Poems by Jean de La Fontaine

Sorted by title, showing title and first line

NO master sage, nor orator I know,
[1]
SICK, Alice grown, and fearing dire event,
Whilst one philosopher tells us that men are constantly the dupes of their own senses, another will swear that the senses never deceive. Both are right. Philosophy truly affirms that the senses will deceive so long as men are content to take upon tru
[1]
PAINTER in Paphos and Cythera famed
PRONE, on my couch I calmly slept
YOUR name with ev'ry pleasure here I place,
An Imitation Of Theocritus.[1]
[1]
A poor unfortunate, from day to day,
A poor wood-chopper, with his fagot load,
How I have always hated the opinions of the mob! To me, a mob seems profane, unjust, and rash, putting false construction on all things, and judging every matter by a mob-made standard.
How do I hate the tide of vulgar thought!
The goddess Discord, having made, on high,
Once upon a time there were two dogs, one named Lurcher and the other Cæsar. They were brothers; handsome, well-built, and plucky, and descended from dogs who were famous in their day. These two brothers, falling into the hands of different masters,
Lapluck and Caesar brothers were, descended
Lapluck and Cæsar brothers were, descended
'Tis thus, by crystal fount, my muse hath sung,
Here check we our career:
JOHN, as he came, so went away,
IN Eastern climes, by means considered new;
[1]
IF these gay tales give pleasure to the FAIR,
HANS CARVEL took, when weak and late in life;
IN Lombardy's fair land, in days of yore,
[1]
[1]
One day, as Jupiter seated on high looked down upon the world, he was incensed at the faults committed by mankind. "Let us," he said, "have some other occupants in the regions of the universe in place of these present inhabitants who importune and we
Said Jupiter, one day,
IN life oft ills from self-imprudence spring;
Everything to do with love is mystery. Cupid's arrows, his quiver, his torch, his boyhood: it is more than a day's work to exhaust this science. I make no pretence here of explaining everything. My object is merely to relate to you, in my own way, ho
[1]
A CERTAIN pious rector (John his name),
TO serve the shop as 'prentice was the lot;
[1]
Among the beasts a feud arose.
[1]
[1]
IN ev'ry age, at Naples, we are told,
Three sorts there are, as Malherbe[2] says,
WHEN Sister Jane, who had produced a child,
TO charms and philters, secret spells and prayers,
What God does is done well. Without going round the world to seek a proof of that, I can find one in the pumpkin.
Once there was a country bumpkin
God's works are good. This truth to prove
DAN CUPID, though the god of soft amour,
[1]
One of those dread evils which spread terror far and wide, and which Heaven, in its anger, ordains for the punishment of wickedness upon earth - a plague in fact; and so dire a one as to make rich in one day that grim ferryman who takes a coin from a
[1]
There is an ape in Paris to whom a wife was once given; and he, imitating many another husband, beat the poor creature to such an extent that she sighed all the breath out of her body and died.
There is an ape in Paris,
Three saints, for their salvation jealous,
Three saints, all equally zealous and anxious for their salvation, had the same ideal, although the means by which they strove towards it were different. But as all roads lead to Rome, these three were each content to choose their own path.
[1]
[1]
Along the road an ass and dog
[1]
[1]
[1]
An Ass in The Lion's skin arrayed
[1]
[1]
WHO knows the world will never feel surprise,
[1]
[1]
[1]
[1]
[1]
[1]
[1]
[1]
IF once in love, you'll soon invention find
A close-fist had his money hoarded
The first who saw the humpback'd camel
[1]
THOSE who in fables deal, bestow at ease
The cat and the fox, in the manner of good little saints, started out upon a pilgrimage. They were both humbugs, arch-hypocrites, two downright highwaymen, who for the expenses of their journey indemnified themselves by seeing who could devour the mo
The Cat and the Fox once took a walk together,
The cat and fox, when saints were all the rage,
[1]
[1]
A thrush that sang one rustic ode
[1]
[1]
[1]
[1]
A City Mouse, with ways polite,
A city rat, one night,
IF truth give pleasure, surely we should try;
[1]
WE'RE told, that once a cobbler, BLASE by name;
There was once a cobbler who was so light hearted that he sang from morning to night. It was wonderful to watch him at his work, and more wonderful still to hear his runs and trills. He was in fact happier than the Seven Sages.
