Tuesday, October 5, 2010

La Fontaine: The Sun and the Frogs

Long from the monarch of the stars
The daughters of the mud received
Support and aid; nor dearth nor wars,
Meanwhile, their teeming nation grieved.
They spread their empire far and wide
Through every marsh, by every tide.
The queens of swamps--I mean no more
Than simply frogs (great names are cheap)--
Caball'd together on the shore,
And cursed their patron from the deep,
And came to be a perfect bore.
Pride, rashness, and ingratitude,
The progeny of fortune good,
Soon brought them to a bitter cry,--
The end of sleep for earth and sky.
Their clamours, if they did not craze,
Would truly seem enough to raise
All living things to mutiny
Against the power of Nature's eye.
The sun, according to their croak,
Was turning all the world to smoke.
It now behoved to take alarm,
And promptly powerful troops to arm.
Forthwith in haste they sent
Their croaking embassies;
To all their states they went,
And all their colonies.
To hear them talk, the all
That rides upon this whirling ball,
Of men and things, was left at stake
Upon the mud that skirts a lake!
The same complaint, in fens and bogs,
Still ever strains their lungs;
And yet these much-complaining frogs
Had better hold their tongues;
For, should the sun in anger rise,
And hurl his vengeance from the skies,
That kingless, half-aquatic crew
Their impudence would sorely rue.

Source: Wright's translation of La Fontaine, Fable 12.24.
Ranae et Sol

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