An Envoy of the Grand Signor
(I can′t say more)
One day, before the Emperor′s court,
Vaunted, as some historians report,
That his royal master had a force
Outnumbering all the foot and horse
The Kaiser could bring to the war.
Then spoke a choleric attendant:
"Our Prince has more than one dependant
That keeps an army at his own expense."
The Pasha (man of sense),
Replied: "By rumour I′m aware
What troops the great electors spare,
And that reminds me, I am glad,
Of an adventure I once had,
Strange, and yet true.
I′ll tell it you.
Once through a hedge the hundred heads I saw
Of a huge Hydra show.
My blood, turned ice, refused to flow:
And yet I felt that neither fang nor claw
Could more than scare me—for no head came near.
There was no room. I cast off fear.
While musing on this sight,
Another Dragon came to light.
Only one head this time;
But tails too many to count up in rhyme.
The fit again came on,
Worse than the one just gone.
The head creeps first, then follows tail by tail;
Nothing can stop their road, nor yet assail;
One clears the way for all the minor powers:
The first′s your Emperor′s host, the second ours."