To her mate did each female bird say,
“Let us fly to the Magpye, my dear;
If she will but teach us the way,
A nest we will build us up here.
“It’s a thing that’s
close arch’d over head,
With a hole made to creep out and in;
We, my bird, might make just such a bed,
If we only knew how to begin.”
To the Magpye soon every bird went,
And in modest terms made their request,
That she would be pleas’d to consent
To teach them to build up a nest.
She replied, “I will shew you the
So observe every thing that I do.
First two sticks cross each other I lay—”
“To be sure,” said the Crow; “why, I knew,
“It must be begun with two sticks,
And I thought that they crossed should be.”
Said the Pye, “Then some straw and moss mix,
In the way you now see done by me.”
“O yes, certainly,” said the
“That must follow of course, I have thought;
Though I never before building saw,
I guess’d that without being taught.”
“More moss, straw, and feathers,
In this manner,” continued the Pye.
“Yes, no doubt, Madam, that is the case;
Though no builder myself, even I,”
Said the Starling, “conjectur’d
It must of necessity follow:
For more moss, straw, and feathers, I know,
It requires, to be soft, round, and hollow.”
Whatever she taught them beside,
In his turn every bird of them said,
Though the nest-making art he ne’er tried,
He had just such a thought in his head.
Still the Pye went on shewing her art,
Till a nest she had built up half way;
She no more of her skill would impart,
But in anger went flutt’ring away.
And this speech in their hearing she made,
As she perched o’er their heads on a tree,
“If ye all were well skill’d in my trade,
Pray, why came ye to learn it of me?”—
When a scholar is willing to learn,
He with silent submission should hear.
Too late they their folly discern;
The effect to this day does appear:
For whenever a Pye’s nest you see,
Her charming warm canopy view,
All birds’ nests but hers seem to be
A Magpye’s nest just cut in two.
“A wicked action fear to do,
When you are by yourselves; for though
You think you can conceal it,
A little bird that’s in the air
The hidden trespass shall declare,
And openly reveal it.”
Richard this saying oft had heard,
Until the sight of any bird
Would set his heart a quaking;
He saw a host of winged spies
For ever o’er him in the skies,
Note of his actions taking.