The Bald-Pated Welshman and the Fly

by William Somervile

William Somervile

A SQUIRE of Wales, whose blood ran higher
Than that of any other squire
Hasty and hot, whose peevish honor
Revenged each slight was put upon her,
Upon a mountain's top one day
Exposed to Soles meridian ray,
He fumed, he raved, he cursed, he swore,
Exhaled a sea at every pore;
At last, such insults to evade,
Sought the next tree's protecting shade,
Where, as he lay dissolved in sweat,
And wiped off many a rivulet,
Off in a pet the beaver flies,
And flaxen wig, time's best disguise,
By which folks of maturer ages
Vie with smooth beaux and ladies' pages:
Though 'twas a secret rarely known,
Ill-natured Age had cropped his crown,
Grubbed all the covert up, and now
A large smooth plain extends his brow.
Thus as he lay, with numscull bare,
And courted the refreshing air,
New persecutions still appear,
A noisy Fly offends his ear.
Alas! what man of parts and sense
Could bear such vile impertinence?
Yet so discourteous is our fate,
Fools always buzz about the great.
This insect now, whose active spite
Teazed him with never-ceasing bite,
With so much judgment played his part,
He had him both in tierce and quart:
In vain with open hands he tries
To guard his ears, his nose, his eyes;
For now at last, familiar grown,
He perched upon his worshipes crown,
With teeth and claws his skin he tore,
And stuffed himself with human gore:
At last, in manners to excel,
Untrussed a point, some authors tell.
But now what rhetoric could assuage
The furious squire, stark mad with rage?
Impatient at the foul disgrace,
From insect of so mean a race,
And plotting vengeance on his foe,
With double fist he aims a blow:
The nimble Fly escaped by flight,
And skipped from this unequal fight.
Thee impending stroke with all its weight
Fell on his own beloved pate.
Thus much he gained by this adventurous deed;
He fouled his fingers, and he broke his head.


Let senates hence learn to preserve their state,
And scorn the fool, below their grave debate,
Who by thee unequal strife grows popular and great.
Let him buzz on; with senseless rant defy
The wise, the good; yet still 'tis but a Fly.
With puny foes the toiles not worth the cost;
Where nothing can be gained much may be lost;
Let cranes and pigmies in mock war engage,
A prey beneath the generous eagle's rage
True honor oeer the clouds sublimely wings;
Young Ammon scorns to run with less than kings.

Last updated February 10, 2018