On a sandy, uphill road,
Which naked in the sunshine glowed,
Six lusty horses drew a coach.
Dames, monks, and invalids, its load,
On foot, outside, at leisure trode.
The team, all weary, stopped and blowed:
Whereon there did a fly approach,
And, with a vastly business air.
Cheered up the horses with his buzz,—
Now pricked them here, now pricked them there,
As neatly as a jockey does,—
And thought the while—he knew It was so—
He made the team and carriage go,—
On carriage-pole sometimes alighting—
Or driver’s nose—and biting.
And when the whole did get in motion,
Confirmed and settled in the notion,
He took, himself, the total glory,—
Flew back and forth in wondrous hurry,
And, as he buzz’d about the cattle,
Seemed like a sergeant in a battle,
The files and squadrons leading on
To where the victory is won.
Thus charged with all the commonweal,
This single fly began to feel
Responsibility too great,
And cares, a grievous crushing weight;
And made complaint that none would aid
The horses up the tedious hill—
The monk his prayers at leisure said—
Fine time to pray!—the dames, at will,
Were singing songs—not greatly needed!
Thus in their ears he sharply sang,
And notes of indignation ran,—
Notes, after all, not greatly heeded.
Erelong the coach was on the top:
“Now,” said the fly, “my hearties, stop
And breathe;—I have got you up the hill;
And Messrs. Horses, let me say,
I need not ask you if you will
A proper compensation pay.”
Thus certain ever-bustling noddies
Are seen in every great affair;
Important, swelling, busy-bodies,
And bores It’s easier to bear
Than chase them from their needless care.
The Coach and the Fly by Jean de La Fontaine’s Fables in Book 7