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Wednesday, August 16, 2017

The Hospitable Caledonian and the Thankless Viper

Guest Blogger Dept.: Guy Wetmore Carryl is back, with his oh-so-politically incorrect re-telling of an Aesop fable.


Guy Wetmore Carryl
      Who was walking on the wold
Nearly stepped upon a viper
      Rendered torpid by the cold;
By the sight of her admonished,
      He forbore to plant his boot,
But he showed he was astonished
      By the way he muttered “Hoot!”

Now this simple-minded piper
      Such a kindly nature had
That he lifted up the viper
      And bestowed her in his plaid.
“Though the Scot is stern, at least he
      No unhappy creature spurns,
‘Sleekit, cowrin, tim’rous beastie,’”
      Quoth the piper (quoting Burns).

This was unaffected kindness,
      But there was, to state the fact,
Just a slight soupçon of blindness
      In his charitable act.
If you’d watched the piper, shortly
      You’d have seen him leap aloft,
As this snake, of ways uncourtly,
      Bit him suddenly and oft.

There was really no excuse for
      This, the viper’s cruel work,
And the piper found a use for
      Words he’d never learned at kirk;
But the biting was so thorough
      That although the doctors tried,
Not the best in Edinburgh
      Could assist him, and he died.

And THE MORAL is: The piper
      Of the matter made a botch;
One can hardly blame the viper
      If she took a nip of Scotch,
For she only did what he did,
      And his nippie wasn’t small,
Otherwise, you see, he needed
      Not have seen the snake at all.

– Guy Wetmore Carryl, Fables for the Frivolous, 1898

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