THE WOLF AND STORK (III, 9)
The wolves like very gluttons eat.
One at a feast, thus gulping up his meat,
Devoured so eagerly, they say,
He nearly lost his life that day :
Far down his throat a bone stuck fast.
Well for this wolf, who could not cry,
A stork quite opportunely passed ;
He made a sign and she drew nigh.
Quickly the operatrix got to work—
Pulled out the bone; and asked her fee :
“ Your fee ! ” Wolf cried, “ good Mother Stork,
Your little joke is far too free.
What ! not contented to have saved your pate,
That was so tempting in my jaws ?
Begone ! you are a wretch ingrate,
And never come beneath my paws! ”
THE LION SLAIN BY A MAN (III, 10)
A picture for the public view was placed,
In which the pointer had a lion traced
Of dreadful size and strength of bone,
But floored by one strong man alone.
Spectators bragged, and looked elate ;
A lion passing checked their prate !
“ The lion there,” he said, “ is down,
And victory is yours, I own ;
But ’tis a license painters take,
To make men boast and lions quake.”
Justky reversed would be the scene,
If lions had the painters been.
Illustration : J.J. Grandville
THE FOX AND GRAPES (III, 11)
Was it not better said than to repine ?
A certain Gascon, some say Norman Fox,
Famished with want, high on an arbour spies
Some grapes that seemed ripe in his eyes,
In skins dyed with a vermeil stain.
Gladly the rogue had sucked them, but in vain,
The height his effort mocks.
So, as he could not reach this vine,
“ They're sour,” he cried, "and only fit for swine.”
THE SWAN AND COOK (III, 12)
A certain yard a swan and gosling shared,
And on the common bounty fared !
The one was reared to please the master's sight,
The other but to feed his appetite.
Each of his place was fondly vain,
Or in the house or garden to remain.
They made the palace-moat their sporting place.
Oft they in sports aquatic vied,
Or swimming side by side,
Or plunging down, or sailing in a race,
In rivalry which ne'er was satisfied.
One more the cook had drunk a glass too much,
And swan for gosling seized with fatal clutch,
To put him in the pot : his death was near,
The swan’s plaint sounded in his ear.
The cook himself began to quake,
When he perceived his sad mistake
“ What ! could I soup of such a singer make !
Forbid it, Heaven, my hand should touch the throat
That gives us such a charming note ! ”
Thus, in the dangers that around us swarm,
Soft words will never do us harm.
|illustration d'après D. Billon (D.R.)