La Fontaine fables

La Fontaine fables

The Fox, the Flies and the Hedgehog

A fox, old, subtle, vigilant, and sly,— By hunters wounded, fallen in the mud,— Attracted by the traces of his blood, That buzzing parasite, the fly. He blamed the gods, and wonder’d why The Fates so cruelly should wish To feast the fly on such a costly dish. “What! light…

La Fontaine fables

The Fox, the Monkey and the Animals

Left kingless by the lion’s death, The beasts once met, our story saith, Some fit successor to install. Forth from a dragon-guarded, moated place, The crown was brought, and, taken from its case, And being tried by turns on all, The heads of most were found too small; Some hornèd…

La Fontaine fables

The Fox, the Wolf and the Horse

A fox, though young, by no means raw, Had seen a horse, the first he ever saw: “Ho! neighbour wolf,” said he to one quite green, “A creature in our meadow I have seen,— Sleek, grand! I seem to see him yet,— The finest beast I ever met.” “Is he…

La Fontaine fables

The Grasshopper and the Ant

A grasshopper gay Sang the summer away, And found herself poor By the winter’s first roar. Of meat or of bread, Not a morsel she had! So a-begging she went, To her neighbour the ant, For the loan of some wheat, Which would serve her to eat, Till the season…

La Fontaine fables

The Hare and the Partridge

A field in common share A partridge and a hare, And live in peaceful state, Till, woeful to relate! The hunters’ mingled cry Compels the hare to fly. He hurries to his fort, And spoils almost the sport By faulting every hound That yelps upon the ground. At last his…

La Fontaine fables

The Head and the Tail of the Serpent

Two parts the serpent has— Of men the enemies— The head and tail: the same Have won a mighty fame, Next to the cruel Fates;— So that, indeed, hence They once had great debates About precedence. The first had always gone ahead; The tail had been for ever led; And…

La Fontaine fables

The Heifer, the Goat, and the Sheep

The heifer, the goat, and their sister the sheep, Compacted their earnings in common to keep, ‘Tis said, in time past, with a lion, who sway’d Full lordship o’er neighbours, of whatever grade. The goat, as it happen’d, a stag having snared, Sent off to the rest, that the beast…

La Fontaine fables

The Heron

One day,—no matter when or where,— A long-legg’d heron chanced to fare By a certain river’s brink, With his long, sharp beak Helved on his slender neck; ‘Twas a fish-spear, you might think. The water was clear and still, The carp and the pike there at will Pursued their silent…

La Fontaine fables

The Hog, the Goat and the Sheep

A goat, a sheep, and porker fat, All to the market rode together. Their own amusement was not that Which caused their journey thither. Their coachman did not mean to “set them down” To see the shows and wonders of the town. The porker cried, in piercing squeals, As if…

La Fontaine fables

The Hornets and the Bees

“The artist by his work is known.” A piece of honey-comb, one day, Discover’d as a waif and stray, The hornets treated as their own. Their title did the bees dispute, And brought before a wasp the suit. The judge was puzzled to decide, For nothing could be testified Save…

La Fontaine fables

The Horse and the Wolf

A wolf who, fall’n on needy days, In sharp look-out for means and ways, Espied a horse turn’d out to graze. His joy the reader may opine. “Once got,” said he, “this game were fine; But if a sheep, ’twere sooner mine. I can’t proceed my usual way; Some trick…

La Fontaine fables

The Joker and the Fishes

A joker at a banker’s table, Most amply spread to satisfy The height of epicurean wishes, Had nothing near but little fishes. So, taking several of the fry, He whisper’d to them very nigh, And seem’d to listen for reply. The guests much wonder’d what it meant, And stared upon…

La Fontaine fables

The Lion and the Ass Hunting

The king of animals, with royal grace, Would celebrate his birthday in the chase. ‘Twas not with bow and arrows, To slay some wretched sparrows; The lion hunts the wild boar of the wood, The antlered deer and stags, the fat and good. This time, the king, t’ insure success,…

La Fontaine fables

The Lion and the Gnat

“Go, paltry insect, nature’s meanest brat!” Thus said the royal lion to the gnat. The gnat declared immediate war. “Think you,” said he, “your royal name To me worth caring for? Think you I tremble at your power or fame? The ox is bigger far than you; Yet him I…

La Fontaine fables

The Lion and the Hunter

A braggart, lover of the chase, Had lost a dog of valued race, And thought him in a lion’s maw. He ask’d a shepherd whom he saw, “Pray show me, man, the robber’s place, And I’ll have justice in the case.” “‘Tis on this mountain side,” The shepherd man replied.…

La Fontaine fables

The Lion and the Monkey

The lion, for his kingdom’s sake, In morals would some lessons take, And therefore call’d, one summer’s day, The monkey, master of the arts, An animal of brilliant parts, To hear what he could say. “Great king,” the monkey thus began, “To reign upon the wisest plan Requires a prince…

La Fontaine fables

The Lion Beaten by the Man

A picture once was shown, In which one man, alone, Upon the ground had thrown A lion fully grown. Much gloried at the sight the rabble. A lion thus rebuked their babble:— “That you have got the victory there, There is no contradiction. But, gentles, possibly you are The dupes…

La Fontaine fables

The Lion Going to War

The lion had an enterprise in hand; Held a war-council, sent his provost-marshal, And gave the animals a call impartial— Each, in his way, to serve his high command. The elephant should carry on his back The tools of war, the mighty public pack, And fight in elephantine way and…

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