Sunday, November 14, 2010

La Fontaine: The Stag Seeing Himself in the Water

Beside a placid, crystal flood,
A stag admired the branching wood
That high upon his forehead stood,
But gave his Maker little thanks
For what he call'd his spindle shanks.
'What limbs are these for such a head!--
So mean and slim!' with grief he said.
'My glorious heads o'ertops
The branches of the copse;
My legs are my disgrace.'
As thus he talk'd, a bloodhound gave him chase.
To save his life he flew
Where forests thickest grew.
His horns,--pernicious ornament!--
Arresting him where'er he went,
Did unavailing render
What else, in such a strife,
Had saved his precious life--
His legs, as fleet as slender.
Obliged to yield, he cursed the gear
Which nature gave him every year.

Too much the beautiful we prize;
The useful, often, we despise:
Yet oft, as happen'd to the stag,
The former doth to ruin drag.

Source: Wright's translation of La Fontaine, Fable 6.9.
cervus et venator

Click here for a SLIDESHOW of all the colored Steinhowel images. If you look closely, you can see the pool of water where the stag had been admiring its reflection earlier.
M0161 Perry074

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