The Wolf and the Dog


by Jean de la Fontaine, translated by Tad Boniecki

The original in French is Le Loup et le Chien
You may be interested in my commentary


A Wolf had nought but bones and skin

So exact the watch of dogs had been.

He chances on a Mastiff as powerful as handsome

Fat, sleek, who had strayed by chance.

To attack him, quarter him

Lord Wolf would gladly do;

But he would have to join battle,

And the Mastiff was of such stature

As to defend himself with ease.

So the Wolf approaches him humbly,

Enters into conversation, compliments him

On his girth, which he admires.

"You fine sir could be as fat as me"

Replied the Dog.

"Leave the woods, you would do well:

Your like are miserable there,

Dunces, hairshirts and poor devils,

Their estate is to die of hunger.

Every bite of food is hard won

By dint of fang and claw. For what?

Follow me: you would have a fate much better."

The Wolf replied, "What must I do?"

"Almost nothing," replied the Dog, "Chase beggars

And people carrying sticks;

To flatter those at home, to please one's Master:

In exchange your salary would be

A great many scraps of all kinds:

Bones of chickens, bones of pigeons,

Without mentioning many caresses."

The Wolf already imagines a happiness

Which makes him teary from fondness.

Walking along, he saw the bald neck of the Dog.

"What is it there?" he said. - Nothing. - What? Nothing? - Nothing much.

But still? - The collar by which I am tethered

Is perhaps the cause of what you see.

"Tethered?" said the Wolf: So you do not run

Wherever you want? -  Not always; but what matters it?

It matters so much that all your meals

I would not want in any wise or manner,

And would not desire even a treasure at such price."

This said, master Wolf runs off, and he runneth still.




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