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The Birds, The Beasts, And The Bat. A Fable
by [?]

A war broke out in former days,
If all is true that AEsop says,
Between the birds that haunt the grove,
And beasts that wild in forests rove:
Of fowl that swim in water clear,
Of birds that mount aloft in air;
From ev’ry tribe vast numbers came,
To fight for freedom, as for fame:
The beasts from dens and caverns deep,
From valleys low and mountains steep;
In motly ranks determin’d stood,
And dreadful howlings shook the wood.
The bat, half bird, half beast was there,
Nor would for this or that declare;
Waiting till conquest should decide,
Which was the strongest, safest side:
Depending on this doubtful form,
To screen him from th’ impending storm.

With sharpen’d beaks and talons long,
With horny spurs and pinions strong,
The birds in fierce assault, ’tis said,
Amongst the foe such havoc made,
That panic struck, the beasts retreat
Rmaz’d, and vict’ry seem’d complete.
Th’ observant bat, with squeaking tone,
Cries, Bravo, birds the day’s our own;
“For now I’m proud to claim a place
“Amongst your bold aspiring race;
“With leathern wings I skim the air,
“And am a bird tho’ clad in hair.”

But now the beasts asham’d of flight,
With rallied force renew the fight,
With threatening teeth, uplifted paws,
Projecting horns and spreading claws,
Enrag’d advance–push on the fray,
And claim the honours at the day.

The bat still hov’ring to and fro,
Observ’d how things were like to go,
Concludes those best who best can fight,
And thinks the strongest party right;
“Push on, quoth he, our’s is the day
“We’ll chase these rebel birds away,
“And reign supreme–for who but we
“Of earth and air the Lords should be;
“That I’m a beast I can make out,
“by reasons strong beyond a doubt,
“With teeth and fur ‘twould be absurd,
“To call a thing like me a bird;
“Each son and daughter of my house,
“Is stil’d at least a flying mouse.”

Always uncertain is the fate,
Of war and enterprises great:
The beasts exulting push’d too far
Their late advantage in the war;
Sure of success, insult the foe,
Despise their strength and careless grow;
The birds not vanquish’d, but dismay’d,
Collect their force, new pow’rs display’d,
Their chief, the eagle, leads them on,
And with fierce rage the war’s begun.
Now in their turn the beasts must yield,
The bloody laurels of the field;
Routed they fly, disperse, divide,
And in their native caverns hide.

Once more the bat with courtly voice,
Hail, noble birds! “much I rejoice
In your success, and come to claim
My share of conquest and of fame.”
The birds the faithless wretch despise;
Hence, traitor, hence the eagle cries;
No more, as you just vengeance fear,
Amongst our honour’d ranks appear.
The bat, disown’d in some old shed,
Now seeks to hide his exil’d head;

Nor dares his leathern wings display,
From rising morn to setting day:
But when the gloomy shades of night,
Screens his vile form from every sight,
Despis’d, unnotic’d, flits about;
Then to his dreary cell returns,
And his just fate in silence mourns.