(Recueil 2, Livre 7, Fable 4)
The sage Levantines have a tale
About a rat that weary grew
Of all the cares which life assail,
And to a Holland cheese withdrew.
His solitude was there profound,
Extending through his world so round.
Our hermit lived on that within;
And soon his industry had been
With claws and teeth so good,
That in his novel hermitage,
He had in store, for wants of age,
Both house and livelihood.
What more could any rat desire?
He grew fair, fat, and round.
"God's blessings thus redound
To those who in His vows retire.
One day this personage devout,
Whose kindness none might doubt,
Was asked, by certain delegates
That came from Rat-United-States,
For some small aid, for they
To foreign parts were on their way,
For succour in the great cat war.
Ratopolis beleaguered sore,
Their whole republic drained and poor,
No morsel in their scrips they bore.
Slight boon they craved, of succour sure
In days at utmost three or four.
"My friends," the hermit said,
"To worldly things I'm dead.
How can a poor recluse
To such a mission be of use?
What can he do but pray
That God will aid it on its way?
And so, my friends, it is my prayer
That God will have you in his care."
His well-fed saintship said no more,
But in their faces shut the door.
What think you, reader, is the service
For which I use this niggard rat?
To paint a monk? No, but a dervise.
A monk, I think, however fat,
Must be more bountiful than that.
Jean de La Fontaine
Book 7, Fable 4