La Fontaine

Here you will find the Long Poem St. Julian's Prayer of poet La Fontaine

St. Julian's Prayer

TO charms and philters, secret spells and prayers,
How many round attribute all their cares!
In these howe'er I never can believe,
And laugh at follies that so much deceive.
Yet with the beauteous FAIR, 'tis very true,
These WORDS, as SACRED VIRTUES, oft they view;
The spell and philter wonders work in love
Hearts melt with charms supposed from pow'rs above!

MY aim is now to have recourse to these,
And give a story that I trust will please,
In which Saint Julian's prayer, to Reynold D'Ast,
Produced a benefit, good fortune classed.
Had he neglected to repeat the charm,
Believed so thoroughly to guard from harm,
He would have found his cash accounts not right,
And passed assuredly a wretched night.

ONE day, to William's castle as he moved.
Three men, whose looks he very much approved,
And thought such honest fellows he had round,
Their like could nowhere be discovered round;
Without suspecting any thing was wrong,
The three, with complaisance and fluent tongue,
Saluted him in humble servile style,
And asked, (the minutes better to beguile,)
If they might bear him company the way;
The honour would be great, and no delay;
Besides, in travelling 'tis safer found,
And far more pleasant, when the party's round;
So many robbers through the province range,
(Continued they) 'tis wonderfully strange,
The prince should not these villains more restrain;
But there:--bad MEN will somewhere still remain.

TO their proposal Reynold soon agreed,
And they resolved together to proceed.
When 'bout a league the travellers had moved,
Discussing freely, as they all approved,
The conversation turned on spells and prayer,
Their pow'r o'er worms of earth, or birds of air;
To charm the wolf, or guard from thunder's roar,
And many wonderful achievements more;
Besides the cures a prayer would oft produce;
To man and beast it proves of sov'reign use,
Far greater than from doctors e'er you'll view,
Who, with their Latin, make so much ado.

IN turn, the three pretended knowledge great,
And mystick facts affected to relate,
While Reynold silently attention paid
To all the words the honest fellows said:--
Possess you not, said one, some secret prayer
To bring you aid, when dangers round you stare?
To this our Reynold seriously replied,
Myself, on secret spells, I do not pride;
But still some WORDS I have that I repeat,
Each morn I travel, that I may not meet
A horrid lodging where I stop at night;
'Tis called SAINT JULIAN'S PRAYER that I recite,
And truly I have found, that when I fail
To say this prayer, I've reason to bewail.
But rarely I neglect so good a thing,
That ills averts, and may such blessings bring.
And have you clearly said it, sir, to day?
Cried one of those he met upon his way.
Yes, Reynold answered. Well, replied the Wight;
I'll wage, I'm better lodged than you to-night.

'TWAS very cold, and darkness 'gan to peep;
The place was distant yet, where they might sleep.
Perhaps, said Reynold, 'tis your usual care,
In travelling, to say, like me, this prayer.
Not so, the other cried, to you I vow,
Invoking saints is not my practice now;
But should I lose, thenceforth I'll them address.--
Said Reynold, readily I acquiesce;
My life I'd venture, should you to an inn,
For, in the town, I've neither friend nor kin,
And, if you like, we'll this exception make.
The other answered: Well, the bet I'll take;
Your horse and coat against my purse you wage,
And, sure of gaining, readily engage.
Our Wight might then have thoroughly perceived,
His horse was lost--no chance to be relieved.

BESIDE a wood, as on the party moved,
The one, who betting had so much approved,
Now changed his tone, and in a surly way,
Exclaimed:--Alight--you'll find it time to pray;
Let me apprize you, distant is the place,
And much you'll need Saint Julian's special grace.
Come off, I tell you:--instantly they took
His purse, horse, clothes, and all their hands could hook
E'en seized his boots, and said with subtle sneer,
Your feet, by walking, won't the worse appear;
Then sought a diff'rent road by rapid flight,
And, presently the knaves were out of sight;
While Reynold still with stockings, drawers, and shirt,
But wet to skin, and covered o'er with dirt:
(The wind north-east in front--as cold as clay 
In doleful dumps proceeded on his way,
And justly feared, that spite of faith and prayer,
He now should meet, at night, with wretched fare.

HOWEVER, some pleasing hopes he still had yet,
That, from his cloak-bag, he some clothes might get;
For, we should note, a servant he had brought,
Who in the neighbourhood a farrier sought.
To set a shoe upon his horse, and then
Should join his master on the road agen;
But that, as we shall find, was n