The Butterfly’s Ball and the Grasshopper’s Feasts Excited the spleen of the Birds and the Beasts: For their mirth and good cheer—of the Bee was the theme, And the Gnat blew his horn, as he danced in the beam; ’Twas humm’d by the Beetle, ’twas buzz’d by the Fly, And sung by the myriads that sport through the sky. The Quadrupeds listen’d with sullen displeasure, But the tenants of Air were enraged beyond measure. The Peacock display’d his bright plumes to the Sun, And, addressing his Mates, thus indignant begun:
[p6]“Shall we, like domestic, inelegant Fowls, As unpolish’d as Geese, and as stupid as Owls, Sit tamely at home, hum-drum with our Spouses, While Crickets and Butterflies open their houses? Shall such mean little Insects pretend to the fashion? Cousin Turkey-cock, well may you be in a passion! If I suffer such insolent airs to prevail, May Juno pluck out all the eyes in my tail! So a Fête I will give, and my taste I’ll display, And send out my cards for St. Valentine’s Day.” [p7] This determined, six fleet Carrier-Pigeons went out To invite all the birds to Sir Argus’s Rout. The nest-loving Turtle-Dove sent an excuse; Dame Partlet lay in, as did good Mrs. Goose. The Turkey, poor soul! was confined to the rip; For all her young brood had just fail’d with the pip. The Partridge was ask’d; but a Neighbour hard by Had engaged a snug party to meet in a Pie: And the Wheat-ear declined, recollecting her Cousins, Last year, to a feast were invited by dozens,— But, alas! they return’d not; and she had no taste To appear in a costume of vine-leaves or paste. The Woodcock preferr’d his lone haunt on the moor; And the Traveller, Swallow, was still on his tour; While the Cuckoo, who should have been one of the guests, Was rambling on visits to other Birds’ nests. But the rest all accepted the kind invitation, And much bustle it caused in the plumed creation.
[p8]Such ruffling of feathers, such pruning of coats, Such chirping, such whistling, such clearing of throats, Such polishing bills, and such oiling of pinions, Had never been known in the biped dominions! The Tailor-Bird offer’d to make up new clothes For all the young Birdlings who wish’d to be Beaux: [p9] He made for the Robin a doublet of red, And a new velvet cap for the Goldfinch’s head; He added a plume to the Wren’s golden crest, And spangled with silver the Guinea-Fowl’s breast; While the Halcyon bent over the streamlet to view How pretty she looked in her bodice of blue!
Thus adorn’d, they set off for the Peacock’s abode, With the guide Indicator, who show’d them the road: From all points of the compass flock’d birds of all feather, And the Parrot can tell who and who were together. [p10] There was Lord Cassowary and General Flamingo, And Don Peroqueto, escaped from Domingo: From his high rock-built eyrie the Eagle came forth, And the Duchess of Ptarmigan flew from the North. [p11] The Grebe and the Eider-Duck came up by water, With the Swan, who brought out the young Cygnet, her Daughter....