She whom I worship night and day, she loathes my very sight,
And on my neighbour dotes, who in another takes delight;
A third she in my humble self nothing but good can see:
Now out upon the god of love, and him, and them, and me!
Easy is a fool to manage, easier still a man of sense,
Bhrama's self is foiled by one of little brains and great pretence.
Snatch a jewel, if it please you, from the tiger's ravening throat;
Cross the ocean, though its billows toss in foam-wreaths round your boat;
Fearless twine an angry cobra like a garland round your head;
But with fools forbear to argue--better strive to wake the dead.
If you squeeze with might and main,
Oil from sand you may obtain;
If with parching thirst you burn,
Some mirage may serve your turn;
If you wander far and wide,
Rabbits' horns may grace your side;
But you'll never--trust my rule--
Please a headstrong, bumptious fool.
As well attempt to pierce with flowers the diamond of the mine,
As well attempt with honey-drops to sweeten ocean's brine,
As well go bind with lotus-bands the lord of forst herds,
As strive to lead in wisdom's ways the bad with sugared words.
When the Creator made the dolt,
He left him not without his bold;
That fool shows best the wise among
Who strokes his beard and holds his tongue.
When but a little I had learned, in my own partial eyes
I seemed a perfect Solon and immeasurably wise;
But when a little higher I had climbed in wisdom's school,
The fever-fit was over and I knew myself a fool.
See that pariah making off there with a filthy greasy bone,
How he'll mumble and enjoy it when he finds himself alone!
Not, if Indra's self reproved him, would he blush and leave his treat,
For the mean abhor no meanness if it only yield them meat.
From Heaven to Siva's head, and thence to Himalaya's snows,
To India's plain, thence to the main, the sacred Ganges flows--
A sad descent! but rivers go astray, like foolish men,
From heaven's crown they tumble down and never rise again.
Water will serve to put out fire, umbrella 'gainst the heat,
A sharp hook guides the elephant, the ox and ass we beat,
Disease we cure with doctor's stuff, the serpent's bite with charms--
Against the fool, the worst of ills, Nature provides no arms.
Deem him who verse and music scorns
A beast without the tail and horns;
What though he never feed on grass,
I hold him none the less an ass.
Those slaves who neither fast nor give,
Unjust, unthinking, idle live,
Are beasts, though men by right of birth,
Unwieldy burdens, cumbering earth.
I'd sooner live in mountain caves with lions, bears, and apes,
Than dwell in Indra's heavenly halls with brainless human shapes.