The Lesson of the Moth

Moth-1720870_640This poem was written by a well-known newspaper reporter, Don Marquis, in 1927, who also liked to write poetry.

He wrote several poems from the point of view of “archy,” a cockroach character he created, who lived in his office, and would sneak out after hours and hop around on Don’s typewriter to write insightful thoughts. 

Because he was limited to hopping (cockroaches are pretty tiny), archy wasn’t able to use any punctuation or capitalization, resulting in a pretty cool stream-of-consciousness style of writing. I hope you enjoy this story from archy!


the lesson of the moth

By Don Marquis and archy


i was talking to a moththe other evening

he was trying to break intoan electric light bulband fry himself on the wires

why do you fellowspull this stunt i asked himbecause it is the conventionalthing for moths or why if that had been an uncoveredcandle instead of an electriclight bulb you wouldnow be a small unsightly cinder

have you no sense

plenty of it he answeredbut at times we get tiredof using it

we get bored with the routineand crave beauty and excitement

fire is beautifuland we know that if we gettoo close it will kill us but what does that matter 

it is better to be happyfor a momentand be burned up with beautythan to live a long timeand be bored all the while

so we wad all our life upinto one little rolland then we shoot the roll

that is what life is for 

it is better to be a part of beautyfor one instant and then cease toexist than to exist foreverand never be a part of beautyour attitude toward lifeis come easy go easy

we are like human beings used to be before they became too civilized to enjoy themselvesand before i could argue himout of his philosophy

he went and immolated himself on a patent cigar lighter

i do not agree with himmyself i would rather havehalf the happiness and twicethe longevitybut at the same time i wishthere was something i wantedas badly as he wanted to fry himself


How about you, would you rather have half the beauty or twice the longevity?


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