HomeJean de La FontaineTHE HUSBAND, THE WIFE, AND THE ROBBER

THE HUSBAND, THE WIFE, AND THE ROBBER. Jean de La Fontaine

A Husband, loving very tenderly—
Most tenderly—his wife, was treated ill
By her;—her coldness caused him misery.
No look, no glance, no, not a friendly word,—
Not e′en a smile, such as she gave her bird,—
But cold looks, frowns, and peevish answers, still.

He did not Venus nor yet Hymen curse,
Nor blame his destiny and cruel lot,
Yet daily grew the evil worse and worse:
Although he loved her every hour the more.
It is so now, and has been so of yore.
In fact, he was a Husband, was he not?

One night, as he lay moaning in his sleep,
A Robber entered; and, struck dumb with fear,
The fretful Wife, too frightened e′en to weep,
Sprang to her Husband′s arms, and, sheltered there,
Defied all sorrow, trouble, danger near,
As her heart softened, and burst forth the tear.

"Friend Robber," said the Husband, "but for thee
I had not known this boundless happiness.
Take all I have,—I give thee liberty;
Take house and all, to prove my gratitude."
Thieves with much modesty are not endued;
The Robber took sufficient, I confess.

From this I argue that fear is so strong,
It conquers hatred, and love, too, sometimes.
Yet love has triumphed over passion′s throng:
Witness the lover, who his house burnt down,
So he might win Hope′s brightest laurel crown,
By rescuing her, the lady he′d loved long,
And so secure her heart. I like the story:
It strikes my fancy very pleasantly;
It is so Spanish in its tone. I glory
In love, so chivalrous and mettlesome,
And hold it grand (so will all times to come).
′Twas not by any means insanity.

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