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PHŒBUS AND BOREAS. Jean de La Fontaine

PHŒBUS AND BOREAS. Fable by Jean de La Fontaine. Illustration by Grandville

PHŒBUS AND BOREAS. Fable by Jean de La Fontaine. Illustration by Grandville

Phœbus and Boreas saw a traveller,
′Fended against bad weather prudently.
Autumn had just begun, and then, you see,
Caution is useful to the wayfarer.
It rains and shines, and rainbows bright displayed
Warned those who ventured out to take a cloak:
The Romans called these months, as if in joke,
The doubtful. For this season well arrayed,
Our fellow, ready for the pelting rain,
Wore a cloak doubled, and of sturdy stuff.
"He thinks," the Wind said, "he is armed enough
To ′scape all hazards; but it′s quite in vain,
For he has not foreseen that I can blow,
So that no button in the world avails:
I send cloaks flying as I do ships′ sails.
It will amuse us just to let him know;
Now, you shall see." "Agreed," then Phœbus said;
"Then let us bet, without more talking, come,
Which of us first shall send him cloakless home:
You can begin, and I will hide my head."
′Twas soon arranged, and Boreas filled his throat
With vapour, till his cheeks balloons became.
A demon′s holiday of lightning-flame
And storm came whistling, wrecking many a boat,
Shattering many a roof—and all for what?
About a paltry cloak. He′s much ado
To save him from a precipice or two.
The Wind but wasted time—one′s pleased at that—
The more it raged, but firmer still he drew
Around his breast the cloak: the cape just shook,
And here and there a shred the tempest took.
At last, the time was up, no more it blew,
Then the hot Sun dispersed the cloudy haze,
And pierced the weary horseman through and through.
Beneath his heavy mantle sprung hot dew—
No longer could he bear those fervent rays—
He threw his cloak aside (a man of sense);
Not half his power had Phœbus yet employed.
Mildness had won—the Sun was overjoyed:
Softness gains more than any violence.

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