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The Lioness and the Bear

(Recueil 2, Livre 10, Fable 12)

 

 

The lioness had lost her young;

A hunter stole it from the vale;

The forests and the mountains rung

Responsive to her hideous wail.

Nor night, nor charms of sweet repose,

Could still the loud lament that rose

From that grim forest queen.

No animal, as you might think,

With such a noise could sleep a wink.

A bear presumed to intervene.

"One word, sweet friend," said she,

"And that is all, from me.

The young that through your teeth have passed,

In file unbroken by a fast,

Had they nor dam nor sire?"

"They had them both." "Then I desire,

Since all their deaths caused no such grievous riot,

While mothers died of grief beneath your fiat,

To know why you yourself cannot be quiet?"

"I quiet - a wretch bereaved!

My only son! — such anguish be relieved!

No, never! All for me below

Is but a life of tears and woe!"

"But say, why doom yourself to sorrow so?"

"Alas! It's Destiny that is my foe."

Such language, since the mortal fall,

Has fallen from the lips of all.

You human wretches, give your heed;

For your complaints there's little need.

Let him who thinks his own the hardest case,

Some widowed, childless Hecuba behold,

Herself to toil and shame of slavery sold,

And he will own the wealth of heavenly grace.

Jean de La Fontaine

Book 10, Fable 12

 

 

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