The Crow and the Hen – Jataka Tales

Kriloff’s Original Fables
The hero-prince of Smolensk’s plain,
Against the Vandals arming, once again
Their insolence to punish by his skill,
Left to them Moscow, as a snare, For them to perish there ; Then, like a swarm of bees that will Pour from the hive, came forth the crowd
Of young and old, of low and great, Out of the ancient walls, beyond the gate.
A Hen, upon a loaded cart, aloud Spoke to a Crow, that on a roof was sitting
Her beak at ease to clean,
The while she watched the tumult of the scene : ” And gossip thou, thou also wilt be flitting ? They say that just outside the city, The foe is there in force.” To which the bird of omen hoarse : ” And, if ’tis so, what’s that to me ? Of course For thee, and for thy sisters, ’tis a pity
But I stay here without a care
To boil or roast a Crow who dare ?
I with our guests can get on well enough
And profit too may well be mine,
A bone, a bit of cheese, or some such stuff. Good-bye, and luck befall that tuft of thine !

And thus the Crow did stay ; But, for all profit, got,
When Smolensk had his guests begun to slay
With hunger’s pangs—it was his way

Herself into the pot.
How blindly, stupidly men often reckon
On tiptoes haste they to the luck that seems to beckon
But, once with facts to deal they stoop,
They, like the Crow, get bundled into soup.
[We have here the justification of Kutuzoff, who had
just received the title of Prince of Smolensk, for relying on starvation and cold. The Crow, with its arrogant
assumption that no one dare touch it, is an admirable type of Napoleon. This fable is very probably based on some
of the caricatures of the time, which frequently represented
French Grenadiers shooting crows for their soup.]

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