A cobbler sang from morn till night;
[1]
[1]
[1]
That great hero-wanderer Ulysses had been with his companions driven hither and thither at the will of the winds for ten years, never knowing what their ultimate fate was to be. At length they disembarked upon a shore where Circe, the daughter of Apo
To Monseigneur The Duke De Bourgogne.[1]
THE husband's dire mishap, and silly maid,
WHEN Cupid with his dart, would hearts assail,
[1]
TWO lawyers to their cause so well adhered,
[1]
A COUNTRYMAN, one day, his calf had lost,
NEAR Rome, of yore, close to the Florence road,
SOME time ago from Rome, in smart array,
A fox once practised, 'tis believed,
A dead man going slowly, sadly,
A young country woman named Perrette set out one morning from her little dairy-farm with a pail of milk which she cleverly balanced upon her head over a pad or cushion. She hurried with sprightly steps to the market town, and so that she might be the
A pot of milk upon her cushion'd crown,
HE surely must be wrong who loving fears;
BY master Francis clearly 'tis expressed:
[1]
A dog and cat, messmates for life,
A foolish Dog, who carried in his jaw
Our eyes are not made proof against the fair,
Our eyes are not made proof against the fair,
[1]
Our hands are no more proof against gold than our eyes are proof against beauty. There are but few who guard their treasures with care enough.
'What have I done, I'd like to know,
"What have I done to be treated in this way? Mutilated by my own master! A nice state to be in! Dare I present myself before other dogs? O ye kings over the animals, or rather tyrants of them, would any creature do the same to you?"
An Ant who in a brook would drink
[1]
A dove came to a brook to drink,
An envoy of the Porte Sublime,
A CLOISTERED nun had a lover
[1]
[1]
[1]
[1]
[1]
WHEN William went from home (a trader styled):
[1]
[1]
HOWEVER exquisite we BEAUTY find,
Once in the olden times the elephant and the rhinoceros disputed as to which was the more important, and which should, therefore, have empire over the other animals. They decided to settle the point by battle in an enclosed field.
'Twixt elephant and beast of horned nose
[1]
IF there's a tale more common than the rest,
[1]
Thanks to Memory's daughters nine,
I RECOLLECT, that lately much I blamed,
[1]
[1]
[1]
[1]
[1]
A knight of powder-horn and shot
[1]
[1]
A fool, in town, did wisdom cry;
A woodcutter had broken or lost the handle of his hatchet and found it not easy to get it repaired at once. During the time, therefore, that it was out of use, the woods enjoyed a respite from further damage. At last the man came humbly and begged of
Reputations may be made by the merest chances, and yet reputations control the fashions. That is a little prologue that would fit the case of all sorts of people. Everywhere around one sees prejudices, scheming, and obtuseness; but little or no justi
'Tis oft from chance opinion takes its rise,
[1]
[1]
[1]
Rosy and ripe, and ready to box,
[1]
Old Father Fox, who was known to be mean,
[1]
Against a robber fox, a tree
Some young turkeys were lucky enough to find a tree which served them as a citadel against the assaults of a certain fox. He, one night, having made the round of the rampart and seen each turkey watching like a sentinel, exclaimed, "What! These peopl
[1]
[1]
[1]
[1]
[1]
The tenant of a bog,
There was a little Fog
[1]
[1]
A man who had a great fondness for gardening, being half a countryman and half town-bred, possessed in a certain village a fair-sized plot with a field attached, and all enclosed by a quickset hedge. Here sorrel and lettuce grew freely, as well as su
A lover of gardens, half cit and half clown,
I AM always inclined to suspect
A GASCON (being heard one day to swear,
A STURGEON, once, a glutton famed was led
Jupiter had a son, who, sensible of his lofty origin, showed always a god-like spirit. Childhood is not much concerned with loving; yet to the childhood of this young god, loving and wishing to be loved was the chief concern. In him, love and reason
[1]
A father once, whose sons were two,
[1]
The Grasshopper, singing
A Grasshopper gay
[1]
Never mock at other people's misfortune; for you cannot tell how soon you yourself may be unhappy. Æsop the sage has given us one or two examples of this truth, and I am going to tell you of a similar one now.
Beware how you deride
A field in common share
Said the Tortoise one day to the Hare:
[1]
[1]
The heifer, the goat, and their sister the sheep,
To this lesson in greed,
[1]
WHEN Venus and Hypocrisy combine,
A long-legged Heron, with long neck and beak,
[1]
[1]
[1]
Our destiny is frequently met in the very paths we take to avoid it.
