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The Little Fish and the Fisher

(Recueil 1, Livre 5, Fable 3)



A little fish will grow,

If life be spared, a great;

But yet to let him go,

And for his growing wait,

May not be very wise,

As It's not sure your bait

Will catch him when of size.

On a river bank, a fisher took

A tiny troutling from his hook.

Said he, "'Twill serve to count, at least,

As the beginning of my feast;

And so I'll put it with the rest."

This little fish, thus caught,

His clemency besought.

"What will your honour do with me?

I'm not a mouthful, as you see.

Pray let me grow to be a trout,

And then come here and fish me out.

Some alderman, who likes things nice,

Will buy me then at any price.

But now, a hundred such you'll have to fish,

To make a single good-for-nothing dish."

"Well, well, be it so," replied the fisher,

"My little fish, who play the preacher,

The frying-pan must be your lot,

Although, no doubt, you like it not:

I fry the fry that can be got."

In some things, men of sense

Prefer the present to the future tense.

Jean de La Fontaine

Book 5, Fable 3



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