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THE WOLVES AND THE SHEEP. Jean de La Fontaine

The Wolves and The Sheep. Jean-Baptiste Oudry (1686-1755)

The Wolves and The Sheep. Jean-Baptiste Oudry (1686-1755)

After a thousand years of open war,
The Wolves signed treaty with their foes, the Sheep:
It seemed to be the best for both, by far;
For if the Wolves contrived their tithes to reap,
The shepherds liked a coat of tanned Wolf-skin.
No liberty for pasture had there been,
Neither for carnage; never was there rest!
None could enjoy what pleasures seemed the best;
Peace was concluded—hostages surrendered.
The Wolves their cubs, the Sheep their watch-dogs rendered;

Th′ exchange was made in form and order due,
Commissioners were there and not a few;
Some time elapsed, but soon the Wolf-cubs grew
To perfect Wolves, and with a taste for killing;
They chose a time the shepherds were away,
Choked all the fattest lambs that they could slay,
And bore them to the woods; no whit unwilling,
Their fellow-plotters waited for them there.
The dogs, who, full of trust, had thrown by care,
Were slain so quickly, that not one e′en knew
Who their assailants were that bit and slew.
War ′gainst the bad, a war that never ends;
Peace is a wholesome thing, good men are friends.
That I allow; yet peace is but a word, a senseless joke,
With wicked people, and such faithless folk.


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