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The Wolf Turned Shepherd

(Recueil 1, Livre 3, Fable 3)



A wolf, whose gettings from the flocks

Began to be but few,

Bethought himself to play the fox

In character quite new.

A shepherd's hat and coat he took,

A cudgel for a crook,

Nor even the pipe forgot:

And more to seem what he was not,

Himself on his hat he wrote,

"I'm Willie, shepherd of these sheep."

His person thus complete,

His crook in upraised feet,

The impostor Willie stole on the keep.

The real Willie, on the grass asleep,

Slept there, indeed, profoundly,

His dog and pipe slept, also soundly;

His drowsy sheep around lay.

As for the greatest number,

Much blessed the hypocrite their slumber,

And hoped to drive away the flock,

Could he the shepherd's voice but mock.

He thought undoubtedly he could.

He tried: the tone in which he spoke,

Loud echoing from the wood,

The plot and slumber broke;

Sheep, dog, and man awoke.

The wolf, in sorry plight,

In hampering coat bedight,

Could neither run nor fight.

There's always leakage of deceit

Which makes it never safe to cheat.

Whoever is a wolf had better

Keep clear of hypocritic fetter.

Jean de La Fontaine

Book 3, Fable 3



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