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THE DRAGON WITH MANY HEADS, AND THE DRAGON WITH MANY TAILS. Jean de La Fontaine

THE DRAGON WITH MANY HEADS, AND THE DRAGON WITH MANY TAILS. Fable by Jean de La Fontaine. Illustration by Grandville

THE DRAGON WITH MANY HEADS, AND THE DRAGON WITH MANY TAILS. Fable by Jean de La Fontaine. Illustration by Grandville

An Envoy of the Grand Signor
(I can′t say more)
One day, before the Emperor′s court,
Vaunted, as some historians report,
That his royal master had a force
Outnumbering all the foot and horse
The Kaiser could bring to the war.
Then spoke a choleric attendant:
"Our Prince has more than one dependant
That keeps an army at his own expense."
The Pasha (man of sense),
Replied: "By rumour I′m aware
What troops the great electors spare,
And that reminds me, I am glad,
Of an adventure I once had,
Strange, and yet true.
I′ll tell it you.

Once through a hedge the hundred heads I saw
Of a huge Hydra show.
My blood, turned ice, refused to flow:
And yet I felt that neither fang nor claw
Could more than scare me—for no head came near.
There was no room. I cast off fear.
While musing on this sight,
Another Dragon came to light.
Only one head this time;
But tails too many to count up in rhyme.
The fit again came on,
Worse than the one just gone.
The head creeps first, then follows tail by tail;
Nothing can stop their road, nor yet assail;
One clears the way for all the minor powers:
The first′s your Emperor′s host, the second ours."

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