HomeJean de La FontaineTHE MIDDLE-AGED MAN AND THE TWO WIDOWS

THE MIDDLE-AGED MAN AND THE TWO WIDOWS. Jean de La Fontaine

A Man of middle age,
Fast getting grey,
Thought it would be but sage
To fix the marriage day.
He had in stocks,
And under locks,
Money enough to clear his way.
Such folks can pick and choose; all tried to please
The moneyed man; but he, quite at his ease,
Showed no great hurry,
Fuss, nor scurry.
"Courting," he said, "was no child′s play."
Two widows in his heart had shares—
One young; the other, rather past her prime,
By careful art repairs
What has been carried off by Time.
The merry widows did their best
To flirt and coax, and laugh and jest;
Arranged, with much of bantering glee,
His hair, and curled it playfully.
The eldest, with a wily theft,
Plucked one by one the dark hairs left.
The younger, also plundering in her sport,
Snipped out the grey hair, every bit.
Both worked so hard at either sort,
They left him bald—that was the end of it.
"A thousand thanks, fair ladies," said the man;
"You′ve plucked me smooth enough;
Yet more of gain than loss, so quantum suff.,
For marriage now is not at all my plan.
She whom I would have taken t′other day
To enroll in Hymen′s ranks,
Had but the wish to make me go her way,
And not my own;
A head that′s bald must live alone:
For this good lesson, ladies, many thanks."

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