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THE MISER WHO LOST HIS TREASURE. Jean de La Fontaine

It′s use that constitutes possession wholely;
I ask those people who′ve a passion
For heaping gold on gold, and saving solely,
How they excel the poorest man in any fashion?
Diogenes is quite as rich as they.
True Misers live like beggars, people say;
The man with hidden treasure Æsop drew
Is an example of the thing I mean.
In the next life he might be happy, true;
But very little joy in this he knew;

By gold the Miser was so little blessed.
Not its possessor, but by it possessed;
He buried it a fathom underground;
His heart was with it; his delight
To ruminate upon it day and night;
A victim to the altar ever bound.
He seemed so poor, yet not one hour forgot
The golden grave, the consecrated spot:
Whether he goes or comes, or eats or drinks,
Of gold, and gold alone, the Miser thinks.
At last a ditcher marks his frequent walks,
And muttering talks,
Scents out the place, and clears the whole,
Unseen by any spies.
On one fine day the Miser came, his soul
Glowing with joy; he found the empty nest;
Bursts into tears, and sobs, and cries,
He frets, and tears his thin grey hair;
He′s lost what he had loved the best.
A startled peasant passing there
Inquires the reason of his sighs.
"My gold! my gold! they′ve stolen all."
"Your treasure! what was it, and where?"
"Why, buried underneath this stone."
(A moan!)
"Why, man, is this a time of war?
Why should you bring your gold so far?
Had you not better much have let
The wealth lie in a cabinet,
Where you could find it any hour
In your own power?"
"What! every hour? a wise man knows
Gold comes but slowly, quickly goes;
I never touched it." "Gracious me!"
Replied the other, "why, then, be
So wretched? for if you say true,
You never touched it, plain the case;
Put back that stone upon the place,
′Twill be the very same to you."


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