The Wolves and the Sheep
After the Wolves and Sheep had been at war
Some thousand years, or maybe more,
At last on terms of peace they hit
By which both parties seemed to benefit;
For if the Wolves ate each stray sheep they found,
Each Shepherd in a slain wolf's skin was gown'd;
And neither side could seek their diet,
Of grass or flesh, in peace and quiet,
Or of their goods have any calm fruition,
So peace was signed and hostages exchanged,
The Sheep-dogs for the Cubs; the whole arranged
By an Extraordinary High Commission
In strict accordance with tradition.
As time went on, the Whelps grew large and bold,
Each one by now a full-sized glutton
With a developed taste for mutton;
And when one day the Shepherds left the fold,
Choosing their moment with exactitude
In privy concert with their sires and dams,
They throttled half the fattest Lambs,
And bore them 'twixt their jaws into the wood.
Meanwhile the old Wolves fell upon the Dogs,
Who in their blind trust lay asleep like logs,
And scuppered the whole pack in one eye-twinkling:
All were mincemeat before they had an inkling.
Compound not with the wicked - there's my moral.
With such, the wise man has a truceless quarrel.
Peace in itself is a good thing, I know,
But not with a perfidious foe.
By Jean de la Fontaine