Tales and novels of Jean de La Fontaine

Hans Carvel’s Ring

HANS CARVEL took, when weak and late in life;

A girl, with youth and beauteous charms to wife;

And with her, num’rous troubles, cares and fears;

For, scarcely one without the rest appears.

Bab (such her name, and daughter of a knight)

Was airy, buxom: formed for am’rous fight.

Hans, holding jeers and cuckoldom in dread,

Would have his precious rib with caution tread,

And nothing but the Bible e’er peruse;

All other books he daily would abuse;

Blamed secret visits; frowned at loose attire;

And censured ev’ry thing gallants admire.

The dame, howe’er, was deaf to all he said;

No preaching pleased but what to pleasure led,

Which made the aged husband hold his tongue.

And wish for death, since all round went wrong.

Some easy moments he perhaps might get;

A full detail in hist’ry’s page is met.

One night, when company he’d had to dine,

And pretty well was fill’d with gen’rous wine,

Hans dreamed, as near his wife he snoring lay,

The devil came his compliments to pay,

And having on his finger put a ring,

Said he, friend Hans, I know thou feel’st a sting;

Thy trouble ’s great: I pity much thy case;

Let but this ring, howe’er, thy finger grace,

And while ’tis there I’ll answer with my head,

THAT ne’er shall happen which is now thy dread:

Hans, quite delighted, forced his finger through;

You drunken beast, cried Bab, what would you do?

To love’s devoirs quite lost, you take no care,

And now have thrust your finger God knows where!

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Last updated Saturday, March 1, 2014 at 20:38