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The Hare and the Partridge

(Recueil 1, Livre 5, Fable 17)



Beware how you deride

The exiles from life's sunny side:

To you is little known

How soon their case may be your own.

On this, sage Aesop gives a tale or two,

As in my verses I propose to do.

A field in common share

A partridge and a hare,

And live in peaceful state,

Till, woeful to relate!

The hunters' mingled cry

Compels the hare to fly.

He hurries to his fort,

And spoils almost the sport

By faulting every hound

That yelps on the ground.

At last his reeking heat

Betrays his snug retreat.

Old Tray, with philosophic nose,

Snuffs carefully, and grows

So certain, that he cries,

"The hare is here; bow wow!"

And veteran Ranger now,

The dog that never lies,

"The hare is gone," replies.

Alas! poor, wretched hare,

Back comes he to his lair,

To meet destruction there!

The partridge, void of fear,

Begins her friend to jeer:

"You bragged of being fleet;

How serve you, now, your feet?"

Scarce has she ceased to speak,

The laugh yet in her beak,

When comes her turn to die,

From which she could not fly.

She thought her wings, indeed,

Enough for every need;

But in her laugh and talk,

Forgot the cruel hawk!

Jean de La Fontaine

Book 5, Fable 17



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