HomeJean de La FontaineTHE TWO PARROTS, THE MONARCH, AND HIS SON

THE TWO PARROTS, THE MONARCH, AND HIS SON. Jean de La Fontaine

A Parrot and his child, ′tis said,
On royal dishes daily fed,
Having the affections won
Of a monarch and his son.
An equal age made either pair
Affection for each other bear.
The fathers gravely loved each other;
And their chicks, though wild and young,
At school or play, together clung,
As fondest brother unto brother.
That a parroquet thus by the son of a king
Should be loved, need we say, was a wonderful thing.
Now the fates had endowed this young heir to the throne
With a love for all creatures that he called his own;
And a Sparrow, by arts which caused prudes to despise her,
Had contrived how to make this great Monarch′s son prize
her.
And so it chanced, alack! one day.
That the rivals twain, at play,
Fell into a desperate rage;
And the youthful Parrot, stung
By some taunt the Sparrow flung,
Attacked, and sent her dying to her cage.
And then the Prince, with equal fury seized,
The slayer snatched, and in a death-grip squeezed.
Soon to the Parrot-father′s ears
The tidings came, and then the air
Was tortured by his wild despair;
But nought availed, or moans or tears,
For his child was lying still—
Inanimate, with voiceless bill.
Then from his woe the bird awoke,
And, with a cruel, double stroke,
Tore out the wretched Prince′s eyes.
This done, unto a pine he flies,
And on its topmost branch he knows
What joy from satiate vengeance flows.
Runs, then, the King to him, and cries,
"Come down, my friend, our tears are vain;
In love let′s bury woe and hate.
This wretchedness, ′tis very plain,
Comes from my son; or, rather, Fate
Had long since writ her stern decree,
Your son should die, and mine not see,
And that we parents twain should live disconsolate."
On this the father bird replied—
"Too great a wrong us twain divide;
Nor can I think he′ll smother hate,
Who heathenishly speaks of Fate.
But whether it be Providence
Or Fate that rules our lives, I′m sure
That I will never move from hence
Till tempted by some wood secure.
I know that in a kingly breast
Vengeance for a time may rest;
But kings are also like the gods,
And, soon or late, you feel their rods.
I can scarcely trust you far,
Though sincere you think you are;
But you are losing time below,
For with my will I′ll never go.
And trust me, hate, like love, is best
By absence lullabied to rest."

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