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"NOT TOO MUCH". Jean de La Fontaine

"NOT TOO MUCH". Fable by Jean de La Fontaine. Illustration by Grandville

"NOT TOO MUCH". Fable by Jean de La Fontaine. Illustration by Grandville

I Find in no one race or nation
Of men what I call moderation;
Both animals and plants do err
In this respect, I must aver.
Nature′s great Master wished that we
Should guard the golden mean, you see;
But do we?—No; and once more, No!
Whether to good or ill we go.
The corn that Ceres from her hand
Spreads lavish o′er the fertile land,
Too richly grows, and drains the ground,
Luxuriant, and without a bound;
So that from rank and crowded grain
All nourishment the deep roots drain;
The trees spread likewise heedlessly
To check the corn. God graciously
Gives us the sheep to check ill growth;
Amid the corn they, nothing loath,
Plunge headlong, and so, ruthless, spoil
The slow result of peasants′ toil.
Then Heaven sends the wolf to thin
The sheep—they gobble kith and kin—
If they spare one ′tis not their fault,
They′re but too ready to assault;
Then man the speedy punishment
Unto the cruel wolves is sent.
Next man—far worst of all abuses—
The power Divine he rashly uses.
Man, of all animals yet known,
Is more disposed to this, I own;
Little or great, unto excess
We carry all things, I confess;
No soul that lives but errs, I see,
In this respect continually,
The good text, "Not too much," is met
Often, but never practised yet.

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