Saturday, 7 July 2018

The Bear, the Ape, and the Pig - Tomás Iriarte

A bear, whose dancing help’d to gain
     His own and owner’s livelihood,
And whose success had made him vain
     As any dandy, stood
Upon his hinder legs to try
     The figure of a new quadrille,
When, seeing that an ape was nigh,
     He stump’d about with all his skill,
And, “Tell me how you like,” he cried,
     ”My dancing, for I’m always glad
To hear the truth!” The ape replied,
     “I really think it very bad.”
“’Tis plain enough,” rejoin’d the bear,
     “That envy makes you censure so;
For have I not a graceful air,
     A slender shape and limber toe?”
But here a tasteless pig began
     To grunt applause, and said, “I vow
I’ve never met, in brute or man,
     With one who danced so well as thou.”
The bear, on hearing this, became
     Sedate and pensive for a while;
And then, as if abash’d with shame,
     Replied, in a more humble style:
“The agile ape’s rebuke might be
     Inspired by jealousy or spleen;
But, since the pig commends, I see
     How bad my dancing must have been.

Let every author think on this,
     And hold this maxim for a rule:
The worst that can befall him is
     The approbation of a fool.

Tomás Iriarte (Tomás de Iriarte y Oropesa) (1750-1791) Spain
Source: The World’s Wit and Humor, Vol. XIII, Italian — Spanish, The Review of Reviews Company; New York; 1906

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