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The Wolves and the Sheep

(Recueil 1, Livre 3, Fable 13)

 

 

By gone a thousand years of war,

The wearers of the fleece

And wolves at last made peace;

Which both appeared the better for;

For if the wolves had now and then

Eat up a straggling ewe or wether,

As often had the shepherd men

Turned wolf-skins into leather.

Fear always spoiled the verdant herbage,

And so it did the bloody carnage.

Hence peace was sweet; and, lest it should be riven,

On both sides hostages were given.

The sheep, as by the terms arranged,

For pups of wolves their dogs exchanged;

Which being done above suspicion,

Confirmed and sealed by high commission,

What time the pups were fully grown,

And felt an appetite for prey,

And saw the sheepfold left alone,

The shepherds all away,

They seized the fattest lambs they could,

And, choking, dragged them to the wood;

Of which, by secret means apprised,

Their sires, as is surmised,

Fell on the hostage guardians of the sheep,

And slew them all asleep.

So quick the deed of perfidy was done,

There fled to tell the tale not one!

From which we may conclude

That peace with villains will be rued.

Peace in itself, it's true,

May be a good for you;

But It's an evil, nathless,

When enemies are faithless.

Jean de La Fontaine

Book 3, Fable 13

 

 

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