The Boy And The Schoolmaster.

A poem by Jean de La Fontaine

[1]

Wise counsel is not always wise,
As this my tale exemplifies.
A boy, that frolick'd on the banks of Seine,
Fell in, and would have found a watery grave,
Had not that hand that planteth ne'er in vain
A willow planted there, his life to save.
While hanging by its branches as he might,
A certain sage preceptor came in sight;
To whom the urchin cried, 'Save, or I'm drown'd!'
The master, turning gravely at the sound,
Thought proper for a while to stand aloof,
And give the boy some seasonable reproof.
'You little wretch! this comes of foolish playing,
Commands and precepts disobeying.
A naughty rogue, no doubt, you are,
Who thus requite your parents' care.
Alas! their lot I pity much,
Whom fate condemns to watch o'er such.'
This having coolly said, and more,
He pull'd the drowning lad ashore.

This story hits more marks than you suppose.
All critics, pedants, men of endless prose, -
Three sorts, so richly bless'd with progeny,
The house is bless'd that doth not lodge any, -
May in it see themselves from head to toes.
No matter what the task,
Their precious tongues must teach;
Their help in need you ask,
You first must hear them preach.

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