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The Raven Wishing To Imitate The Eagle

(Recueil 1, Livre 2, Fable 16)



The bird of Jove bore off a mutton,

A raven being witness.

That weaker bird, but equal glutton,

Not doubting of his fitness

To do the same with ease,

And bent his taste to please,

Took round the flock his sweep,

And marked among the sheep,

The one of fairest flesh and size,

A real sheep of sacrifice

A dainty titbit bestial,

Reserved for mouth celestial.

Our gormand, gloating round,

Cried, "Sheep, I wonder much

Who could have made you such.

You're far the fattest I have found;

I'll take you for my eating."

And on the creature bleating

He settled down. Now, sooth to say,

This sheep would weigh

More than a cheese;

And had a fleece

Much like that matting famous

Which graced the chin of Polyphemus;

So fast it clung to every claw,

It was not easy to withdraw.

The shepherd came, caught, caged, and, to their joy,

Gave croaker to his children for a toy.

Ill plays the pilferer the bigger thief;

One's self one ought to know; in brief,

Example is a dangerous lure;

Death strikes the gnat, where flies the wasp secure.

Jean de La Fontaine

Book 2, Fable 16



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