Friday Fable: Jean de La Fontaine’s “THE ACORN AND THE PUMPKIN”*

Posted by jlubans on June 13, 2014

Caption: Licorice candy advert from early 1900s(?) with LaFontaine fable featured.

“God's works are good. This truth to prove
Around the world I need not move;

I do it by the nearest pumpkin.
'This fruit so large, on vine so small,'
Surveying once, exclaim'd a bumpkin--
'What could He mean who made us all?
He's left this pumpkin out of place.
If I had order'd in the case,
Upon that oak it should have hung--
A noble fruit as ever swung
To grace a tree so firm and strong.
Indeed, it was a great mistake,
As this discovery teaches,
That I myself did not partake
His counsels whom my curate preaches.
All things had then in order come;
This acorn, for example,
Not bigger than my thumb,
Had not disgraced a tree so ample.
The more I think, the more I wonder
To see outraged proportion's laws,
And that without the slightest cause;
God surely made an awkward blunder.'
With such reflections proudly fraught,
Our sage grew tired of mighty thought,
And threw himself on Nature's lap,
Beneath an oak,--to take his nap.
Plump on his nose, by lucky hap,
An acorn fell: he waked, and in
The matted beard that graced his chin,
He found the cause of such a bruise
As made him different language use.
'O! O!' he cried; 'I bleed! I bleed!
And this is what has done the deed!
But, truly, what had been my fate,
Had this had half a pumpkin's weight!
I see that God had reasons good,
And all his works well understood.'
Thus home he went in humbler mood.”

For those of us who know it all, these small truths from Master La Fontaine should make us humble and not too proud of our knowing-ness. Alack, we may know something without knowing it!
Our human wisdom is bounded by our experience; some things truly are beyond our ken. If we think not, then look out for that banana peel on the slippery slope of absolute certainty. If being human and erring is a bitter pill, suck on some sweet licorice.

*Source: THE FABLES OF LA FONTAINE Translated From The French by Elizur Wright. [original place and date: Boston, U.S.A., 1841.] A New Edition, with Notes by J. W. M. Gibbs,1882. Available at Gutenberg.

Leading from the Middle Library of the week: Tuscaloosa Public Library, Tuscaloosa, Alabama, USA

@Copyright John Lubans 2014

« Prev itemNext item »


No comments yet. You can be the first!

Leave comment