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The Man and the Wooden God

(Recueil 1, Livre 4, Fable 8)



A pagan kept a god of wood,

A sort that never hears,

Though furnished well with ears,

From which he hoped for wondrous good.

The idol cost the board of three;

So much enriched was he

With vows and offerings vain,

With bullocks garlanded and slain:

No idol ever had, as that,

A kitchen quite so full and fat.

But all this worship at his shrine

Brought not from this same block divine

Inheritance, or hidden mine,

Or luck at play, or any favour.

Nay, more, if any storm whatever

Brewed trouble here or there,

The man was sure to have his share,

And suffer in his purse,

Although the god fared none the worse.

At last, by sheer impatience bold,

The man a crowbar seizes,

His idol breaks in pieces,

And finds it richly stuffed with gold.

"How's this? Have I devoutly treated,"

Says he, "your godship, to be cheated?

Now leave my house, and go your way,

And search for altars where you may.

You're like those natures, dull and gross,

From, which comes nothing but by blows;

The more I gave, the less I got;

I'll now be rich, and you may rot."

Jean de La Fontaine

Book 4, Fable 8



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