Javascript Menu by Deluxe-Menu.com fables of Jean de La Fontaine : the faithless depositary, the two doves, the monkey and leopard
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 IX, fables 1, 2, 3
 

THE FAITHLESS DEPOSITARY (IX, 1)
    Loud be the Muses' praises rung; 0f speaking animals
        I've sung : Heroes perhaps of higher fame,
  ..    Had not acquired me such acclaim.
        The Wolf, in language of the skies,
 ....   Speaks to the dog, and he replies ;
 ....   And many beasts in rivalry,
  ....  Like actors many parts supply.
        Some fools, some wise, and others sly ;
        And yet the fools, I know not why,
        Preponderate and seem to bear
 ....   Away the best and biggest share.
  ....  My playhouse also brings to view
....    Villains and cheats of every hue,
  ....  With thankless souls and tyrants dread ;
        Many a rash and brainless head,
        Fools, flatterers, and pedants vain,
        And I may add in language plain,
        Legions of liars swell the train.
  ..    All men are liars, says the sage—
        And had he meant the common class,
        His word too oft for truth might pass
        But that we're liars great and small,
        Had any but a sage said so,
 ....   I should have made that man my foe.
Should one like Aesop or like Homer lie,
He's not a real liar, I'd reply.
      ..Many a pleasing dream we have,
      ..That their inventive fancy gave.
      .. Fictions they seem, but their disguise
       .Truth ever offers to our eyes.
      ..Immortel be the .work of each !
      ..For few, who like them think to teach,
        To much of their resemblance reach.
        But such a liar as we find
      ..A certain bare-faced fellow was,
      ..And paid again in hisown kind,
     .. Is both a villain and an ass.

A Persian merchant to the point in hand,
A hundredweight of iron loft with a friend,
As he was going to a foreign land.—
" My iron," he cried, when he returned again.
" Your iron's no more—with grief I tell it you,
        A rat has ate it every grain.
I raved enough—but what could servants do ?
Garrets, you know, have holes where rats get through."
The wondering merchant feigned to think it true.
A few days after, he kidnapped the son
0f his perfidious neighbour—which, when done,
To sup he pressed the sire :—but he refused,
        And begged in tears to be excused :
        " Oh ! press me not, my worthy host ;
        All pleasure now on me is lost !
I loved an only son—but him alone ;
        And he's no more—my hopes are gone !
        Condole with me, I've lost my son."
" Last night," the merchant cried, " at parting day,
      ..I saw an owl bear him away
        Up to an ancient steeple's spire."
" What ! I believe such tale ? " replied the sire ; "
        How carried off by such a fowl ?
        He could with ease have killed the owl."
        " I don't pretend," he said, " to tell you how ;
        But that it was so, I declare I know‑
        I tell you I beheld it with my eyes :
      ..And why, I pray, should that excite surprise,
        Since in a country, where a rat, you say,
        Could eat a hundredweight of iron away,
             An owl the half that weight could bear ?
            So bore your stripling through the air."
            The man perceived his drift too plain,
Restored the iron, and got his son again.

A like dispute two travellers befell ;
For one his great adventures ne'er could tell,
But like the men of microscopic sight,
Who all things view in a gigantic light.
Europe like Africa, let them be heard,
            Abounds with monsters to be feared.
Our man exclaimed, with hyperbolic flight : "
I've seen some cabbages with my own eyes
Bigger than houses." Quick his friend replies :
            " And I've seen mighty kettles too,
Bigger than churches."" Pray, Sir, what to do ? "
            To do ? why, neighbour, they were made
            To boil your cabbages, 'tis said."

This fellow was a wag, the other clever,
But when a man tells lies as gross as this,
Why then all reason's vain, and best it is
Just to outlie him, and keep cool as ever.

