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."