Fact Or Fable?

A poem by Victor Marie Hugo

(BISMARCK AND NAPOLEON III.)

("Un jour, sentant un royal appétit.")

[Bk. III. iii., Jersey, September, 1852.]


One fasting day, itched by his appetite,
A monkey took a fallen tiger's hide,
And, where the wearer had been savage, tried
To overpass his model. Scratch and bite
Gave place, however, to mere gnash of teeth and screams,
But, as he prowled, he made his hearers fly
With crying often: "See the Terror of your dreams!"
Till, for too long, none ventured thither nigh.
Left undisturbed to snatch, and clog his brambled den,
With sleepers' bones and plumes of daunted doves,
And other spoil of beasts as timid as the men,
Who shrank when he mock-roared, from glens and groves -
He begged his fellows view the crannies crammed with pelf
Sordid and tawdry, stained and tinselled things,
As ample proof he was the Royal Tiger's self!
Year in, year out, thus still he purrs and sings
Till tramps a butcher by - he risks his head -
In darts the hand and crushes out the yell,
And plucks the hide - as from a nut the shell -
He holds him nude, and sneers: "An ape you dread!"

H.L.W.

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