Poetry Explorer- Classic Contemporary Poetry, COUNTRY FELLOWS AND THE ASS; ABSURDITY OF ATTEMPTING TO PLEASE ALL MEN, by JOHN BYROM



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COUNTRY FELLOWS AND THE ASS; ABSURDITY OF ATTEMPTING TO PLEASE ALL MEN, by             Poet's Biography
First Line: A country fellow and his son, they tell
Last Line: To think of pleasing all is but a jest.
Variant Title(s): The Countrymen And The Ass
Subject(s): Fables; Fathers & Sons; Men; Allegories


A COUNTRY Fellow and his Son, they tell
In modern fables, had an ass to sell:
With this in view, they turn'd it out to play,
And fed it so, that by the destin'd day
They brought the creature into sleek repair,
Then drove it gently to a neighb'ring fair.

As they were jogging on, a rural class
Was heard to say, "Look! look there, at that ass!
"And those two blockheads trudging on each side,
"Neither of whom has sense enough to ride!
"Asses all three!"—And thus the country folks
On man and boy began to cut their jokes.

Th' old fellow minded not a thing they said,
But ev'ry word stuck in the young one's head;
And thus began their comment thereupon,—
Ne'er heed 'em lad.— 'Nay, father, do get on.'
Not I indeed. 'Why then let me, I pray.'
Well, do; and see what prating tongues will say.

The boy was mounted; and they had not got
Much farther on before another knot,
Just as the ass was pacing by, pad, pad,
Cried, "O! that lazy looby of a lad!
"How unconcernedly the gaping brute
"Lets the poor aged fellow walk a foot!"

Down came the son, on hearing this account,
And begg'd and pray'd, and made his father mount;
Till a third party on a farther stretch,
Exclaim'd, "See! see that old hard-hearted wretch!
"How like a justice there he sits, or squire,
"While the poor lad keeps wading through the mire!"

'Stop,' cried the lad, still deeper vex'd in mind,
'Stop, father, stop; let me get on behind.'
This done, they thought they certainly should please,
Escape reproaches, and ride on at ease:
For having tried each practicable way,
What could be left for jokers now to say?

They were accosted next in surely tone,—
"Hark ye, you fellows! Is that ass your own?
"Get off;—for shame! Or one of you at least;
"You both deserve to carry the poor breast,
"Ready to drop-down dead upon the road
"With such a huge, unconscionable load."

On this they both dismounted, and some say,
Contriv'd to carry like a truss of hay,
The ass between 'em.—Prints, they add, are seen
With man, and lad, and slinging ass between:
Others omit that fancy in the print,
As overstraining an ingenious hint.

The copy that we follow says, the man
Rubb'd down his ass; pursu'd his first-form'd plan;
Walk'd to the fair, and sold him; got his price,
And gave his son this pertinent advice;—
Let talkers talk; stick thou to what is best:
To think of pleasing all is but a jest.





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