Javascript Menu by Deluxe-Menu.com The man between two ages and his two mistresses, the fox and stork, the child and schoolmaster, the cock and pearl
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
Fables, Jean de La Fontaine 
Book I, fables 17, 18, 19, 20
 

THE MAN BETWEEN TWO AGES
AND HIS TWO MISTRESSES (I, 17)

      A man advanced in life,
      And getting into grey,
Thought it high Lime in his decay
      To dream about a wife.
He had enough in cash and houses,
Therefore a choice of charming spouses.
         All strove to please him,
         Some too did tease him ;
On which our lover checked his new propension,
No trifle was success in his intention.
Two widows o'er his heart did most prevail,
The one still fresh, the other rather stale ;
       But she by pretty arts repaid
  What nature in her had decayed.
They smiled, they joked, they entertained him ;
Sometimes they pleased, sometimes they pained him,
         For as so lovingly they courted,
       Too freely with his locks they sported,
       That is, they dressed his hair.
       Each to her fancy trimmed his bust ;
       The older lady for her share
Plucked from it the remaining black.
Her buxom rival thought it then but just
       The grey and white locks to attack :
       In fine, they dressed and plundered so,
       The head was bald and white as snow.
       He now found out their wicked pranks­
       “ Ladies,” he said, “ ten thousand thanks ;
         With head so bare I yet can boast
       That I have rather gained than lost ;
       For either bride, I see, would rule
       Me, her poor sheep, her slave, her tool.
         All farther favours I refuse‑
       From Hymen I have had no news.
       Bald heads, my queens, are not the go ;
       I thank you for the lesson though.”

 

THE FOX AND STORK (I,18)
By Gossip Fox a dinner was prepared,
And Gossip Stork engaged to come and dine ;
The feast was frugal, all expense was spared,
The gallant had but broth, and it was fine.
             Most unpolitely to hie mate,
             He served this broth up in a plate.
With beak so long she could not get a sup,
While in a moment Reynard lapped it up.
             Dame Stork, to punish this vile trick,
             Invited him to lap and lick—.
“ Gladly,” he cried ; “ with friends like thee
I make no ceremony, as you see.”
             True to the hour, he hastened there,
             Rejoiced to see that Mistress Stork
             Had done the dinner to a hair ;
He praised her much, and much admired her work.
He smirked and told the smiling lady,
             His appetite was more than ready ;
From the minced meat the tempting steam arose
With pleasing information to his nose.
             And now, to try his ready wit,
          Just as he wagged his tail to feed,
             The meat for him was dished indeed
In vase with narrow mouth and elongated neck,
             For Master Reynard's snout unfit,
             Fit only for the Stork's long beak.
Poor Reynard blushed a fowl should trick him so,
With drooping head and tail, obliged to go.

          Deceivers all, I write for you,
          Measure for measure waits you too.


THE CHILD AND SCHOOLMASTER. (I, 19)

My meaning here is to portray,
A certain fool who threw advice away.
A child that frolicked near the Seine,
Fell in, by some fond risk beguiled ;
A willow grew not there in vain,
Heaven by the willow saved the child.
He caught a branch and held it fast,
And screamed “ Help ! help ! or I am drowned ; ”
It happened a preceptor passed‑
Magister turned, approached with look profound,
And for a moment chose to stand aloof
And give the boy a very sharp reproof.
“ Ah ! little blockhead. ! see
The dangers that await young rogues like thee !
How wretched those poor parents are,
With such vile brats their daily care !
What pangs they feel—how I lament their fate ! ”
He said, and helped him out, almost too late
.
This censure hits more folk than are aware
Mere talkers, critica, pedants, here may see
Their portraits to the life that at them stare ;
And there are multitudes of all these three.
Heavens ! how such vermin round us throng !
Amidst our dangers they but think
Their ill-timed speeches to prolong.
But, friend ! first snatch me from destruction's brink,
And then I’ll hear the music of thy tongue.

child-schoolmaster
The Child an Schoolmaster

THE COCK AND PEARL. (I, 20)
A cock a pearl one morning found,
As he was raking up the ground ;
And to the nearest lapidary,
Cock-like, he did his treasure carry.
“ ’Tis fine,” he said, “ methinks, as e'er was worn,
But I prefer a single grain of corn.”
So did a stupid heir,
With manuscript of value rare,
Unto a neighbouring bookshop go.
“ ’Tis good,” said he, “ for what I know,
But as I can't make out a letter,

A crown or two would suit me better.”

The Fox and Stork

The Fork and Stork
The Fork and Stork
The Fox and Stork



Other fables