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Parables And Riddles
by [?]


Among all serpents there is one,
Born of no earthly breed;
In fury wild it stands alone,
And in its matchless speed.

With fearful voice and headlong force
It rushes on its prey,
And sweeps the rider and his horse
In one fell swoop away.

The highest point it loves to gain;
And neither bar nor lock
Its fiery onslaught can restrain;
And arms–invite its shock.

It tears in twain like tender grass,
The strongest forest-trees;
It grinds to dust the hardened brass,
Though stout and firm it be.

And yet this beast, that none can tame,
Its threat ne’er twice fulfils;
It dies in its self-kindled flame.
And dies e’en when it kills.


We children six our being had
From a most strange and wondrous pair,–
Our mother ever grave and sad,
Our father ever free from care.

Our virtues we from both receive,–
Meekness from her, from him our light;
And so in endless youth we weave
Round thee a circling figure bright.

We ever shun the caverns black,
And revel in the glowing day;
‘Tis we who light the world’s dark track,
With our life’s clear and magic ray.

Spring’s joyful harbingers are we,
And her inspiring streams we swell;
And so the house of death we flee,
For life alone must round us dwell.

Without us is no perfect bliss,
When man is glad, we, too, attend,
And when a monarch worshipped is,
To him our majesty attend.


What is the thing esteemed by few?
The monarch’s hand it decks with pride,
Yet it is made to injure too,
And to the sword is most allied.

No blood it sheds, yet many a wound
Inflicts,–gives wealth, yet takes from none;
Has vanquished e’en the earth’s wide round,
And makes life’s current smoothly run.

The greatest kingdoms it has framed,
The oldest cities reared from dust,
Yet war’s fierce torch has ne’er inflamed;
Happy are they who in it trust!


I live within a dwelling of stone,
There buried in slumber I dally;
Yet, armed with a weapon of iron alone,
The foe to encounter I sally.
At first I’m invisible, feeble, and mean,
And o’er me thy breath has dominion;
I’m easily drowned in a raindrop e’en,
Yet in victory waxes my pinion.
When my sister, all-powerful, gives me her hand,
To the terrible lord of the world I expand.


Upon a disk my course I trace,
There restlessly forever flit;
Small is the circuit I embrace,
Two hands suffice to cover it.
Yet ere that field I traverse, I
Full many a thousand mile must go,
E’en though with tempest-speed I fly,
Swifter than arrow from a bow.


A bird it is, whose rapid motion
With eagle’s flight divides the air;
A fish it is, and parts the ocean,
That bore a greater monster ne’er;
An elephant it is, whose rider
On his broad back a tower has put:
‘Tis like the reptile base, the spider,
Whenever it extends its foot;
And when, with iron tooth projecting,
It seeks its own life-blood to drain,
On footing firm, itself erecting,
It braves the raging hurricane.