(Recueil 1, Livre 3, Fable 16)
I hate that saying, old and savage,
"It's nothing but a woman drowning."
That's much, I say. What grief more keen should have edge
Than loss of her, of all our joys the crowning?
Thus much suggests the fable I am borrowing.
A woman perished in the water,
Where, anxiously, and sorrowing,
Her husband sought her,
To ease the grief he could not cure,
By honoured rites of sepulture.
It chanced that near the fatal spot,
Along the stream which had
Produced a death so sad,
There walked some men that knew it not.
The husband asked if they had seen
His wife, or anything that hers had been.
One promptly answered, "No!
But search the stream below:
It must nave borne her in its flow."
"No," said another; "search above.
In that direction
She would have floated, by the love
This joke was truly out of season;
I don't propose to weigh its reason.
But whether such propensity
The sex's fault may be,
Or not, one thing is very sure,
Its own propensities endure.
Up to the end they'll have their will,
And, if it could be, further still.
Jean de La Fontaine
Book 3, Fable 16