Jean de La Fontaine Fables
|1 1 35|
The well-prepared, to wit, the wise
They knowing of themselves the time
To meditate the final change of clime.
That time, alas! embraces all
Which into hours and minutes we divide;
There is no part, however small,
That from this tribute one can hide.
The very moment, often, which bids
The heirs of empire see the light
Is that which shuts their fringed lids
In everlasting night.
Defend yourself by rank and wealth,
Plead beauty, virtue, youth, and health,
Unblushing Death will ravish all;
The world itself shall pass beneath his pall.
No truth is better known; but, truth to say,
No truth is oftener thrown away.
A man, well in his second century,
And Death had reason,ghastly sage!
It was sweet and marvellous to hear,
His trills and quavers told the ear
Of more contentment and delight,
Enjoyed by that laborious wight
Than ever enjoyed the sages seven,
Or any mortals short of heaven.
His neighbour, on the other hand,
With gold in plenty at command,
But little sang, and slumbered less
A financier of great success.
If ever he dozed, at break of day,
The cobbler's song drove sleep away;
And much he wished that Heaven had made
Sleep a commodity of trade,
In market sold, like food and drink,
So much an hour, so much a wink.
At last, our songster did he call
To meet him in his princely hall.
Said he, "Now, honest Gregory,
What may your yearly earnings be?"
"My yearly earnings! faith, good sir,
I never go, at once, so far,"
The cheerful cobbler said,
And queerly scratched his head,
"I never reckon in that way,
But cobble on from day to day,
Content with daily bread."
"Indeed! Well, Gregory, pray,
What may your earnings be per day?"
"Why, sometimes more and sometimes less.
The worst of all, I must confess,
(And but for which our gains would be
A pretty sight, indeed, to see,)
Is that the days are made so many
In which we cannot earn a penny
The sorest ill the poor man feels:
They tread on each other's heels,
Those idle days of holy saints!
And though the year is shingled over,
The parson keeps a-finding more!'
With smiles provoked by these complaints,
Replied the lordly financier,
"I'll give you better cause to sing.
These hundred pounds I hand you here
Will make you happy as a king.
Go, spend them with a frugal heed;
They'll long supply your every need."
The cobbler thought the silver more
Than he had ever dreamed before,
The mines for ages could produce,
Or world, with all its people, use.
He took it home, and there did hide
And with it laid his joy aside.
No more of song, no more of sleep,
But cares, suspicions in their stead,
And false alarms, by fancy fed.
His eyes and ears their vigils keep,
And not a cat can tread the floor
But seems a thief slipped through the door.
At last, poor man!
Up to the financier he ran,
Then in his morning nap profound:
"O, give me back my songs," cried he,
"And sleep, that used so sweet to be,
And take the money, every pound!"
 The parson keeps a-finding more!Under the old regime of
France the parish priest of each church had usually every Sunday, at sermon time, to
announce more than one religious fast or feast for the coming week, which the poor at least
were expected to observe.
Would have some cure for age found out.
Impossibilities, on all occasions,
With kings, are rank abominations.
This king, from every species,
For each abounds in every sort,
Called to his aid the leeches.
They came in throngs to court,
From doctors of the highest fee
To nostrum-quacks without degree,
Advised, prescribed, talked learnedly;
But with the rest
Came not Sir Cunning Fox, M.D.
Sir Wolf the royal couch attended,
And his suspicions there expressed.
Forthwith his majesty, offended,
Resolved Sir Cunning Fox should come,
And sent to smoke him from his home.
He came, was duly ushered in,
And, knowing where Sir Wolf had been,
Said, "Sire, your royal ear
Has been abused, I fear,
By rumours false and insincere;
To wit, that I have been self-exempt
From coming here, through sheer contempt.
But, sire, I have been on pilgrimage,
By vow expressly made,
Your royal health to aid,
And, on my way, met doctors sage,
In skill the wonder of the age,
Whom carefully I did consult
About that great debility
Termed in the books senility,
Of which you fear, with reason, the result.
You lack, they say, the vital heat,
By age extreme become effete.
Drawn from a living wolf, the hide
Should warm and smoking be applied.
The secret's good, beyond a doubt,
For nature's weak, and wearing out.
Sir Wolf, here, won't refuse to give
His hide to cure you, as I live."
