- Death and the Dying
- The Cobbler and the Financier
- The Lion, the Wolf, and the Fox
- The Power Of Fables
- The Man and the Flea
- The Women and the Secret
- The Dog That Carried His Master’s Dinner
- The Joker and the Fishes
- The Rat and the Oyster
- The Bear and the Amateur Gardener
- The Two Friends
- The Hog, the Goat, and the Sheep
- Thyrsis And Amaranth
- The Funeral of the Lioness
- The Rat and the Elephant
- The Horoscope
- The Ass and the Dog
- The Pashaw and the Merchant
- The Use Of Knowledge
- Jupiter and the Thunderbolts
- The Falcon and the Capon
- The Cat and the Rat
- The Torrent and the River
- The Two Dogs and the Dead Ass
- Democritus and the People Of Abdera
- The Wolf and the Hunter
A country rat, of little brains,
Grown weary of inglorious rest,
Left home with all its straws and grains,
Resolved to know beyond his nest.
When peeping through the nearest fence,
“How big the world is, how immense!”
He cried; “there rise the Alps, and that
Is doubtless famous Ararat.”
His mountains were the works of moles,
Or dirt thrown up in digging holes!
Some days of travel brought him where
The tide had left the oysters bare.
Since here our traveller saw the sea,
He thought these shells the ships must be.
“My father was, in truth,” said he,
“A coward, and an ignoramus;
He dared not travel: as for me,
I have seen the ships and ocean famous;
Have crossed the deserts without drinking,
And many dangerous streams unshrinking;
Such things I know from having seen and felt them.”
And, as he went, in tales he proudly dealt them,
Not being of those rats whose knowledge
Comes by their teeth on books in college.
Among the shut-up shell-fish, one
Was gaping widely at the sun;
It breathed, and drank the air’s perfume,
Expanding, like a flower in bloom.
Both white and fat, its meat
Appeared a dainty treat.
Our rat, when he this shell espied,
Thought for his stomach to provide.
“If not mistaken in the matter,”
Said he, “no meat was ever fatter,
Or in its flavour half so fine,
As that on which today I dine.”
Thus full of hope, the foolish chap
Thrust in his head to taste,
And felt the pinching of a trap—
The oyster closed in haste.
We’re first instructed, by this case,
That those to whom the world is new
Are wonder-struck at every view;
And, in the second place,
That the marauder finds his match,
And he is caught who thinks to catch.
The Rat and the Oyster by Jean de La Fontaine’s Fables in Book 8
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