Sonnet on the Earthworm

by Johanna Caton

I love the Earthworm — creature of the soil,
wherein his undulating self is hid.
His days are spent in uncomplaining toil:
he tunnels through the ground, as nature bids.
He cannot hear, for ears he hasn’t got,
the sunlight he can only vaguely sense,
but time he never wastes, certainly not –
this humble artist at his art. And hence,
I praise the most discreet, obliging worm,
whose goodness is profounder than we know –
he delves for miles, then makes his return
quite simply, without self-concern or show.

So, human, you are earth, do not forget.
Have you the virtues of the worm? Not yet.

Johanna Caton, O.S.B., is a Benedictine nun of Minster Abbey in England. Originally from Virginia, she lived in the U.S. until adulthood, when her monastic vocation took her to Britain. Her poems have appeared in both online and print publications, including The Christian Century, The Windhover, A Time of Singing, Amethyst Review, The Ekphrastic Review and the Catholic Poetry Room webpage at Some of her poems can be found at

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