The Lady and the Wasp

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Fable VIII

What whispers must the beauty bear!
What hourly nonsense haunts her ear!
Where'er her eyes dispense their charms,
Impertinence around her swarms.
Did not the tender nonsense strike,
Contempt and scorn might soon dislike.
Forbidding airs might thin the place,
The slightest flap a fly can chase.
But who can drive the numerous breed?
Chase one, another will succeed.

Who knows a fool, must know his brother;
One fop will recommend another:
And with this plague she's rightly curs'd,
Because she listened to the first.
   As Doris, at her toilet's duty,
Sat meditating on her beauty,
She now was pensive, now was gay,
And lolled the sultry hours away.
As thus in indolence she lies,
A giddy wasp around her flies.

He now advances, now retires,
Now to her neck and cheek aspires.
Her fan in vain defends her charms;
Swift he returns, again alarms;
For by repulse he bolder grew,
Perched on her lip, and sipp'd the dew.
   She frowns, she frets. 'Good God!' she cries,
'Protect me from these teasing flies!
Of all the plagues that heaven hath sent,
A wasp is most impertinent.'

   The hovering insect thus complained:
'Am I then slighted, scorned, disdained?
Can such offence your anger wake?
'Twas beauty caused the bold mistake.
Those cherry lips that breathe perfume,
That cheek so ripe with youthful bloom,
Made me with strong desire pursue
The fairest peach that ever grew.'
   'Strike him not, Jenny,' Doris cries,
'Nor murder wasps like vulgar flies:

For though he's free (to do him right)
The creature's civil and polite.'
In ecstacies away he posts;
Where'er he came, the favour boasts;
Brags how her sweetest tea he sips,
And shows the sugar on his lips.
   The hint alarmed the forward crew;
Sure of success, away they flew.
They share the dainties of the day,
Round her with airy music play;

And now they flutter, now they rest,
Now soar again, and skim her breast.
Nor were they banished, till she found
That wasps have stings, and felt the wound.



The Fables, Volume 1 (1727)
Introduction The Shepard and the Philosopher
Fable I The Lion, the Tiger, and the Traveller
Fable II The Spaniel and the Cameleon
Fable III The Mother, the Nurse, and the Fairy
Fable IV The Eagle, and the Assembly of Animals
Fable V The wild Boar and the Ram
Fable VI The Miser and Plutus
Fable VII The Lion, the Fox, and the Geese
Fable VIII The Lady and the Wasp
Fable IX The Bull and the Mastiff
Fable X The Elephant and the Bookseller
Fable XI The Peacock, the Turkey, and the Goose
Fable XII Cupid, Hymen, and Plutus
Fable XIII The Tame Stag
Fable XIV The Monkey who had seen the World
Fable XV The Philosopher and the Pheasants
Fable XVI The Pin and the Needle
Fable XVII The Shepherd's Dog and the Wolf
Fable XVIII The Painter who pleased Nobody and Everybody
Fable XIX The Lion and the Cub
Fable XX The Old Hen and the Cock
Fable XXI The Rat-catcher and Cats
Fable XXII The Goat without a Beard
Fable XXIII The Old Woman and her Cats
Fable XXIV The Butterfly and the Snail
Fable XXV The Scold and the Parrot
Fable XXVI The Cur and the Mastiff
Fable XXVII The Sick Man and the Angel
Fable XXVIII The Persian, the Sun, and the Cloud
Fable XXIX The Fox at the point of Death
Fable XXX The Setting-dog and the Partridge
Fable XXXI The Universal Apparition
Fable XXXII The Two Owls and the Sparrow
Fable XXXIII The Courtier and Proteus
Fable XXXIV The Mastiffs
Fable XXXV The Barley-mow and the Dunghill
Fable XXXVI Pythagoras and the Countryman
Fable XXXVII The Farmer's Wife and the Raven
Fable XXXVIII The Turkey and the Ant
Fable XXXIX The Father and Jupiter
Fable XL The Two Monkeys
Fable XLI The Owl and the Farmer
Fable XLII The Jugglers
Fable XLIII The Council of Horses
Fable XLIV The Hound and the Huntsman
Fable XLV The Poet and the Rose
Fable XLVI The Cur, the Horse, and the Shepherd's Dog
Fable XLVII The Court of Death
Fable XLVIII The Gardener and the Hog
Fable XLIX The Man and the Flea
Fable L The Hare and many Friends


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