The king was pleased with this advice.
Flayed, jointed, served up in a trice,
Sir Wolf first wrapped the monarch up,
Then furnished him whereon to sup.
Beware, you courtiers, lest you gain,
 Aesop; also Bidpai, and Lokman.
Can diplomatic dignity
In Athens, once, that city fickle,
 M. De Barillon.Ambassador to the Court of St.
James.Translator. M. De Barillon was a great friend of La Fontaine, and also of other
literary lights of the time.
 And lull this war to sleep.The parliament of England was determined that,
in case Louis XIV. did not make peace with the allies, Charles 2. should join them to make
war on France.Translator.
 An orator.Demades.Translator.
 That beast of many heads.Horace, speaking of the Roman people, said,
"Bellua multorum est capitum."Epist. 1, Book 1. , 76.Translator.
 Philip.Philip of Macedon, then at war with the Greeks.
 "The Ass's Skin,"an old French nursery tale so called.
 La Fontaine's views on "the power of fables" are further given in Fable 1, Book 2. ;
Fable 1, Book 3. ; Fable 1, Book 5. ; Fable 1, Book VI; the Introduction to Book 7, and
Fable 1, Book 9.
 And lull this war to sleep.The parliament of England was determined that, in case Louis XIV. did not make peace with the allies, Charles 2. should join them to make war on France.Translator.
 An orator.Demades.Translator.
 That beast of many heads.Horace, speaking of the Roman people, said, "Bellua multorum est capitum."Epist. 1, Book 1. , 76.Translator.
 Philip.Philip of Macedon, then at war with the Greeks.
 "The Ass's Skin,"an old French nursery tale so called.
 La Fontaine's views on "the power of fables" are further given in Fable 1, Book 2. ; Fable 1, Book 3. ; Fable 1, Book 5. ; Fable 1, Book VI; the Introduction to Book 7, and Fable 1, Book 9.
With prayers which would insult mere mortals even.
"Twould seem that not a god in all the skies
From our affairs must ever turn his eyes,
And that the smallest of our race
Could hardly eat, or wash his face,
Without, like Greece and Troy for ten years' space,
Embroiling all Olympus in the case.
A flea some blockhead's shoulder bit,
To crush a flea, this fellow's fingers under,
Too heavy It's for women tender;
And, for this matter, in my days,
I have seen some men of female gender.
To prove his wife, a husband cried,
Nor hands against the touch of gold.
Fidelity is sadly rare,
And has been from the days of old.
Well taught his appetite to check,
And do full many a handy trick,
A dog was trotting, light and quick,
His master's dinner on his neck.
A temperate, self-denying dog was he,
More than, with such a load, he liked to be.
But still he was, while many such as we
Would not have scrupled to make free.
Strange that to dogs a virtue you may teach,
Which, do your best, to men you vainly preach!
This dog of ours, thus richly fitted out,
A mastiff met, who wished the meat, no doubt.
To get it was less easy than he thought:
The porter laid it down and fought.
Meantime some other dogs arrive:
Such dogs are always thick enough,
And, fearing neither kick nor cuff,
On the public thrive.
Our hero, thus overmatched and pressed,
The meat in danger manifest,
Is fain to share it with the rest;
And, looking very calm and wise,
"No anger, gentlemen," he cries:
"My morsel will myself suffice;
The rest shall be your welcome prize."
With this, the first his charge to violate,
He snaps a mouthful from his freight.
Then follow mastiff, cur, and pup,
Till all is cleanly eaten up.
Not sparingly the party feasted,
And not a dog of all but tasted.
In some such manner men abuse
A joke must be, to be enjoyed,
Of wisdom's words, by wit employed.
God never meant for men of sense,
The wits that joke to give offence.
Perchance of these I shall be able
Grown weary of inglorious rest,
Left home with all its straws and grains,
Resolved to know beyond his nest.
When peeping through the nearest fence,
"How big the world is, how immense!"
He cried; "there rise the Alps, and that
Is doubtless famous Ararat."
His mountains were the works of moles,
Or dirt thrown up in digging holes!
Some days of travel brought him where
The tide had left the oysters bare.
Since here our traveller saw the sea,
He thought these shells the ships must be.
