The Stag Seeing Himself In The Water.

A poem by Jean de La Fontaine


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.

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