The Crocodile Bird


Beside the fruitful shore of muddy Nile,
Upon a sunny bank outstretched lay
In monstrous length, a mighty Crocodile,
That crammed with guiltless blood, and greedy prey
Of wretched people travelling that way,
Thought all things less than his disdainful pride.
I saw a little bird, called Tedula*,
The least of thousands which on earth abide,
That forced this hideous beast to open wide
The grisly gates of his devouring hell,
And let him feed, as Nature doth provide,
Upon his jaws, that with black venom swell.
Why then should greatest things the least disdain,
Since that so small so mighty can constrain?

* The crocodile bird, which picks morsels from between a crocodile's teeth.

Edmund Spenser, ?1552-1599

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