"My father was, in truth," said he,
"A coward, and an ignoramus;
He dared not travel: as for me,
I have seen the ships and ocean famous;
Have crossed the deserts without drinking,
And many dangerous streams unshrinking;
Such things I know from having seen and felt them."
And, as he went, in tales he proudly dealt them,
Not being of those rats whose knowledge
Comes by their teeth on books in college.
Among the shut-up shell-fish, one
Was gaping widely at the sun;
It breathed, and drank the air's perfume,
Expanding, like a flower in bloom.
Both white and fat, its meat
Appeared a dainty treat.
Our rat, when he this shell espied,
Thought for his stomach to provide.
"If not mistaken in the matter,"
Said he, "no meat was ever fatter,
Or in its flavour half so fine,
As that on which today I dine."
Thus full of hope, the foolish chap
Thrust in his head to taste,
And felt the pinching of a trap
The oyster closed in haste.
We're first instructed, by this case,
 Abstemius; also Aesop.
By fate confined within a lonely wood,
A new Bellerophon, whose life,
Knew neither comrade, friend, nor wife,
Became insane; for reason, as we term it,
Dwells never long with any hermit.
It's good to mix in good society,
Obeying rules of due propriety;
And better yet to be alone;
But both are ills when overdone.
No animal had business where
All grimly dwelt our hermit bear;
Hence, bearish as he was, he grew
Heart-sick, and longed for something new.
While he to sadness was addicted,
An aged man, not far from there,
Was by the same disease afflicted.
A garden was his favourite care,
Sweet Flora's priesthood, light and fair,
And eke Pomona'sripe and red
The presents that her fingers shed.
These two employments, true, are sweet
When made so by some friend discreet.
The gardens, gaily as they look,
Talk not, (except in this my book;)
So, tiring of the deaf and dumb,
Our man one morning left his home
Some company to seek,
That had the power to speak.
The bear, with thoughts the same,
Down from his mountain came;
And in a solitary place,
They met each other, face to face.
It would have made the boldest tremble;
What did our man? To play the Gascon
The safest seemed. He put the mask on,
His fear contriving to dissemble.
The bear, unused to compliment,
Growled bluntly, but with good intent,
"Come home with me." The man replied:
"Sir Bear, my lodgings, nearer by,
In yonder garden you may spy,
Where, if you'll honour me the while,
We'll break our fast in rural style.
I have fruits and milk,unworthy fare,
It may be, for a wealthy bear;
But then I offer what I have."
The bear accepts, with visage grave,
But not unpleased; and on their way,
They grow familiar, friendly, gay.
Arrived, you see them, side by side,
As if their friendship had been tried.
To a companion so absurd,
Blank solitude were well preferred,
Yet, as the bear scarce spoke a word,
The man was left quite at his leisure
To trim his garden at his pleasure.
Sir Bruin huntedalways brought
His friend whatever game he caught;
But chiefly aimed at driving flies
Those hold and shameless parasites,
That vex us with their ceaseless bites
From off our gardener's face and eyes.
One day, while, stretched on the ground
The old man lay, in sleep profound,
A fly that buzz'd around his nose,
And bit it sometimes, I suppose,
Put Bruin sadly to his trumps.
At last, determined, up he jumps;
"I'll stop your noisy buzzing now,"
Says he; "I know precisely how."
No sooner said than done.
He seized a paving-stone;
And by his modus operandi
Did both the fly and man die.
A foolish friend may cause more woe
 Bellerophon.The son of King Glaucus, who, after a wandering life, died
a prey to melancholy.
 Bellerophon.The son of King Glaucus, who, after a wandering life, died a prey to melancholy.
Had all their interests combined.
Their friendship, faithful and refined,
Our country can't exceed, do what it may.
One night, when potent Sleep had laid
All still within our planet's shade,
One of the two gets up alarmed,
Runs over to the other's palace,
And hastily the servants rallies.
His startled friend, quick armed,
With purse and sword his comrade meets,
And thus right kindly greets:
"You seldom com'st at such an hour;
I take you for a man of sounder mind
Than to abuse the time for sleep designed.
Have lost your purse, by Fortune's power?
Here's mine. Have suffered insult, or a blow,
I have here my swordto avenge it let us go."
"No," said his friend, "no need I feel
Of either silver, gold, or steel;
I thank you for your friendly zeal.
