The Ant And The Flea

: Literary Fables Of Yriarte

A curious affectation some put on

Of knowing everything they chance upon.

Whatever matter they may hear or see,

However new or excellent it be,

Of small account and easy always deem it,

And never worthy of their praise esteem it.

This sort of folks I cannot let go by;

But, for their foolish pertness, I shall try,

Sure as I live, to show them up in rhyme,

If I should waste on them a whole day's time.

The Ant was once relating to the Flea

The wholesome lesson of her industry;

How, by her labor, her support she gains;

How builds the ant-hills; with what care and pains

She gathers up the scattered grains for food;

And how all labor for the common good;

With other instances of enterprise,

That might with many pass for idle lies,

If 't were not every day before our eyes.

To all her statements still the Flea demurred,--

Yet could not contradict a single word--

With talk like this: "Ah, yes, undoubtedly;

I grant it; certainly. O, so I see!

'T is plain. I think so, too, myself. Of course.

All right. I understand. There's better and there worse."

With such evasions, patience growing thin,

Ready almost to jump out of her skin,

Unto the Flea she answered,--"Now, my friend,

To go with me, I beg you, condescend.

And since, in such grand fashion, you assume

All this so mighty easy to be done,

Give us yourself, by way of good example,

Of your own great abilities, a sample."

With impudence unmoved, replied the Flea:

"Pooh, nonsense! Think you thus to puzzle me?

Who couldn't, if they chose to try? But, stay,--

I've an engagement now. Another day

We'll think of it,"--and lightly leaped away.