"The Miserable Ode of Quivering Quintus" was a poem composed by Miranda Goshawk and published in the Book of Spells as the conundrum accompanying the book's fifth chapter. The poem tells the tale of Quintus Harcourt Ballyfumble Stranger, a wizard who prized his extreme timidity, and who thought others were fools for being courageous.
I never saw a wizard quite the same
As Quintus Harcourt Ballyfumble Stranger
As famous for his most unusual name
As for the speed with which he fled from danger.
A bang, a flash, a grunt: each sudden noise
Would make him vanish, hide or run at speed.
He soon became a joke among the boys
For which among us likes a feeble weed?
'There's nothing wrong with nerves, when trouble starts,'
Quin's father told him kindly, 'we all know
The quaking of our simple human hearts
The feeling that our legs have turned to dough!
Yet feelings such as these, though very normal
Can still be overcome, Quin, don't lose hope!'
But Quintus said, his manner cold and formal:
'I wish you wouldn't treat me like a dope.
Why should I stand and fight when safety calls?
What's more important than to save my neck?
If others wish to duel, I think them fools,
I have no wish to end a broken wreck.'
So all the use his wand got, year on year,
Was shielding Quintus-Of-The-Silly-Name,
Until one day the wand came over queer
And wouldn't work (I think it died of shame).
The moral's clear: what quality
Is worth more than timidity?
And without what are wizards lame,
Their spell-work poor, their magic tame?