La Fontaine composed the most entertaining Fables ever written in any language, and made them a model of literary perfection; yet our translators and compilers have somehow neglected him. His Fables are lyric poetry of a high order, and this alone has doubtless been a barrier to a better acquaintance with his work when transferred to our own tongue. Done into prose, the Fables are no longer La Fontaine, but take their place with the many respectable, dull translations which English readers try to admire because they are classics--though the soul that made them such has been separated from the dead body.
Fell off the bank. He tried
To swim, and felt his courage sink--
This ocean seemed so wide.
But for a dove who flew above
He would have drowned and died.
The friendly Dove within her beak
A bridge of grass-stem bore:
On this the Ant, though worn and weak.
Contrived to reach the shore
Said he: "The tact of this kind act
I'll cherish evermore."
Behold! A barefoot wretch went by
With slingshot in his hand.
Said he: "You'll make a pigeon pie
That will be kind of grand."
He meant to murder the gentle bird--
Who did not understand.
The Ant then stung him on the heel
(So quick to see the sling).
He turned his head, and missed a meal:
The pigeon pie took wing.
And so the Dove lived on to love--
Beloved by everything.
The Fox And The Grapes.
Rosy and ripe, and ready to box,
The grapes hang high o'er the hungry Fox.--
He pricks up his ears, and his eye he cocks.
Ripe and rosy, yet so hig