The Countryman Who Sought His Calf
A COUNTRYMAN, one day, his calf had lost,
And, seeking it, a neighbouring forest crossed;
The tallest tree that in the district grew,
He climbed to get a more extensive view.
Just then a lady with her lover came;
The place was pleasing, both to spark and dame;
Their mutual wishes, looks and eyes expressed,
And on the grass the lady was caressed.
At sights of charms, enchanting to the eyes,
The gay gallant exclaimed, with fond surprise:—
Ye gods, what striking beauties now I see!
No objects named; but spoke with anxious glee.
The clod, who, on the tree had mounted high,
And heard at ease the conversation nigh,
Now cried:—Good man! who see with such delight;
Pray tell me if my calf be in your sight?
Written by Jean de La Fontaine
Jean de La Fontaine was born in Chateau-Thierry, Champagne, in central France, the son of a government official. He went to Paris to study medicine and theology, but was drawn to the whirls of social life. La Fontaine qualified as a lawyer but he returned home in 1647 and assisted his father, a superintendent of forests. He held a number of government posts, but they did not pay much money. In 1647 he married Marie Héricart, an heiress, but the marriage was unhappy and they separated in 1658. La Fontaine had decided to become a famous writer. In 1658 he left his family and moved to Paris, where he lived his most productive years, devoting himself to writing.