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The Wax-Candle

(Recueil 2, Livre 9, Fable 12)



From bowers of gods the bees came down to man.

On Mount Hymettus, first, they say,

They made their home, and stored away

The treasures which the zephyrs fan.

When men had robbed these daughters of the sky,

And left their palaces of nectar dry,

Or, as in French the thing's explained

When hives were of their honey drained

The spoilers "gan the wax to handle,

And fashioned from it many a candle.

Of these, one, seeing clay, made brick by fire,

Remain uninjured by the teeth of time,

Was kindled into great desire

For immortality sublime.

And so this new Empedocles

On the blazing pile one sees,

Self doomed by purest folly

To fate so melancholy.

The candle lacked philosophy:

All things are made diverse to be.

To wander from our destined tracks

There cannot be a vainer wish;

But this Empedocles of wax,

That melted in the chafing-dish,

Was truly not a greater fool

Than he of whom we read at school.

Jean de La Fontaine

Book 9, Fable 12



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