The Raven Wishing To Imitate The Eagle.

A poem by Jean de La Fontaine

[1]

The bird of Jove bore off a mutton,
A raven being witness.
That weaker bird, but equal glutton,
Not doubting of his fitness
To do the same with ease,
And bent his taste to please,
Took round the flock his sweep,
And mark'd among the sheep,
The one of fairest flesh and size,
A real sheep of sacrifice -
A dainty titbit bestial,
Reserved for mouth celestial.
Our gormand, gloating round,
Cried, 'Sheep, I wonder much
Who could have made you such.
You're far the fattest I have found;
I'll take you for my eating.'
And on the creature bleating
He settled down. Now, sooth to say,
This sheep would weigh
More than a cheese;
And had a fleece
Much like that matting famous
Which graced the chin of Polyphemus;[2]
So fast it clung to every claw,
It was not easy to withdraw.
The shepherd came, caught, caged, and, to their joy,
Gave croaker to his children for a toy.

Ill plays the pilferer the bigger thief;
One's self one ought to know; - in brief,
Example is a dangerous lure;
Death strikes the gnat, where flies the wasp secure.

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