A Peasant, like a Roman Emperor bearing
His sceptre on his shoulder, proudly
Drove his two steeds with long cars, swearing
At one of them, full often and full loudly.
The first, with sponges laden, fast and fleet
Moved well its feet:
The second (it was hardly its own fault)
Bore bags of salt.
O′er mountain, dale, and weary road.
The weary pilgrims bore their load,
Till to a ford they came one day;
They halted there
With wondering air;
The driver knowing very well the way,
Leaped on the Ass the sponges′ load that bore,
And drove the other beast before.
That Ass in great dismay
Fell headlong in a hole;
Then plashed and scrambled till he felt
The lessening salt begin to melt;
His shoulders soon had liberty,
And from their heavy load were free.
His comrade takes example from his brother,
As sheep will follow one another;
Up to his neck the creature plunges
Himself, his rider, and the sponges;
All three drank deep, the man and Ass
Tipple together many a glass.
The load seemed turned to lead;
The Ass, now all but dead,
Quite failed to gain the bank: his breath
Was gone: the driver clung like death
Till some one came, no matter who, and aid.
Enough, if I have shown by what I′ve said,
That all can′t act alike, you know;
And this is what I wished to show.