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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