The Animals Sick from the Plague

An evil that spread terror, An evil that the Heavens in their fury Invented to punish the crimes of the earth, The Plague (we must call it by its name), Able to replenish in one day the river Acheron, Made war against animals. They didn’t all die, but all were struck: You didn’t see any of them busy Looking for some support of a dying life; No food aroused their desire; Neither Wolves nor Foxes watched for Their sweet and innocent prey. The Turtledoves fled away from one another: No more love, therefore no more joy. The Lion called for advice, and said: “My dear friends, I believe that the Heavens allowed This misfortune for our sins; That the guiltiest among us must Sacrifice themselves to the blows of heavenly wrath, Perhaps it will achieve a collective healing. History teaches us that in such crises We make similar sacrifices: So let’s not flatter ourselves; let’s consider without indulgence The state of our conscience. In my case, to satisfy my greedy appetites I devoured many sheep. What had they done to me? Nothing at all. It even happened sometimes that I ate The Shepherd. I will therefore sacrifice myself, if need be; but I think It’s good that all accuse themselves as I have: For we must wish that in all justice The guiltiest perishes. “— Sire,” said the Fox, “you are too generous; Your scruples show too much nobility. Well, to eat sheep, a foolish race, Is it a sin? No, no. You, my Lord, By eating them, you really honored them. And as for the Shepherd, we can say That he was deserving all evils, Being one of those who impose A false power over the animals.” Thus said the Fox, and to flattering applause. They didn’t dare delve

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