(Recueil 1, Livre 2, Fable 14)
Once in his bed deep mused the hare,
(What else but muse could he do there?)
And soon by gloom was much afflicted;
To gloom the creature's much addicted.
"Alas! these constitutions nervous,"
He cried, "how wretchedly they serve us!
We timid people, by their action,
Can't eat nor sleep with satisfaction;
We can't enjoy a pleasure single,
But with some misery it must mingle.
Myself, for one, am forced by cursed fear
To sleep with open eye as well as ear.
"Correct yourself," says some adviser.
Grows fear, by such advice, the wiser?
Indeed, I well enough descry
That men have fear, as well as I."
With such revolving thoughts our hare
Kept watch in soul consuming care.
A passing shade, or leaflet's quiver
Would give his blood a boiling fever.
Full soon, his melancholy soul
Aroused from dreaming doze
By noise too slight for foes,
He scuds in haste to reach his hole.
He passed a pond; and from its border bogs,
Plunge after plunge, in leaped the timid frogs,
"Aha! I do to them, I see,"
He cried, "what others do to me.
The sight of even me, a hare,
Suffices some, I find, to scare.
And here, the terror of my tramp
Has put to rout, it seems, a camp.
The trembling fools! they take me for
The very thunderbolt of war!
I see, the coward never skulked a foe
That might not scare a coward still below."
Jean de La Fontaine
Book 2, Fable 14