Friday, October 29, 2010

La Fontaine: The Hare and the Partridge

Beware how you deride
The exiles from life's sunny side:
To you is little known
How soon their case may be your own.
On this, sage Aesop gives a tale or two,
As in my verses I propose to do.
A field in common share
A partridge and a hare,
And live in peaceful state,
Till, woeful to relate!
The hunters' mingled cry
Compels the hare to fly.
He hurries to his fort,
And spoils almost the sport
By faulting every hound
That yelps upon the ground.
At last his reeking heat
Betrays his snug retreat.
Old Tray, with philosophic nose,
Snuffs carefully, and grows
So certain, that he cries,
'The hare is here; bow wow!'
And veteran Ranger now,--
The dog that never lies,--
'The hare is gone,' replies.
Alas! poor, wretched hare,
Back comes he to his lair,
To meet destruction there!
The partridge, void of fear,
Begins her friend to jeer:--
'You bragg'd of being fleet;
How serve you, now, your feet?'
Scarce has she ceased to speak,--
The laugh yet in her beak,--
When comes her turn to die,
From which she could not fly.
She thought her wings, indeed,
Enough for every need;
But in her laugh and talk,
Forgot the cruel hawk!

Source: Wright's translation of La Fontaine, Fable 5.17.
0517 Perdix et Lepus

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