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Improvisations on Aesop

It was a tortoise aspiring to fly
That murdered Aeschylus. All men must die. 2

The crocodile rends man and beast to death
And has St. Francis' birds to pick his teeth. 3

Lorenzo sponsored artists, and the ant
Must save to give the grasshopper a grant. 4

The blind man bears the lame, who gives him eyes;
Only the weak make common enterprise. 5

Frogs into bulls, sows' ears into silk purses,
These are our hopes in youth, in age our curses. 6

Spare not the rod, lest thy child be undone,
And at the gallows cry, “Behold thy son.” 7

The Fox and Buddha put away their lust;
“Sour grapes!” they cry, “All but the soul is dust!” 8

An ass may look at an angel, Balaam was shown;
Cudgel thy wits, and leave thine ass alone. 9

Is not that pastoral instruction sweet
Which says who shall be eaten, who shall eat?
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