La Fontaine fables

La Fontaine fables

The Shepherd and His Dog

A shepherd, with a single dog, Was ask’d the reason why He kept a dog, whose least supply Amounted to a loaf of bread For every day. The people said He’d better give the animal To guard the village seignior’s hall; For him, a shepherd, it would be A thriftier…

La Fontaine fables

The Shepherd and His Flock

“What! shall I lose them one by one, This stupid coward throng? And never shall the wolf have done? They were at least a thousand strong, But still they’ve let poor Robin fall a prey! Ah, woe’s the day! Poor Robin Wether lying dead! He follow’d for a bit of…

La Fontaine fables

The Shepherd and the Lion

The Fable Æsop tells is nearly this:— A shepherd from his flock began to miss, And long’d to catch the stealer of, his sheep. Before a cavern, dark and deep, Where wolves retired by day to sleep, Which he suspected as the thieves, He set his trap among the leaves;…

La Fontaine fables

The Shepherd and the Sea

A shepherd, neighbour to the sea, Lived with his flock contentedly. His fortune, though but small, Was safe within his call. At last some stranded kegs of gold Him tempted, and his flock he sold, Turn’d merchant, and the ocean’s waves Bore all his treasure—to its caves. Brought back to…

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The Sick Stag

A stag, where stags abounded, Fell sick and was surrounded Forthwith by comrades kind, All pressing to assist, Or see, their friend, at least, And ease his anxious mind— An irksome multitude. “Ah, sirs!” the sick was fain to cry, “Pray leave me here to die, As others do, in…

La Fontaine fables

The Spider and the Swallow

“O Jupiter, whose fruitful brain, By odd obstetrics freed from pain, Bore Pallas, erst my mortal foe, Pray listen to my tale of woe. This Progne takes my lawful prey. As through the air she cuts her way, My flies she catches from my door,— Yes, mine—I emphasize the word,—…

La Fontaine fables

The Stag and the Vine

A stag, by favour of a vine, Which grew where suns most genial shine, And form’d a thick and matted bower Which might have turn’d a summer shower, Was saved from ruinous assault. The hunters thought their dogs at fault, And call’d them off. In danger now no more The…

La Fontaine fables

The Sun and the Frogs

Rejoicing on their tyrant’s wedding-day, The people drown’d their care in drink; While from the general joy did Æsop shrink, And show’d its folly in this way. “The sun,” said he, “once took it in his head To have a partner: so he wed. From swamps, and ponds, and marshy…

La Fontaine fables

The Swan and the Cook

The pleasures of a poultry yard Were by a swan and gosling shared. The swan was kept there for his looks, The thrifty gosling for the cooks; The first the garden’s pride, the latter A greater favourite on the platter. They swam the ditches, side by side, And oft in…

La Fontaine fables

The Thieves and the Ass

Two thieves, pursuing their profession, Had of a donkey got possession, Whereon a strife arose, Which went from words to blows. The question was, to sell, or not to sell; But while our sturdy champions fought it well, Another thief, who chanced to pass, With ready wit rode off the…

La Fontaine fables

The Tortoise and the Two Ducks

A light-brain’d tortoise, anciently, Tired of her hole, the world would see. Prone are all such, self-banish’d, to roam— Prone are all cripples to abhor their home. Two ducks, to whom the gossip told The secret of her purpose bold, Profess’d to have the means whereby They could her wishes…

La Fontaine fables

The Two Asses

Two asses tracking, t’other day, Of which each in his turn, Did incense to the other burn, Quite in the usual way,— I heard one to his comrade say, “My lord, do you not find The prince of knaves and fools To be this man, who boasts of mind Instructed…

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The Two Bulls and the Frog

Two bulls engaged in shocking battle, Both for a certain heifer’s sake, And lordship over certain cattle, A frog began to groan and quake. “But what is this to you?” Inquired another of the croaking crew. “Why, sister, don’t you see, The end of this will be, That one of…

La Fontaine fables

The Two Dogs and the Dead Ass

Two lean and hungry mastiffs once espied A dead ass floating on a water wide. The distance growing more and more, Because the wind the carcass bore,— “My friend,” said one, “your eyes are best; Pray let them on the water rest: What thing is that I seem to see?…

La Fontaine fables

The Two Goats

Two goats, who self-emancipated,— The white that on their feet they wore Look’d back to noble blood of yore,— Once quit the lowly meadows, sated, And sought the hills, as it would seem: In search of luck, by luck they met Each other at a mountain stream. As bridge a…

La Fontaine fables

The Two Mules

Two mules were bearing on their backs, One, oats; the other, silver of the tax. The latter glorying in his load, March’d proudly forward on the road; And, from the jingle of his bell, ‘Twas plain he liked his burden well. But in a wild-wood glen A band of robber…

La Fontaine fables

The Two Rats, the Fox and the Egg

Two rats in foraging fell on an egg,— For gentry such as they A genteel dinner every way; They needed not to find an ox’s leg. Brimful of joy and appetite, They were about to sack the box, So tight without the aid of locks, When suddenly there came in…

La Fontaine fables

The Vultures and the Pigeons

Mars once made havoc in the air: Some cause aroused a quarrel there Among the birds;—not those that sing, The courtiers of the merry Spring, But naughty hawk and vulture folks, Of hooked beak and talons keen. The carcass of a dog, ’tis said, Had to this civil carnage led.…

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