The Fables of Florian (tr. Phelps)/King Alphonso


A certain king who held his reign
Where Tagus mingles with the main,
Alphonso called, surnam'd The Wise—
(Not so surnam'd because discreet,
But just because he thought it meet
       To scan the skies)—
Knew much of all phenomena,
And was a great astronomer.
More of the heavens he came to know,
Than of his kingdom here below;
For when to council call'd, he'd soon
Run off to view the sun or moon.
At length one day when going to
His telescope to take a view,
The gentry round him he address'd:—
"Messieurs! I am at last possess'd
Of instruments, by which, to-night,
I hope to see the wond'rous sight
Of men within our satellite!"
"No doubt you will," a courtier cried,
"And many other things beside."
Meantime a poor street-beggar bow'd,
And ask'd for pennies from the crowd.

The king could neither hear nor see
The man's appeal for charity;
But all absorb'd pursu'd his way,
Unheeding what the man might say.
Yet still the beggar humbly pray'd;
Beseeching held his hand for aid,
And much the king did importune.
But still the king with thoughts on high,
Made ever still this same reply:—
"I shall see men within the moon."
At last the poor man in distress,
Seiz'd on the monarch's royal dress,
       And gravely said:—
"You'll find men here, men who need bread:
You need not look for them up there;
They're here, around you, ev'rywhere.
This realm God gave you for a boon,
Not one up yonder in the moon."