The Two Cocks.

A poem by Jean de La Fontaine

[1]

Two cocks in peace were living, when
A war was kindled by a hen.
O love, thou bane of Troy! 'twas thine
The blood of men and gods to shed
Enough to turn the Xanthus red
As old Port wine!
And long the battle doubtful stood:
(I mean the battle of the cocks;)
They gave each other fearful shocks:
The fame spread o'er the neighbourhood,
And gather'd all the crested brood.
And Helens more than one, of plumage bright,
Led off the victor of that bloody fight.
The vanquish'd, drooping, fled,
Conceal'd his batter'd head,
And in a dark retreat
Bewail'd his sad defeat.
His loss of glory and the prize
His rival now enjoy'd before his eyes.
While this he every day beheld,
His hatred kindled, courage swell'd:
He whet his beak, and flapp'd his wings,
And meditated dreadful things.
Waste rage! His rival flew upon a roof
And crow'd to give his victory proof. -
A hawk this boasting heard:
Now perish'd all his pride,
As suddenly he died
Beneath that savage bird.
In consequence of this reverse,
The vanquish'd sallied from his hole,
And took the harem, master sole,
For moderate penance not the worse.
Imagine the congratulation,
The proud and stately leading,
Gallanting, coaxing, feeding,
Of wives almost a nation!
'Tis thus that Fortune loves to flee
The insolent by victory.
We should mistrust her when we beat,
Lest triumph lead us to defeat.

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