The Fables of Florian (tr. Phelps)/Truth and Fable
TRUTH AND FABLE.
At length among mankind to dwell,
Truth came, all naked, from her well.
By living there so long alone,
She had a little passée grown;
And old and young all fled surpris'd
The moment she was recogniz'd.
Poor Truth remain'd confounded quite
By such an unsuspected slight.
Just then she chanc'd to see
Fable in all her finery,
Trick'd out in plumes and diamonds, too
(The most of these were false, 'tis true,
But yet were dazzling to the view),
Who, in familiar courtesy,
Exclaimed: "Oh, here you are, I see!
And quite alone, too, I observe.
Why are you here,
My sister dear?
What end do you propose to serve?
Pray tell me, if you please."
Says Truth: "I find I'm here to freeze;
For all I meet upon the road,
Deny me shelter or abode.
I'm shunn'd as if in fear or hate;
But that, alas! must be the fate
Of dames, like me, when out of date."
"Not so," says Fable in reply,
"For you are younger still than I;
And yet, if I may be believ'd,
I'm ev'rywhere still well receiv'd.
But let me ask, why 'tis that you
Expose your nakedness to view?
That's not discreet. Now list to me,
Since well our int'rests do agree;
Let my broad mantle drape your form:
'Twill serve to shelter both from harm.
Among the wise, for your sake,
All will my foolish sayings take;
And with the fools, because of me,
You always well receiv'd will be."
Thus Fable, side by side with Truth,
Like as two sisters, hand in hand,
Will teach and please both age and youth,
And welcom'd be in ev'ry land.