Poetry Explorer- Classic Contemporary Poetry, THE CASTLE-BUILDER, by JEAN DE LA FONTAINE



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THE CASTLE-BUILDER, by             Poet's Biography
First Line: It happened on a summer's day
Last Line: Cow, calf, and farm—all swam away!
Subject(s): Fables; Farm Life; Allegories; Agriculture; Farmers


IT happened on a summer's day,
A country lass as fresh as May,
Decked in a wholesome russet gown,
Was going to the market town;
So blithe her looks, so simply clean,
You'd take her for a May-day queen;
Though for her garland, says the tale,
Her head sustained a loaded pail.
As on her way she passed along,
She hummed the fragments of a song;
She did not hum for want of thought—
Quite pleased with what to sale she brought,
She reckoned by her own account,
When all was sold, the whole amount.
Thus she—" In time this little ware
May turn to great account, with care:
My milk being sold for—so and so,
I'll buy some eggs as markets go,
And set them;—at the time I fix,
These eggs will bring as many chicks;
I'll spare no pains to feed them well;
They ll bring vast profit when they sell.
With this, I'll buy a little pig,
And when 'tis grown up fat and big,
I'll sell it, whether boar or sow,
And with the money buy a cow:
This cow will surely have a calf,
And there the profit's half in half;
Besides there's butter, milk, and cheese,
To keep the market when I please:
All which I'll sell, and buy a farm,
Then shall of sweethearts have a swarm.
Oh! then for ribands, gloves, and rings!
Ay! more than twenty pretty things—
One brings me this, another that,
And I shall have—I know not what!"

Fired with the thought—the sanguine lass!—
Of what was thus to come to pass,
Her heart beat strong; she gave a bound,
And down came milk-pail on the ground:
Eggs, fowls, pig, hog (ah, well-a-day!)
Cow, calf, and farm—all swam away!





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