The Yellow Fly.

A poem by Juliana Horatia Ewing


There you are!
I was certain I heard a strange voice from afar.
Mamma calls me a pup, but I'm wiser than she;
One ear cocked and I hear, half an eye and I see;
Wide-awake though I doze, not a thing escapes me.

Let me guess:
It's the stable-boy's hiss as he wisps down Black Bess.
It sounds like a kettle beginning to sing,
Or a bee on a pane, or a moth on the wing,
Or my master's peg-top, just let loose from the string.

Now I smell,
I don't know who you are, and I'm puzzled to tell.
You look like a fly dressed in very gay clothes,
But I blush to have troubled my mid-day repose
For a creature not worth half a twitch of my nose.

How now?
Bow, wow, wow!
The insect imagines we're playing, I vow!
If I pat you, I promise you'll find it too hard.
Be off! when a watch-dog like me is on guard,
Big or little, no stranger's allowed in the yard.

"Come away!"
My dear little master, is that what you say?
I am greatly obliged for your kindness and cares,
But I really can manage my own small affairs,
And banish intruders who give themselves airs.

Yap! yap! yap!
You defy me?--you pigmy, you insolent scrap!
What!--this to my teeth, that have worried a score
Of the biggest rats bred in the granary floor!
Come on, and be swallowed! I spare you no more!

Yelp! yelp! yelp!
Little master, pray save an unfortunate whelp,
Who began the attack, but is now in retreat,
Having shown all his teeth, just escapes on his feet,
And is trusting to you to make safety complete.

Let me go!
My poor eye! my poor ear! my poor tail! my poor toe!
Pray excuse my remarks, for I meant no such thing.
Don't trouble to come--oh, the brute's on the wing!
I'd no notion, I'm sure, there were flies that could sting.

Dear me!
I can't see.
My nose burns, my limbs shake, I'm as ill as can be.
I was never in such an undignified plight.
Mamma told me, and now I suppose she was right;
One should know what one's after before one shows fight.

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