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Poem by Henry Livingston


The Crane & The Fox


    A Fable

In long gone years a fox and crane
Were bound in friendships golden chain;
Wheneer they met, the fox would bow
And madame Crane would curtsie low-
-My lovely Crane how do you do?
-Im very well - pray how are you?
Thus time passed on, both very civil
Till Reynard in an hour evil
Projected what he thought a stroke
The world would call a pretty joke -
A billet wrote on gilded paper
And sealed it with a perfumed wafer
Announced the day, if she saw fit
To take a tete-a-tetetit-bit;
The day arrivd -she preend each feather
And summond evry grace together;
At breakfast scarce a morsel eat
Intent to riot at the treat -

She came - wide stood the unfolded door
And roses deckd the sanded floor -
- There hyacinths in festoons hung
- Here lillies their rich fragrance flung -

The table drawn - the damask laid
And soup prepared of bullocks marrow
Pourd in each plate profuse - but shallow;
The fox began to lap in haste
And made a plentiful repast,
Pressed his fair friend to do the same
And to encourage, lapd again -

The Crane be sure with her long beak
Could not a single morsel pick;
She felt the bite--but little said
And very soon her exit made,
Just begd the fox would come next day
And sup with her in her plain way;
Reynard declared she did him honor
-He certainly would wait upon her.

Her domicile was well prepard
No cost or labor had been spared;
Roses and tulips on the floor
And daffodils the ceiling bore;
Nor was a band of music wanting
For whippoorwills and frogs were chanting.
The sun had set and given way
To sober evenings mantle gray;
The fox arrivd with stomach keen
-Hoped he saw in health his Queen
And added in his courtliest air
She neer before had lookd so fair.

The Crane replied in mildest mood
That all he said was very good,
She meekly meant to do her duty
And neer dreamd of praise or beauty.
-She spoke - The table soon was spread
And evrything in order paid;
Two narrow jars now graced the board
With nicely minced venson stored;
- Now lets fall to, sir, if you will--
And in she pokd her slender bill
And gulpd of viands at her leisure
- To see you eat would give me pleasure
She cried - eat, neighbor, eat
I fear you do not like my treat;
It suits my palate to a hair
Pray, Chummy, eat and do not spare.
- The fox looked on with rueful phys
Feeling in all its force the quiz.

The Crane enjoyd his discontent
And thus addressd him as he went,
The truest adage ever spoke
Was He that Gives must Take a joke.


H.L. to his beloved daughter Jane, Feb. 19, 1827.



Henry Livingston


Henry Livingston's other poems:
  1. Acknowledgement
  2. On My Sister Joannas Entrance into Her 33rd Year
  3. To the Memory of Sarah Livingston
  4. To the Memory of Henry Welles Livingston
  5. Dialogue


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