You often hear a sweet seductive call:
If wise, you haste towards it not at all;—
And, if you heed my apologue,
You act like John de Nivelle’s dog.
A capon, citizen of Mans,
Was summoned from a throng
To answer to the village squire,
Before tribunal called the fire.
The matter to disguise
The kitchen sheriff wise
Cried, “Biddy—Biddy—Biddy!—”
But not a moment did he—
This Norman and a half—
The smooth official trust.
“Your bait,” said he, “is dust,
And I’m too old for chaff.”
Meantime, a falcon, on his perch,
Observed the flight and search.
In man, by instinct or experience,
The capons have so little confidence,
That this was not without much trouble caught,
Though for a splendid supper sought.
To lie, the morrow night,
In brilliant candle-light,
Supinely on a dish
“Midst viands, fowl, and fish,
With all the ease that heart could wish—
This honour, from his master kind,
The fowl would gladly have declined.
Outcried the bird of chase,
As in the weeds he eyed the skulker’s face,
“Why, what a stupid, blockhead race!—
Such witless, brainless fools
Might well defy the schools.
For me, I understand
To chase at word
The swiftest bird,
Aloft, over sea or land;
At slightest beck,
Returning quick
To perch on my master’s hand.
There, at his window he appears—
He waits you—hasten—have no ears?”
“Ah! that I have,” the fowl replied;
“But what from master might betide?
Or cook, with cleaver at his side?
Return you may for such a call,
But let me fly their fatal hall;
And spare your mirth at my expense:
Whatever I lack, it’s not the sense
To know that all this sweet-toned breath
Is spent to lure me to my death.
If you had seen on the spit
As many of the falcons roast
As I have of the capon host,
You would, not thus reproach my wit.”

Page 2

The Falcon and the Capon by Jean de La Fontaine’s Fables in Book 8

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