The merry knave did misbehave
With Blanche the kitchen servant.
We must suppose he bit her nose
In loving way and fervent.
She misconstrued and thought him rude
And roundly told him so,
Her pretty flush came with a rush;
She was pretty in her woe.
He took one step, a little step,
And said, “Don’t scold, my dear!”
“Your little nose is like a rose!”
And gently bit her ear.
This was too much for even such
As kitchen-maids to bear,
So with a scream and angry gleam
She caught him by the hair
And tugged him round the drying ground
Where she had hung the clothes,
But still the knave did misbehave
By trampling on her toes.
Then came a croak – he saw the joke,
That crow upon the tree,
And loud did caw at what he saw,
And then laughed merrily.
This was a thing in Bumble-sting
Quite common to be heard,
To sing and laugh, to joke and chaff,
Was child’s play to a bird.
And that old crow, for all we know,
May have been a prince enchanted,
For here, you see, you could wish to be
A mouse, and it was granted.
And even a lion – ‘Twas well worth tryin’ –
Or yet an elephant;
But to be king, that was a thing
The spell would never grant.
If so unwise your careless cries
Were heard to voice that wish,
The in a thrice – it was not nice –
You found yourself a fish.
And once a fish you cannot wish,
And so you’re fish forever;
But animals can, and so with man,
And birds, for they are clever!
So that your care was to beware
Of this, or you were doomed.
But let’s get square, and return to the pair.
Just then a cannon boomed.
The maid let go and nursed her toe.
The knave said, “What was that?
“I wish I could see what is the spree!”
Of a sudden he was sat
On a church-top spire away up higher
Than all the circling houses.
And all he saw was a man-o-war
And sailors in blue trousers,
Which every day were in the bay,
It was a common sight.
The knave felt flat, “Why, only that?
“I thought it was a fight;
“I wish –“ but ceased; to say the least,
“ ’Twas only just in time;
For then with him his maiden slim
Upon her wish did climb.
Her wish uprose to bite his nose
And so she reached the steeple;
And at that height she had her bite
Above the wondering people.
The bite did sting. The knave “A king
“To be” he said, “I wish!”
Lo! he was gone! she was alone
And knew he was a fish.
That hurt her sore that she no more
We see her darling knave,
She loved him well, though did not tell –
Now him she couldn’t save.
She thought of plans, and lades and fans,
But found there no solution;
Where she did brood it was not good
For her frail constitution.
She said “I wish I were a fish!”
And vanished from her pinnacle.
The clock did chime the midnight time,
With manner almost cynical.
And that is why in deep Lake Dhy
There are two playful fishes,
For they are there from want of care
In choosing sundry wishes.
17. 3. 29