JUPITER AND THE THUNDERBOLTS. Fable by Jean de La Fontaine. Illustration by Grandville

JUPITER AND THE THUNDERBOLTS. Fable by Jean de La Fontaine. Illustration by Grandville

Jove, viewing from on high our faults,
Said, one day, in Cerulean vaults,
"Let us ′plenish the earth
With a race of new guests;
For those of Noah′s birth
Quite weary me out with their endless requests.
Fly to hell, Mercury!
And bring unto me
The Fury most fierce and most grim of the three!
For that race that I′ve cherished
Will all soon have perished!"
Thus passionate Jupiter spoke,
But quickly from anger awoke.
And so, let me warn you, O Kings!
Of whom Jupiter makes the mere strings,
To rule and to guide as you will;
For a brief moment pause,
To examine the cause,
Ere you torture your subjects, or kill.
The god with light feet,
And whose tongue′s honey sweet,
Went, as ordered, to visit the Fates.
Tisiphone looked at,
Megæra then mocked at;
And, after inspection,
Fixed his choice, of all persons, on ugly Alecton.
Rendered proud by this choice,
With a horrible voice,
The goddess declared,
In the caverns of Death,
That she′d stop all men′s breath,
And not one live thing on the earth should be spared.

Unto Mercy′s straight path
Jove came back from his wrath,
Annulled the Eumenide′s oath;
Nothing loath.
Yet his thunders he threw
At the vile mortal crew;
And one might have thought
That destruction were wrought;
But the fact was just this—
The bolts managed to miss.
For the Thund′rer′s pride
With our fear′s satisfied.
He was father of men,
And so he knew when,
As papas mortal know too,
What distance to throw to.
But, with mercy thus treated,
Man, with wickedness heated,
Grew so vicious, at last,
That Jove swore he would cast
And crush our weak race,
Their Creator′s disgrace.
But yet he still smiled;
For a father his child
Strikes with merciful hand.
So at last it was planned
That god Vulcan should have
The duty of sending us men to the grave.
With bolts of two sorts
Vulcan fills his black courts;
And of these two there′s one
That Heaven throws straight,
When it fills up its hate,
And the thread of a man′s life is done.
The other falls only
On mountain tops lonely;
And this kind alone
By great Jupiter′s thrown.

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