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JUPITER AND THE FARMER. Jean de La Fontaine

JUPITER AND THE FARMER. Fable by Jean de La Fontaine. Illustration by Grandville

JUPITER AND THE FARMER. Fable by Jean de La Fontaine. Illustration by Grandville

Jupiter had a farm to give away;
Mercury told the world the chosen day.
The people came to offer, rough they were,
And listened grimly. One said it was bare
And stubborn land; another half agreed.
While they thus haggled, churlishly indeed,
One bolder than the rest—but wiser?—no—
Consents to take it, if Jove only grant
The climate that he wishes; he will plant,
And sow, and reap, if but the heat and cold
May come and go, like slaves, as they are told.
The seasons wait his nod: the wet and dry
Obey his bidding from a servile sky.
Jove grants his wish—our foolish fellow sways
His sceptre bravely—rains and blows for days;
Makes his own climate just as he may please:
His neighbours, no more than Antipodes,
Share his good weather. Still as well they fare;
Their barns are teeming full; but his art bare.
The next year quite a change; another way
He sets the seasons, watching day by day:
Still, there′s some flaw—his crops are thin and poor,
While loaded waggons crowd his neighbour′s door.
What can he do?—he falls before Jove′s throne,
Confesses all his folly: he alone
Has been to blame. Jove, with much gentleness,
Like a mild master, pities his distress.
It is agreed that Providence is kind,
And knows far better than a human mind
What′s good for us, and calmly bids us do it:
We seldom see our way till we are through it.

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