On death we mortals often run,
[1]
[1]
A wolf who, fall'n on needy days,
[1]
[1]
WHEN Francis (named the first) o'er Frenchmen reign'd,
If worth, were not a thing more rare
A DEMON, blacker in his skin than heart,
FAMED Paris ne'er within its walls had got,
[1]
[1]
A CERTAIN husband who, from jealous fear,
[1]
A joker at a banker's table,
To His August Highness, Monseigneur The Prince De Conti.[2]
AS WILLIAM walking with his wife was seen,
[1]
[1]
There was once a mouse who lived in terrible fear of a cat that had lain in wait watching for her. She was in great anxiety to know what she could do to escape the threatening danger.
A mouse was once in mortal fear
[1]
The Lion once said to the Gnat: "You brat,
[1]
[1]
The lion, for his kingdom's sake,
To show to all your kindness, it behoves:
[1]
[1]
[1]
[1]
[1]
King Lion, thinking that he would govern better if he took a few lessons in moral philosophy, had a monkey brought to him one fine day who was a master of arts in the monkey tribe. The first lesson he gave was as follows: -
The lion, for his kingdom's sake,
A Lion, old, and impotent with gout,
[1]
[1]
The lioness had lost her young;
Mamma lioness had lost one of her cubs. Some hunter had made away with it, and the poor unfortunate mother roared out her wailings to such an extent that all the inhabitants of the forest were seriously disturbed. The spells of the night, its darknes
HOW weak is man! how changeable his mind!
THE key, which opes the chest of hoarded gold.
[1]
[1]
THE worst of ills, with jealousy compared,
SOME wit, handsome form and gen'rous mind;
A certain maid, as proud as fair,
A certain damsel of considerable pride made up her mind to choose a husband who should be young, well-built, and handsome; of agreeable manners and - note these two points - neither cold nor jealous. Moreover, she held it necessary that he should hav
Once there was a man who loved himself very much, and who permitted himself no rivals in that love. He thought his face and figure the handsomest in all the world. Anything in the shape of a mirror that could show him his own likeness he took care to
To M. The Duke De La Rochefoucauld.
[1]
[1]
[1]
A man of middle age, whose hair
Who does not run after Fortune?
Who joins not with his restless race
FLORENTINE we now design to show; -
[1]
[1]
Beware of saying, 'Lend an ear,'
A pine was by a woodman fell'd,
It is not always wise to say to your company, "Just listen to this joke" or "What do you think of this for a marvel?" for one can never be sure that the listeners will regard the matter in the same way that the teller does. Yet here is a case that ma
A Miller and Son once set out for the fair,
[1]
[1]
[1]
[1]
Bertrand was a monkey and Ratter was a cat. They shared the same dwelling and had the same master, and a pretty mischievous pair they were. It was impossible to intimidate them. If anything was missed or spoilt, no one thought of blaming the other pe
Jocko the Monkey, Mouser - his chum, the Cat,
Sly Bertrand and Ratto in company sat,
[1]
[1]
TO you, my friends, allow me to detail,
[1]
[1]
[1]
THE Lombard princes oft pervade my mind;
NO easy matter 'tis to hold,
[1]
To Monseigneur, The Duke De Bourgogne; Who Had Requested Of M. De La Fontaine A Fable Which Should Be Called "The Cat And The Mouse."
A young and inexperienced mouse
[1]
[1]
[1]
OFT have I seen in wedlock with surprise,
[1]
[1]
Two pilgrims on the sand espied
One day two pilgrims espied upon the sands of the shore an oyster that had been thrown up by the tide. They devoured it with their eyes whilst pointing at it with their fingers; but whose teeth should deal with it was a matter of dispute.
A FAMOUS painter, jealous of his wife;
[1]
[1]
[1]
ONCE on a time, as hist'ry's page relates,
[1]
SOLICITED I've been to give a tale,
THE simple Jane was sent to bring
[1]
In the old, vain, and fickle city of Athens, an orator,[2] seeing how the light-hearted citizens were blind to certain dangers which threatened the state, presented himself before the tribune, and there sought, by the very tyranny of his forceful elo
To M. De Barillon.[1]
There was a funeral. The dead body was progressing sadly towards its last resting place; and following rather gladly, was the priest who meant to bury it as soon as possible.
WHAT various ways in which a thing is told
DIVERTING in extreme there is a play,
ONCE more permit me, nuns, and this the last;
Discord has always reigned in the universe; of this our world furnishes a thousand different instances, for with us the sinister goddess has many subjects.
