The Woods And The Woodman
: A Hundred Fables Of La Fontaine
A certain wood-chopper lost or broke
From his axe's eye a bit of oak.
The forest must needs be somewhat spared
While such a loss was being repair'd.
Came the man at last, and humbly pray'd
That the woods would kindly lend to him--
A moderate loan--a single limb,
Whereof might another helve be made,
And his axe should elsewhere drive its trade.
O, the oaks and firs that then might stand,
A pride and a joy throughout the land,
For their ancientness and glorious charms!
The innocent Forest lent him arms;
But bitter indeed was her regret;
For the wretch, his axe new-helved and whet,
Did nought but his benefactress spoil
Of the finest trees that graced her soil;
And ceaselessly was she made to groan,
Doing penance for that fatal loan.
_Behold the world-stage and its actors,_
_Where benefits hurt benefactors!--_
_A weary theme, and full of pain;_
_For where's the shade so cool and sweet,_
_Protecting strangers from the heat,_
_But might of such a wrong complain?_
_Alas! I vex myself in vain;_
_Ingratitude, do what I will,_
_Is sure to be the fashion still._