The peacock to the queen of heaven
Complain'd in some such words: -
'Great goddess, you have given
To me, the laughing-stock of birds,
A voice which fills, by taste quite just,
All nature with disgust;
Whereas that little paltry thing,
The nightingale, pours from her throat
So sweet and ravishing a note,
She bears alone the honours of the spring.'
In anger Juno heard,
And cried, 'Shame on you, jealous bird!
Grudge you the nightingale her voice,
Who in the rainbow neck rejoice,
Than costliest silks more richly tinted,
In charms of grace and form unstinted, -
Who strut in kingly pride,
Your glorious tail spread wide
With brilliants which in sheen do
Outshine the jeweller's bow window?
Is there a bird beneath the blue
That has more charms than you?
No animal in everything can shine.
By just partition of our gifts divine,
Each has its full and proper share;
Among the birds that cleave the air,
The hawk's a swift, the eagle is a brave one,
For omens serves the hoarse old raven,
The rook's of coming ills the prophet;
And if there's any discontent,
I've heard not of it.
'Cease, then, your envious complaint;
Or I, instead of making up your lack,
Will take your boasted plumage from your back.'