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!”