Robert Burns

A Tale

'T was where the birch and sounding thong are plyed, The noisy domicile of Pedant-pride; Where Ignorance her darkening vapour throws, And Cruelty directs the thickening blows; Upon a time, Sir Abece the great, In all his pedagogic powers elate, His awful Chair of state resolves to mount, And call the trembling Vowels to account. First enter'd A; a grave, broad, solemn Wight, But ah! deform'd, dishonest to the sight! His twisted head look'd backward on his way, And flagrant from the scourge he grunted, AI! Reluctant, E stalk'd in; with piteous race The jostling tears ran down his honest face! That name, that well-worn name, and all his own, Pale he surrenders at the tyrant's throne! The Pedant stifles keen the Roman sound Not all his mongrel diphthongs can compound; And next the title following close behind, He to the nameless, ghastly wretch assign'd. The cob-webb'd, Gothic dome resounded, Y! In sullen vengeance, I, disdain'd reply: The Pedant swung his felon cudgel round, And knock'd the groaning Vowel to the ground! In rueful apprehension enter'd O, The wailing minstrel of despairing woe; Th' Inquisitor of Spain the most expert Might there have learnt new mysteries of his art: So grim, deform'd, with horrors, entering U, His dearest friend and brother scarcely knew! As trembling U stood staring all aghast, The Pedant in his left hand clutch'd him fast; In helpless infant's tears he dipp'd his right, Baptiz'd him EU, and kick'd him from his sight.

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