ONCE two persons uninvited
Came to join my dinner table;
For the nonce they lived united,
Fox and crane yclept in fable.
Civil greetings pass’d between us
Then I pluck’d some pigeons tender
For the fox of jackal-genius,
Adding grapes in full-grown splendour.
Long-neck’d flasks I put as dishes
For the crane, without delaying,
Fill’d with gold and silver fishes,
In the limpid water playing.
Had ye witness’d Reynard planted
At his flat plate, all demurely,
Ye with envy must have granted:
“Ne’er was such a gourmand, surely!”
While the bird with circumspection
On one foot, as usual, cradled,
From the flasks his fish-refection
With his bill and long neck ladled.
One the pigeons praised,–the other,
As they went, extoll’d the fishes,
Each one scoffing at his brother
For preferring vulgar dishes.
* * *
If thou wouldst preserve thy credit,
When thou askest folks to guzzle
At thy hoard, take care to spread it
Suited both for bill and muzzle.