With mighty rush and roar,
Adown a mountain steep
A torrent tumbled,—swelling over
Its rugged banks,—and bore
Vast ruin in its sweep.
The traveller were surely rash
To brave its whirling, foaming dash,
But one, by robbers sorely pressed,
Its terrors haply put to test.
They were but threats of foam and sound,
The loudest where the least profound.
With courage from his safe success,
His foes continuing to press,
He met a river in his course:
On stole its waters, calm and deep,
So silently they seemed asleep,
All sweetly cradled, as I believe,
In sloping banks, and gravel clean,—
They threatened neither man nor horse.
Both ventured; but the noble steed,
That saved from robbers by his speed,
From that deep water could not save;
Both went to drink the Stygian wave;
Both went to cross, (but not to swim,)
Where reigns a monarch stern and grim,
Far other streams than ours.
Still men are men of dangerous powers;
Elsewhere, it’s only ignorance that cowers.

The Torrent and the River by Jean de La Fontaine’s Fables in Book 8

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