HomeJean de La FontaineThe Oak and the Reed

THE OAK AND THE REED. Jean de La Fontaine

The Oak and the Reed. Jules Coignet, 1831

The Oak and the Reed. Jules Coignet, 1831

The Oak said one day to a river Reed,
"You have a right with Nature to fall out.
Even a wren for you′s a weight indeed;
The slightest breeze that wanders round about
Makes you first bow, then bend;
While my proud forehead, like an Alp, braves all,
Whether the sunshine or the tempest fall—
A gale to you to me a zephyr is.
Come near my shelter: you′ll escape from this;
You′ll suffer less, and everything will mend.
I′ll keep you warm
From every storm;
And yet you foolish creatures needs must go,
And on the frontiers of old Boreas grow.
Nature to you has been, I think, unjust."
"Your sympathy," replied the Reed, "is kind,
And to my mind
Your heart is good; and yet dismiss your thought.
For us, no more than you, the winds are fraught
With danger, for I bend, but do not break.
As yet, a stout resistance you can make,
And never stoop your back, my friend;
But wait a bit, and let us see the end."
Black, furious, raging, swelling as he spoke,
The fiercest wind that ever yet had broke
From the North′s caverns bellowed through the sky.
The Oak held firm, the Reed bent quietly down.
The wind blew faster, and more furiously,
Then rooted up the tree that with its head
Had touched the high clouds in its majesty,
And stretched far downwards to the realms of dead.

THE OAK AND THE REED. Achille Etna Michallon, 1816

THE OAK AND THE REED. Achille Etna Michallon, 1816


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