HomeJean de La FontaineTHE TWO FOWLS

THE TWO FOWLS. Jean de La Fontaine

Two Barn-door Fowls in peace spent all their life,
Until, at last, love, love lit up the strife:
War′s flames burst out. O Love! that ruined Troy,
′Twas thou who, by fierce quarrel, banished joy,
And stained with blood and crime the Xanthus′ tide!
Long, long the combat raged ′tween wrath and pride,
Until the rumour spread the whole town through,
And all the crested people ran to view.
Many a well-plumed Helen was the prize
Of him who conquered; but the vanquished flies—
Skulks to the darkest and most hidden place,

And mourns his love with a dejected face.
His rival, proud of recent victory,
Exulting crows, and claims the sovereignty.
The conquered rival, big with rage, dilates,
Sharpens his beak, and Fortune invocates,
Clapping his wings, while, maddened by defeat,
The other skulks and plans a safe retreat.
The victor on the roof is perched, to crow;
A vulture sees the bragger far below.
Adieu! love, pride, and glory, all are vain
Beneath the vulture′s beak;—so ends that reign.
The rival soon returns to make his court
To the fair dame, and victory to report,
As he had half-a-dozen other wives, to say the least,
You′ll guess the chattering at his wedding feast.

Fortune always rejoices in such blows:
Insolent conquerors, beware of those.
Still mistrust Fate, and dread security,
Even the evening after victory.

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