The Ass Loaded with Sponges

La Fontaine January 17, 2015
1 min read
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    A man, whom I shall call an ass-eteer,
    His sceptre like some Roman emperor bearing,
    Drove on two coursers of protracted ear,
    The one, with sponges laden, briskly faring;
    The other lifting legs
    As if he trod on eggs,
    With constant need of goading,
    And bags of salt for loading.
    O’er hill and dale our merry pilgrims pass’d,
    Till, coming to a river’s ford at last,
    They stopp’d quite puzzled on the shore.
    Our asseteer had cross’d the stream before;
    So, on the lighter beast astride,
    He drives the other, spite of dread,
    Which, loath indeed to go ahead,
    Into a deep hole turns aside,
    And, facing right about,
    Where he went in, comes out;
    For duckings, two or three
    Had power the salt to melt,
    So that the creature felt
    His burden’d shoulders free.
    The sponger, like a sequent sheep,
    Pursuing through the water deep,
    Into the same hole plunges
    Himself, his rider, and the sponges.
    All three drank deeply: asseteer and ass
    For boon companions of their load might pass;
    Which last became so sore a weight,
    The ass fell down,
    Belike to drown
    His rider risking equal fate.
    A helper came, no matter who.
    The moral needs no more ado—
    That all can’t act alike,—
    The point I wish’d to strike.

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