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THE SERPENT AND THE FILE. Jean de La Fontaine

A Serpent once and Watchmaker were neighbours
(Unpleasant neighbour for a working man);
The Snake came creeping in among his labours,
Seeking for food on the felonious plan;
But all the broth he found was but a File,
And that he gnawed in vain—the steel was tough.
The tool said, with a calm contemptuous smile,
"Poor and mistaken thing! that′s quantum suff.
You lose your time, you shallow sneak, you do,
You′ll never bite a farthing′s worth off me,
Though you break all your teeth: I tell you true,
I fear alone Time′s great voracity."

This is for critics—all the baser herd.
Who, restless, gnaw at everything they find.
Bah! you waste time, you do, upon my word;
Don′t think your teeth can pierce the thinnest rind:
To injure noble works you try, and try, but can′t,
To you they′re diamond, steel, and adamant.


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