The Crow

Kriloff’s Original Fables
If thou wouldst not deserve men’s laughter,
Keep to the class which by thy birth is thine
;
If low-born, nobles don’t run after
Till, once allied, thou say’st, their rank is mine : Created dwarf, don’t try to gain
A giant’s stature, ’twill be vain.
Decking with peacocks’ feathers out her tail, A Crow among the peahens went to walk,
Thinking she could not fail To make her former friends all talk Of her, as the new wonder
;
That she to peahens would a sister be,
And that the world would see That Juno’s Court itself, if she Were once away, must soon fall quite asunder. What gained her arrogance and folly thus together ? That, pecked by all the peahens, till she must
Fly from them rumpled, tumbled in the dust,
Not counting stolen plumes untrussed, She’d hardly of her own still left a single feather. She went back to her relatives, but they
Knew not the pecked bedraggled Crow,
And plucked at her, until she flew away. And thus her mad trick ended so ! A crow no longer now was she,
And yet a peahen could not be.
This fable shall a fact explain to thee. Martha, the daughter of a tradesman, took
A fancy, that she would be nobly married,
And, as she had some thousands on her hook,
The bait was swallowed, and her point she carried
:
A Baron chose her for his bride. But was she happy by his noble side ? Her new relations at each third word drop
Some sting about a shop ;
Her old ones nettle her with clumsy joke,
That she her nose will ‘mongst her betters poke : Poor Martha gained but woe

Neither a peahen, nor a crow !
[This old fable, in La Fontaine “Le Geai pare des plumes dePaon,” andin James’s Esop “The Vain Jackdaw,”
has been translated here because it is a striking instance of a new application of an old thought. La Fontaine
applies his moral to those ” que l’on nomme plagiaires,”
and Esop to contentment with what nature has given us. The latter idea has been developed by Kriloff, and applied
with such inimitable humour to unequal marriages, that, though the Russian language previously possessed more
than one proverb expressing the idea of the two concluding
lines, they have become the one saying used by Russians
to express the thought. I am better aware, than most of my readers can probably be, of what the fable has lost in translation, but I think a comparison, with either La
Fontaine or Esop, will still show the immeasurable
superiority of Kriloff.]