After Jean de la Fontaine's fable The Animals sick from the Plague
At times we should not be afraid
to roundly call a spade a spade.
I shrink not from a reference
to a fearful pestilence.
From Leo the king to a lowly vole,
the fear of death held all in thrall.
Even the amorous turtledove
found no appetite for love.
At last King Leo called together
birds big and small of every feather,
dogs, wolves, hares, horses, cattle,
to join a mighty fearless battle
against a woe that knew no measure,
that revealed divine displeasure.
In a tone both low and grave
the king proposed a way to save
his subjects from destruction's pit
in a way that would best fit.
"Beloved creatures, renouncing sins
alone celestial pardon wins.
Let each of us search heart and soul.
to find what error played a role
in provoking Heaven's frown,
sparing not Our royal crown.
We too have erred, let Us confess,
sharing guilt for the present mess.
Often We - Oh, truth to tell -
a flock of harmless sheep befell.
We must not omit to say,
the shepherd too his life did pay."
"Your conscience is too tender, Sire"
From all such self-reproach retire!
That shepherd got his just reward;
for humankind no tear afford.
Us animals they kill, enslave.
The world has lost but one more knave."
Thus spoke the wolves dressed in black
whose legal minds no cunning lack.
The animals told, one by one
all the wicked things they'd done
until it was a donkey's turn
to say for what his heart did burn.
"Once I was standing at a fence,
For what I did there's no defence.
I felt an urge - o woe betide! -
to munch grass on the neighbor's side.
Some demon drove me to so act.
Conscience forbid I hide the fact."
"Oh monstrous sin! Abomination!
Betrayal of the animal nation!
'Tis this wicked foolish ***
that has incurred God's wrath, alas!
The court did not brook delay.
Someone had the price to play.
Copyright © Julian Scutts | Year Posted 2020
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