The Fables of Florian (tr. Phelps)/The Rhinoceros and the Dromedary

Fables of Florian13.jpg


One day a young rhinoceros
       Thus address'd the dromedary:—
"Can you, my friend, explain to us
       Why our fortunes so much vary—

Why man the lord of all our race
Always provides for you a place?
He gives you shelter, food, and care;
And e'en his bread with you will share.
By him you are esteem'd so high,
He seeks your race to multiply.
You have good qualities, 'tis true;
Are gentle, sober, never slack;
You bear his burdens on your back,
       His wife and children too:
              All this I own;
But are these merits yours alone?
To us then, is there nothing due?
In fact, I think, with due respect,
We well might man's regards expect
              As well as you.
We furnish him with horn and shield
To aid him on the battle-field.
Yet he pursues us with his hate;
Hunts us with rage insatiate;
Despises us, or in his wrath,
Impels us to avoid his path."

The dromedary made reply:—
"Why envy us our lot, my friend?
To serve is nothing; you must try
To make man's pleasure your sole end.
Be not surpris'd that he should show
       Such favor to our progeny:
The secret of it, you must know,
       Is this:—we've learn'd to bend the knee."