The Woman Drowned.

A poem by Jean de La Fontaine


I hate that saying, old and savage,
"'Tis nothing but a woman drowning."
That's much, I say. What grief more keen should have edge
Than loss of her, of all our joys the crowning?
Thus much suggests the fable I am borrowing.
A woman perish'd in the water,
Where, anxiously, and sorrowing,
Her husband sought her,
To ease the grief he could not cure,
By honour'd rites of sepulture.
It chanced that near the fatal spot,
Along the stream which had
Produced a death so sad,
There walk'd some men that knew it not.
The husband ask'd if they had seen
His wife, or aught that hers had been.
One promptly answer'd, 'No!
But search the stream below:
It must nave borne her in its flow.'
'No,' said another; 'search above.
In that direction
She would have floated, by the love
Of contradiction.'
This joke was truly out of season; -
I don't propose to weigh its reason.
But whether such propensity
The sex's fault may be,
Or not, one thing is very sure,
Its own propensities endure.
Up to the end they'll have their will,
And, if it could be, further still.

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