, a parable
by Johann Wolfgang von Goethe
I HAD a fellow as my guest,
Not knowing he was such a pest,
And gave him just my usual fare;
He ate his fill of what was there,
And for desert my best things swallow'd,
Soon as his meal was o'er, what follow'd?
Led by the Deuce, to a neighbour he went,
And talk'd of my food to his heart's content:
"The soup might surely have had more spice,
The meat was ill-brown'd, and the wine wasn't nice."
A thousand curses alight on his head!
'Tis a critic, I vow! Let the dog be struck dead!
THE DILETTANTE AND THE CRITIC.
A BOY a pigeon once possess'd,
In gay and brilliant plumage dress'd;
He loved it well, and in boyish sport
Its food to take from his mouth he taught,
And in his pigeon he took such pride,
That his joy to others he needs must confide.
An aged fox near the place chanc'd to dwell,
Talkative, clever, and learned as well;
The boy his society used to prize,
Hearing with pleasure his wonders and lies.
"My friend the fox my pigeon must see
He ran, and stretch'd 'mongst the bushes lay he
"Look, fox, at my pigeon, my pigeon so fair!
His equal I'm sure thou hast look'd upon ne'er!"
"Let's see!"--The boy gave it.--"'Tis really not bad;
And yet, it is far from complete, I must add.
The feathers, for, instance, how short! 'Tis absurd!"
So he set to work straightway to pluck the poor bird.
The boy screamed.--"Thou must now stronger pinions supply,
Or else 'twill be ugly, unable to fly."--
Soon 'twas stripp'd--oh, the villain!--and torn all to pieces.
The boy was heart-broken,--and so my tale ceases.
* * * *
He who sees in the boy shadow'd forth his own case,
Should be on his guard 'gainst the fox's whole race.