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The Stag Seeing Himself In The Water

(Recueil 1, Livre 6, Fable 9)



Beside a placid, crystal flood,

A stag admired the branching wood

That high on his forehead stood,

But gave his Maker little thanks

For what he called his spindle shanks.

"What limbs are these for such a head!

So mean and slim!" with grief he said.

"My glorious heads overtops

The branches of the copse;

My legs are my disgrace."

As thus he talked, a bloodhound gave him chase.

To save his life he flew

Where forests thickest grew.

His horns, pernicious ornament!

Arresting him wherever he went,

Did unavailing render

What else, in such a strife,

Had saved his precious life

His legs, as fleet as slender.

Obliged to yield, he cursed the gear

Which nature gave him every year.

Too much the beautiful we prize;

The useful, often, we despise:

Yet oft, as happened to the stag,

The former does to ruin drag.

Jean de La Fontaine

Book 6, Fable 9



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