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Nicaise

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

TO serve the shop as 'prentice was the lot;
Of one who had the name of Nicaise got;
A lad quite ignorant beyond his trade,
And what arithmetick might lend him aid;
A perfect novice in the wily art,
That in amours is used to win the heart.
Good tradesmen formerly were late to learn
The tricks that soon in friars we discern;
They ne'er were known those lessons to begin,
Till more than down appeared upon the chin.
But now-a-days, in practice, 'tis confessed,
These shopkeepers are knowing as the best.

OUR lad of ancient date was less advanced;
At scenes of love his eyes had never glanced;
Be that as 'twill, he now was in the way,
And naught but want of wit produced delay:
A belle indeed had on him set her heart
His master's daughter felt LOVE'S poignant smart;
A girl of most engaging mind and mien,
And always steady in her conduct seen.
Sincerity of soul or humour free,
Or whether with her taste it might agree,
A fool 'twas clear presided o'er her soul,
And all her thoughts and actions felt control.
Some bold gallant would p'erhaps inform her plain,
She ever kept wild Folly in her train,
And nothing say to me who tales relate;
But oft on reason such proceedings wait.
If you a goddess love, advance she'll make;
Our belle the same advantages would take.
Her fortune, wit, and charm, attention drew,
And many sparks would anxiously pursue;
How happy he who should her heart obtain,
And Hymen prove he had not sighed in vain!
But she had promised, to the modest youth,
Who first was named, her confidence and truth;
The little god of pleasing soft desire
With full compliance with his whims require.

THe belle was pleased the 'prentice to prefer:
A handsome lad with truth we may aver,
Quite young, well made, with fascinating eye:
Such charms are ne'er despised we may rely,
But treasures thought, no FAIR will e'er neglect;
Whate'er her senses say, she'll these respect.
For one that LOVE lays hold of by the soul,
A thousand by the eyes receive control.

THIS sprightly girl with soft endearing ease,
Exerted ev'ry care the lad to please,
To his regards she never shy appeared;
Now pinched his arm, then smiled and often leered;
Her hand across his eyes would sometimes put;
At others try to step upon his foot.
To this he nothing offered in reply,
Though oft his throbbing bosom heaved a sigh.

So many tender scenes, at length we find,
Produced the explanation LOVE designed;
The youthful couple, we may well believe,
Would from each other mutual vows receive;
They neither promises nor kisses spared,
Incalculable were the numbers shared;
If he had tried to keep exact account,
He soon had been bewildered with th' amount;
To such infinity it clearly ran,
Mistakes would rise if he pursued the plan;
A ceremony solely was required,
Which prudent girls have always much admired,
Yet this to wait gave pain and made her grieve;
From you, said she, the boon I would receive;
Or while I live the rapture never know,
That Hymen at his altar can bestow;
To you I promise, by the pow'rs divine,
My hand and heart I truly will resign.
Howe'er I'll freely say, should Hymen fail
To make me your's and wishes not prevail,
You must not fancy I'll become a nun,
Though much I hope to act as I've begun;
To marry you would please me to the soul;
But how can WE the ruling pow'rs control?
Too much I'm confident you love my fame,
To aim at what might bring me soon to shame:
In wedlock I've been asked by that and this;
My father thinks these offers not amiss;
But, Nicaise, I'll allow you still to hope,
That if with others I'm obliged to cope,
No matter whether counsellor or judge.
Since clearly ev'ry thing to such I grudge,
The marriage eve, or morn, or day, or hour,
To you I'll give--the first enchanting flow'r.

THE lad most gratefully his thanks returned;
His breast with ev'ry soft emotion burned.
Within a week, to this sweet charmer came,
A rich young squire, who soon declared his flame;
On which she said to Nicaise:--he will do;
This spark will easily let matters through;
And as the belle was confident of that,
She gave consent and listened to his chat.
Soon all was settled and arranged the day,
When marriage they no longer would delay,
You'll fully notice this:--I think I view
The thoughts which move around and you pursue;
'Twas doubtless clear, whatever bliss in store,
The lady was betrothed, and nothing more.

THOUGH all was fixed a week before the day,
Yet fearing accidents might things delay,
Or even break the tre
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Submitted on May 13, 2011

4:09 min read
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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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