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Information

Author: Jean-Pierre Claris de Florian - 1792

Translated into English
  by John Wolcott Phelps - 1888

Original title (French):
Les deux jardiniers

Country of origin: France

Translations

English - aligned


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The Two Gardeners

Jean-Pierre Claris de Florian / John Wolcott Phelps

Two brother gardeners had the lot
To fall heirs to a garden spot.
They halved in peace the legacy,
Working together day by day,
Living in perfect amity,
Each managing in his own way.
One of the two, whose name was John,
A gift of speech much doted on.
He thought himself a man of wit,
That e'en for LL.D. was fit.
He had the knack
Of conning o'er the almanac.
Of books and charts he kept a stock,
And daily eyed the weather-cock.
Still to his genius giving wing,
He sought to know
How from one single pea could spring
The thousand peas that from it grow;—
Why from the linden's tiny seed
A tree so lofty should proceed,
While from the bean's far ampler size
A mere shrub comes that shortly dies;
And, above all, how beans should know
Their branches up from earth to throw,
Yet downwards thrust their roots below.
But while in search of truths like these,
He quite forgets his cabbages.
His wat'ring pot
Is too forgot.
He fails his fig-trees to protect,
Against the cold north winds that freeze,
While wilted drops his lettuces,
And all things suffer from neglect.
He has no fruit; and, what is worse,
There is no money in his purse;
So that our learned doctor lacks,
In spite of all his almanacs,
The means wherewith to live,
And fain must take what others give.

His brother, up at break of day,
Went to his work with right good will;
Sung with the birds a cheerful lay,
And never failed his lot to till.
Setting aside the things unknown,
And mindful of his crops alone,
In simple faith he sow'd his field,
And was rewarded by the yield.
He dug and water'd ev'rything,
From gooseberry to apricot;
And none to market e'er could bring
Of fruits and plants a finer lot.
Hence he had money and to spare,
And with his brother well could share.
"How is't," said John, "my brother dear,
That you know how to thrive so well?"
His brother answered: "'Tis quite clear;
We need not on the myst'ry dwell,
I go to work and till the ground,
While you do naught but rack your brains;
And while with me all things abound,
You get but labor for your pains.
The question, then, I leave to you,
Which is the wiser of the two?"