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Reflection: Les Membres et L'Estomac

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Post  vendéenne d'âme on Sun Jan 05, 2020 2:35 am

A reflection on a poem by La Fontaine. In my translation to English I have attempted to preserve as much of the flow as possible. Smile

Je devais par la Royauté
Avoir commencé mon Ouvrage.
A la voir d'un certain côté,
Messer Gaster en est l'image.
S'il a quelque besoin, tout le corps s'en ressent.
De travailler pour lui les membres se lassant,
Chacun d'eux résolut de vivre en Gentilhomme,
Sans rien faire, alléguant l'exemple de Gaster.
Il faudrait, disaient-ils, sans nous qu'il vécût d'air.
Nous suons, nous peinons, comme bêtes de somme.
Et pour qui ? Pour lui seul ; nous n'en profitons pas :
Notre soin n'aboutit qu'à fournir ses repas.
Chommons, c'est un métier qu'il veut nous faire apprendre.
Ainsi dit, ainsi fait. Les mains cessent de prendre,
Les bras d'agir, les jambes de marcher.
Tous dirent à Gaster qu'il en allât chercher.
Ce leur fut une erreur dont ils se repentirent.
Bientôt les pauvres gens tombèrent en langueur ;
Il ne se forma plus de nouveau sang au coeur :
Chaque membre en souffrit, les forces se perdirent.
Par ce moyen, les mutins virent
Que celui qu'ils croyaient oisif et paresseux,
A l'intérêt commun contribuait plus qu'eux.
Ceci peut s'appliquer à la grandeur Royale.
Elle reçoit et donne, et la chose est égale.
Tout travaille pour elle, et réciproquement
Tout tire d'elle l'aliment.
Elle fait subsister l'artisan de ses peines,
Enrichit le Marchand, gage le Magistrat,
Maintient le Laboureur, donne paie au soldat,
Distribue en cent lieux ses grâces souveraines,
Entretient seule tout l'Etat.
Ménénius le sut bien dire.
La Commune s'allait séparer du Sénat.
Les mécontents disaient qu'il avait tout l'Empire,
Le pouvoir, les trésors, l'honneur, la dignité ;
Au lieu que tout le mal était de leur côté,
Les tributs, les impôts, les fatigues de guerre.
Le peuple hors des murs était déjà posté,
La plupart s'en allaient chercher une autre terre,
Quand Ménénius leur fit voir
Qu'ils étaient aux membres semblables,
Et par cet apologue, insigne entre les Fables,
Les ramena dans leur devoir.

I must, by the Royalty,
Have started my work.
To see it from a certain way,
Master Gaster is the image.
If he has any need, the whole body feels it.
To work for him the members getting tired,
Each of them resolved to live as a Gentleman,
Without doing anything, alleging the example of Gaster.
It would be necessary, they said, without us to live on air.
We sweat, we toil, like beasts of burden.
And for whom? For him alone; we do not profit from it:
Our care only leads to providing meals.
Let’s say it’s a job he wants us to learn.
So said, so done. The hands stop taking,
The arms to act, the legs to walk.
They all told Gaster that he was going to get it.
It was their mistake that they repented.
The poor people soon fell into languor;
No new blood was formed in the heart:
Each member suffered, the forces were lost.
By this means, the mutineers saw
that the one whom they believed idle and lazy, to
the common interest contributed more than them.
This can apply to Royal grandeur.
She receives and gives, and the thing is equal.
Everything works for her, and vice versa
Everything draws food from her.
She keeps the craftsman alive,
Enriches the Merchant, pledges the Magistrate,
Maintains the Plowman, pays the soldier,
Distributes his sovereign graces in a hundred places,
Maintains the entire State alone.
Menenius knew it well.
The Commune would separate from the Senate.
The dissatisfied said that he had all the Empire,
Power, treasures, honor, dignity;
Instead of all the evil on their side,
tributes, taxes, the fatigues of war.
The people outside the walls were already posted,
Most were going to look for another land,
When Menenius made them see that
they were with similar members,
And by this apologue, badge between the Fables,
Brought them back to their work.


This poem is an homage to Monarchy with the allegory of the stomach, which must be served by the rest of the body. The limbs decide they will no longer waste their time serving food to the apparently greedy stomach... not realizing that they were dependent on it for nutrition. Apart from their benevolent ruler, they only suffer and lack purpose.

Democratic society will often speak negatively of monarchs in terms of excess - wealth, privilege, power, literal food even. (How many unkind comments exist on the appearance of the most magnificent Louis XVI and Henri V in literature...) I have heard it myself when mentioning being a royalist. king But rather than deny this aspect of the monarch I must honestly say, Good! So be it!

(Every Monarchy is different so I will speak mostly with reference to that of France.) The well-being and life itself of the entire country revolves around the King, he does the job of an inestimable number of paid bureaucrats in a respective republic. He inspires that priceless love, faith and unity in a country that only a monarch can, and his responsibility is one of the hardest I know of, so much depends on him. The father of the people is priceless, his love for his people Christ-like. As I will return to in future posts, he is the representative of Christ's Kingship on earth, evidenced by the Rite of Coronation. He is often an indispensable ally and protector to the Church. Why not make his life a little easier and more beautiful, it's an honor and the least we can do in return! (The same for serving the Heavenly King!)

True humility and dignity are a form of honesty about one's nature, and the king, besides being a human mortal just like us, is also entrusted with an office greater than his own self and which will outlast him. While he bears the crown and anointing of the Holy Ampulla and incarnates the state (another future post), it is not only the king's right but his responsibility to be treated with a certain level of glory and majesty. This is why, though he willingly bore imprisonment and death, Louis XVI would not allow his anointed hands to be bound! His office could never be defiled.

Thus the outwardly beautiful and protected life of the Monarchy is perfectly ordered to the king's goodness, preciousness and set-apart vocation to his office. Risks of harm to the unique and much needed king are rightfully avoided. The royal treasures, vestments and works of art and music are fitting reminders and tributes to his God-given majesty. And like the stomach in this poem, service and honor to the king return multiplied blessings to the country and to the people - inspiration, love, unity, loyalty, stability, order, and edifying work as well as income to all the artisans who contribute to the king's glory. Most of these treasures are one-time investments which are passed down for ages. And Versailles was a sort of tourist destination before the industry began in earnest, with Louis XVI opening the palace to the public.

To see the King thrive is the glory of the country and the joy of the people. When he is smiling, well fed, adorned in beauty and surrounded by supporters, it feels as if all is well in the country. A happy thought indeed. king But if not...

This will require a discussion the tragedy of good Louis XVI, which I will write next, cross-listed in his forum page. Let us remember him and keep him in our prayer this time of year.
vendéenne d'âme
vendéenne d'âme

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