THE WOLVES AND SHEEP (III,13)
After a thousand years of war declared,
The sheep and wolves on peace agreed,
Of which it seems both parties stood in need ;
For if the wolves no fleecy wanderer spared,
The angry shepherds hunted them the more,
And skins of wolves for coats in triumph wore.
No freedom either knew,
The harmless sheep or bloody crew ;
Trembling they ate, or from their food were driven,
Till peace was made, and hostages were given.
The sheep gave up their dogs, the wolves their young.
Exchange was made, and signed and sealed
By commissaries on the field.
Our little wolves soon after getting strong,
Nay, wolves complete, and longing now to kill,
The shepherds’ absence watched with care.
One day, when all within the fold was still,
They worried half the lambs, the fattest there,
And in their teeth into the forest bore.
Their tribes they slyly had informed before.
The dogs, who thought the treaty sure,
Were worried as they slept secure ;
So quick that none had time to wail,
For none escaped to tell the tale.
From hence we may conclude‑
Who scoff at faith and stab a peaceful friend ?
That war with villains never ought to end.
Peace in itself, I grant, is good,
But what is peace with savages so rude,
But 'twould be double death from hoofs like thine.”
THE LION BECOME OLD (III, 14)
The lion, terror of the forest, lay,
Laden with years, and lingering away,
Mourning the memory of his strength now flown,
Attacked at last by subjects of his own ;
Bold as he drooped, strong in his weakness grown.
The horse approached, to kick him as he died,
The wolf to bite, the ox to gore his side.
The wretched lion languished, sad and sore,
His age but feebly suffered him to roar,
His fate awaiting without murmur, when
He saw an ass come prancing to his den.
“ Avast !” he cried, “ at death I don't repine,
|Illustr. J.J. Grandville
PHILOMELA AND PROGNE (III, 15)
(Cf, Ovid. Met.Book 6)
Of old the swallow Progne left her home,
On swiftest pinion hung,
And far from cities to a wood did corne,
Where Philomela sung.
“ How fares my sister,” Progne asked, in tears,
“ After an absence of a thousand years ?
As far as I remember, you've not been
Once since the Thracian age amongst us seen.
What's your intention ? tell me, pray—
Still in these gloomy groves to stay ? ”
“ Why,” Philomela answered, “ what so sweet ?”
“ Dear sister !” Progne cried, “and is it meet
To waste such music on the desert drear,
At best for beasts, or for some clowns to hear ?
To cities with such powers of song repair,
And with your notes reside unrivalled there.
Besides, while ye these woods behold,
They in your breast wake fresh alarms,
From Tereus, who in scenes like these of old
Wrecked all his fury on your lovely charms.”
“ Progne,” she said, “ the memory of that deed
Compels me not to follow you.
The sight of man to Tereus still would lead,
And all my wounds would bleed anew.
THE WOMAN DROWNED (III, 16)
I'm none of those who coldly say,
“ ’Tis nothing -’tis a woman drowned ; ”
I say ’tis much, and merits grief profound,
When one of these is lost who make life gay.
Quite à propos is what I’ve here to tell,
A tale of one who in the river fell,
And made her melancholy exit there.
Her husband for the body looked with care ;
He thought a handsome funeral her due.
It chanced, as near the fatal spot he drew,
He met some strollers by the river side,
Who nothing of the matter knew.
“ Have any of ye seen my wife ? ” he cried.
“ No, not a trace of her,” said one ; “ but go,
Run with the current, look for her below.”
“ Rather run up,” another cried, " good man,
As her opposing spirit doubtless :
All things float clown the current, it is true,
But she'll float up, be sure, to bother you ! ”
He joked, I think, a little out of season.
This female character of contradiction
Is true perhaps, perhaps is fiction ;
I’ll not attempt about it here to reason :
But she that got it with her early breath,
Will keep it even when in death ;
Her contradiction to the end will go,
Ay, and beyond it too, for all I know.