A Parable

A poem by James Russell Lowell

An ass munched thistles, while a nightingale
From passion's fountain flooded all the vale.
'Hee-haw!' cried he, 'I hearken,' as who knew
For such ear-largess humble thanks were due.
'Friend,' said the wingèd pain, 'in vain you bray,
Who tunnels bring, not cisterns, for my lay;
None but his peers the poet rightly hear,
Nor mete we listeners by their length of ear.'

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