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The Two Parrots, the King, And His Son

(Recueil 2, Livre 10, Fable 11)

 

 

Two parrots lived, a sire and son,

On roastings from a royal fire.

Two demigods, a son and sire,

These parrots pensioned for their fun.

Time tied the knot of love sincere:

The sires grew to each other dear;

The sons, in spite of their frivolity,

Grew comrades boon, in joke and jollity;

At mess they mated, hot or cool;

Were fellow scholars at a school.

Which did the bird no little honour, since

The boy, by king begotten, was a prince.

By nature fond of birds, the prince, too, petted

A sparrow, which delightfully coquetted.

These rivals, both of unripe feather,

One day were frolicking together:

As often befalls such little folks,

A quarrel followed from their jokes.

The sparrow, quite uncircumspect,

Was by the parrot sadly pecked;

With drooping wing and bloody head,

His master picked him up for dead,

And, being quite too wroth to bear it,

In heat of passion killed his parrot.

When this sad piece of news he heard,

Distracted was the parent bird.

His piercing cries bespoke his pain;

But cries and tears were all in vain.

The talking bird had left the shore;

In short, he, talking now no more,

Caused such a rage to seize his sire,

That, lighting on the prince in ire,

He put out both his eyes,

And fled for safety as was wise.

The bird a pine for refuge chose,

And to its lofty summit rose;

There, in the bosom of the skies,

Enjoyed his vengeance sweet,

And scorned the wrath beneath his feet.

Out ran the king, and cried, in soothing tone,

"Return, dear friend; what serves it to bemoan?

Hate, vengeance, mourning, let us both omit.

For me, it is no more than fit

To own, though with an aching heart,

The wrong is wholly on our part.

The aggressor truly was my son

My son? no; but by Fate the deed was done.

Before birth of Time, stern Destiny

Had written down the sad decree,

That by this sad calamity

Your child should cease to live, and mine to see.

"Let both, then, cease to mourn;

And you, back to your cage return."

"Sire king," replied the bird,

"Think you that, after such a deed,

I ought to trust your word?

You speak of Fate; by such a heathen creed

Hope you that I shall be enticed to bleed?

But whether Fate or Providence divine

Gives law to things below,

It's writ on high, that on this waving pine,

Or where wild forests grow,

My days I finish, safely, far

From that which ought your love to mar,

And turn it all to hate.

Revenge, I know, a kingly morsel,

And ever has been part and parcel

Of this your godlike state.

You would forget the cause of grief;

Suppose I grant you my belief,

It's better still to make it true,

By keeping out of sight of you.

Sire king, my friend, no longer wait

For friendship to be healed;

But absence is the cure of hate,

As It's from love the shield."

Jean de La Fontaine

Book 10, Fable 11

 

 

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