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A Confidant Without Knowing It; Or The Stratagem

La Fontaine 1621 (Château-Thierry, Champagne) – 1695 (Neuilly-sur-Seine, Île-de-France)

NO master sage, nor orator I know,
Who can success, like gentle Cupid show;
His ways and arguments are pleasing smiles,
Engaging looks, soft tears, and winning wiles.
Wars in his empire will at times arise,
And, in the field, his standard meet the eyes;
Now stealing secretly, with skilful lure.
He penetrates to hearts supposed secure,
O'erleaps the ramparts that protect around,
And citadels reduces, most renowned.

I DARE engage, two fortresses besiege
Leave one to Mars, and t'other to this liege.
And though the god of war should numbers bring,
With all the arms that can his thunders fling,
Before the fort he'll vainly waste his time,
While Cupid, unattended, in shall climb,
Obtain possession perfectly at ease,
And grant conditions just as he shall please.

I NOW propose to give a fav'rite tale :--
The god of Love was never known to fail,
In finding stratagems, as I have read,
And many have I seen most nicely spread.

THE young Aminta was Gerontes' wife,
With whom she lived, it seems, a wretched life.
Far better she deserved than what she had,
For he was jealous, and his temper bad:
An aged hunks, while she was in the hour
When hearts, that never felt LOVE'S mighty pow'r,
Are presently by tender objects caught,
Which ne'er before had entered in the thought.

WHEN first Aminta saw young Cleon's face,
A lad possessing all engaging grace,
Much prudence then she ev'ry way displayed,
E'en more perhaps than necessary made.
For though we may suppose the lovely fair,
Would ev'ry effort use to 'scape the snare,
Yet when the god of soft persuasion takes
The fatal moment, havock soon he makes,
In vain his duty, any thing opposed,
If once the tender sentiment's disclosed.
Aminta consolation had in view
'Twas that alone the passion from her drew,
A meeting innocent, to vent her tears,
And, to a feeling friend, express her fears.
'Tis represented thus I cannot doubt;
But sight of meat brings appetite about;
And if you would avoid the tempting bit,
'Tis better far at table not to sit.

AMINTA hoped to render Cleon kind;
Poor innocent! as yet to dangers blind,
These conversations she was led to deem,
Mere friendly ways that raised sincere esteem;
And this alone she ardently desired,
Without supposing more would be required,
Or any thing improper be the case:
She'd rather die than suffer such disgrace.
'Twas difficult the business to commence;
A letter 's often lost, or gives offence,
And many serious accidents arrive:
To have a confidant 'twere better strive;
But where could such a female friend be found?
Gerontes dreaded was by all around.
I've said already, Cupid will obtain,
One way or t'other, what he wants to gain;
And this will show the observation just
The maxim's such as you may always trust.

A FEMALE relative young Cleon had,
A peevish prude, who looked upon the lad,
As one she had a right to rule and scold;
Her name was Mistress Alice: sour and old.

ONE summer's day, Aminta to her said:
I cannot think how 'tis, your cousin's led,
(Though quite indifferent he is to me,
And doubtless such will ever prove to be)
With various fond attentions, to pretend,
He loves me--much beyond a common friend.
My window oft he passes day and night;
I cannot move a step, but he's in sight,
And in a moment at my heels appears;
Notes, letters full of soft expressions, dears,
To me are sent by one I will not name,
For known to you, she would be thought to blame:
Pray put an end to such a wild pursuit
It nothing can produce but wretched fruit;
My husband may take fire at things like these;
And as to Cleon.--me he'll never please;
I'll thank you to inform him what I say;
Such steps are useless: folly they betray.

MUCH praise Aminta from the dame received;
Who promised that the conduct, which aggrieved;
To Cleon she would mention, as desired,
And reprimand him, as the fault required:
So well would scold him, that she might be sure,
From him in future she would be secure.

THE foll'wing day our youth to Alice came;
To pay a visit solely was his aim;
She told him what Aminta had declared,
And, in her lecture, words by no means spared.
The lad, surprised, on oath the whole denied,
And vowed to gain her love, he never tried.
Old Alice called her cousin, imp of Hell;
Said she, in all that's wicked, you excel;
You will not all your base designs confess;
The oaths are false on which you lay such stress,
And punishment most richly you deserve;
But false or true, from this I will not s
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Submitted on May 13, 2011

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La Fontaine

Jean de La Fontaine was a French fabulist and one of the most widely read French poets of the 17th century. more…

All La Fontaine poems | La Fontaine Books

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