The Eagle and the Owl had treaty made—
Ceased quarrelling, and even had embraced.
One took his royal oath; and, undismayed,
The other′s claw upon his heart was placed:
Neither would gulp a fledgling of the other.
"Do you know mine?" Minerva′s wise bird said.
The Eagle gravely shook her stately head,
"So much the worse," the Owl replied. "A mother
Trembles for her sweet chicks—she does, indeed.
It′s ten to one if I can rear them then.
You are a king, and, therefore, take no heed
Of who or what. The gods and lords of men
Put all things on one level: let who will
Say what they like. Adieu, my children dear,
If you once meet them." "Nay, good ma′am, but still,
Describe them," said the Eagle; "have no fear:
Be sure I will not touch them, on my word."
The Owl replied, "My little ones are small,
Beautiful, shapely,—prettier, far, than all.
By my description you will know the dears;
Do not forget it: let no fate by you
Find way to us, and cause me ceaseless tears."
Well, one fine evening, the old Owl away,
The Eagle saw, upon a rocky shelf,
Or in a ruin, (who cares which I say?)
Some little ugly creatures. To himself
The Eagle reasoned, "These are not our friend′s,
Moping and gruff, and such a screeching, too:
Let′s eat ′em." Waste time never spends
The royal bird, to give the brute his due;
And when he eats, he eats, to tell the truth.
The Owl, returning, only found the feet
Of her dear offspring:—sad, but yet it′s sooth.
She mourns the children, young, and dear, and sweet,
And prays the gods to smite the wicked thief,
That brought her all the woe and misery.
Then some one said, "Restrain thy unjust grief;
Reflect one moment on the casualty.
Thou art to blame, and also Nature′s law,
Which makes us always think our own the best.
You sketched them to the Eagle as you saw:
They were not like your portrait;—am I just?"