The Turnspit And The Mule Of The Well

: Literary Fables Of Yriarte

In inn or convent kitchen,

The reader oft, no doubt,

Turning the spit about,

A contrivance shrewd has seen.

A wheel of wood is it,

With steps on outer rim,

Where a Dog, ceaseless clambering,

Turns it beneath his feet.

A Dog, who every day,

In such wheel, performed his stint,

Thus expressed his discontent:

"Hard work and paltry pay!

Here I may climb and sweat;

And, when my task is done,

They throw me out a bone,--

While they eat all the meat.

Wearily, wearily on,

Day passes after day.

In the house I will not stay,

Nor in the hated town."

The first chance of flight improving,

He slily off did steal;

Till he found, in a field, a wheel

Of a well, which a Mule kept moving.

As his eyes he on it set,

He cried,--"What have we here?

By this it would appear

Here, too, they're roasting meat."

"No meat I roast, but pump

Water," replied the Mule.--

"Let me, now, try a pull;

I'm light, but up I'll jump.

Ah! pretty heavy, is it?

Something harder I must work.

What then? I will not shirk;

'T isn't turning the old spit.

I shall better rations earn,

And more respect compel."--

Here the laborer at the well

Interrupted, in his turn.

"To the spit and kitchen fire

I advise you to go back.

A turnspit strength would lack

For the task to which you aspire."

* * * * *

Now hear the Mule sagacious!

Wisely, sure, he counsels thus;

And one Horatius Flaccus

This same matter does discuss.

How idly doth an author yearn

To undertake, where he must fail!

The little Dog cannot avail

The huge well-wheel to turn.