when serpents bargain

e.e. cummings

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when serpents bargain for the right to squirm
and the sun strikes to gain a living wage -
when thorns regard their roses with alarm
and rainbows are insured against old age

when every thrush may sing no new moon in
if all screech-owls have not okayed his voice
- and any wave signs on the dotted line
or else an ocean is compelled to close

when the oak begs permission of the birch
to make an acorn - valleys accuse their
mountains of having altitude - and march
denounces april as a saboteur

then we'll believe in that incredible
unanimal mankind (and not until)

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  • Just came across this poem, "when serpents bargain," and I can't help but marvel at how well it captures the absurdity of mankind trying to control and regulate everything in nature. It's like a reality check, reminding us that some things are beyond our dominion and that we should respect the natural order of the world. A truly thought-provoking piece!