THE MONKEY AND LEOPARD (IX, 3)
The monkey and the leopard, at the fair,
Gained cash-but advertised apart each day :
The leopard said, " I need not, for my share,
My talents and my merit here display :
The king has seen me, and 'tis quite enough,
That when I die, my skin's to be his muff;.
      So variegated, streaked, and spotted-
      So marked, so beautifully blotted;
Diversity still pleases."-So they gazed,
And soon walked off again, not much amazed.
The monkey next harangued with pleasant grin.
" Come, gentlemen and ladies, pray walk in !
I have a hundred jugglers' tricks to show ;
For that diversity, I'd have you know,
On which my neighbour leopard holds such clack,
He has it all and only on. his back.-
Mine's in my head-your servant Giles, I say,
Cousin and son-in-law to Bertrand, who
      Was the Pope's monkey in his day,
Is just arrived in three escorted ships,
      On purpose to converse with you.
Yes, gemmen, he converses, dances, skips,
Performs the hoop trick, and all tricks invented,
For but a halfpenny to rich or poor-
farthing even-and, sirs, if not contented,
Your money we return you at the door."
The ape was right.-'Tis only in the mind,
Diversity has charms for me to praise :
That leaves impressions of a pleasing kind,
This wearies even as it courts our gaze.

Like leopards are too many boasting lords,
Whose only merit their fine dress affords.


       THE TWO DOVES (IX, 2)
       Two doves had lived in tender love,
       Yet one grew weary of his home ;
       Poor silly bird abroad would roam,
       Far from his country and his dove.
       " What means this wandering fancy wild ? "
       His downcast mate demanded mild
       " The worst of ills friends absence find,
       So do not you, oh bird unkind
       At least to my advice attend,
       And let the dangers you may find,
       The sad fatigues and many cares,
       Oh let my tears and tender prayers,
       Change the bold purpose of your mind
       Besides, it is too soon to stray ;—
       Wait till the milder zephyrs play :
       Just now the raven's note was heard,
       Foreboding sorrow to some bird.
To ceaseless fears I shall become a prey,
Of hawks and nets—and, weeping, I shall say:
What stormy weather !—where is he a guest ?
Has he good bed, good supper, and the rest ? ' "
        A speech so moving and so kind,
        Unhinged the purpose of his mind
        But the desire to see and know,
        Determined him at last to go :-
        " Don't weep, for in three days," he cried, "
        I shall return quite satisfied-
        And you shall my adventures hear,
        To make amends for all your fear
        Who nothing sees can nothing say,
        I'll take your fancy far away,
        I'll tell what there was once my lot,
        You'll think yourself upon the spot.
        People that never go abroad,
        Know nothing but their own abode."
        He said ; they wept, and sighed adieu,
        And off the traveller briskly flew.
        Now dark and stormy grew the sky,   ........The dove for shelter forced to fly :
A lonely tree the wanderer receives‑
The pelting storm defied the sheltering leaves.
It cleared-he shivering winged his way again,
Dried as he could his body drowned with rain.
He saw some corn lay scattered on a field,
          And by a pigeon there allured,
          He went-and found himself secured.-
          The bait a treacherous net concealed ;
The net was worn so weak, that with his wing,
His feet, and bill, at last he broke a string.
He lost some feathers-but, unhappy fate !
A cruel vulture saw him in that state,
Trailing the luckless cords his feet had scraped,
Just like a wretched galley-slave escaped.
The vulture nearly trussed his trembling game,
When from the skies, an eagle darting came.
           The dove escaped and shelter sought,
           While these bold sky-way robbers fought.
           He gained the ruins of a tower,
           Thought his mishaps had here no power ;
But a young rogue-that age is savage too-
Half killed him with a sling he slang too true.
And now the wretched dove his error found,
Trailing a foot and wing along the ground,
            Half dead, half crippled, homeward bound.
            No more befell him on the road ;‑
        ... He entered, weeping, his abode.
            Behold our loving doves again.
            And sweetness now succeeds their pain.

Lovers, if happy, never idly roam ;
Let all your travels be around your home.
Be to each other still a world, a prize ;
Be new and various in each other's eyes,
And hence let daily scenes of bliss arise.
I once did love-and oh ! I would not then
Have changed my station with the first of men ;
Not for the Louvre with its worth so high,
Not for the firmament and spangled sky,
     ..   Have changed my shepherdess so fair-
Have changed the woods, have changed the groves,
    ..    Where we exchanged our tender loves,
   ..   And she alone caused all my care ;
To whom, when love my bosom taught to glow,
  ..    I gave my first and faithful vow.
Alas ! I ne'er shall prove such moments more !
Must I, among the beauties that surround,
        My loss thus anxiously deplore,
        Like some abandoned mourning dove ?
Could I in Cupid's yoke again. be bound !
        Or have I passed the time of love ?

two doves
The two doves

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