In sleep I saw you rather sad,
And thought the truth might be as bad.
Unable to endure the fear,
That cursed dream has brought me here."
Which think you, reader, loved the most!
 This fable is thought to have been inspired by the friendship of La Fontaine for
Fouquet, the minister whom Louis XIV., actuated mostly by jealousy and envy, disgraced and
imprisoned. See the Translator's Preface.
 This fable is thought to have been inspired by the friendship of La Fontaine for Fouquet, the minister whom Louis XIV., actuated mostly by jealousy and envy, disgraced and imprisoned. See the Translator's Preface.
All to the market rode together.
Their own amusement was not that
Which caused their journey there.
Their coachman did not mean to "set them down"
To see the shows and wonders of the town.
The porker cried, in piercing squeals,
As if with butchers at his heels.
The other beasts, of milder mood,
The cause by no means understood.
They saw no harm, and wondered why
At such a rate the hog should cry.
"Hush there, old piggy!" said the man,
"And keep as quiet as you can.
What wrong have you to squeal about,
And raise this devilish, deafening shout?
These stiller persons at your side
Have manners much more dignified.
Pray, have you heard
A single word
Come from that gentleman in wool?
That proves him wise." "That proves him fool!"
The testy hog replied;
"For did he know
To what we go,
He'd cry almost to split his throat;
So would her ladyship the goat.
They only think to lose with ease,
The goat her milk, the sheep his fleece:
They're, maybe, right; but as for me,
This ride is quite another matter.
Of service only on the platter,
My death is quite a certainty.
Adieu, my dear old piggery!"
The porker's logic proved at once
Himself a prophet and a dunce.
Hope ever gives a present ease,
I had the Phrygian quit,
Now come we to our end:
To Amaranth, the young and fair,
Like him are multitudes, who when
 Mdlle. de Sillery.Gabrielle-Francoise Brulart de Sillery,
niece of La Fontaine's friend and patron, the Duke de La Rochefoucauld (author of the
Maximes). She married Louis de Tibergeau, Marquis de La Motte-au-Maine, and died in
 Italian wit.Referring to his Tales, in which he had borrowed many
subjects from Boccaccio.Translator.
 Italian wit.Referring to his Tales, in which he had borrowed many subjects from Boccaccio.Translator.
Crowds, gathered at his side,
Must needs console the prince,
And thus their loyalty evince
By compliments of course;
Which make affliction worse.
Officially he cites
His realm to funeral rites,
At such a time and place;
His marshals of the mace
Would order the affair.
Judge you if all came there.
Meantime, the prince gave way
To sorrow night and day.
With cries of wild lament
His cave he well-nigh rent.
And from his courtiers far and near,
Sounds imitative you might hear.
The court a country seems to me,
But to our tale again:
Amuse the ear of royalty
Inspirited by self-esteem,
Is quite a common thing in France;
A French disease it well might seem.
The strutting cavaliers of Spain
Are in another manner vain.
Their pride has more insanity;
More silliness our vanity.
Let's shadow forth our own disease
Well worth a hundred tales like these.
A rat, of quite the smallest size,
Just by the roads we take to shun.
A father's only heir, a son,
The poet Aeschylus, it's said,
From these examples, it appears,
 And who is he?By Jupiter, "the soulless clod," is of course
meant the planet, not the god.
 The war.See note to Fable 18, Book 7.
 The war.See note to Fable 18, Book 7.
Ordains that we should aid each other.
The ass this ordinance neglected,
"My dear companion," Towser said,
Thus selfishness we reprobate.
 Arcadian steed.La Fontaine has "roussin d'Arcadie." The ass was so
derisively nicknamed. See also Fable XIX., Book 6.
 Arcadian steed.La Fontaine has "roussin d'Arcadie." The ass was so derisively nicknamed. See also Fable XIX., Book 6.
Protection bought of a pashaw;
And like a nobleman he paid,
Much rather than a man of trade
Protection being, Turkish-wise,
A costly sort of merchandise.
So costly was it, in this case,
The Greek complained, with tongue and face.
Three other Turks, of lower rank,
Would guard his substance as their own,
And all draw less on his bank,
Than did the great pashaw alone.
