Iriarte, Tomás De

Spain, (1750-1791)

Fable III
The Bear, the Monkey and the Hog.

  1. A BEAR, with whom a Piedmontese
  2. A wandering living made,
  3. A dance he had not learn’d with ease,
  4. On his two feet essay’d:
  5.  
  6. And, as he highly of it thought,
  7. He to the Monkey cried,
  8. “How’s that ?” who, being better taught,
  9. “‘Tis very bad,” replied.
  10.  
  11. “I do believe,” rejoin’d the Bear,
  12. “You little favour show:
  13. For have I not a graceful air,
  14. And step with ease to go ?”
  15.  
  16. A Hog, that was beside them set,
  17. Cried, “Bravo! good!” said he;
  18. “A better dancer never yet
  19. I saw, and ne’er shall see.”
  20.  
  21. On this the Bear, as if he turn’d
  22. His thoughts within his mind,
  23. With modest gesture seeming learn’d
  24. A lesson thence to find.
  25.  
  26. “When blamed the Monkey, it was cause
  27. Enough for doubting sad;
  28. But when I have the hog’s applause,
  29. It must be very bad!”
  30. ~~~~
  31. As treasured gift, let authors raise
  32. This moral from my verse:
  33. ‘Tis bad, when wise ones do not praise;
  34. But when fools do, ’tis worse.

Modern poets and poetry of Spain. edited and translated by James D. Kennedy. London: Williams and Norgate (1860).

Fable LIII
The Lamb and His Two Advisers.

  1. In a court-yard a poultry-house did lie,
  2. Where a brisk Cock around at pleasure ran;
  3. Behind the court, in a convenient sty,
  4. Lay a stout Pig— fat as an alderman.
  5. In the same yard, a little Lamb there lived ;
  6. And good companions, too, were all the three;
  7. As may be very easily believed,
  8. For such in farmers’ yards we often see.
  9.  
  10. “Now, with your leave,” — the thrifty Pig, said he,
  11. To the meek Lamb, — “what a delightful lot!
  12. And what a peaceful, happy destiny,
  13. The livelong day to slumber! Is it not?
  14. Upon the honor of a Pig, I say,
  15. That, in this wretched world, there’s no such pleasure,
  16. As to snore merrily the time away,
  17. Let the world wag, and stretch yourself at leisure.”
  18.  
  19. But, in his turn, the Cock the Lamb addressed,
  20. Soon after Piggy did his dissertation end;
  21. “To be with health and active vigor blest,
  22. One must sleep sparingly, my little friend.
  23. In hot July, or frosty winter day,
  24. With the bright stars to watch, is the true way.
  25. Sleep numbs our senses with a stupid sloth;
  26. In fact unnerves the mind and body both.”
  27.  
  28. The Lamb hears both, and knows not which to trust.
  29. He never guesses — simple little elf—
  30. That the fine rule, by each laid down, is just
  31. That others ought to do what suits himself.
  32. ~~~~
  33. So among authors, — some there are who never
  34. Think any doctrine sound, or maxim clever,
  35. Or rules as good for others’ guidance own,
  36. Excepting such as they have hit upon.

 Tomás de Iriarte. Literary Fables, translated by George H. Devereux. Boston: Ticknor and Fields (1855).

About the Poet:

Tomás de Iriarte (or Yriarte) y Oropesa (1750-1791), was a Spanish neoclassical poet and born to a family, many of whose members were writers in the humanist tradition.

He received his literary education at Madrid where he went aged 14 in 1764 under the care of his uncle, Juan de Iriarte, (1701-1771), librarian to the king of Spain and began his literary career at age eighteen by translating French plays for the royal theatre. In the following year he became official translator at the Foreign Office, and in 1776 Keeper of the Records in the War Department.

While previously publishing a comedy play and a didactic poem La Música, which attracted some attention, it was The Fábulas Literarias with which his name is most often associated.

The Fábulas Literarias, composed in a great variety of meters, was popular because of its humorous attacks on literary men and methods. During his later years, partly in consequence of the Fábulas, Iriarte was absorbed in personal controversies, and in 1786 was reported to the Inquisition for his sympathies with the French philosophers. [DES-07/12]

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