Tales and novels of Jean de La Fontaine

The Gascon

I AM always inclined to suspect

The best story under the sun

As soon as by chance I detect

That teller and hero are one.

We’re all of us prone to conceit,

And like to proclaim our own glory,

But our purpose we’re apt to defeat

As actors in chief of our story.

To prove the truth of what I state

Let me an anecdote relate:

A Gascon with his comrade sat

At tavern drinking. This and that

He vaunted with assertion pat.

From gasconade to gasconade

Passed to the conquests he had made

In love. A buxom country maid,

Who served the wine, with due attention

Lent patient ear to each invention,

And pressed her hands against her side

Her bursting merriment to hide.

To hear our Gascon talk, no Sue

Nor Poll in town but that he knew;

With each he’d passed a blissful night

More to their own than his delight.

This one he loved for she was fair,

That for her glossy ebon hair.

One miss, to tame his cruel rigour,

Had brought him gifts. — She owned his vigour

In short it wanted but his gaze

To set each trembling heart ablaze.

His strength surpassed his luck — the test —

In one short night ten times he’d blessed

A dame who gratefully expressed

Her thanks with corresponding zest.

At this the maid burst forth, “What more?

“I never heard such lies before!

“Content were I if at that sport

“I had what that poor dame was short.”

http://ebooks.adelaide.edu.au/l/la_fontaine/jean_de/tales/chapter66.html

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