La Fontaine

Here you will find the Long Poem The Rhemese of poet La Fontaine

The Rhemese

NO city I to Rheims would e'er prefer:
Of France the pride and honour I aver;
The Holy Ampoule and delicious wine,
Which ev'ry one regards as most divine,
We'll set apart, and other objects take:
The beauties round a paradise might make!
I mean not tow'rs nor churches, gates, nor streets;
But charming belles with soft enchanting sweets:
Such oft among the fair Rhemese we view:
Kings might be proud those graces to pursue.

ONE 'mong these belles had to the altar led,
A painter, much esteemed, and who had bread.
What more was requisite!--he lived at ease,
And by his occupation sought to please.
A happy woman all believed his wife;
The husband's talents pleased her to the life:
For gallantry howe'er he was renowned,
And many am'rous dames, who dwelled around,
Would seek the artist with a double aim:
So all our chronicles record his fame.
But since much penetration 's not my boast,
I just believe--what's requisite at most.

WHENE'ER the painter had in hand a fair,
He'd jest his wife, and laugh with easy air;
But Hymen's rights proceeding as they ought,
With jealous fears her breast was never fraught.
She might indeed repay his tricks in kind,
And gratify, in soft amours, her mind,
Except that she less confidence had shown,
And was not led to him the truth to own.

AMONG the men attracted by her smiles,
Two neighbours, much delighted with her wiles;
Were often tempted, by her sprightly wit,
To listen to her chat, and with her sit;
For she had far the most engaging mien,
Of any charmer that around was seen.
Superior understanding she possessed;
Though fond of laughter, frolick, fun, and jest.
She to her husband presently disclosed
The love these cit-gallants to her proposed;
Both known for arrant blockheads through the town,
And ever boasting of their own renown.
To him she gave their various speeches, tones,
Each silly air: their tears, and sighs, and groans;
They'd read, or rather heard, we may believe,
That, when in love, with sighs fond bosoms heave.
Their utmost to succeed these coxcombs tried,
And seemed convinced they should not be denied;
A common cause they would the business hold,
And what one knew the other must be told.
Whichever first a favour might obtain,
Should tell his happiness to t'other swain.

YE FAIR 'tis thus they oft your kindness treat:
The pleasure that he wished alone is sweet.
LOVE, is no more; of t'other, laid in earth,
We've here no traces scarcely from the birth.
You serve for sport and prey, to giddy youth,
Devoid of talents, principles, and truth.
'Tis right they should suppose, still two are found;
Who take their course continually round.
The first that in your pleasure grounds appears;
I'd have you, on his wings, to use the shears.

OUR lady then, her lovers to deceive,
One day observed--you shall, my friends, this eve;
Drink wine with me:--my husband will away,
And, what's delightful, till to-morrow stay;
We shall ourselves be able to amuse,
And laugh, and sing, and talk as we may choose.
'Tis excellent, cried they: things well you frame;
And at the promised hour, the heroes came.

WHEN introduced, and all supposing clear,
A sudden knocking turned their joy to fear;
The door was barred; she to the window flew;
I think, said she, that's to the master due;
And should it prove to be as I suspect:--
'Tis he, I vow:--fly, hide, he'll you detect;
Some accident, suspicion, or design,
Has brought him back to sleep, I now divine:

OUR two gallants, when dangers round them pressed,
A closet entered, mightily distressed;
To get away 'twere folly to have tried;
The husband came, the roast he quickly spied;
With pigeons too, in diff'rent fashions cooked;
Why, hey! said he, as round about he looked:
What guests have you that supper you prepare?
The wife replied: two neighbours taste our fare:
Sweet Alice, and good Simonetta, mean
To-night, at table with us to be seen;
I'm quite rejoiced to think that you are here:
The company will more complete appear;
These dames will, by your presence, nothing lose;
I'll run and hasten them: 'twill you amuse;
The whole is ready; I'll at once away,
And beg, in coming, they'll no more delay.

THE ladies named were wives of our gallants,
So fond of contraband, and smuggled grants,
Who, vexed to be confined, still praised the dame,
For skewing such address to 'scape from blame.
She soon returned, and with her brought the FAIR,
Who, gaily singing, entered free from care.
The painter them received with bow and kiss;
To praise their beauty he was not remiss;
Their dress was charming; all he much admired;
Their presence frolick, fun, and jest inspired,
Which no way pleased the husbands in the cage,
Who saw the freaks with marks of