A Fox, still young, though rather sly,
Saw, first time in his life, a Horse.
Just then a stupid Wolf passed by,
And Reynard saw a game, of course.
"Come, see this thing that′s feeding near;
He′s grand. I view him with delight!
Is he more strong than us, my dear?
Think you with both of us he′d fight?"
Replied the Wolf, with laughter—"Now
Draw me his portrait: then I′ll tell."
The Fox said, "Could I write, or show
On canvas all his beauties well,
"Your pleasure would be great indeed.
But, come—what say you? He may be
Some easy prey, on whom we′ll feed,
By Fortune sent to you and me."
The Horse, still feeding on the plain,
Scarce curious to see the pair,
Planned flying with his might and main,
For wolves have tricks that are unfair.
The sly Fox said, "Your servants, sir;
We wish to know your name." The Horse
Had brains; so said, "My shoemaker
Has put it round my shoe, of course.
"Read, if you can. There is my name."
The Fox had store of craft in need:
He cried, "My parents were to blame;
They taught me not to write or read.
′Tis only mighty wolves who learn
To read: they read things in a breath!"
Our flattered Wolf here made a turn;
But vanity cost him his teeth!
The clever Horse, as he drew near,
Held high his hoof: his plan he saw.
It cost the reading Wolf most dear,—
Down came the hoof upon his jaw.
With broken bones, and bloody coat,
Upon the ground the poor Wolf lay.
"Brother," the Fox said, "only note
The truth that we′ve heard people say.
"With wisdom, what had been your case?
No pain would need to be discussed.
This Horse has stamped upon your face
That ′unknown things wise men mistrust.′"