The Two Owls and the Sparrow

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Fable XXXII

Two formal owls together sat,
Conferring thus in solemn chat:
'How is the modern taste decayed!
Where's the respect to wisdom paid?
Our worth the Grecian sages knew;
They gave our sires the honour due;
They weighed the dignity of fowls,
And pried into the depth of owls.
Athens, the seat of learned fame,
With general voice revered our name;

On merit, title was conferred,
And all adored the Athenian bird.'
  'Brother, you reason well,' replies
The solemn mate, with half-shut eyes;
'Right. Athens was the seat of learning,
And truly wisdom is discerning.
Besides, on Pallas' helm we sit,
The type and ornament of wit:
But now, alas! we're quite neglected,
And a pert sparrow's more respected.'

   A sparrow, who was lodged beside,
O'erhears them soothe each other's pride,
And thus he nimbly vents his heat:
   'Who meets a fool must find conceit.
I grant, you were at Athens graced,
And on Minerva's helm were placed;
But every bird that wings the sky,
Except an owl, can tell you why.
From hence they taught their schools to know
How false we judge by outward show;

That we should never looks esteem,
Since fools as wise as you might seem.
Would ye contempt and scorn avoid,
Let your vain-glory be destroyed:
Humble your arrogance of thought,
Pursue the ways by Nature taught;
So shall you find delicious fare,
And grateful farmers praise your care:
So shall sleek mice your chase reward,
And no keen cat find more regard.'



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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