Le Loup et le Chien

Un Loup n'avait que les os et la peau,
Tant les chiens faisaient bonne garde.
Ce Loup rencontre un Dogue aussi puissant que beau,
Gras, poli, qui s'était fourvoyé par mégarde.
L'attaquer, le mettre en quartiers,
Sire Loup l'eût fait volontiers ;
Mais il fallait livrer bataille,
Et le Mâtin était de taille
A se défendre hardiment.
Le Loup donc l'aborde humblement,
Entre en propos, et lui fait compliment
Sur son embonpoint, qu'il admire.
"Il ne tiendra qu'à vous beau sire,
D'être aussi gras que moi, lui repartit le Chien.
Quittez les bois, vous ferez bien :
Vos pareils y sont misérables,
Cancres, haires, et pauvres diables,
Dont la condition est de mourir de faim.
Car quoi ? rien d'assuré : point de franche lippée :
Tout à la pointe de l'épée.
Suivez-moi : vous aurez un bien meilleur destin. "
Le Loup reprit : "Que me faudra-t-il faire ?
- Presque rien, dit le Chien, donner la chasse aux gens
Portants bâtons, et mendiants ;
Flatter ceux du logis, à son Maître complaire :
Moyennant quoi votre salaire
Sera force reliefs de toutes les façons :
Os de poulets, os de pigeons,
Sans parler de mainte caresse. "
Le Loup déjà se forge une félicité
Qui le fait pleurer de tendresse.
Chemin faisant, il vit le col du Chien pelé.
"Qu'est-ce là ? lui dit-il. - Rien. - Quoi ? rien ? - Peu de chose.
- Mais encor ? - Le collier dont je suis attaché
De ce que vous voyez est peut-être la cause.
- Attaché ? dit le Loup : vous ne courez donc pas
Où vous voulez ? - Pas toujours ; mais qu'importe ?
- Il importe si bien, que de tous vos repas
Je ne veux en aucune sorte,
Et ne voudrais pas même à ce prix un trésor. "
Cela dit, maître Loup s'enfuit, et court encor.

The Wolf and The Dog

A prowling wolf, whose shaggy skin
(So strict the watch of dogs had been)
Hid little but his bones,
Once met a mastiff dog astray.
A prouder, fatter, sleeker Tray,
No human mortal owns.
Sir Wolf in famish'd plight,
Would fain have made a ration
Upon his fat relation;
But then he first must fight;
And well the dog seem'd able
To save from wolfish table
His carcass snug and tight.
So, then, in civil conversation
The wolf express'd his admiration
Of Tray's fine case. Said Tray, politely,
'Yourself, good sir, may be as sightly;
Quit but the woods, advised by me.
For all your fellows here, I see,
Are shabby wretches, lean and gaunt,
Belike to die of haggard want.
With such a pack, of course it follows,
One fights for every bit he swallows.
Come, then, with me, and share
On equal terms our princely fare.'
'But what with you
Has one to do?'
Inquires the wolf. 'Light work indeed,'
Replies the dog; 'you only need
To bark a little now and then,
To chase off duns and beggar men,
To fawn on friends that come or go forth,
Your master please, and so forth;
For which you have to eat
All sorts of well-cook'd meat--
Cold pullets, pigeons, savoury messes--
Besides unnumber'd fond caresses.'
The wolf, by force of appetite,
Accepts the terms outright,
Tears glistening in his eyes.
But faring on, he spies
A gall'd spot on the mastiff's neck.
'What's that?' he cries. 'O, nothing but a speck.'
'A speck?' 'Ay, ay; 'tis not enough to pain me;
Perhaps the collar's mark by which they chain me.'
'Chain! chain you! What! run you not, then,
Just where you please, and when?'
'Not always, sir; but what of that?'
'Enough for me, to spoil your fat!
It ought to be a precious price
Which could to servile chains entice;
For me, I'll shun them while I've wit.'
So ran Sir Wolf, and runneth yet.

Another Translation

The wolf grew gaunt-his bones stuck out-
Because for once the watchdogs never shut their eyes.
At last he took a drowsy mastiff by surprise,
A gorgeous, glossy-coated, oxlike layabout.
Sir Wolf would happily have set upon this giant
And ripped him all to shreds, but seeing his huge size
And his stout means of self-defense,
To challenge him to combat simply made no sense
And so instead he groveled, winningly compliant,
And told him how he envied him his plump physique.
"Dear boy, if being fat as I is what you seek,
It is entirely up to you," the mastiff said.
"Just leave the woods and you'll improve your lot-
For there the only close associates you've got
Are stupid, ragged and ill-fed,
They live half-dead from hunger, just a bunch
Of desperate losers. Why? They've no free lunch,
No real security. There, all live by the knife.
But follow me and find the way to better life."
"What must I do?" the wolf replied.
"Not much at all," the mastiff said. "You wait outside
And chase off beggars from the door
And old lame types with walking sticks,
You lick your master's hand and fawn before
The family, and in return you get a mix
Of lovely leavings, bones of chicken or of squab,
And they will pat your head and scratch behind your ears."
Picturing all this, the wolf's delight was such
Emotion overwhelmed him, and he began to sob.
But as they walked along together, through his tears
He saw the mastiff's neck looked raw and bare.
The wolf inquired, "What happened there?"
"Oh, nothing." "That is nothing?" "Nothing much."
"But, what?" "The collar they attach me with may be
What caused the little spot of soreness that you see."
"Attach?" the wolf replied. "You mean you are not free
To go just where you want?" "Well, not always, no-
But does that matter?" "Matter! Yes, it matters so
That I refuse to touch one bite of your fine swill.
For even a treasure, that price would be too high for me!"
That said, the wolf ran off, and he is running still.