Had set a neighbourhood in fright,
And raised the clamorous noise
Of all the village boys,
When, by misfortune,--sad to say,--
A nightingale fell in his way.
Spring's herald begg'd him not to eat
A bird for music--not for meat.
'O spare!' cried she, 'and I'll relate
'The crime of Tereus and his fate.'--
'What's Tereus? Is it food for kites?'--
'No, but a king, of female rights
The villain spoiler, whom I taught
A lesson with repentance fraught;
And, should it please you not to kill,
My song about his fall
Your very heart shall thrill,
As it, indeed, does all.'--
Replied the kite, a 'pretty thing!
When I am faint and famishing,
To let you go, and hear you sing?'--
'Ah, but I entertain the king!'--
'Well, when he takes you, let him hear
Your tale, full wonderful, no doubt;
For me, a kite, I'll go without.'
An empty stomach hath no ear.
Source: Wright's translation of La Fontaine, Fable 9.18.
Click here for a SLIDESHOW of all the Herrick images.