Javascript Menu by Deluxe-Menu.com fables of Jean de La Fontaine : the falcon and capon, the cat and rat, the torrent and river, education
portrait de Jean de La Fontaine le corbeau de la fable jardin de la maison natale actuellement le perron de l'entrée de la maison
Fable, Jean de La Fontaine, 
Book VIII, fables 21, 22, 23, 24
 

THE FALCON AND CAPON (VIII, 21)

Should a perfidious voice of aught make mention,
Give it no answer, or pay no attention.
John Nivel's dog was no such fool, I say,
Who, when they called him, stayed or ran away.

In Mans a youthful capon, as we hear,
Was summoned in the kitchen to appear
Before the household gods in judgment sitting,
Who rogues like him before the fire were spitting.
The cooks, to hide their bloody purpose, cried
" Come, biddy ! biddy !"—but the trick he spied,
And running like a Norman deep replied :
" Your servant—with your bait so very sly ;
But I’ll not bite it--I have reasons why."
A falcon from a tree beheld the capon,
As thus alarmed he fled to save his bacon.
Whether by instinct or experience tried,
Capons in mortels seem not to confide;
And ours was with no little trouble taken,
To deck the supper-board next night designed,
An honour he most gladly had declined.
The hunting bird exclaimed  : “ I'm quitesurprised
That your stupidity is not chastised.
Such brainless brutes, ye nothing learn at all :
I hunt, and quick return at master's call.
What don't ye see him waiting there below ?
And are ye deaf ? "—The capon answered : " No;
           I hear too well.—But tell me, pray,
What do you think my master wants to say ?
And, good Sir Cook, armed with his longest blade,
Would you return, if such a bait were laid ?
Then cease my indocility to jeer,
Nor wonder, while I run with fear,
If that soft voice I do not choose to hear.
Saw you as many falcons every day,
As I do capons roasting on the broach,
You would not wonder that I run away,

Nor load my character with such reproach."

THE CAT AND RAT (VIII, 22)

Four different animals—Gripe-cheese the cat,
Dull-bird the owl, and Nibble-net the rat,
              With Sneak-in weasel lank and tall,
              Well known for arrant rascals all,
Housed in the trunk of an old rotten pine ;
And seen so frequent there, one night, in fine,
The net was laid.- The cat, at break of day,
           Came out to go in search of prey.
The shades departing yet concealed the net ;
He fell within-with fears of death beset.
Loud cried the cat-the rat came out to see ;
One full of grief-the other full of glee,
Who thus secure beheld his morfal foe.
" Dear friend," exclaimed the cat, with face of woe,
" Your goodness has bean often felt by me :
           Assist me to escape this snare,
              Which I fell into unaware.-
My love for thee might well excite surprise,
           Yes, thee alone of all thy kind
I've ever cherished, loved thee in my mind :
              I love thee as I love my eyes ;
Nor, thank the gods, do I repent it now.
              I to their temple went to bow,
As every cat devout should daily do,
But lo ! I'm caught-my life I owe to you.
I pray you then these knots to nibble through ! "
" And what's the recompense ? " cried Master Rat.
" Endless alliance with thee," said the cat.
" Command my claws, depend on my affection ; '
Gainst all thy foe give thee sure protection.
              I'll eat the weasel in his house,
              With madam owl's good-looking spouse,
              Who both have sworn to murder thee."
" What ! " cried the rat, " thy liberator ? me !
A fool indeed, a ninny I must be."
              He said, and went to his repair,
              But saw the weasel wandering there.
              The rat ran up the Cree with fright,
              When straight the owl alarmed his sight.
              With dangers everywhere beset,
              Back to the cat went Nibble-net,
Bit through one cord, and then another, fast ;
The pleading hypocrite was free at last.
              A man that moment came in sight,
              The new allies took both to flight.
              A few days after, Rodilard
Perceived the rat-but shy and on bis guard :
" Ah ! brother," said he, " corne to my embrace !
Why an ally meet with a timid face ?
Have I forgot so soon that heaven by thee
              Set me from death and danger free ?"
" Have I forgot so soon," replied the rat,
" That in thy nature thou art still a cat ?
Can cats be grateful, or can one rely
Upon the friendship of a forced ally ? "


 THE TORRENT AND RIVER (VIII, 23)

With noise and devastation dread,
A torrent dashing from the mountain spread
All fled before it--horror swelled its train ;
Fear seized the dwellers round the menaced plain.
          No traveller dared his way pursue,
          Where such a barrier met his view--
One man alone, by robbers pressed, it seems,
Divided from them by the threatening streams.
'Twas merely noise the shallow waters made ;
The menaced man was only then afraid.
          From this success he bolder grew,
While the same robbers closely him pursue.
          He reached a river, as he fled,
          That smoothly flowed along its bed,
The tranquil image of the softest sleep :
He thought he might his course securely keep.
No crags to hinder, firm the sand, and clear.
He entered, and his horse eased him of fear
From thieves—but not from that all-gloomy deep :
          Both went to drink of Styx, of course,
For swim could neither man nor horse ;
And as they journeyed to their dark abode,
Found very different rivers in their road.

People who menace loudest, mean no harm ;
But silent foes should justly cause alarm.

 

EDUCATION (VIII, 24)


Lap and his brother Cæsar, sprung of old
From famous dogs, well formed and fine and bold,
Two masters had : the one the forests chose,
The other lounging to the kitchen goes.
      Each had at first a different name,
But as their nourishment was not the same,
The one acquired his full degree of strength,
The other waxed degenerate : at length
      A scullion fitly called him Lap.
But great adventures were his brother's hap ;
By many stags at bay, and boars brought down,
He, first of dogs, by Cæsar's name was known.
Great care was taken that no mistress base
Should with her pups degenerate his race.
      Neglected Lap gave his amours
      To any brute that passed the doors,
      And with his race filled all around :
      Turn-spits by him in France so common found,
      There form a different class - no dangers face ;
      The true antipodes of Cæsar's race.

How few are what their great forefathers were !
Tainted through lapse of Lime, and want of care,
Through want of nature, nurture, and mishaps,

How many Cæsars fall at last to Laps.



the cat and rat


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