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Phoebus And Boreas

(Recueil 1, Livre 6, Fable 3)



Old Boreas and the sun, one day

Espied a traveller on his way,

Whose dress did happily provide

Against whatever might betide.

The time was autumn, when, indeed,

All prudent travellers take heed.

The rains that then the sunshine dash,

And Iris with her splendid sash,

Warn one who does not like to soak

To wear abroad a good thick cloak.

Our man was therefore well bedight

With double mantle, strong and tight.

"This fellow," said the wind, "has meant

To guard from every ill event;

But little does he wot that I

Can blow him such a blast

That, not a button fast,

His cloak shall cleave the sky.

Come, here's a pleasant game, Sir Sun!

Will play?" Said Phoebus, "Done!

We'll bet between us here

Which first will take the gear

From off this cavalier.

Begin, and shut away.

The brightness of my ray."

"Enough." Our blower, on the bet,

Swelled out his pursy form

With all the stuff for storm

The thunder, hail, and drenching wet,

And all the fury he could muster;

Then, with a very demon's bluster,

He whistled, whirled, and splashed,

And down the torrents dashed,

Full many a roof uptearing

He never did before,

Full many a vessel bearing

To wreck on the shore,

And all to doff a single cloak.

But vain the furious stroke;

The traveller was stout,

And kept the tempest out,

Defied the hurricane,

Defied the pelting rain;

And as the fiercer roared the blast,

His cloak the tighter held he fast.

The sun broke out, to win the bet;

He caused the clouds to disappear,

Refreshed and warmed the cavalier,

And through his mantle made him sweat,

Till off it came, of course,

In less than half an hour;

And yet the sun saved half his power.

So much does mildness more than force.

Jean de La Fontaine

Book 6, Fable 3



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