Kriloff’s Original Fables
A Cuckoo, on a drying branch, gave forth a wailing cry, A Pigeon, on a green bough sitting, With sympathy and softly asked her why.
” Is it that spring hath now gone by,
That love is flitting?
Or that the sun stands lower in the sky,
And winter’s cold will soon the ground be splitting? ”
“And how not grieve, when thus with me it fares !
The Cuckoo answer made. ” Thyself mayst judgment give
Happy in love did I throughout the spring-time live, And knew a mother’s joys and cares
But now, to cast me off each young one dares : Was this the sweet reward that filled my mind ?
Is’t not enough to rouse my envy, when
The mother’s wing doth round the ducklings wind,
Or chickens, at a call, run nestling to the hen ? While I, as if I orphaned were, sit here alone,
And children’s sweet affection through life not once have
known.” —” Poor thing, for thee my bleeding heart doth groan : My children me, not loving me, had killed, Though of such cases there are many
But tell me, of thine infant brood hast brought up any ? When hadst thou time thy nest to build ?
I saw not how the work did go
I saw thee flying to and fro.” —” What nonsense ! If such glorious days I’d seen, Only to lose them sitting in a nest
That stupider than all had been ! My eggs in others’ homes shall always rest.” “And yet thy wish,” the Pigeon said, “is keen,
With children’s fond caresses to be blest !
Parents, to you this fable something teaches,
I have not told it children to excuse :
If parents they their love refuse,
To crime the vice unnatural reaches ;
But, if they grow up scarce to know a parent’s name,
Trusted in hired hands, from you apart,
Have you not got yourselves to blame,
That in your old age they no comfort bring your heart?
[This fable belongs to the same class as ” The Ducat
and “The Cask,” only it seems to include more than
merely Tutors and Governesses ; it points to the number
of public institutions to which parents began more and more to send their children. These institutions in Kriloffs day were all ” closed ones ”
; children entered them at a very early age, and were at once separated from the
family. The spirit that reigned in most of these institu- tions was bad : boys were hardened, and turned out coarse, ignorant, and vicious, and girls became mannerised,
formal, and superficial, and, if the hints of Russian
novelists are founded on fact, not seldom something
worse. During the late Emperor’s reign this system was
materially changed, and the “closed schools “have been
to a great extent transformed into ” special classes ” with
admittance by examination. This remark, however, only
applies to establishments for boys, though at the same
time the number of Gymnasiums and Public Courses now
opened for the other sex have done much to mitigate the
evil in their case also, even in the still “closed female
schools,” which are now administered in a far better spirit than they were in the days of Kriloff.]
Kriloff’s Original Fables