The Ant Explorer

antWe were travelling out to Christmas Day at Bab Al Shams, about an hour’s drive into the desert from Dubai, and I started reciting a poem to myself that I had to learn in primary school, when I was about ten years old.

I looked it up, and here it is: The Ant Explorer by C.J. Dennis. I think there’d be a fair argument that I’d carried some of its sentiment with me in life.

Once a little sugar ant made up his mind to roam-
To fare away far away, far away from home.
He had eaten all his breakfast, and he had his ma’s consent
To see what he should chance to see and here’s the way he went
Up and down a fern frond, round and round a stone,
Down a gloomy gully where he loathed to be alone,
Up a mighty mountain range, seven inches high,
Through the fearful forest grass that nearly hid the sky,
Out along a bracken bridge, bending in the moss,
Till he reached a dreadful desert that was feet and feet across.
‘Twas a dry, deserted desert, and a trackless land to tread,
He wished that he was home again and tucked-up tight in bed.
His little legs were wobbly, his strength was nearly spent,
And so he turned around again and here’s the way he went-
Back away from desert lands feet and feet across,
Back along the bracken bridge bending in the moss,
Through the fearful forest grass shutting out the sky,
Up a mighty mountain range seven inches high,
Down a gloomy gully, where he loathed to be alone,
Up and down a fern frond and round and round a stone.
A dreary ant, a weary ant, resolved no more to roam,
He staggered up the garden path and popped back home.

The other thing I’m now reminded of is that we were taught to recite it with rounded vowels (picture my mouth: rOUnded vOW-Els), something else that has repeated on me in my adult life.

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