Enthroned by an eternal law,
In mansion deck'd with frieze and column,
DAME FORTUNE often loves a laugh to raise,
When I have noticed how man acts at times, and how, in a thousand ways, he comports himself just as the lower animals do, I have often said to myself that the lord of these lower orders has no fewer faults than his subjects.
[1]
An uncommonly small rat was watching an uncommonly big elephant and sneering at the slowness of his steps.
One's own importance to enhance,
A rat, of quite the smallest size,
[1]
The ancients had a legend which told of a certain rat who, weary of the anxieties of this world, retired to a cheese, therein to live in peace. Profound solitude reigned around the hermit. He worked so hard with his feet and his teeth that in a few d
The sage Levantines have a tale
Mr. Raven was perched upon a limb,
Perch'd on a lofty oak,
An Eagle swooped from out the sky,
[1]
[1]
NO city I to Rheims would e'er prefer:
I'M now disposed to give a pretty tale;
[1]
A youngster, who was doubly foolish and doubly a rogue - in which perhaps he savoured of the school he went to - was given, they say, to robbing a neighbour's garden of its fruit and flowers. This may have been because he was too young to know better
A boy who savour'd of his school, -
Once a sculptor who saw for sale a block of marble was so struck with its beauty that he could not resist the temptation to buy it. When it was in his studio he thought to himself, "Now what shall my chisel make of it? Shall it be a god, a table, or
A block of marble was so fine,
A certain austere philosopher of Scythia, wishing to follow a pleasant life, travelled through the land of the Greeks, and there he found in a quiet spot a sage, one such as Virgil has written of; a man the equal of kings, the peer almost of the gods
A Scythian philosopher austere,
[1]
BOCCACE alone is not my only source;
A shepherd, with a single dog,
[1]
[1]
[1]
The Fable Æsop tells is nearly this: -
[1]
EXAMPLE often proves of sov'reign use;
[1]
[1]
I LATELY vowed to leave the nuns alone,
[1]
[1]
[1]
[1]
[1]
Rejoicing on their tyrant's wedding-day,
By voyages in air,
[1]
Two thieves, pursuing their profession,
AS o'er their wine one day, three gossips sat,
With mighty rush and roar,
[1]
[1]
THE change of food enjoyment is to man;
[1]
Two asses tracking, t'other day,
[1]
[1]
[1]
Two lean and hungry mastiffs once espied
Two doves once cherish'd for each other
AXIOCHUS, a handsome youth of old,
[1]
[1]
Two goats, who self-emancipated, -
There were two heavily-laden mules making a journey together. One was carrying oats and the other bore a parcel of silver money collected from the people as a tax upon salt. This, we learn, was a tax which produced much money for the government, but
Two mules were bearing on their backs,
[1]
Do not take it ill if, in these fables, I mingle a little of the bold, daring, and fine-spun philosophy that is called new.
Address to Madame de la Sablière.[1]
Two rats in foraging fell on an egg, -
If goodness were always the comrade of beauty I would seek a wife to-morrow; but as divorce between these two is no new thing, and as there are so few lovely forms that enshrine lovely souls, thus uniting both one and the other delight, do not take i
[1]
[1]
From heaven, one day, did Jupiter proclaim,
[1]
[1]
[1]
When the Great Mogul held empire, there were certain little sprites who used to undertake all sorts of tasks helpful to mankind. They would do housework, stable-work, and even gardening. But if one interfered with them, all would be spoilt.
Within the Great Mogul's domains there are
[1]
A prowling wolf, whose shaggy skin
A fox once remarked to a wolf, "Dear friend, do you know that the utmost I can get for my meals is a tough old cock or perchance a lean hen or two. It is a diet of which I am thoroughly weary. You, on the other hand, feed much better than that, and w
Why does Æsop give to the fox the reputation of excelling in all tricks of cunning? I have sought for a reason, but cannot find one. Does not the wolf, when he has need to defend his life or take that of another, display as much knowingness as the fo
Why Aesop gave the palm of cunning,
Whence comes it that there liveth not
"Dear wolf," complain'd a hungry fox,
[1]
That innocence is not a shield,
[1]
[1]
[1]
[1]
[1]
[1]
[1]
[1]
[1]
[1]
A man that labour'd in the wood
A certain wood-chopper lost or broke
[1]
[1]
A shepherd who was deeply in love with a shepherdess was sitting one day by her side trying to find words to express the emotions her charms created in his breast.
For Mademoiselle De Sillery.[1]
[1]
I sing the heroes of old Aesop's line,
JOHN courts Perrette; but all in vain;

Home | Search | About this website | Contact | Privacy Policy