The Original Fables of La Fontaine/Thyrsis and Amaranth

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(Book VIII.—No. 13)

A shepherd who was deeply in love with a shepherdess was sitting one day by her side trying to find words to express the emotions her charms created in his breast.

"Ah! Amaranth, dear," he sighed, "could you but feel, as I do, a certain pain which, whilst it tears the heart, is so delightful that it enchants, you would say that nothing under heaven is its equal. Let me tell you of it. Believe me, trust me. Would I deceive you? You, for whom I am filled with the tenderest sentiments the heart can feel!"

"And what, my Thyrsis, is the name you give this pleasing pain?"

"It is called love," said Thyrsis.

"Ah!" responded the maiden, "that is a beautiful name. Tell me by what signs I may know it, if it come to me. What are the feelings it gives one?"

Thyrsis, taking heart of grace, replied with much ardour: "One feels an anguish beside which the joys of kings are but dull and insipid. One forgets oneself, and takes pleasure in the solitudes of the woods. To glance into a brook is to see, not oneself, but an ever-haunting image. To any other form one's eyes are blind. It may be that there is a shepherd in the village at whose voice, at the mention of whose name, you will blush; at the thought of whom you will sigh. Why, one knows not! To see him will be a burning desire, and yet you would shrink from him."

"Oho!" said Amaranth, "Is this then the pain you have preached so much! It is hardly new to me. I seem to know something of it." The heart of Thyrsis leapt, for he thought that at last he had gained his end; when the fair one added, "'Tis just in this way that I feel for Cladimant!"

Imagine the vexation and misery of poor Thyrsis!

How many like him, intending to work solely for themselves, prove only to have been stepping stones for others.