Special Collections and Archives. LIU Post. Brookville, New York 11548

Cedar Swamp Historical Society Collection: 18th-20th Century Historical Letters

Poem entitled "Fable the Ninth: The Swallow and the Butterfly."


Fable the Ninth

The Swallow and the Butterfly

A Swallow alighting hard by
          The bells of a flower in full bloom
There gazed at a large butterfly
          And the beautiful tints of its plume;

Its gay color'd wings bright as gold;-
          Its back as with silver emboss'd;-
But its quadruple wings to behold
          Excited her envy the most;

And she said to herself, "It is true
          "I traverse the wide world around
"With my wings, - and I only have two, -
          "But, alas! Often fear getting drown'd;

"For, Oh! What fatigue I sustain
          "When crossing a boisterous sea! -
"But had I four wings, it is plain
          "The toil would be easy to me."

Here, seeing the Butterfly try
          With four wings to winnow the air
But being unable to fly
          And resting now here and now there

With itself highly pleas'd - "Hence I know
          "From this failure of flight" said the Swallow,
"The gew-gaws that make a great show
          "Are mostly superfluous or hollow.

"Not all things that valued appear
          "(?) substance are so; - since we find
"From a distance when brought to us near
          "They merely for show were design'd.

Too much of a good thing is vain; -
          Hence what we wish most to possess
Might prove a great ill in the main, -
          Or bring with it grief and distress.

Fable the Tenth.


Transcribed by Amanda Cintron
Palmer School of Library and Information Science
July 11, 2012