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THE MADMAN WHO SOLD WISDOM. Jean de La Fontaine

Never get in a Madman′s reach:
Ye wise men, listen to my speech.
It′s my advice—or right or wrong—
To flee from such crazed folk headlong;
In courts you often see them stalk,
The prince smiles at them in his walk;
To rogue and fool, and the buffoon,
They serve for jokes from morn to noon.—
A Madman once, in market-place,
Said he sold Wisdom. The dolts race
To buy the treasure. What fun is his,
Watching the silly people′s phizzes,
When for their money they obtain
A blow that gives their red ears pain,
And forty yards of common thread.
Some were indignant; they, instead
Of pity, only mockery got.
The best way was to bear one′s lot,
And walk off laughing; or else go
Home, and not talk about the blow.
To ask the meaning of all this
Was to secure a wise man′s hiss;
There is no reason in such folks.
′Tis chance begets such crazy jokes,
And yet the thread it was mysterious.
One of the dupes who took it serious
Went to consult a sage he knew,
Who replied thus at the first view:—
"These hieroglyphics I can see;
People of sense infallibly
Between themselves and madmen place
At least some fathoms of this lace;
Or else they will a buffet gain,
And never much redress obtain.
You are not gulled; a crazy fool
Has sold you wisdom from his school."

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