HomeJean de La FontaineTHE SCHOOL-BOY, THE PEDANT, AND THE NURSERY GARDENER

THE SCHOOL-BOY, THE PEDANT, AND THE NURSERY GARDENER. Jean de La Fontaine

A certain Boy, half-spoiled at school—
Your Pedants spoil lads, as a rule;
Ten times a fool, ten times a rogue
They′d made this mischievous young dog.—
A neighbour′s flowers and fruits he stole:
A man who struggled, heart and soul,
To raise Pomona′s choicest treasure:
In what was bad he had no pleasure.
Each season did its tribute bring,
And Flora′s gifts were his in spring.
One day he saw upon a tree
The boy climb up, and recklessly
Spoil half the buds, the promise dear
Of future plenty for the year;—
He even broke the boughs. At last
The Gardener to the school ran fast.
The Master came, with all his train
Of lads. "Of what does he complain?"
The orchard′s full of dreadful boys,
Worse than the first, in tricks and noise.
The Pedant, though he meant not to,
Made the first evil double grow.
The Pedant was so eloquent
About the sin and ill intent;
It was a lesson not forgot
By the whole school, an ill-taught lot;
He often cites the Mantuan bard;
At rhetoric toils hot and hard.
So long his speech, the wicked race
Had time enough to spoil the place.

I hate your misplaced eloquence,
Endless, ill-timed, and without sense;
And no fool I detest so bad
As an ill-taught and thievish lad,
Except his Master; yet the best
Of these is a bad neighbour, ′tis confessed.

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