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The Ploughman And His Sons

(Recueil 1, Livre 5, Fable 9)



The farmer's patient care and toil

Are oftener wanting than the soil.

A wealthy ploughman drawing near his end,

Called in his sons apart from every friend,

And said, "When of your sire bereft,

The heritage our fathers left

Guard well, nor sell a single field.

A treasure in it is concealed:

The place, precisely, I don't know,

But industry will serve to show.

The harvest past, Time's forelock take,

And search with plough, and spade, and rake;

Turn over every inch of sod,

Nor leave unsearched a single clod."

The father died. The sons and not in vain

Turned over the soil, and over again;

That year their acres bore

More grain than ever before.

Though hidden money found they none,

Yet had their father wisely done,

To show by such a measure,

That toil itself is treasure.

Jean de La Fontaine

Book 5, Fable 9



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