Aesop's Fable of the Frogs

The Frogs time out of mind

Lived uncontroll'd.

Their form of government was undefined,

But reasons, strong and manifold,

Which then were given,

Induced them to demand a King from Heaven.

Jove heard the prayer, and to fulfil it,

Threw them down a Log or Billet:

The Prince arrived with such a dash,

Coming down to take possession;

Frogs are easy to abash,

Their valour is diluted with discretion,--

In a word, their hearts forsook them:

That instant they dissolved the Session,

Choosing the shortest way that took them

Down to the bottom of the Bog,--

Not one remained to cry, "God save King Log.'

There was an ancient flap-chapp'd Peer,

Nobly born

Of the best spawn;

At first he kept aloof from fear,

Waiting the close of all this storm,

Till things should take some settled form--

Like a great vassal

In his castle,

With full-blown bags,

Intrench'd with lofty bulrushes and flags.

A wish to gain the sovereign's ear

Made him draw near;

He saw him where he lay in state

With a solidity and weight

That bespoke him truly great.

Then came a shoal in quest of posts and charges,

Much like our ancient courtiers with their barges,

They ventured barely within reach--

The Chancellor discharged a speech:

They waited for his majesty's reply,--

They waited a long, tedious, awkward space,

Then stared each other in the face,

And drew more nigh,--

Till growing bolder,

They leap'd upon the back and shoulder

Of their Stadholder.

The worthy monarch all that while

Was never seen to frown or smile,

He never look'd, he never stirr'd,--

He never spoke a single word,

Bad or good.

It seem'd as if he never heard

Nor understood.

The Frogs, like Russian nobles in such cases,

Reading each others' meaning in their faces,

Proceeded to the monarch's deposition,--

This act was follow'd by preferring

A new Petition

For a new Prince more active and more stirring.

The prayer was heard;

To make quick work,

Jove sent them down the Stork,

First cousin to the Secretary Bird.

His forte was business and despatch:

At the first snatch

He swallow'd the Polonius of the Pool;

Then following Machiavelli's rule,

He fell upon the poor Marsh-landers,

Conscribing all that he could catch,

Trampling them down into the mud,

Confiscating their guts and blood,

Like a French Prefect sent to Flanders.

The wretched Frogs in their despair

Renew'd their prayer;

And Jove in answer thunder'd this decree,--

"Since you could not agree

To live content and free,

I sent you down a King of the best wood,

Suited to your pacific brood;

Your foolish pride

Set him aside;

This second was intended for a curse,--

Be satisfied--or I shall find a worse.'

Author of original: 
Jean de La Fontaine
Rate this poem: 

Reviews

No reviews yet.