THE EAGLE AND THE BEETLE. Fable by Jean de La Fontaine. Illustration by Grandville

THE EAGLE AND THE BEETLE. Fable by Jean de La Fontaine. Illustration by Grandville

John Rabbit, by an Eagle followed, fled,
And in his terror hid his head
In a poor Beetle′s hole, that happened to be there.
You well may guess that this poor lair
Was insecure; but where to hide? alack!
He crouched—the Eagle pounced upon his back.
The friendly Beetle intercedes,
And, all in tears, he kindly pleads:
"Queen of the Birds! no doubt, in spite of me,
You can this trembling creature bear away;
But spare me this affront, this grief, I pray.
John Rabbit begs his little life of thee;
Grant it for pity′s sake, sweet ma′am, now do!"
The bird of Jove disdained to make reply,
But struck the Beetle with her wing—one—two—
Then bore John Rabbit to the upper sky.
Indignant Beetle, of revenge in quest,
Flew straight to the proud Eagle′s nest;
Broke in her absence all her eggs—the lot—
Her sweetest hopes—the eggs she held so dear.
Angry people have no fear.
The Eagle, coming to the well-loved spot,
And seeing all the hideous fricassee,
Filled heaven with shrieks; but could not find
On whom to vent her wrath—you see,
Her fury made her blind.
She mourned in vain; that year it was her fate
Childless to be, and desolate.
The next she built a loftier nest—in vain,
The Beetle addled all the eggs again.
John Rabbit′s death was well avenged indeed!
For six long months the Eagle′s moanings flew,
And woke the echoing forest through.
The bird that bore off Ganymede,
Furious and loud remonstrance made,
And flew to Jupiter for aid.
Her eggs she placed upon the Thunderer′s lap—
There could come no mishap;
Jove must defend them: who would dare
To touch the objects of his care?
The enemy now changed his note; he soared,
And let some earth fall where they′re stored;
The god, his vestment shaking carelessly,
Let the eggs fall into infinity.
The Eagle, mad with rage at the event
(Merely an accident),
Swore she would leave the wicked court,
And make the desert her resort;
With such vagaries.—
(In rage all fair is.)
Poor Jupiter in silence heard;
The Beetle came, and charged the bird—
In the tribunal of the upper air
Related the affair.
The god pronounced the Eagle in the wrong,
But still the mutual hate was strong.
To make a truce, Jove then arranged
The time for Eagles′ hatching should be changed
To winter, when the marmots sleep,
And Beetles from the daylight keep.

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