The Greek their offer gladly heard,
And closed the bargain with a word.
The said pashaw was made aware,
And counseled, with a prudent care
These rivals to anticipate,
By sending them to heaven's gate,
As messengers to Mahomet
Which measure should he much delay,
Himself might go the self-same way,
By poison offered secretly,
Sent on, before his time, to be
Protector to such arts and trades
As flourish in the world of shades.
On this advice, the Turkno gander
Behaved himself like Alexander.
Straight to the merchant's, firm and stable,
He went, and took a seat at table.
Such calm assurance there was seen,
Both in his words and in his mien,
That even that weasel-sighted Grecian
Could not suspect him of suspicion.
"My friend," said he, "I know you've quit me,
And some think caution would befit me,
Lest to despatch me be your plan:
But, deeming you too good a man
To injure either friends or foes
With poisoned cups or secret blows,
I drown the thought, and say no more.
But, as regards the three or four
Who take my place,
I crave your grace
To listen to an apologue.
"A shepherd, with a single dog,
Not vain our tale, if it convinces
 Gilbert Cousin.
 Alexander.Who took the medicine presented to him by his physician
Philip, the moment after he had received a letter announcing that that very man designed to
poison him.Arrian, L. 2. Chap. XIV.Translator.
 Alexander.Who took the medicine presented to him by his physician Philip, the moment after he had received a letter announcing that that very man designed to poison him.Arrian, L. 2. Chap. XIV.Translator.
A controversy grew.
The one was poor, but much he knew:
The other, rich, with little sense,
Claimed that, in point of excellence,
The merely wise should bow the knee
To all such moneyed men as he.
The merely fools, he should have said;
For why should wealth hold up its head,
When merit from its side has fled?
"My friend," said Bloated-purse,
To his reverse,
"You think yourself considerable.
Pray, tell me, do you keep a table?
What comes of this incessant reading,
In point of lodging, clothing, feeding?
It gives one, true, the highest chamber,
One coat for June and for December,
His shadow for his sole attendant,
And hunger always in the ascendant.
What profits he his country, too,
Who scarcely ever spends a sou
Will, haply, be a public charge?
Who profits more the state at large,
Than he whose luxuries dispense
Among the people wealth immense?
We set the streams of life a-flowing;
We set all sorts of trades a-going.
The spinner, weaver, sewer, vender,
And many a wearer, fair and tender,
All live and flourish on the spender
As do, indeed, the reverend rooks
Who waste their time in making books."
These words, so full of impudence,
Received their proper recompense.
The man of letters held his peace,
Though much he might have said with ease.
A war avenged him soon and well;
In it their common city fell.
Both fled abroad; the ignorant,
By fortune thus brought down to want,
Was treated everywhere with scorn,
And roamed about, a wretch forlorn;
Whereas the scholar, everywhere,
Was nourished by the public care.
Let fools the studious despise;
As on a cloud he lay,
"Observing all our crimes,
Come, let us change the times,
By leasing out anew
A world whose wicked crew
Have wearied out our grace,
And cursed us to our face.
Hie hellward, Mercury;
A Fury bring to me,
The direst of the three.
Race nursed too tenderly,
This day your doom shall be!"
Even while he spoke their fate,
His wrath began to moderate.
O kings, with whom His will
The god of rapid wing,
If wise, you haste towards it not at all;
And, if you heed my apologue,
You act like John de Nivelle's dog.
A capon, citizen of Mans,
 In the Bidpai Fables it is "The Falcon and the Cock."
 John de Nivelle's dog.A dog which, according to the French proverb, ran
away when his master called him.Translator.
 This Norman and a half.Though the Normans are proverbial for their
shrewdness, the French have, nevertheless, a proverb that they come to Paris to be hanged.
Hence La Fontaine makes his capon, who knew how to shun a similar fate, le Normand et
demithe Norman and a half.Translator.
 This Norman and a half.Though the Normans are proverbial for their shrewdness, the French have, nevertheless, a proverb that they come to Paris to be hanged. Hence La Fontaine makes his capon, who knew how to shun a similar fate, le Normand et demithe Norman and a half.Translator.
Sly Grab-and-Snatch, the cat,
Grave Evil-bode, the owl,
Thief Nibble-stitch, the rat,
And Madam Weasel, prim and fine,
Inhabited a rotten pine.
