La Fontaine fables

La Fontaine fables

The Lion, the Wolf and the Fox

A Lion, old, and impotent with gout, Would have some cure for age found out. This king, from every species,— Call’d to his aid the leeches. They came, from quacks without degree To doctors of the highest fee. Advised, prescribed, talk’d learnedly; But with the rest Came not Sir Cunning…

La Fontaine fables

The Lioness and the Bear

The lioness had lost her young; A hunter stole it from the vale; The forests and the mountains rung Responsive to her hideous wail. Nor night, nor charms of sweet repose, Could still the loud lament that rose From that grim forest queen. No animal, as you might think, With…

La Fontaine fables

The Lobster and Her Daughter

The wise, sometimes, as lobsters do, To gain their ends back foremost go. It is the rower’s art; and those Commanders who mislead their foes, Do often seem to aim their sight Just where they don’t intend to smite. My theme, so low, may yet apply To one whose fame…

La Fontaine fables

The Man and His Image

A man, who had no rivals in the love Which to himself he bore, Esteem’d his own dear beauty far above What earth had seen before. More than contented in his error, He lived the foe of every mirror. Officious fate, resolved our lover From such an illness should recover,…

La Fontaine fables

The Man and the Wooden God (La Fontaine)

A pagan kept a god of wood,— A sort that never hears, Though furnish’d well with ears,— From which he hoped for wondrous good. The idol cost the board of three; So much enrich’d was he With vows and offerings vain, With bullocks garlanded and slain: No idol ever had,…

La Fontaine fables

The Mice and the Owl

A pine was by a woodman fell’d, Which ancient, huge, and hollow tree An owl had for his palace held— A bird the Fates had kept in fee, Interpreter to such as we. Within the caverns of the pine, With other tenants of that mine, Were found full many footless…

La Fontaine fables

The Miser and the Monkey

A Man amass’d. The thing, we know, Doth often to a frenzy grow. No thought had he but of his minted gold— Stuff void of worth when unemploy’d, I hold. Now, that this treasure might the safer be, Our miser’s dwelling had the sea As guard on every side from…

La Fontaine fables

The Monkey and the Cat

Sly Bertrand and Ratto in company sat, (The one was a monkey, the other a cat,) Co-servants and lodgers: More mischievous codgers Ne’er mess’d from a platter, since platters were flat. Was anything wrong in the house or about it, The neighbours were blameless,—no mortal could doubt it; For Bertrand…

La Fontaine fables

The Monkey and the Leopard

A monkey and a leopard were The rivals at a country fair. Each advertised his own attractions. Said one, “Good sirs, the highest place My merit knows; for, of his grace, The king hath seen me face to face; And, judging by his looks and actions, I gave the best…

La Fontaine fables

The Oak and the Reed

The oak one day address’d the reed:— “To you ungenerous indeed Has nature been, my humble friend, With weakness aye obliged to bend. The smallest bird that flits in air Is quite too much for you to bear; The slightest wind that wreathes the lake Your ever-trembling head doth shake.…

La Fontaine fables

The Old Cat and the Young Mouse

A young and inexperienced mouse Had faith to try a veteran cat,— Raminagrobis, death to rat, And scourge of vermin through the house,— Appealing to his clemency With reasons sound and fair. “Pray let me live; a mouse like me It were not much to spare. Am I, in such…

La Fontaine fables

The Old Man and the Ass

An old man, riding on his ass, Had found a spot of thrifty grass, And there turn’d loose his weary beast. Old Grizzle, pleased with such a feast, Flung up his heels, and caper’d round, Then roll’d and rubb’d upon the ground, And frisk’d and browsed and bray’d, And many…

La Fontaine fables

The Old Women and Her Servants

A beldam kept two spinning maids, Who plied so handily their trades, Those spinning sisters down below Were bunglers when compared with these. No care did this old woman know But giving tasks as she might please. No sooner did the god of day His glorious locks enkindle, Than both…

La Fontaine fables

The Oyster and the Litigants

Two pilgrims on the sand espied An oyster thrown up by the tide. In hope, both swallow’d ocean’s fruit; But ere the fact there came dispute. While one stoop’d down to take the prey, The other push’d him quite away. Said he, “‘Twere rather meet To settle which shall eat.…

La Fontaine fables

The Ploughman and His Sons

The farmer’s patient care and toil Are oftener wanting than the soil. A wealthy ploughman drawing near his end, Call’d in his sons apart from every friend, And said, “When of your sire bereft, The heritage our fathers left Guard well, nor sell a single field. A treasure in it…

La Fontaine fables

The Rat and the Elephant

A rat, of quite the smallest size, Fix’d on an elephant his eyes, And jeer’d the beast of high descent Because his feet so slowly went. Upon his back, three stories high, There sat, beneath a canopy, A certain sultan of renown, His dog, and cat, and wife sublime, His…

La Fontaine fables

The Rat and the Oyster

A country rat, of little brains, Grown weary of inglorious rest, Left home with all its straws and grains, Resolved to know beyond his nest. When peeping through the nearest fence, “How big the world is, how immense!” He cried; “there rise the Alps, and that Is doubtless famous Ararat.”…

La Fontaine fables

The Rat Retired from the World

The sage Levantines have a tale About a rat that weary grew Of all the cares which life assail, And to a Holland cheese withdrew. His solitude was there profound, Extending through his world so round. Our hermit lived on that within; And soon his industry had been With claws…

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