The Fables of Florian (tr. Phelps)/The Philosopher and the Owl
THE PHILOSOPHER AND THE OWL.
Wrong'd, persecuted, and proscrib'd,
In foreign lands compell'd to hide,
For calling things by their right name,
A sage took with him all his wealth—
(His wisdom)—which he kept by stealth,
And to a friendly forest came.
There, while pond'ring o'er his woes,
He saw an owl beset by foes—
An angry crowd of jays and crows.
They peck'd him, curs'd him, call'd him sot,
And said he was no patriot.
"Let's pluck him," said they, "of his plumes—
This rascal who such wit assumes!"
"Let's hang him," said the wrathful birds,
"And judge the villain afterwards!"
In vain the owl implor'd for peace,
And call'd on them their rage to cease.
The sage was touch'd to see the owl
Assail'd by words and deeds so foul
(For wisdom always makes the mind
To peace and gentleness inclin'd).
He quell'd the rage, and ask'd the bird
Why such a mob was 'gainst him stirr'd.
"Wherefore," said he, "is all this strife?
Why do these foes thus seek your life?"
"My only crime," the owl replied,
"Is one which they cannot abide;
The reason why I've rous'd their spite,
Is simply this—I see by night."