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The Dove and the Ant

· The Fable ·

Many of us grew up with tales of tremendously human animals that talked, narrated by the French writer and poet Jean de La Fontaine (1611-1695) who was so skilful and concise in describing not only the temptations of power, human vices and shortcomings but also the surprising qualities of altruism, fantasy and irony. In The dove and the Ant, for example, the concept of mercy, what is saved and where salvation comes from, is central. “A dove” (in Tormod Kinnes’ translation), “came to a brook to drink, / When, leaning over its crumbling brink, / An ant fell in, and vainly tried, / In this, to her, an ocean tide, to reach the land; whereat the dove, / With every living thing in love, / Was prompt a spire of grass to throw her, / By which the ant regained the shore. (...) A barefoot scamp, both mean and sly, / Soon after chanced this dove to spy; / And, being armed with bow and arrow, / The hungry codger doubted not / The bird of Venus, in his pot, / Would make a soup before the morrow. / Just as his deadly bow he drew, Our ant just bit his heel. / Roused by the villain's squeal, / The dove took timely hint, and flew / Far from the rascal's coop; / And with her flew his soup.” An example of poetic mercy, perhaps with a feminine touch. (@GiuliGaleotti)

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