Tuesday, January 4, 2011

Boothby: The Fox and the Dragon

A Fox extending under ground
Her earth, a Dragon's cavern found,
Where he o'er hidden treasures brooded;
"Begg'd pardon thus to have intruded;
Without offence, if he might ask,
Why undergo the irksome task,
Darkling, to watch what ne'er can be
Of use to such as you and me?
What secret happiness requites
Your lonesome days and sleepless nights?"
"None," he replies: " Tis Jove's high will."
"Then gratis you this office fill?"
"E'en so." — "In truth, Sir, I must own,
A harder fate was never known."
Why wretched mortals, soon to go
Where your forefathers rot below
Why, misers, for unthankful heirs,
Torment your souls with endless cares?
No melodies your sadness cheer,
Nor harp nor dulcimer you hear;
Nor rest nor warmth nor food supplied,
E'en incense to the Gods denied;
You cheat the rich and grind the poor,
To aggravate a barren store.
When weary of your perjuries,
Your wretched exit Heaven decrees,
A grave, in earth unhallow'd, choose,
To cheat the sexton of his dues;
But there to cunning bid adieu;
The devil is sharper still than you.

Source: Boothby - Phaedrus 4.18.

(image source)
M0628 Perry518

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