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- Fables for the Frivolous - 5/7 -


I will frankly state that I'm somewhat bored With the way you bow and bend." "But you quite forget," the rush replied, "It's an art these bows to do, An art I wouldn't attempt if I'd Such boughs as you."

"Of course," said the oak, "in my sapling days My habit it was to bow, But the wildest storm that the winds could raise Would never disturb me now. I challenge the breeze to make me bend, And the blast to make me sway." The shrewd little bulrush answered, "Friend, Don't get so gay."

And the words had barely left his mouth When he saw the oak turn pale, For, racing along south-east-by-south, Came ripping a raging gale. And the rush bent low as the storm went past, But stiffly stood the oak, Though not for long, for he found the blast No idle joke.

* * * * * * * *

Imagine the lightning's gleaming bars, Imagine the thunder's roar, For that is exactly what eight stars Are set in a row here for! The oak lay prone when the storm was done, While the rush, still quite erect, Remarked aside, "What under the sun Could one expect?"

And THE MORAL, I'd have you understand, Would have made La Fontaine blush, For it's this: Some storms come early, and Avoid the rush!

THE INHUMAN WOLF

AND

THE LAMB SANS GENE

A gaunt and relentless wolf, possessed Of a quite insatiable thirst, Once paused at a stream to drink and rest, And found that, bound on a similar quest, A lamb had arrived there first.

The lamb was a lamb of a garrulous mind And frivolity most extreme: In the fashion common to all his kind, He cantered in front and galloped behind. And troubled the limpid stream.

"My friend," said the wolf, with a winsome air, "Your capers I can't admire." "Go to!" quoth the lamb. (Though he said not where, He showed what he meant by his brazen stare And the way that he gambolled higher.)

"My capers," he cried, "are the kind that are Invariably served with lamb. Remember, this is a public bar, And I'll do as I please. If your drink I mar, I don't give a tinker's ----."

He paused and glanced at the rivulet, And that pause than speech was worse, For his roving eye a saw-mill met, And, near it, the word which should be set At the end of the previous verse.

Said the wolf: "You are tough and may bring remorse, But of such is the world well rid. I've swallowed your capers, I've swallowed your sauce, And it's plain to be seen that my only course Is swallowing you." He did.

THE MORAL: The wisest lambs they are Who, when they're assailed by thirst, Keep well away from a public bar; For of all black sheep, or near, or far, The public bar-lamb's worst!

THE SYCOPHANTIC FOX

AND

THE GULLIBLE RAVEN

A raven sat upon a tree, And not a word he spoke, for His beak contained a piece of Brie, Or, maybe, it was Roquefort: We'll make it any kind you please-- At all events, it was a cheese.

Beneath the tree's umbrageous limb A hungry fox sat smiling; He saw the raven watching him, And spoke in words beguiling. "_J'admire_," said he, "_ton beau plumage_." (The which was simply persiflage.)

Two things there are, no doubt you know, To which a fox is used: A rooster that is bound to crow, A crow that's bound to roost, And whichsoever he espies He tells the most unblushing lies.

"Sweet fowl," he said, "I understand You're more than merely natty, I hear you sing to beat the band And Adelina Patti. Pray render with your liquid tongue A bit from 'Gotterdammerung.'"

This subtle speech was aimed to please The crow, and it succeeded: He thought no bird in all the trees Could sing as well as he did. In flattery completely doused, He gave the "Jewel Song" from "Faust."

[Illustration: "'_J'ADMIRE_,' SAID HE, '_TON BEAU PLUMAGE_'"]

But gravitation's law, of course, As Isaac Newton showed it, Exerted on the cheese its force, And elsewhere soon bestowed it. In fact, there is no need to tell What happened when to earth it fell.

I blush to add that when the bird Took in the situation He said one brief, emphatic word, Unfit for publication. The fox was greatly startled, but He only sighed and answered "Tut."

THE MORAL is: A fox is bound To be a shameless sinner. And also: When the cheese comes round You know it's after dinner. But (what is only known to few) The fox is after dinner, too.

THE MICROSCOPIC TROUT

AND

THE MACHIAVELIAN FISHERMAN

A fisher was casting his flies in a brook, According to laws of such sciences, With a patented reel and a patented hook And a number of other appliances; And the thirty-fifth cast, which he vowed was the last (It was figured as close as a decimal), Brought suddenly out of the water a trout Of measurements infinitesimal.

This fish had a way that would win him a place In the best and most polished society, And he looked at the fisherman full in the face With a visible air of anxiety: He murmered "Alas!" from his place in the grass, And then, when he'd twisted and wriggled, he Remarked in a pet that his heart was upset And digestion all higgledy-piggledy.

"I request," he observed, "to be instantly flung Once again in the pool I've been living in." The fisherman said, "You will tire out your tongue. Do you see any signs of my giving in? Put you back in the pool? Why, you fatuous fool, I have eaten much smaller and thinner fish. You're not salmon or sole, but I think, on the whole, You're a fairly respectable dinner-fish."

The fisherman's cook tried her hand on the trout And with various herbs she embellished him; He was lovely to see, and there isn't a doubt That the fisherman's family relished him, And, to prove that they did, both his wife and his kid


Fables for the Frivolous - 5/7

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