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THE MAIDEN. Jean de La Fontaine

THE MAIDEN. Fable by Jean de La Fontaine. Illustration by Grandville

THE MAIDEN. Fable by Jean de La Fontaine. Illustration by Grandville

A certain Maiden, somewhat proud,
A husband sought from out the crowd
Of suitors. Handsome he′s to be, and bold,
Agreeable, young, and neither cold
Nor jealous. Wealth she wished, and birth,
Talent; in fact, all things on earth.
Who could expect to have them all?
Fortune was kind and helped to call
Lovers of rank and eminence.
She thought them mean and wanting sense—
"What! I accept such people? Pish!

You′re doting, if that is your wish.
Look at the paltry creatures. See,
Mark how they grin, and ogle me."
One′s vulgar; he who dares propose
Has, goodness gracious! such a nose;
This is too short, and that too tall,
Something distinctly wrong in all.
Affected girls are hard to please,
Though lovers sue them on their knees.
After the best were spurned, there came
The humbler people of less name.
She mocked them, too, unmercifully—
"To greet such men is good of me;
Perhaps they think my chance is poor,
Even to venture near my door;
But, Heaven be thanked, I pass my life,
Although alone, quite free from strife."
The Belle was with herself content;
But age came soon, the lovers went.
A year or two passed restlessly;
Then comes chagrin, and by-and-by
She feels that every hurrying day
Chases first smiles, then love away.
Soon wrinkles make her almost faint,
And try a thousand sorts of paint;
But all in vain, when past one′s prime,
To shun that mighty robber, Time:
A ruined house you can replace,
But not the ruins of a face.
Her pride abates—her mirror cries,
"A husband get if you are wise;"
Her heart, too, echoes what is said—
E′en prudes are willing to be wed.
A curious choice, at last, she made,
And not a grand one, I′m afraid;
Her choice was what most men called foolish:
A clumsy boor, ill-shaped and mulish.

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