The Man And His Image
Source: A Hundred Fables Of La Fontaine
A man, who had no rivals in the love
Which to himself he bore,
Esteem'd his own dear beauty far above
What earth had seen before.
More than contented in his error,
He lived the foe of every mirror.
Officious fate, resolved our lover
From such an illness should recover,
Presented always to his eyes
The mute advisers which the ladies prize;--
Mirrors in parlours, inns, and shops,--
Mirrors the pocket furniture of fops,--
Mirrors on every lady's zone,
From which his face reflected shone.
What could our dear Narcissus do?
From haunts of men he now withdrew,
On purpose that his precious shape
From every mirror might escape.
But in his forest glen alone,
Apart from human trace,
Of purest source,
While with unconscious gaze
He pierced its waveless face,
Reflected back his own.
Incensed with mingled rage and fright,
He seeks to shun the odious sight;
But yet that mirror sheet, so clear and still,
He cannot leave, do what he will.
_Ere this, my story's drift you plainly see._
_From such mistake there is no mortal free._
_That obstinate self-lover_
_The human soul doth cover;_
_The mirrors' follies are of others,_
_In which, as all are genuine brothers,_
_Each soul may see to life depicted_
_Itself with just such faults afflicted;_
_And by that charming placid brook,_
_Needless to say, I mean your Maxim Book._
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