(Poem #137) The Sycophantic Fox and the Gullible Raven
A raven sat upon a tree, And not a word he spoke, for His beak contained a piece of Brie. Or, maybe it was Roquefort. We'll make it any kind you please -- At all events it was a cheese. Beneath the tree's umbrageous limb A hungry fox sat smiling; He saw the raven watching him, And spoke in words beguiling: "J'admire," said he, "ton beau plumage!" (The which was simply persiflage.) Two things there are, no doubt you know, To which a fox is used: A rooster that is bound to crow, A crow that's bound to roost; And whichsoever he espies He tells the most unblushing lies. "Sweet fowl," he said, "I understand You're more than merely natty; I hear you sing to beat the band And Adelina Patti. Pray render with your liquid tongue A bit from Gotterdammerung." This subtle speech was aimed to please The crow, and it succeeded; He thought no bird in all the trees Could sing as well as he did. In flattery completely doused, He gave the "Jewel Song" from Faust. But gravitation's law, of course, As Isaac Newton showed it, Exerted on the cheese its force, And elsewhere soon bestowed it. In fact, there is no need to tell What happened when to earth it fell. I blush to add that when the bird Took in the situation He said one brief, emphatic word, Unfit for publication. The fox was greatly startled, but He only sighed and answered, "Tut." The Moral is: A fox is bound To be a shameless sinner. And also: When the cheese comes round You know it's after dinner. But (what is only known to few) The fox is after dinner, too.
Another of Carryl's marvellous retellings of Aesop's fables. The poem needs nothing in the way of explanation; I'll merely note again the similarities to Gilbert - especially the bit of French with the parenthetical comment. My favourite bit, though, is undoubtedly the penultimate verse - I had to stop and laugh out loud at the sheer deadpan humour of it. It's also well worth going back and taking a look at his 'Embarassing Episode of Little Miss Muffet' (which has a better pun at the end :)). poem #94 m.