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THE JOKER AND THE FISHES. Jean de La Fontaine

He′s vastly popular, your "Funny Man;"
For my part I avoid him when I can.
I generally find him rather hollow;—
The joker′s is no easy art to follow.
I think sarcastic people were created
For fools to grin at, when exhilarated.
Let me present one at a dinner-table,
To point a moral and adorn a fable.

A wag, dining out at a banker′s, one day,
Had some very small fishes put near him.
He saw there were finer ones farther away,
So, pretending the fishes could hear him,
He mutter′d some words to the poor little creatures,
And feign′d to receive their replies.
It was done with such grave and unchangeable features,
That people all opened their eyes.
Then he said that some very particular friend
Was en route for the Indies, or thereabouts;
And he feared he might come to a watery end,
So he wanted some hints of his whereabouts.
"The fishes had answered," he added, politely,
"That they were too young to reply;
But they fancied their fathers could answer him rightly,
Should one of them chance to be by."
To say that the company relished the jest,
Or the jester, is more than I′m able;
But it answered his end, for they gave him the best
Of the fishes that lay on the table.
′Twas a monster that might have related him stories
As much as a century old;
Long tales of the sea, of its perils and glories,
As wondrous as ever were told.

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