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The Lion Going To War

(Recueil 1, Livre 5, Fable 19)



The lion had an enterprise in hand;

Held a war council, sent his provost marshal,

And gave the animals a call impartial

Each, in his way, to serve his high command.

The elephant should carry on his back

The tools of war, the mighty public pack,

And fight in elephantine way and form;

The bear should hold himself prepared to storm;

The fox all secret stratagems should fix;

The monkey should amuse the foe by tricks.

"Dismiss," said one, "the blockhead asses,

And hares, too cowardly and fleet."

"No," said the king; "I use all classes;

Without their aid my force were incomplete.

The ass shall be our trumpeter, to scare

Our enemy. And then the nimble hare

Our royal bulletins shall homeward bear."

A monarch provident and wise

Will hold his subjects all of consequence,

And know in each what talent lies.

There's nothing useless to a man of sense.

Jean de La Fontaine

Book 5, Fable 19



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