The Vultures And The Pigeons

: A Hundred Fables Of La Fontaine

Mars once made havoc in the air:

Some cause aroused a quarrel there

Among the birds;--not those that sing,

The courtiers of the merry Spring,

But naughty hawk and vulture folks,

Of hooked beak and talons keen.

The carcass of a dog, 'tis said,

Had to this civil carnage led.

Blood rain'd upon the swarded green,

And valiant deeds were done,
I ween.

Suffice to say, that chiefs were slain,

And heroes strow'd the sanguine plain.

'Twas sport to see the battle rage,

And valiant hawk with hawk engage;

'Twas pitiful to see them fall,--

Torn, bleeding, weltering, gasping, all.

Force, courage, cunning, all were plied;

Intrepid troops on either side

No effort spared to populate

The dusky realms of hungry Fate.

This woful strife awoke compassion

Within another feather'd nation,

Of iris neck and tender heart.

They tried their hand at mediation--

To reconcile the foes, or part.

The pigeon people duly chose

Ambassadors, who work'd so well

As soon the murderous rage to quell,

And stanch the source of countless woes.

A truce took place, and peace ensued.

Alas! the people dearly paid

Who such pacification made!

Those cursed hawks at once pursued

The harmless pigeons, slew and ate,

Till towns and fields were desolate.

_The safety of the rest requires_

_The bad should flesh each other's spears:_

_Whoever peace with them desires_

_Had better set them by the ears._