The Ass and the Nightingale – Jataka Tales

Kriloff’s Original Fables
An Ass once saw a Nightingale,
And thus to her he spoke : “I’ve heard, friend, of thy singing,
So masterful that all the land with it is ringing ! Be sure, I could not fail At once to see if they have told me truly ; Let me then hear, that I may judge thee duly !

The Nightingale began her wondrous skill to show
;
She piped now high, now low,
A volume of all sounds, and then a quivering note
;
Gently the cadenced accents flow, And, like a shepherd’s reed, far o’er the distance float, And then the grove is filled wi’ th’ music of her throat. All gave a willing ear To the loved one of the morning sky
;
The choirs of the birds were hushed ; the herds, no longer
Ran thither, while the winds kept still to hear
;
The shepherd, hardly breathing, listened quite beguiled,
And, as he looked upon his love, in fear A trill were lost, he only smiled. The singer ceased. The Ass, with head to ground,
Says : ” That’s not bad, I’ll dare to say Thy singing passes in a simple way ; A pity, though, thou’st never found
A time to hear what notes our cock can sound
:
Thou wouldst have been so much the gainer,
To have learned from him an art, though high,
yet plainer.”
Our Nightingale, on hearing what thus the Ass decrees,
Spreads wing, and—takes her flight far o’er the distant trees.
And God deliver us from judges such as these
!
— —
[Kriloff read a translation from La Fontaine to one of
the Seigneurs of the day, a Razounovsky or a Golitzine,
and was asked why he did not write like Demetrieff. He
answered at the moment, “Because I am unable to do
so,” and later with this fable.]