Javascript Menu by Against those who are difficult in their taste, the coucil held by the rats, the wolf pleading against the fox before the monkey, the two bulls and frog
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 I, fables 1, 2, 3, 4


Had Phoebus on my natal more been kind,
And me a place among his sons assigned,
To Aesop’s fictions I had still applied,
Fiction and verse have ever been allied.
- But I am not so highly favoured born,
That I should all these images adorn ;
These old inventions may admit the file,
I’ve tried--some wiser shall surpass my toil.
Yet hitherto, in new and easy style,
I’ve made the wolf accuse—the lamb refute ;
Nor trees nor plants are suffered to be mute.
They all converse, and spread instruction round,
Who would not think it some enchanted ground ?
         Truly, our critics here will say,
You treat of childish tales in lofty lay.
Critics, would you have more authentic then,
And loftier style ? List to the deeds of men.
After ten years of war, behold proud Troy.
The Greeks despairing what means to employ,
Had tried a thousand schemes upon the plain,
A hundred battles, with success uncrowned ;
A thousand bold assaults in vain,
But could not bring the ramparts to the ground.
A wooden horse Minerva did ordain,
An artifice as wonderful as new,
Of monstrous bulk to hold a valiant few ;
Ulysses entered, panting for renown,
Him Ajax fierce, and Diomed the bold
Soon followed with their bands to seize the town.
Unheard-of stratagem, till then untold,
But which repaid the building and delay ;
The Trojans and their gods became their prey.
“ Enough ! enough !” I hear some author say :
“ I'm out of breath, your period is too long;
Besides, your wooden horse of ancient song,
Your heroes and their phalanges so strong,
         Are stranger stories, if you please,
Than Reynard’s when he bilked the crow of cheese.
This lofty style, besides, becomes you ill.”
“ I'll drop it for a little if you will.”
The downcast Amaryllis lay reclined,
Alcippe's image only in her mind ;
She thought there was no witness there,
Except her dog and fleecy care ;
When Thyrsis unperceived stole through the trees,
And heard the shepherdess invite the breeze
         To let her tender accents pass
       To wheresoe'er her lover was.
“ Stop there,” again my critic cries,
“ That rhyme offends my ears and eyes,
         Has neither harmony nor force,
         Is inadmissible of course ;
Back to the foundry with such lines again.”
Curst critic ! will you still complain ?
To try to suit your taste
Is dangerous, my time I waste.

Wretched are all so delicate as these !
Nothing their nicety of taste can please.

A cat called Rodilardus, it is said,
Among the rats such devastation made,
That few were to be seen, poor souls ;
They did not dare the danger brave;
So many sent he to their grave,
They trembled in their prison holes.
                The stragglers left were poor and lean,
                Death in their looks and hunger keen.
                The wretched rats in such an evil
                Took Rodilardus for the devil.
Now, as lie hunted for a wife one night,
And with this lady rioted till light,
            The rats in solemn synod sat,
To argue how to cope with such a cat.
The dean, well skilled and prudent, did maintain
That they must bell the neck. of Rodilard,
“ And let my plan, ” he said, “no fear retard ;
He’ll then come ringing to the hostile plain,
And give us warning underground to fly ;
Adopt my project or in prison die.”
                This wondrous plan they all admired,
                In fact, some thought the dean inspired.
                No doubt that plan would work right well,
“But who,” they asked, “ will hang this bell ?”
One said ; “ Fin no such fool !”.another, “I can't tell.”
The dean in silence mused, and mused in vain,
And then—he broke the synod up again.
                Thus many synods still we find,
                But not of this same vermin kind ;
                Synode of monks, on nought debating,
                Marry ! e’en of canons idly prating.

Is it some doubtful point to scan ?
           The courts with counsellors abound :
    Is it to execute some plan ?
           There's not a person to be found.

Council (the) held by the Rats

Council (the) held by the Rats



A WOLF was robbed, as he pretended :
A neighbouring fox—of wicked life indeed—
For this accused and apprehended,
Was brought before Judge Monkey's bar to plead.
No lawyers called to twist the laws,
Each client pleaded his own cause.
In monkey's memory, Themis on her throne
A more bewildering case had never known.
The judge on bed of justice sat perplexed,
    And sweated, greatly by the question vexed.
His clients howled and stormed, their wrath expended,
     Until at length the strife was ended.
The judge their malice saw, and said : “ Now, mind
I've known you long, my friends, to ill inclined,
For public good ’tis fit you both be fined :
Your claim, Sir Wolf, is but a groundless claim ;
You are a thief, Sir Reynard, all the same."
Be it right or wrong, the judge maintained,
Something by punishing the bad was gained.



               Two bulls in battle loud did low,
                Striving for empire and a cow.
                A frog beheld the fight, and sighed :
“ What ails you, friend ?” another croaker cried.
“ What ! Don't you see,” she said, “that awful pother
Will end in banishment to one or t'other ?
One of those brutes that soon must yield,
Will rule no more the grassy field ;
No longer free to range the meads,
He’ ll come and trample on the reeds ;
And we, unto the bottom trodden down,
Shall not dare call our lives our own.
Fatal to frogs that fight for Lady Cow,
For we must perish in the overthrow ! ”
These fears were not without good sense,
One bull was beaten, much to their expense ;
He fled for shelter to their reedy bower,
And crushed to death a score in every hour.

      To suffer for the follies of the great,
      Of little folks has always been the fate.

Other fables