A man their home discovered there,
And set, one night, a cunning snare.
The cat, a noted early-riser,
Went forth, at break of day,
To hunt her usual prey.
Not much the wiser
For morning's feeble ray,
The noose did suddenly surprise her.
Waked by her strangling cry,
Grey Nibble-stitch drew nigh:
As full of joy was he
As of despair was she,
For in the noose he saw
His foe of mortal paw.
"Dear friend," said Mrs. Grab-and-Snatch,
"Do, pray, this cursed cord detach.
I have always known your skill,
And often your good-will;
Now help me from this worst of snares,
In which I fell at unawares.
It's by a sacred right,
You, sole of all your race,
By special love and grace,
Have been my favourite
The darling of my eyes.
It was ordered by celestial cares,
No doubt; I thank the blessed skies,
That, going out to say my prayers,
As cats devout each morning do,
This net has made me pray to you.
Come, fall to work on the cord."
Replied the rat, "And what reward
Shall pay me, if I dare?"
"Why," said the cat, "I swear
To be your firm ally:
These powerful claws are yours,
Which safe your life insures.
I'll guard from quadruped and fowl;
I'll eat the weasel and the owl."
"Ah," cried the rat, "you fool!
I'm quite too wise to be your tool."
He said, and sought his snug retreat,
Close at the rotten pine-tree's feet.
Where plump he did the weasel meet;
Whom shunning by a happy dodge,
He climbed the hollow trunk to lodge;
And there the savage owl he saw.
Necessity became his law,
And down he went, the rope to gnaw.
Strand after strand in two he bit,
And freed, at last, the hypocrite.
That moment came the man in sight;
The new allies took hasty flight.
A good while after that,
Alliance from necessity
 Another rendering of "The Rat and the Cat" of the Bidpai collection.
See Fable XVI., Book 7.
Adown a mountain steep
A torrent tumbled,swelling over
Its rugged banks,and bore
Vast ruin in its sweep.
The traveller were surely rash
To brave its whirling, foaming dash,
But one, by robbers sorely pressed,
Its terrors haply put to test.
They were but threats of foam and sound,
The loudest where the least profound.
With courage from his safe success,
His foes continuing to press,
He met a river in his course:
On stole its waters, calm and deep,
So silently they seemed asleep,
All sweetly cradled, as I believe,
In sloping banks, and gravel clean,
They threatened neither man nor horse.
Both ventured; but the noble steed,
That saved from robbers by his speed,
From that deep water could not save;
Both went to drink the Stygian wave;
Both went to cross, (but not to swim,)
Where reigns a monarch stern and grim,
Far other streams than ours.
Still men are men of dangerous powers;
From dogs by Fame the most commended,
Who falling, in their puppyhood,
To different masters anciently,
One dwelt and hunted in the boundless wood;
From thieves the other kept a kitchen free.
At first, each had another name;
But, by their bringing up, it came,
While one improved on his nature,
The other grew a sordid creature,
Till, by some scullion called Lapluck,
The name ungracious ever stuck.
To high exploits his brother grew,
Put many a stag at bay, and tore
Full many a trophy from the boar;
In short, him first, of all his crew,
The world as Caesar knew;
And care was had, lest, by a baser mate,
His noble blood should ever degenerate.
Not so with his neglected brother;
He made whatever came a mother;
And, by the laws of population,
His race became a countless nation
The common turnspits throughout France
Where danger is, they don't advance
Precisely the antipodes
Of what we call the Caesars, these!
Often falls the son below his sire's estate:
Since banded brothers all the Vices stand:
When one of these our hearts attacks,
All come in file; there only lacks,
From out the cluster, here and there,
A mate of some antagonizing pair,
That can't agree the common roof to share.
But all the Virtues, as a sisterhood,
Have scarcely ever in one subject stood.
We find one brave, but passionate;
Another prudent, but ingrate.
Of beasts, the dog may claim to be
The pattern of fidelity;
But, for our teaching little wiser,
He's both a fool and gormandiser.
For proof, I cite two mastiffs, that espied
A dead ass floating on a water wide.
The distance growing more and more,
Because the wind the carcass bore,
"My friend," said one, "your eyes are best;
Pray let them on the water rest:
What thing is that I seem to see?
