The Eagle and the Owl

La Fontaine January 17, 2015
2 min read
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    The eagle and the owl, resolved to cease
    Their war, embraced in pledge of peace.
    On faith of king, on faith of owl, they swore
    That they would eat each other’s chicks no more.
    “But know you mine?” said Wisdom’s bird.
    “Not I, indeed,” the eagle cried.
    “The worse for that,” the owl replied:
    “I fear your oath’s a useless word;
    I fear that you, as king, will not
    Consider duly who or what:
    Adieu, my young, if you should meet them!”
    “Describe them, then, and I’ll not eat them,”
    The eagle said. The owl replied:
    “My little ones, I say with pride,
    For grace of form cannot be match’d,—
    The prettiest birds that e’er were hatch’d;
    By this you cannot fail to know them;
    ‘Tis needless, therefore, that I show them.”
    At length God gives the owl a set of heirs,
    And while at early eve abroad he fares,
    In quest of birds and mice for food,
    Our eagle haply spies the brood,
    As on some craggy rock they sprawl,
    Or nestle in some ruined wall,
    (But which it matters not at all,)
    And thinks them ugly little frights,
    Grim, sad, with voice like shrieking sprites.
    “These chicks,” says he, “with looks almost infernal,
    Can’t be the darlings of our friend nocturnal.
    I’ll sup of them.” And so he did, not slightly:—
    He never sups, if he can help it, lightly.
    The owl return’d; and, sad, he found
    Nought left but claws upon the ground.
    He pray’d the gods above and gods below
    To smite the brigand who had caused his woe.
    Quoth one, “On you alone the blame must fall;
    Thinking your like the loveliest of all
    You told the eagle of your young ones’ graces;
    You gave the picture of their faces:—
    Had it of likeness any traces?”


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