THE BEES AND THE FLIES
A FARMER of the Augustan age Perused in Virgil's golden page, The story of the secret won From Proteus by Cyrene's son How the dank sea-god sowed the swain Means to restore his hives again More briefly, how a slaughtered bull Breeds honey by the bellyful.
The egregious rustic put to death A bull by stopping of its breath: Disposed the carcass in a shed With fragrant herbs and branches spread. And, having thus performed the charm, Sat down to wait the promised swarm.
Nor waited long . . . The God of Day Impartial, quickening with his ray Evil and good alike, beheld The carcass--and the carcass swelled! Big with new birth the belly heaves Beneath its screen of scented leaves; Past any doubt, the bull conceives!
The farmer bids men bring more hives To house the profit that arrives; Prepares on pan, and key and kettle, Sweet music that shall make 'em settle; But when to crown the work he goes, Gods! What a stink salutes his nose! Where are the honest toilers? Where The gravid mistress of their care? A busy scene, indeed, he sees, But not a sign or sound of bees. Worms of the riper grave unhid By any kindly coffin lid, Obscene and shameless to the light, Seethe in insatiate appetite, Through putrid offal; while above The hissing blow-fly seeks his love, Whose offspring, supping where they supt, Consume corruption twice corrupt.Next