Of equal age, lived closed together
A Sparrow and a Cat;
And he of fur and he of feather
Grew so familiar, that
The bird could fearlessly provoke
His formidable friend in joke.
To peck out eyes the one with beak pretended,
The other with protruded claws defended.
The Cat, however, truth to say,
Was always gentle in his play;
And though he showed his claws, took care
His little chirping friend to spare.
The fretful Sparrow, much less meek,
His tiny fury tried to wreak
On Master Cat, who only purred,
And thence this truth may be inferred,
That friends should never, in dissension,
Let quarrel grow to strife′s dimension.
Still old acquaintance ne′er forgot
Kept their strifes from growing hot,
And battle never sprang from play.
But yet it chanced, one luckless day,
A neighbouring Sparrow heedless flew
To where Miss Chirp and Master Mew
Had lived so long in amity.
At first ′twas well; but, by-and-by,
The birds grew jealous, and in rage
Gave vent to wrath none could assuage.
The Cat, aroused from hearth-rug sleep,
Endeavoured first the peace to keep,
But finding that in vain, declared,
"What! let this stranger Sparrow come
To eat my friend in his own home?
It shall not be." His claws he bared,
And soon, without a spoon or fork,
Of Master Chirp made but short work.
The Sparrow eaten, said the Cat,
"A most delicious morsel, that!"
And as no other bird was near,
Next swallowed his companion dear.
From this what moral shall I learn?
Without a moral, fables are
But empty phantoms—deserts bare.
Some glimpse of moral I discern,
But I′ll not trace it; I′ve no fear
But that your Grace will see it clear.
For you ′tis only simple play;
But for my muse in any way
′Twere toil. In fact, I′ll not the truth let fall
For you, who need it not at all.