L'Aigle et le Hibou / The Eagle and the Owl

oil on canvas
80 x 100 cm
signed and dated 'W Aractingii 89' (lower left)


The Artist's Estate

Condition Report
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Beirut, Lebanon

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About this artwork

L'Aigle et le Hibou

L'Aigle et le Chat-huant leurs querelles cessèrent,
Et firent tant qu'ils s'embrassèrent.
L'un jura foi de Roi, l'autre foi de Hibou,
Qu'ils ne se goberaient leurs petits peu ni prou.
Connaissez-vous les miens ? dit l'Oiseau de Minerve.
Non, dit l'Aigle. Tant pis, reprit le triste oiseau :
Je crains en ce cas pour leur peau :
C'est hasard si je les conserve.
Comme vous êtes Roi, vous ne considérez
Qui ni quoi : Rois et Dieux mettent, quoi qu'on leur die,
Tout en même catégorie.
Adieu mes Nourrissons, si vous les rencontrez.
Peignez-les-moi, dit l'Aigle, ou bien me les montrez :
Je n'y toucherai de ma vie.
Le Hibou repartit : Mes Petits sont mignons,
Beaux, bien faits, et jolis sur tous leurs compagnons :
Vous les reconnaîtrez sans peine à cette marque.
N'allez pas l'oublier ; retenez-la si bien
Que chez moi la maudite Parque
N'entre point par votre moyen.
Il avint qu'au Hibou Dieu donna géniture.
De façon qu'un beau soir qu'il était en pâture,
Notre Aigle aperçut d'aventure,
Dans les coins d'une roche dure,
Ou dans les trous d'une masure
(Je ne sais pas lequel des deux),
De petits monstres fort hideux,
Rechignés, un air triste, une voix de Mégère.
Ces enfants ne sont pas, dit l'Aigle, à notre ami.
Croquons-les. Le Galand n'en fit pas à demi :
Ses repas ne sont point repas à la légère.
Le Hibou, de retour, ne trouve que les pieds
De ses chers Nourrissons, hélas ! pour toute chose.
Il se plaint; et les dieux sont par lui suppliés
De punir le brigand qui de son deuil est cause.
Quelqu'un lui dit alors : N'en accuse que toi
Ou plutôt la commune loi,
Qui veut qu'on trouve son semblable
Beau, bien fait, et sur tous aimable.
Tu fis de tes enfants à l'Aigle ce portrait :
En avaient-ils le moindre trait ?

The Eagle and the Owl

The Eagle and the Owl had treaty made—
Ceased quarrelling, and even had embraced.
One took his royal oath; and, undismayed,
The other′s claw upon his heart was placed:
Neither would gulp a fledgling of the other.
"Do you know mine?" Minerva′s wise bird said.
The Eagle gravely shook her stately head,
"So much the worse," the Owl replied. "A mother
Trembles for her sweet chicks—she does, indeed.
It′s ten to one if I can rear them then.
You are a king, and, therefore, take no heed
Of who or what. The gods and lords of men
Put all things on one level: let who will
Say what they like. Adieu, my children dear,
If you once meet them." "Nay, good ma′am, but still,
Describe them," said the Eagle; "have no fear:
Be sure I will not touch them, on my word."
The Owl replied, "My little ones are small,
Beautiful, shapely,—prettier, far, than all.
By my description you will know the dears;
Do not forget it: let no fate by you
Find way to us, and cause me ceaseless tears."
Well, one fine evening, the old Owl away,
The Eagle saw, upon a rocky shelf,
Or in a ruin, (who cares which I say?)
Some little ugly creatures. To himself
The Eagle reasoned, "These are not our friend′s,
Moping and gruff, and such a screeching, too:
Let′s eat ′em." Waste time never spends
The royal bird, to give the brute his due;
And when he eats, he eats, to tell the truth.
The Owl, returning, only found the feet
Of her dear offspring:—sad, but yet it′s sooth.
She mourns the children, young, and dear, and sweet,
And prays the gods to smite the wicked thief,
That brought her all the woe and misery.
Then some one said, "Restrain thy unjust grief;
Reflect one moment on the casualty.
Thou art to blame, and also Nature′s law,
Which makes us always think our own the best.
You sketched them to the Eagle as you saw:
They were not like your portrait;—am I just?"

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