Javascript Menu by Deluxe-Menu.com The Bat and two Weasels, The Bird wounded by an arrow, The Bitch and Friend, the Eagle and Beetle
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 II, fables 5, 6, 7, 8
 

THE BAT AND TWO WEASELS (II, 5)

A blundering bat in search of rest,
Bounced unawares into a weasel's nest ;
Who, long enraged against the mice,
Ran to devour her in a trice.
“ What ! dare you venture in my sight,
While all your race against me fight ?
Aren't you a mouse ? No fibbing in my house ;
Yes, sure as I'm a weasel you're a mouse.”
“ Nay, ” said the poor bat, trembling. “ Pardon me.
A mouse is not what I profess to be ;
A mouse ! what wicked tales abound !
I am a bird and soar around.
Behold the wings with which I fly,
Thanks to the Ruler of the sky,
The tribes that cleave the air for ever ! ”
Her answer pleased, for it was clever ;
The weasel dropped her claws and ire,
And gave her freedom to retire.
But two days later, blind as any mole,
She poked her head in quite another hole,
Where dwelt a weasel, to all birds a foe,
And now her life again was like to go.
The lady of the house, with snout so long,
Was just about to crunch poor birdy's bones :
“What ! I a bird ! ” she cried, with piteous groans,
“ I ever seen on high ! Who's heard my song ?
Indeed, ma'am, you're insulting me.
Where are my feathers ? Sure you cannot see ;
I am a mouse, long live the rats !
Perdition seize on all the cats ! ”
Thus skilful in a shifting strain,
The bat now saved her life again.

         Thus many change their coat
         To keep themselves afloat
         A wise man says just as folks please,
         Long live the king ! or, Long live Guise !

 

THE BIRD WOUNDED
BY AN ARROW
(II, 6)

A feathered shaft, with :mortal wound,
Brought a poor songster to the ground ;
Who sadly said, in his excess of woe,
“ Hard fate, that birds should work my overthrow !
Ah, cruel mortals ! from our sides ye steel
Feathers, to wing the deadly darts we feel !
But have a care, for oh, unfeeling race !
Your fate in this full often ye may trace ;
The sons of Japhet, cruel to their kind,
Against each other arms will ever find.”

 

Th bird wounded by an arrow, ill. J.B. Oudry
illustr. J.B. Oudry


THE BITCH AND FRIEND (II, 7)
A Bitch drew near her time of sorrow,
And, sadly puzzled where to lay her load,
Her neighbour's kennel went to borrow,
Prevailed and took possession of th' abode.
The lender came, the proper time expired,
The bitch a fortnight more required—
Her pups, she said, yet walked with pain ;
In brief, she did the time obtain.
This term, too, past, the lender came again,
Asked back her house, her bedroom, and her bed.
But now the bitch showed all her teeth, and said,
“ Surely we'll go if you can turn us out.”
Her pups, you see, were -now quite strong and stout.

Loans to the bad we ever shall lament ;
’Tis hard to get again what we have lent,
Without a lawsuit, blows perhaps as well.
Lend them an inch, and they will take an ell.

 

THE EAGLE AND BEETLE (II, 8)
Master Jack Rabbit, by an eagle chased,
Down to his burrow fled with rapid haste ;
The beetle’s nest was in his way,
 A dangerous lodging, we may say.
Where safer though ? There snug Jack Rabbit lay.
The bird pounced on him ; his asylum broke.
The friendly beetle interceding spoke,
“ Princess of birds, I know you can with ease
Carry poor Jack off when you please ;
But with your strength some tender mercy show,
He pleads for life, poor fellow ! let him go.
Grant him his life, or take it from us both,
He is my neighbour and my friend, in troth !
       The bird of Jove made no reply,
       But flapped the beetle with her whig,
       And silencing the silly thing,
       Rose with Jack Rabbit to the sky.
The beetle's fury now awoke‑
She to the nest of absent eagle rushed ;
Her eggs so loved, her dearest hopes, she crushed,
       Yes, every darling egg she broke.
The eagle came to her now dreary home,
Loud, loud she screamed, but what was worst of all,
Knew not on whom to let her vengeance fall ;
With sad complaints along the skies she'd roam,
Childless that year she wept her loss in vain.
Next year still higher with her nest she flew ;
Beetle took time and smashed her eggs again,
To give Jack Rabbit's death the vengeance due.
Her second mourning for her young's sweet sake,
Kept the wood's echo some six months awake.
The bird that carried Ganymede of yore,
The aid of Jupiter now did implore ;
Laid in his lap her eggs, forgot her care,
Thought nothing surely could disturb them there.
   They're bold who soar the lofty plain,
  The eggs in safety will remain ;
  Even Jove himself’s in honour bound
  To keep them all secure and sound.
They seemed so. But the foe planned tactics new,
Some dirt upon Jove's shining robes she threw,
Which he shook off whilst moving quick his legs,
And thus the careless god broke all the eggs.
Soon as the eagle knew the cruel sport,
She threatened Jupiter to quit his court ;
To live abandoned in the deserts wild ;
Said many things offensive to his ear.
Poor Jupiter in silence smiled.
Before his bar the beetle did appear,
Complained, and stated all that passed ;
And got the eagle censured too, at last.
But when their discord did not cease,
The king of gods thought proper, for his peace,
To change the season of the eagle’s love,
To that in which no beetles rove ;
When close in winter-quarters, like the mole,
They lie concealed and sightless in their hole.

 



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