Wednesday, October 27, 2010

La Fontaine: The Fox with his Tail Cut Off

A cunning old fox, of plundering habits,
Great crauncher of fowls, great catcher of rabbits,
Whom none of his sort had caught in a nap,
Was finally caught in somebody's trap.
By luck he escaped, not wholly and hale,
For the price of his luck was the loss of his tail.
Escaped in this way, to save his disgrace,
He thought to get others in similar case.
One day that the foxes in council were met,
'Why wear we,' said he, 'this cumbering weight,
Which sweeps in the dirt wherever it goes?
Pray tell me its use, if any one knows.
If the council will take my advice,
We shall dock off our tails in a trice.'
'Your advice may be good,' said one on the ground;
'But, ere I reply, pray turn yourself round.'
Whereat such a shout from the council was heard,
Poor bob-tail, confounded, could say not a word.
To urge the reform would have wasted his breath.
Long tails were the mode till the day of his death.

Source: Wright's translation of La Fontaine, Fable 5.5.
Vulpes et Cauda Detruncata

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