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The Falcon and the Capon

(Recueil 2, Livre 8, Fable 21)



You often hear a sweet seductive call:

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,

Was summoned from a throng

To answer to the village squire,

Before tribunal called the fire.

The matter to disguise

The kitchen sheriff wise

Cried, "Biddy Biddy Biddy!"

But not a moment did he

This Norman and a half

The smooth official trust.

"Your bait," said he, "is dust,

And I'm too old for chaff."

Meantime, a falcon, on his perch,

Observed the flight and search.

In man, by instinct or experience,

The capons have so little confidence,

That this was not without much trouble caught,

Though for a splendid supper sought.

To lie, the morrow night,

In brilliant candle light,

Supinely on a dish

"Midst viands, fowl, and fish,

With all the ease that heart could wish

This honour, from his master kind,

The fowl would gladly have declined.

Outcried the bird of chase,

As in the weeds he eyed the skulker's face,

"Why, what a stupid, blockhead race!

Such witless, brainless fools

Might well defy the schools.

For me, I understand

To chase at word

The swiftest bird,

Aloft, over sea or land;

At slightest beck,

Returning quick

To perch on my master's hand.

There, at his window he appears

He waits you hasten have no ears?"

"Ah! that I have," the fowl replied;

"But what from master might betide?

Or cook, with cleaver at his side?

Return you may for such a call,

But let me fly their fatal hall;

And spare your mirth at my expense:

Whatever I lack, it's not the sense

To know that all this sweet-toned breath

Is spent to lure me to my death.

If you had seen on the spit

As many of the falcons roast

As I have of the capon host,

You would, not thus reproach my wit."

Jean de La Fontaine

Book 8, Fable 21



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