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The Wolf and the Fox
Jean de la Fontaine

"Dear wolf," complain'd a hungry fox,
"A lean chick's meat, or veteran cock's,
Is all I get by toil or trick:
Of such a living I am sick.
With far less risk, you've better cheer;
A house you need not venture near,
But I must do it, spite of fear.
Pray, make me master of your trade.
And let me by that means be made
The first of all my race that took
Fat mutton to his larder's hook:
Your kindness shall not be repented."
The wolf quite readily consented.
"I have a brother, lately dead:
Go fit his skin to yours," he said.
'Twas done; and then the wolf proceeded:
"Now mark you well what must be done,
The dogs that guard the flock to shun."
The fox the lessons strictly heeded.
At first he boggled in his dress;
But awkwardness grew less and less,
Till perseverance gave success.
His education scarce complete,
A flock, his scholarship to greet,
Came rambling out that way.
The new-made wolf his work began,
Amidst the heedless nibblers ran,
And spread a sore dismay.
The bleating host now surely thought
That fifty wolves were on the spot:
Dog, shepherd, sheep, all homeward fled,
And left a single sheep in pawn,
Which Renard seized when they were gone.
But, ere upon his prize he fed,
There crow'd a cock near by, and down
The scholar threw his prey and gown,
That he might run that way the faster—
Forgetting lessons, prize and master.

Reality, in every station,
Will burst out on the first occasion.

This poem is in the public domain.


Jean de la Fontaine (1621 – 1695) was a French writer whose fables are now considered classic. He studied theology, and then law, before taking over his father's position as a government inspector of forests and waterways. Jean's literary career did not begin until he was well into his thirties; while his early efforts garnered little attention, his charm kept him in all the right circles (literary, royal, and otherwise) and provided a constant stream of sponsors and patrons.




Post New Comment:
Julie Carlile:
Cute poem. I think I've read this before. It reminds me of Aesop's Fables.
Posted 12/24/2013 05:38 AM

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