To ROBERT SOUTHEY, Greta Hall, Keswick, Cumberland.
Coleorton. March 4, 1807.
My dear Uncle
Pray, excuse any Blunders in this, my first Attempt at Poetry, and also my long Neglect of writing to you: the Reason of which was, that I wished to send you my Poem, which was not finished sooner on Account of my Idleness. First I must tell you that my Father in some Places smoothed the Metre, which was before as rough as a Road that would have made you ill to travel over; and he also helped me to the Moral.
This Ass, which I am wont to ride,
And whom the World for Obstinacy chide,
And blame, as stupid beyond Measure,
Yet in him I've no small Pleasure.
Excuse me, good People! but always I hate
To prattle a Falsehood at any Rate.
And to tell the simple Truth,
I trust, in Manner not uncouth,
I hate all Prosing,
As my Tale does not shew Sin.
And now my good Friends! we proceed to the Tale,
As I do not intend my Performance for Sale.
An Ass as it played in an African Wild
At a Time when the Air was balsamic and mild
Heard the fierce Lion's loud Roar,
But thought he should never hear more:
The Roar was so loud,
That all the great Crowd
Which in London's vast Streets do parade,
Could not make this poor Ass more afraid
Than This single fierce Lion, it did--
More dreadful, because he was hid
At Length in a Transport of Fear the Ass set up a Bray
So horribly harsh, that his Foe fled away.
He leapt and he leapt, plunged, and then plunged again
Till he reached at his Cave and slunk into his den.