The Owl And Lamp And The Dogs And The Ragman
: Literary Fables Of Yriarte
There is a set of dastard knaves,
Vile critics, that will wait to make attack
On authors till their victims are--alack!--
All safe and quiet in their graves;
For living men, they know, might answer back.
To this same purpose, once a little lay
My old grandmother sang to me,
Recounting how a wandering Owl, one day,
Into a convent chanced to make her way
I'm wrong--by day it could not be.
For, without doubt, the evening's sun had set
Below the horizon long ago.
Now, as she flew along, our Owl she met
A Lamp or Lanthorn in the passage set--
Which of the two I do not know.
Turning reluctant back, in angry spite,
Thus spoke she out her mind:
"Ah, Lamp! with what unspeakable delight
I'd suck the oil all out of you this night,
But that my eyes you blind!
But if I cannot now,
Since you are such a blaze of dazzling light,--
If I should find you, on some other night,
Unlighted, then, I shall be ready quite
To make a feast, I vow."
* * * * *
Denounced though I may be,
By coward critics, that I here expose--
Because I dare their meanness to disclose;
Their portrait they shall see
In yet another fable ere I close.
* * * * *
Beating an old dust pan,
A Ragman stood, when, barking furiously
As Cerberus, two Dogs, eying him curiously,
With vagabondish man,
As is their wont--howled savagely.
To them a tall Greyhound
Said, "Let the wretch alone,--for he is one
Who from dead dogs will strip the reeking skin
To sell for bread. No honor can you win
On him--for, I'll be bound,
From living dogs the conscious rogue will run."