A Hundred fables of La Fontaine

The Wax-Candle.

From bowers of gods the bees came down to man.
On Mount Hymettus, first, they say,
They made their home, and stored away
The treasures which the zephyrs fan.
When men had robb’d these daughters of the sky,
And left their palaces of nectar dry,–
Or, in English as the thing’s explain’d,
When hives were of their honey drain’d–
The spoilers ‘gan the wax to handle,
And fashion’d from it many a candle.
Of these, one, seeing clay, made brick by fire,
Remain uninjured by the teeth of time,
Was kindled into great desire
For immortality sublime.
And so this new Empedocles
Upon the blazing pile one sees,
Self-doom’d by purest folly
To fate so melancholy.
The candle lack’d philosophy:
All things are made diverse to be.
To wander from our destined tracks–
There cannot be a vainer wish;
But this Empedocles of wax,
That melted in chafing-dish
Was truly not a greater fool
Than he of whom we read at school.
The Wax-Candle

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