The Acorn and the Gourd book cover

The Acorn and the Gourd

In The Acorn and the Gourd, Jean de La Fontaine presents a fable about an acorn and a gourd growing next to each other. The tiny acorn watches the gourd grow quickly into a massive fruit and becomes envious. However, when winter arrives, the gourd freezes and dies, while the acorn remains, soon to grow into a strong oak tree. The fable teaches the lesson of patience, strength and value of slow but steady growth, shunning quick but volatile achievements.

Genre: Fable

All that Jove does is wise and good, I need not travel far abroad To make this maxim understood, But take example from a Gourd. Observing once a pumpkin, Of bulk so huge on stem so small, "What meant he," cried a bumpkin, "Great Jove, I mean, who made us all, By such an act capricious? If my advice were asked by Heaven, To yonder oaks the gourds were given, And 'twould have been judicious; For sure it is good taste to suit To monstrous trees a monstrous fruit. And truly, Tony, had but he Whom the priests talk of asked of me Advice on here and there a point, Things would not be so out of joint. For why, to take this plain example, Should not the Acorn here be hung-- For it this tiny stem is ample-- Whilst on the oak the pumpkin swung? The more I view this sad abortion Of all the laws of true proportion, The more I'm sure the Lord of Thunder Has made a very serious blunder." Teased by this matter, Tony cries, "One soon grows weary when one's wise;" Then dozing 'neath an oak he lies. Now, as he slept, an Acorn fell Straight on his nose, and made it swell. At once awake, he seeks to trace With eager hand what hurt his face, And in his beard the Acorn caught, Discovers what the pain had wrought. And now, by injured nose induced, Our friend takes up a different tone-- "I bleed, I bleed!" he makes his moan, "And all is by this thing produced: But, oh! if from the tree, instead, A full-grown Gourd had struck my head! Ah! Jove, most wise, has made decree That Acorns only deck the tree, And now I quite the reason see." Thus in a better frame of mind Homeward went our honest hind.
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Jean de La Fontaine

Jean de La Fontaine was a renowned French fabulist and one of the most famous poets during the French classical period. He was born on July 8, 1621, and died on April 13, 1695. Known for his literary style, he is best known for his "Fables", which are considered classics of French literature. His works were marked by his sophisticated style and moral substance, and his fables provided a scathing critique of French society during his time. more…

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