An ox, or horse? what can it be?"
"Hey!" cried his mate; "what matter which,
Provided we could get a flitch?
It doubtless is our lawful prey:
The puzzle is to find some way
To get the prize; for wide the space
To swim, with wind against your face.
Let's drink the flood; our thirsty throats
Will gain the end as well as boats.
The water swallowed, by and bye
We'll have the carcass, high and dry
Enough to last a week, at least."
Both drank as some do at a feast;
Their breath was quenched before their thirst,
And presently the creatures burst!
And such is man. Whatever he
 Aesop; also Lokman.
 With the wind against your face.Did La Fontaine, to enhance the folly
of these dogs, make them bad judges of the course of the wind, or did he forget what he had
said a few lines above?Translator.
 With the wind against your face.Did La Fontaine, to enhance the folly of these dogs, make them bad judges of the course of the wind, or did he forget what he had said a few lines above?Translator.
Profane, unjust, with childish folly fraught;
It breaks and bends the rays of truth divine,
And by its own conceptions measures mine.
Famed Epicurus' master tried
The power of this unstable tide.
His country said the sage was mad
The simpletons! But why?
No prophet ever honour had
Beneath his native sky.
Democritus, in truth, was wise;
The mass were mad, with faith in lies.
So far this error went,
That all Abdera sent
To old Hippocrates
To cure the sad disease.
"Our townsman," said the messengers,
Appropriately shedding tears,
"Has lost his wits! Democritus,
By study spoiled, is lost to us.
Were he but filled with ignorance,
We should esteem him less a dunce.
He says that worlds like this exist,
An absolutely endless list,
And peopled, even, it may be,
With countless hosts as wise as we!
But, not contented with such dreams,
His brain with viewless "atoms" teems,
Instinct with deathless life, it seems.
And, never stirring from the sod below,
He weighs and measures all the stars;
And, while he knows the universe,
Himself he does not know.
Though now his lips he strictly bars,
He once delighted to converse.
Come, godlike mortal, try your art divine
Where traits of worst insanity combine!"
Small faith the great physician lent,
But still, perhaps more readily, he went.
And mark what meetings strange
Chance causes in this world of change!
Hippocrates arrived in season,
Just as his patient (void of reason!)
Was searching whether reason's home,
In talking animals and dumb,
Be in the head, or in the heart,
Or in some other local part.
All calmly seated in the shade,
Where brooks their softest music made,
He traced, with study most insane,
The convolutions of a brain;
And at his feet lay many a scroll
The works of sages on the soul.
Indeed, so much absorbed was he,
His friend, at first, he did not see.
A pair so admirably matched,
Their compliments erelong despatched.
In time and talk, as well as dress,
The wise are frugal, I confess.
Dismissing trifles, they began
At once with eagerness to scan
The life, and soul, and laws of man;
Nor stopped till they had travelled over all
The ground, from, physical to moral.
My time and space would fail
To give the full detail.
But I have said enough to show
 Epicurus' master.Democritus and Epicurus lived about a
century apart. The latter was disciple to the former only because in early life he adopted
some of Democritus's philosophy. Later Epicurus rejected more than he accepted of what his
Regard as nothing the blessings of the skies,
Must I for ever battle you in vain?
How long demandest you to gain
The meaning of my lessons plain?
Will constant getting never cloy?
Will man never slacken to enjoy?
Haste, friend; you have not long to live:
Let me the precious word repeat,
And listen to it, I entreat;
A richer lesson none can give
The sovereign antidote for sorrow
ENJOY!'I will."But when?'Tomorrow."
Ah! death may take you on the way,
Why not enjoy, I ask, today?
Lest envious fate your hopes ingulf,
As once it served the hunter and the wolf.
The former, with his fatal bow,
Thus much is to the covetous addressed;
A wolf, in passing, saw that woeful sight.
Hark, stingy souls! insatiate leeches!
 Bidpai; and the Hitopadesa. See extract from Sir William Jones's translation in the Introduction
USER'S GUIDE to abbreviations, the site's bibliography, letter codes, dictionaries, site design and navigation, tips for searching the site and page referrals. [LINK]|
© 20032011, Tormod Kinnes, MPhil [E-MAIL] Disclaimer: LINK]