The Patrician Peacocks and the Overweening Jay

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The Patrician Peacocks and the Overweening Jay
by Guy Wetmore Carryl
This poem was published in Wetmore’s 1898 anthology Fables for the Frivolous, which are parodies of Aesop's Fables

Once a flock of stately peacocks
      Promenaded on a green,
There were twenty-two or three cocks,
      Each as proud as seventeen,
And a glance, however hasty,
      Showed their plumage to be tasty;
Wheresoever one was placed, he
      Was a credit to the scene.

Now their owner had a daughter
      Who, when people came to call,
Used to say, “You’d reelly oughter
      See them peacocks on the mall.”
Now this wasn’t to her credit,
      And her callers came to dread it,
For the way the lady said it
      Wasn’t recherche at all.

But a jay that overheard it
      From his perch upon a fir
Didn’t take in how absurd it
      Was to every one but her;
When they answered, “You don’t tell us!”
      And to see the birds seemed zealous
He became extremely jealous,
      Wishing, too, to make a stir.

As the peacocks fed together
      He would join them at their lunch,
Culling here and there a feather
      Till he’d gathered quite a bunch;
Then this bird, of ways perfidious,
      Stuck them on him most fastidious
Till he looked uncommon hideous,
      Like a Judy or a Punch.

But the peacocks, when they saw him,
      One and all began to haul,
And to harry and to claw him
      Till the creature couldn’t crawl;
While their owner’s vulgar daughter,
      When her startled callers sought her,
And to see the struggle brought her,
      Only said, “They’re on the maul.”

It was really quite revolting
      When the tumult died away,
One would think he had been moulting
      So dishevelled was the jay;
He was more than merely slighted,
      He was more than disunited,
He’d been simply dynamited
      In the fervor of the fray.

And THE MORAL of the verses
      Is: That short men can’t be tall.
Nothing sillier or worse is
      Than a jay upon a mall.
And the jay opiniative
      Who, because he’s imitative,
Thinks he’s highly decorative
      Is the biggest jay of all.