The Sword And The Spit

: Literary Fables Of Yriarte

Sheer, sharp and trusty, tempered well,

A Sword, as good as from the skilful hand

Of famous smith Toledan ever fell,

The shock of many a combat did withstand.

In turn, it several masters truly served,

And brought them safe through dangers many.

Though better fate it well deserved,

At auctions sold for paltry penny,

Some luckless chance--who ever would have thought it?--
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At last, into an inn's dark corner brought it.

There--like an useless thing--upon a pin

Hung up, it ate itself away

In useless rust, until the maid, one day,

By order of the innkeeper, her master,--

A precious blockhead, too, he must have been,--

Into the kitchen took it,--sad disaster!--

To spit a hen. Degrading--shame upon her!--

What once had been a blade of proof and honor.

While this was going on within the inn,

A certain stranger, newly come to court,--

A clown, that would a modish life begin,--

Did to a cutler for a sword resort.

The cutler saw that, for the case in hand,

The sword was but an idle ornament;

And, if the hilt could but inspection stand,

No matter what the blade might be--so sent

His booby customer, for the time, away;--

"A sword should ready be another day."

The rogue, then, takes an old and battered spit,

Which, in his kitchen, service long had done;

He cleans, and polishes, and sharpens it;

And sells it to the unsuspecting clown,--

In such transactions miserably raw,--

For the good sword of Thomas d'Ayala.

An arrant knave, as gallows e'er did cure,--

The innkeeper as great a blockhead,--sure.

* * * * *

With equal knavery and stupidity,

May not we charge these vile translators

Who, with their works, in wretched rivalry,

We see infesting all the world of Letters?

One, with bad versions, famous writers fits--

Thus turning noble swords to vulgar spits.

Another clothes vile works in sounding words;

Then, seeks to sell his spits for trusty swords.