The Ass and the Peasant

Kriloff’s Original Fables
A peasant for the summer hired An Ass, and put it on his ground.
To keep off crows and sparrows ’twas required,
A mischief-making lot. The Ass was bound
By strictest morals, and its body sound. ‘Twas never savage, and it knew not theft : A leaf upon the ground it untouched left, And birds had sinned in saying it let them steal. The Peasant’s gain, though, from the ground was
small
:
The Ass’s active heels the birds drive all Away, but on the beds they also fall
;
Up, down, to right and left they wheel,
The soil down-trodden where in heaps not tossed. The Peasant, seeing that his pains were lost, Upon the Ass’s back did rub
The score out with a good stout club. ” Give it him well ! ” the neighbours cry. ” Serves the brute right
!
With wits as dull as night,
Upon him such a charge to take !

And I say, not excuses for the Ass to make : For he was wrong (and well hath paid his debt),
But, counting faults, there was another’s yet, His who to keep his ground an Ass could get.
[There are two Russian proverbs on which this fable may have been grounded : ” He let the goat into the
garden,” and, in allusion to the practice in the Greek
church, of bowing the head to the ground, ” Set a fool to
his prayers, and he will break his head.”]