The Concert Of The Beasts
: Literary Fables Of Yriarte
While the rebeck I tune;
And be prepared with plaudits soon,
When ye have heard my story.
Certain of the subject beasts
Of the mighty Lion's court
An entertainment musical,
To make his Royal Highness sport
Upon his birth-day festival,
Devised,--to grace the occasion gay,
And pleasure to insure,
They organized an orchestra
To make success secure.
As often it doth happen,
Little wisdom was displayed,
In choosing actors competent,
That understood their trade.
Naught was said about the Nightingale,
Of the Blackbird not a word;
Of Lark or Linnet no one thought,
Or the Canary-bird.
Singers, much less accomplished
But more self-satisfied,
Took upon themselves the charge
The music to provide.
Before the time appointed
To electrify all hearts,
Each musician loudly vaunted
How they would play their parts.
At length the choir the prelude
Commenced within the hall,
Before the expectant multitude,--
Adroit performers all--
Two lusty Crickets treble sang;
Frog and locust took their place
To do up the contra-alto;
Hog and Donkey grunted base;
While, to make up the melody,
Two Hornets brisk the tenor try.
With what delicious cadence
And accent delicate
The orchestra resounded,
Sure I need not here repeat;
I'll only say, that most
Stopped up their ears, at once;
But, from deference to their host,
Their annoyance sought to hide,
At the barbarous dissonance,
That echoed far and wide.
Frog saw, by the wry faces,
That no bravo's cheering shout
Or glad applause awaited them;
And sprang the choir from out.
"The stupid Ass is out of tune
Most shockingly," said he.
"No--'tis the treble," Donkey brayed,
"That mars the harmony."
"The Hog, he fairly spoils the whole,"
A squeaking Cricket cried.
"No, no!"--said Chucky,--"on my soul,
I say the Locust, worse than all,
Out of all time and tune doth squall."
"That speech becomes you very ill!
Mind what you say!"--in accents shrill,
Locust angrily replied.
"'Tis plain that those confounded tenors,
The Hornets, are the real sinners!"
The Lion silenced the dispute:
"Before the concert was begun
Each puffed-up and conceited brute
Was bragging loud--yea, every one;
And challenged confident applause,
As if, to him alone, were due,
The honor of the harmony
Produced by your melodious crew.
Now the experiment is made,
And your incompetence betrayed--
On your own shares, ye all are dumb,
In this outrageous pandemonium,
And, to avoid presumptuous shame,
Each on his neighbor lays the blame.
Now get ye gone--and from my sight
Forever banished be.
The day beware, that e'er ye dare
Again to sing to me!"
* * * * *
Such, Heaven grant to be
The issue of the fray,
When writers, two or three,
Their scanty wits uniting,--
If the book should make its way
Each arrogates the praise;
If not--the blame he lays
On his comrade's wretched writing.