A Donkey, whose talent for burdens was wondrous,
So much that you’d swear he rejoic’d in a load,
One day had to jog under panniers so pond’rous,
That — down the poor Donkey fell smack on the road!
His owners and drivers stood round in amaze —
What! Neddy, the patient, the prosperous Neddy,
So easy to drive, through the dirtiest ways,
For every description of job-work so ready!
One driver (whom Ned might have “hail’d” as a “brother”)
Had just been proclaiming his Donkey’s renown
For vigour, for spirit, for one thing or another —
When, lo, ‘mid his praises, the Donkey came down!
But, how to upraise him? – one shouts, t’other whistles,
While Jenky, the Conjurer, wisest of all,
Declar’d that an “over-production of thistles” —
(Here Ned gave a stare) — “was the cause of his fall.”
Another wise Solomon cries, as he passes —
“There, let him alone, and the fit will soon cease;
The beast has been fighting with other jack-asses,
And this is his mode of “transition to peace”.”
Some look’d at his hoofs, and with learned grimaces,
Pronounc’d that too long without shoes he had gone —
“Let the blacksmith provide him a sound metal basis
(The wise-acres said), and he’s sure to jog on.”
Meanwhile, the poor Neddy, in torture and fear,
Lay under his panniers, scarce able to groan;
And — what was still dolefuller – lending an ear
To advisers, whose ears were a match for his own.
At length, a plain rustic, whose wit went so far
As to see others’ folly, roar’d out, as he pass’d —
“Quick — off with the panniers, all dolts as ye are,
Or, your prosperous Neddy will soon kick his last!”