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THE MAN BADLY MARRIED. Jean de La Fontaine

THE MAN BADLY MARRIED. Fable by Jean de La Fontaine. Illustration by Grandville

THE MAN BADLY MARRIED. Fable by Jean de La Fontaine. Illustration by Grandville

Oh, that the good and beautiful were wedded!
From early morrow I will seek the pair;
But since they are divorced, the addle-headed
Alone would track them long through sea or air.
Few beauteous bodies shelter beauteous souls;
So don′t be angry if I cease pursuit.
Marriages many I have seen. The goals
To which men strive my fancies seldom suit.

The full four-fourths of men rush reckless on,
And brave the deadliest risks;—four-fourths repent.
I′ll produce one who, being woe-begone,
Found no resource but sending where he′d sent
Before his hopeless wife, jealous and miserly,
Peevish and fretful;—nothing was done right.
They went to bed too soon—rose tardily;
The white was black, the black was staring white;
The servants groaned, the master swore outright.
"Monsieur is always busy;—he, of course,
Will think of nothing—squanders everything."
So much of this, in fact. Monsieur, par force,
Weary of all this squabble, and the sting,
Sends her back to the country and her friends,—
Phillis, who drives the turkeys, and the men
Who watch the pigs, and very soon she mends.
Grown calmer, he writes for her kindly then:—
"Well, how did time pass? was it pleasant there?
How did you like the country innocence?"
"It′s bearable," she said; "the only care
That vexed me was to see the vile pretence
Of industry. Why, those base, lazy patches
Let the herds starve;—not one of them has sense
To do their proper work, except by snatches."
"Come, madam," cried the husband in a rage,
"If you′re so peevish that folk out all day
Weary of you, and long to see the stage
That bears you from them anywhere away,
What must the servants feel who, every hour,
Are chased about by your outrageous tongue!
And what the husband, who is in your power
By night and day? Adieu! May I be hung
If I again recall you from the farm;
Or if I do, may I atone the sin
By having Pluto′s gloomy realms within
Two wives like you, a shrew for either arm."

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