A HUNDRED FABLES OF LA FONTAINE
The Grasshopper and the Ant. A grasshopper gaySang the summer away,And found herself poorBy the winter's first roar.Of meat or of bread,Not a morsel she had!So a-begging she went,To her neighbour the ant,For the loan of some wheat,Which would serve her to eat,Till the season came round."I will pay you," she saith,"On an animal's faith,Double weight in the poundEre the harvest be bound."The ant is a friend(And here she might mend)Little given to lend."How spent you the summer?"Quoth she, looking shameAt the borrowing dame."Night and day to each comerI sang, if you please.""You sang! I'm at ease;For 'tis plain at a glance,Now, ma'am, you must dance."
The Thieves and the Ass. Two thieves, pursuing their profession,Had of a donkey got possession,Whereon a strife arose,Which went from words to blows.The question was, to sell, or not to sell;But while our sturdy champions fought it well,Another thief, who chanced to pass,With ready wit rode off the ass. This ass is, by interpretation,Some province poor, or prostrate nation.The thieves are princes this and that,On spoils and plunder prone to fat,—As those of Austria, Turkey, Hungary.(Instead of two, I've quoted three—Enough of such commodity.)These powers engaged in war all,Some fourth thief stops the quarrel,According all to one key,By riding off the donkey
The Wolf Accusing the Fox. A wolf, affirming his beliefThat he had suffer'd by a thief,Brought up his neighbour fox—Of whom it was by all confess'd,His character was not the best—To fill the prisoner's box.As judge between these vermin,A monkey graced the ermine;And truly other gifts of ThemisDid scarcely seem his;For while each party plead his cause,Appealing boldly to the laws,And much the question vex'd,Our monkey sat perplex'd.Their words and wrath expended,Their strife at length was ended;When, by their malice taught,The judge this judgment brought:"Your characters, my friends, I long have known,As on this trial clearly shown;And hence I fine you both—the grounds at largeTo state would little profit—You wolf, in short, as bringing groundless charge,You fox, as guilty of it." Come at it right or wrong, the judge opinedNo other than a villain could be fined
The Lion and the Ass Hunting. The king of animals, with royal grace,Would celebrate his birthday in the chase.'Twas not with bow and arrows,To slay some wretched sparrows;The lion hunts the wild boar of the wood,The antlered deer and stags, the fat and good.This time, the king, t' insure success,Took for his aide-de-camp an ass,A creature of stentorian voice,That felt much honour'd by the choice.The lion hid him in a proper station,And order'd him to bray, for his vocation,Assured that his tempestuous cryThe boldest beasts would terrify,And cause them from their lairs to fly.And, sooth, the horrid noise the creature madeDid strike the tenants of the wood with dread;And, as they headlong fled,All fell within the lion's ambuscade....