and shining thing.


    O fire-flies, would I knew the weft
    You have the weaving of!
    For, as I watch you move, bereft
    Of thought or will or love,
    I fear, O listless flames, you weave
    The fates of men who strive and grieve.

    The web of life, the weft of dreams,
    You weave it ceaselessly;
    A strange and filmy thing it seems,
    And made in mystery
    Of wind and darkness threaded through
    With light these heavens never knew.

    O pale, mysterious, wandering fire,
    Born of the earth, alive
    With the same breath that I respire,
    Who know and think and strive;
    You circle round me, stranger far
    Than any charm of any star!


    Ah me, as faint as you, as slight,
    As hopelessly remote
    As you, who still across the night
    Innumerably float,
    Intangible as you, I see
    The motives of our destiny.

    For ah, no angel of the stars,
    No guardian of the soul,
    Stoops down beyond the heavenly bars
    Our courses to control,
    But filled and nourished with our breath
    Are the dim hands that weave our death.

    They weave with many threads our souls,
    A subtle-tinted thing,
    So interwoven that none controls
    His own imagining;
    For every strand with other strands
    They twine and bind with viewless hands.

    They weave the future of the past;
    Their mystic web is wrought
    With dreams from which we woke at last,
    And many a secret thought;
    For still they weave, howe'er we strive,
    The web new-woven for none alive.


    And still the fire-flies come and go—
    Each is a dreamy flame—
    Still palely drifting to and fro
    The very way they came—
    As though, across the dark they wove
    Fate and the. shining web thereof.

    Yet, even were I sure of it,
    I would not lift a hand
    To break the threads that shine and flit—
    For, ah, I understand:
    Ruin, indeed, I well might leave;
    But a new web could never weave.

  11. The Firefly

    by Sam Walter Foss

    That living lantern of the summer night,
    That animated torch, the firefly,
    A zigzag streak of vital light, goes by,
    Himself the luminous torch of his own flight,
    Making the odorous darkness dimly bright:
    A star, he seems, like to the stars on high,
    Making the meadow like another sky,—
    A winged star of self-re11ewing light.

    Strong is the soul that in the meadow land
    In midnight hours when the envenomed dark
    Enrobes the spirit with its heavy gloom,
    Can, like the firefly, its wings expand
    And light with its own self-engendered spark,
    Self-luminant, the midnight of its doom.

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