Which proudly bore that haughty Eagle’s nest.
And while the bird was gone,
Her eggs, her cherished eggs, he broke,
Not sparing one.
Returning from her flight, the Eagle’s cry
Of rage and bitter anguish filled the sky,
But, by excess of passion blind,
Her enemy she failed to find.
Her wrath in vain, that year it was her fate
To live a mourning mother, desolate.
The next, she built a loftier nest; ’twas vain;
The Beetle found and dashed her eggs again.
John Rabbit’s death
was thus avenged anew.
The second mourning for her murdered brood
Was such that through the giant mountain wood,
For six long months, the sleepless echo flew.
The bird, once Ganymede, now made
Her prayer to Jupiter for aid;
And, laying them within his godship’s lap,
She thought her eggs now safe from all mishap;
The god his own could not but make them—
No wretch would venture there to break them.
And no one did. Their enemy, this time,
Upsoaring to a place sublime,
Let fall upon his royal robes some dirt,
Which Jove just shaking, with a sudden flirt,
Threw out the eggs, no one knows whither.
When Jupiter informed her how th’ event
Occurred by purest accident,
The Eagle raved; there was no reasoning with her;
She gave out threats of leaving court,
To make the desert her resort,
And other brav’ries of this sort.
Poor Jupiter in silence heard
The uproar of his favourite bird.
Before his throne the Beetle now appeared,
And by a clear complaint the mystery cleared.
The god pronounced the Eagle in the wrong.
But still, their hatred was so old and strong,
These enemies could not be reconciled;
And, that the general peace might not be spoiled—
The best that he could do—the god arranged
That thence the Eagle’s pairing should be changed,
To come when Beetle folks are only found
Concealed and dormant under ground.
“As the impressions made upon a new vessel are not easily to be effaced, so here youth are taught prudence through the allurement of fable.”
Translated by Richard Andrew
FABLES FROM THE SPANISH
The Bee and the Cuckoo
A Cuckoo, near a hive, one day,
Was chaunting in his usual way,
When to the door the Queen-bee ran,
And, humming angrily, began:
“Do cease that tuneless song I hear—
How can we work while thou art near?
There is no other bird, I vow,
Half so fantastical as thou,
Since all that ugly voice can do,
Is to sing on—’Cuckoo! cuckoo’!”