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An Eastern Tale

Adressed To Mrs. S.C. Choate

A Persian lady we're informed-
This happened long, long years before
The Christian era ever dawned,
A thousand years, it may be more,
The date and narrative are so obscure,
I have to guess some things that should be sure.

I'm puzzled with this history,
And rue that I began the tale;
It seems a kind of mystery-
I'm very much afraid I'll fail,
For want of facts of the sensation kind:
I therefore dwell upon the few I find.

I like voluminous writing best,
That gives the facts dress'd up in style.
A handsome woman when she's dressed
Looks better than (repress that smile)
When she in plainer costume does appear;
The more it costs we know she is more

The story is a Grecian one,
The author's name I cannot tell;
Perhaps it was old Xenophon
Or Aristotle, I can't dwell
On trifles; perhaps Plutarch wrote the story:
At any rate its years have made it hoary.

The Greeks were famous in those days
In arts, in letters and in arms;
Quite plain and simple in their ways;
With their own hands they tilled their farms;
Some dressed the vine, some plow'd the ocean's wave;
Some wrote, were orators, or teachers grave.

They were Republicans, in fact;
The Persians might have called them 'black
Republicans;' they never lacked
The power to beat a foeman back.
Thermopylae, so famed in Grecian story
Is but another name for martial glory.

A busy hive to work or fight,
Like our New England bold and strong;
A little frantic for the right,
As sternly set against the wrong;
And when for right they drew the sword, we know,
Stopped not to count the number of the foe.

To me it is a painful sight
To see a nation great and good
Reduced to such a sorry plight,
And courtiers crawl where freemen stood,
And king and priests combine to seize the spoil,
While widows weep and beggar'd yeomen toil.

The philosophic mind might dwell
Upon this subject for an age:
The philanthropic heart might swell
Till tears as ink would wet the page;
The mystery, a myst'ry will remain-
The learning of the learned cannot explain.

The Persians were a gaudy race,
Much giv'n to dress and grand display;
I'm grieved to note this is the case
With other people at this day;
And folks are judged of from outside attractions,
Instead of from good sense and genteel actions.

The dame in question was a type
Of all her class; handsome and rich
And proud, of course, and flashing like
A starry constellation, which
She was, in fact a moving mass of light
From jewels which outshone the stars at night.

The tale is somewhat out of joint-
I'm not much given to complain;
'Tis in a most essential point
A blank; I've read it oft in vain
To find one syllable about her size,
The color of her hair, or of her eyes.

Or whether she was short or tall,
Or if she sung or play'd with grace,
If she wore hoops or waterfall
I cannot find a single trace
Of proof; and as I like to be precise,
My disappointment equals my surprise.

This Persian belle; (confound the belle)
Excuse me, please; I won't be rude;
She's in my way, so I can't tell
My tale, so much does she intrude;
I wish I knew her age, and whether she
Was single, married, or engaged to be.

These are important facts to know,
I wonder how they slipped the pen
Of him who wrote the story, so
I wonder at the taste of men
Who wrote for future ages thus to spoil
A tale to save time, paper, ink or oil.

Our Persian lady, as I said,
Decked out in costly jewels rare,
A visit to a Grecian made-
A lady of great worth, and fair
To look upon, of great domestic merit
Which from a noble race she did inherit.

Puffed up with vanity and pride,
The Persian flashing like a gem,
Displayed her brilliants, glittering wide;
The Grecian coldly looked at them:
'Have you no jewelry at all, to wear?
Your dress and person look so poor and bare.'

She called her children to her side,
Seven stalwart sons of martial mien;
'These are my jewels,' she replied,
'I'm richer far than you, I ween:
These are the glory and the strength of Greece,
Which all the gems on earth would not increase,'

Let others shine in diamonds bright,
Or hoard their greenbacks, bonds or gold,
You have your jewels in your sight,
And hearing, like the matron old;
And should they still continue to increase,
You'll beat the model mother of old Greece.

Then hail Columbia, happy land!
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Submitted on May 13, 2011

4:06 min read

David John Scott

Sir Robin David John Scott Fox (20 June 1910 – 25 January 1985) was a British diplomat and writer. more…

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