(Recueil 2, Livre 7, Fable 14)
Two cocks in peace were living, when
A war was kindled by a hen.
O love, you bane of Troy! It was thine
The blood of men and gods to shed
Enough to turn the Xanthus red
As old Port wine!
And long the battle doubtful stood:
(I mean the battle of the cocks;)
They gave each other fearful shocks:
The fame spread over the neighbourhood,
And gathered all the crested brood.
And Helens more than one, of plumage bright,
Led off the victor of that bloody fight.
The vanquished, drooping, fled,
Concealed his battered head,
And in a dark retreat
Bewailed his sad defeat.
His loss of glory and the prize
His rival now enjoyed before his eyes.
While this he every day beheld,
His hatred kindled, courage swelled:
He whet his beak, and flapped his wings,
And meditated dreadful things.
Waste rage! His rival flew on a roof
And crowed to give his victory proof.
A hawk this boasting heard:
Now perished all his pride,
As suddenly he died
Beneath that savage bird.
In consequence of this reverse,
The vanquished sallied from his hole,
And took the harem, master sole,
For moderate penance not the worse.
Imagine the congratulation,
The proud and stately leading,
Gallanting, coaxing, feeding,
Of wives almost a nation!
It's thus that Fortune loves to flee
The insolent by victory.
We should mistrust her when we beat,
Lest triumph lead us to defeat.
Jean de La Fontaine
Book 7, Fable 14