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The Sick Stag

(Recueil 3, Livre 12, Fable 6)



A stag, where stags abounded,

Fell sick, and was surrounded

Forthwith by comrades kind,

All pressing to assist,

Or see, their friend, at least,

And ease his anxious mind

An irksome multitude.

"Ah, sirs!" the sick was fain to cry,

"Pray leave me here to die,

As others do, in solitude.

Pray, let your kind attentions cease,

Till death my spirit shall release."

But comforters are not so sent:

On duty sad full long intent,

When Heaven pleased, they went:

But not without a friendly glass;

That is to say, they cropped the grass

And leaves which in that quarter grew,

From which the sick his pittance drew.

By kindness thus compelled to fast,

He died for want of food at last.

The men take off no trifling dole

Who heal the body, or the soul.

Alas the times! do what we will,

They have their payment, cure or kill.

Jean de La Fontaine

Book 12, Fable 6



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