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THE FLY AND THE ANT. Jean de La Fontaine

THE FLY AND THE ANT. Fable by Jean de La Fontaine. Illustration by Grandville

THE FLY AND THE ANT. Fable by Jean de La Fontaine. Illustration by Grandville

The Fly and Ant once quarrelled seriously:
"O Jupiter!" the first exclaimed, "how vanity
Blinds the weak mind! This mean and crawling thing
Actually ventures to compare
With me, the daughter of the air.
The palace I frequent, and on the board
I taste the ox before our sovereign lord;
While this poor paltry creature lives for days
On the small straw she drags through devious ways.
Come, Mignon, tell me plainly now,
Do you camp ever on a monarch′s brow,
Or on a beauty′s cheek? Well, I do so,—
And on her bosom, too, I′d have you know.
I sport among her curls; I place
Myself upon her blooming face.
The ladies bound for conquest go
To us for patches; their necks′ snow
With spots of blackness well contrast,
Of all her toilette cares the last.
Come, now, good fellow, rack your brain,
And let us hear of sense some grain."
"Well, have you done?" replied the Ant.
"You haunt king′s palaces, I grant;
But then, by every one you′re cursed.
It′s very likely you taste first
The gods′ own special sacred feast:
Nor is it better, sir, for that.
The fane you enter, with the train—
So do the godless and profane.
On heads of kings or dogs, ′tis plain,
You settle freely when not wanted,
And you are punished often—granted.
You talk of patches on a belle,
I, too, should patch them just as well.
The name your vanity delights,
Frenchmen bestow on parasites;
Cease, then, to be so grossly vain,
Your aspirations, Miss, restrain;
Your namesakes are exiled or hung,
And you with famine will be clung.
With cold and freezing misery,
Will come your time of penury,
When our King Phœbus goes to cheer
And rule the other hemisphere:
But I shall live upon my store,
My labours for the summer o′er,
Nor over mountains and seas go,
Through storm and rain, and drifting snow;
No sorrow near me will alloy
The fulness of the present joy;
Past trouble bars out future care,
True not false glory is our share;
And this I wish to show to you—
Time flies, and I must work. Adieu!
This idle chattering will not fill
My little granary and till."

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