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The Fables of Florian (tr. Phelps)/The Child and the Looking-Glass

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FABLE X.
THE CHILD AND THE LOOKING-GLASS.

Once on a time it came to pass,
   A child by a poor woman rais'd,
First saw at home a looking-glass,
   In which it often fondly gazed.

At length, by a mere child's caprice,
   But which the grown man often shows,
Its raptures for the mirror cease,
   At which it ugly glances throws.

These glances now his rage inflame,
   At what he loved before;
And as the image makes the same,
   He's angered more and more.

Whene'er his angry fist he shakes,
Or wry and hateful faces makes,
The image, aping ev'ry whim,
Repeats the same bad thoughts to him.

Enraged at insults so extreme,
At last he bursts out in a scream.

His mother coming wiped his face,
And gave her child a kind embrace;
Consol'd his wrath and gently show'd
How 'twas those insults were bestowed.

"For, if you smile," she said, "'tis plain,
The image will smile back again.
Extend your arms for an embrace,
And 'twill not make an angry face.
You see, whatever you may do,
The image does the same to you."

So in the world at large 'twill be;
'Tis your own image there you'll see.