The Husband-Confessor Poem by Jean De La Fontaine

The Husband-Confessor

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WHEN Francis (named the first) o'er Frenchmen reign'd,
In Italy young Arthur laurels gained,
And oft such daring valour showed in fight,
With ev'ry honour he was made a knight;
The monarch placed the spur upon his heel,
That all around his proper worth might feel.
Then household deities at home he sought,
Where--not at prayers his beauteous dame he caught:
He'd left her, truly, quite dissolv'd in tears;
But now the belle had bid adieu to fears;
And oft was dancing joyously around,
With all the company that could be found.

GALLANTS in crowds Sir Arthur soon perceived;
At sight of these the knight was sorely grieved;
And, turning in his mind how best to act;
Cried he, Can this be truly held a fact,
That I've been worthy while I'd fame in view,
Of cuckoldom at home, and knighthood too?
It ought to be but half:--the truth let's know;
From constancy the purest blessings flow.
Then like a father-confessor he dressed,
And took his seat where priests their flock confessed.
His lady absolution sought that day,
And on her knees before him 'gan to pray;
The minor sins were told with downcast eyes,
And then for hearing those of larger size,
The husband-confessor prepared his ears:--
Said she, Good father, ('mid a flood of tears),
My bed receives, (the fault I fear's not slight,)
A gentleman, a parson, and a knight.
Still more had followed, but, by rage o'ercome,
Sir Arthur cut the thread, and she was mum;
Though, doubtless, had the fair been let proceed,
Quite long her Litany had been decreed.

THe husband, in a rage, exclaimed, thou jade,
A parson, say'st thou? t'whom dost think thou'st made
This curst confession?--To my spouse, cried she,
I saw you enter here, and came with glee,
Supposing you'd a trick to raise surprise;
Howe'er 'tis strange that one so very wise,
The riddle should not fully comprehend:--
A KNIGHT, the king created you, my friend;
A GENTLEMAN, your rank was long ago;
A PARSON, you have made yourself you know.
Good heav'ns! exclaimed the knight, 'tis very clear,
And I a blockhead surely must appear

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