(Recueil 2, Livre 9, Fable 6)
A block of marble was so fine,
To buy it did a sculptor hasten.
"What shall my chisel, now It's mine
A god, a table, or a basin?"
"A god," said he, "the thing shall be;
I'll arm it, too, with thunder.
Let people quake, and bow the knee
With reverential wonder."
So well the cunning artist wrought
All things within a mortal's reach,
That soon the marble wanted nothing
Of being Jupiter, but speech.
Indeed, the man whose skill did make
Had scarcely laid his chisel down,
Before himself began to quake,
And fear his manufacture's frown.
And even this excess of faith
The poet once scarce fell behind,
The hatred fearing, and the wrath,
Of gods the product of his mind.
This trait we see in infancy
Between the baby and its doll,
Of wax or china, it may be
A pocket stuffed, or folded shawl.
Imagination rules the heart:
And here we find the fountain head
From whence the pagan errors start,
That over the teeming nations spread.
With violent and flaming zeal,
Each takes his own chimera's part;
Pygmalion does a passion feel
For Venus chiseled by his art.
All men, as far as in them lies,
Create realities of dreams.
To truth our nature proves but ice;
To falsehood, fire it seems.
Jean de La Fontaine