From bowers of gods the bees came down to man.
On Mount Hymettus, first, they say,
They made their home, and stored away
The treasures which the zephyrs fan.
When men had robbed these daughters of the sky,
And left their palaces of nectar dry,—
Or, as in French the thing’s explained
When hives were of their honey drained—
The spoilers “gan the wax to handle,
And fashioned from it many a candle.
Of these, one, seeing clay, made brick by fire,
Remain uninjured by the teeth of time,
Was kindled into great desire
For immortality sublime.
And so this new Empedocles
On the blazing pile one sees,
Self-doomed by purest folly
To fate so melancholy.
The candle lacked philosophy:
All things are made diverse to be.
To wander from our destined tracks—
There cannot be a vainer wish;
But this Empedocles of wax,
That melted in the chafing-dish,
Was truly not a greater fool
Than he of whom we read at school.

The Wax-Candle by Jean de La Fontaine Fables in Book 9

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