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The Ass and the Little Dog

(Recueil 1, Livre 4, Fable 5)



One's native talent from its course

Cannot be turned aside by force;

But poorly apes the country clown

The polished manners of the town.

Their Maker chooses but a few

With power of pleasing to imbue;

Where wisely leave it we, the mass,

Unlike a certain fabled ass,

That thought to gain his master's blessing

By jumping on him and caressing.

"What!" said the donkey in his heart;

"Ought it to be that puppy's part

To lead his useless life

In full companionship

With master and his wife,

While I must bear the whip?

What does the cur a kiss to draw?

Forsooth, he only gives his paw!

If that is all there needs to please,

I'll do the thing myself, with ease."

Possessed with this bright notion,

His master sitting on his chair,

At leisure in the open air,

He ambled up, with awkward motion,

And put his talents to the proof;

Upraised his bruised and battered hoof,

And, with an amiable mien,

His master patted on the chin,

The action gracing with a word

The fondest bray that ever was heard!

O, such caressing was there ever?

Or melody with such a quaver?

"Ho! Martin! here! a club, a club bring!"

Out cried the master, sore offended.

So Martin gave the ass a drubbing,

And so the comedy was ended.

Jean de La Fontaine

Book 4, Fable 5



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