A pot of milk on her cushioned crown,
Good Peggy hastened to the market town;
Short clad and light, with speed she went,
Not fearing any accident;
Indeed, to be the nimbler tripper,
Her dress that day,
The truth to say,
Was simple petticoat and slipper.
And, thus bedight,
Good Peggy, light,—
Her gains already counted,—
Laid out the cash
At single dash,
Which to a hundred eggs amounted.
Three nests she made,
Which, by the aid
Of diligence and care were hatched.
“To raise the chicks,
I’ll easy fix,”
Said she, “beside our cottage thatched.
The fox must get
More cunning yet,
Or leave enough to buy a pig.
With little care
And any fare,
He’ll grow quite fat and big;
And then the price
Will be so nice,
For which, the pork will sell!
“Twill go quite hard
But in our yard
I’ll bring a cow and calf to dwell—
A calf to frisk among the flock!”
The thought made Peggy do the same;
And down at once the milk-pot came,
And perished with the shock.
Calf, cow, and pig, and chicks, adieu!
Your mistress’ face is sad to view;
She gives a tear to fortune spilt;
Then with the downcast look of guilt
Home to her husband empty goes,
Somewhat in danger of his blows.
Who builds not, sometimes, in air
His cots, or seats, or castles fair?
From kings to dairy women,—all,—
The wise, the foolish, great and small,—
Each thinks his waking dream the best.
Some flattering error fills the breast:
The world with all its wealth is ours,
Its honours, dames, and loveliest bowers.
Instinct with valour, when alone,
I hurl the monarch from his throne;
The people, glad to see him dead,
Elect me monarch in his stead,
And diadems rain on my head.
Some accident then calls me back,
And I’m no more than simple Jack.
The Dairywoman and the Pot Of Milk by Jean de La Fontaine’s Fables in Book 7