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The Fox and the Goat

(Recueil 1, Livre 3, Fable 5)



A fox once journeyed, and for company

A certain bearded, horned goat had he;

Which goat no further than his nose could see.

The fox was deeply versed in trickery.

These travellers did thirst compel

To seek the bottom of a well.

There, having drunk enough for two,

Says fox, "My friend, what shall we do?

It's time that we were thinking

Of something else than drinking.

Raise you your feet on the wall,

And stick your horns up straight and tall;

Then up your back I'll climb with ease,

And draw you after, if you please."

"Yes, by my beard," the other said,

"It's just the thing. I like a head

Well stocked with sense, like thine.

Had it been left to mine,

I do confess,

I never should have thought of this."

So Renard clambered out,

And, leaving there the goat,

Discharged his obligations

By preaching thus on patience:

"Had Heaven put sense your head within,

To match the beard on your chin,

You would have thought a bit,

Before descending such a pit.

I'm out of it; good bye:

With prudent effort try

Yourself to extricate.

For me, affairs of state

Permit me not to wait."

Whatever way you wend,

Consider well the end.

Jean de La Fontaine

Book 3, Fable 5



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