The Wolf and the Dog
by Jean de la Fontaine, translated by Tad BonieckiThe original in French is Le Loup et le Chien
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.