La Tortue et les Deux Canards / The Tortoise and the Two Ducks

oil on canvas
81 x 100 cm
signed and dated 'W Aractingii Février 89' (on the reverse)


The Artist's Estate

Condition Report
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Beirut, Lebanon

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About this artwork

La Tortue et les Deux Canards

Une tortue était, à la tête légère,
Qui, lasse de son trou, voulut voir le pays.
Volontiers on fait cas d'une terre étrangère;
Volontiers gens boîteux haïssent le logis.
Deux canards, à qui la commère
Communiqua ce beau dessein,
Lui dirent qu'ils avaient de quoi la satisfaire.
« Voyez-vous ce large chemin?
Nous vous voiturerons, par l'air en Amérique:
Vous verrez mainte république,
Maint royaume, maint peuple; et vous profiterez Des différentes mœurs que vous remarquerez.
Ulysse en fit autant. » On ne s'attendait guère
De voir Ulvsse en cette affaire.
La tortue écouta la proposition.
Marché fait, les oiseaux forgent une machine
Pour transporter la pèlerine.
Dans la gueule, en travers, on lui passe un bâton.
«Serrez bien, dirent-ils, gardez de lâcher prise. »
Puis chaque canard prend ce bâton par un bout.
La tortue enlevée, on s'étonne partout
De voir aller en cette guise L'animal lent et sa maison,
Justement au milieu de l'un et l'autre oison.
«Miracle! criait-on: venez voir dans les nues
Passer la reine des tortues.
- La reine! vraiment oui: je la suis en effet;
Ne vous en moquez point. » Elle eût beaucoup mieux fait
De passer son chemin sans dire aucune chose;
Car lâchant le bâton en desserrant les dents.
Elle tombe, elle crève aux pieds des regardants.
Son indiscrétion de sa perte fut cause.
Imprudence, babil, et sotte vanité, Et vaine curiosité.
Ont ensemble étroit parentage:
Ce sont enfants tous d'un lignage.

The Tortoise and the Two Ducks

A Tortoise once, with an empty head,
Grown sick of her safe but monotonous home,
Resolved on some distant shore to tread; -
It is ever the cripple that loves to roam.
Two Ducks, to whom our friend repaired
To gossip d'er ber bold intent,
Their full approval straight declared;
And, pointing to the firmament,
Said "By that road - tis broad and ample -
Well seek Columbia's mighty range,
See peoples, laws, and manners strange;
Ulysses shall be our example.
(Ulysses would have been astounded
At being with this scheme confounded.)
The Tortoise liking much this plan,
Straightway the friendly Ducks began
To see how one for flight unfitted
Might through the realms of air be flitted
At length within her jaws they fitted
A trusty stick, and seizing each an end,
With many a warning cry - "Hold fast! hold fast!"
Bore ub to heaven their adventurous friend.
The people wondered as the cortege passed,
And truly it was droll to see
A Tortoise and her house in the Ducks' company.
"A miracle!" the wondering mob surprises:
"Behold, on clouds the great Queen Tortoise rises!"
"À queen!" the tortoise answered; "ves, forsooth;
Make no mistake - I am - in honest truth."
Alas! why did she speak? She was a chattering dunce:
For as her jaws unclose, the stick slips out at once,
And down amidst the gaping crowds she sank,
A wretched victim to her claims to rank.
Self-pride, a love of idle speaking,
And wish to be for ever seeking
A power that Nature ne'er intended.
Are follies close allied, and from one stock descended.

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