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This poem is taken from PN Review 118, Volume 24 Number 2, November - December 1997.

The Catalan Friars (translated by Guido Waldman) La Fontaine

I'm going to tell you about the task undertaken in Catalonia by certain friars:
A task wherein these men of God bore witness to the all-consuming fires
Of holy charity - a charity so fervent as to bring a blush of pleasure to many a dame
Who was left convinced that she had passed through the pearly gate.
These friars, proffering sage advice to maids and matrons, rightly claim
That, capturing their hearts, they bring their souls to the welcome state
Of full redemption. How, then, do they labour in the vineyard of the Lord?
Listen to this story, for it will be of interest, you may rest assured.

Back in the days when the fair sex was denied the merest smattering of education
And was still unable to read even the Gospels with an intelligent appreciation,
(Exactly when this was is not all that easy to date)
A swarm of Friars Minor descended upon a town, as the chronicles indicate.
Now these friars had a truly hearty appetite, and were delighted to set about their duties
In a neighbourhood that proved so fertile in young beauties.
The place was not so well provided with young wooers,
While there was such a surfeit of elderly husbands, they were practically crawling out of the sewers.

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