The Cormorant and the Fishes book cover

The Cormorant and the Fishes

"The Cormorant and the Fishes" is a captivating fable written by Jean de La Fontaine. This story revolves around a cunning cormorant who promises to rule the sea creatures wisely but ends up eating them instead. It serves as a timeless lesson on the dangers of false promises and the mischief of cunning characters, drawing parallels to human behaviors and societal issues with the ease and wit characteristic of La Fontaine's work.

Genre: Fable

Submitted by davidb on September 28, 2023

Through all the country far and wide, In pools and rivers incessantly diving, A Cormorant greedy his table supplied, On their finny inhabitants so daintily thriving. But at length there came a day When his strength gave way, And the Cormorant, having to fish for himself, Unskilled to use nets which we mortals employ, The fish for our own selfish use to decoy, Began soon to starve; with no crumb on the shelf, What could he do now?--Necessity, mother, Who teaches us more than we learn when at school, Advised the poor bird to go down to a pool, And addressing a Cray-fish, to say to him--"Brother, Go tell your friends a tale of coming sorrow: Your master drains this pool a week to-morrow!" The Cray-fish hurried off without delay, And soon the pool was quivering with dismay: Much trouble, much debate. At length was sent A deputation to the Cormorant. "Most lordly web-foot! are you sure th' event Will be as you have stated? If so, grant Your kind advice in this our present need!" The sly bird answered--"Change your home with speed." "But how do that?" "Oh! that shall be my care; For one by one I'll take you to my home, A most impenetrable, secret lair, Where never foe of finny tribe has come; A deep, wide pool, of nature's best, In which your race may safely rest." The fish believed this friendly speech, And soon were borne, each after each, Down to a little shallow, cribbed, confined, In which the greedy bird could choose them to his mind. And there they learnt, although too late, To trust no bills insatiate. But, after all, it don't much matter-- A Cormorant's throat or human platter-- Whether a wolf or man digest me, Doesn't seem really to molest me; And whether one's eaten to-day or to-morrow Should scarcely be any occasion for sorrow.
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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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