The Eagle and the Bee – Jataka Tales

Kriloff’s Original Fables
Though happy he, who struggles upon a scene of glory,
Nerved by the thought, that each heroic deed
Shall have the world for witness, and its meed
Of praise allowed
;
Not the less worthy of esteem the story
Of him, that in a lowly grade
By constant toil is bowed,
Content that all his pains be paid
With cold neglect, from him all honours far, And but one thought to renovate his zeal, To be through life his guiding star, That he is working for the public weal.
Seeing a Bee around a flower hurry,
An Eagle said, in most contemptuous tone : ” How pitiful art thou, with all thy flurry ! How vain thy skill and industry to own ! Thousands within the hive in summer mould the wax, Then who shall later tax The work that thou hast wrought ? To me ’tis inconceivable, the thought
Of labouring a life out, but to die One of an unknown herd, and with them lie ! Wilt thou the difference hear
Between us two ? When me my sounding wings so oft Carry unto the clouds aloft, O’er all things I spread fear ;
No bird to leave the safer ground then dares
;
No shepherd near his flock to slumber cares
;
Nor will the doe that skims the field,
If I be seen, appear.”
The Bee thus answered:—”Thine be honours, praise ! May Jove upon thee pour each richest gift
!
But I for the common good was born to pass my days,
Nor seek my labours from the rest to sift, More than consoled, each time I see our home,
If but a drop of honey I’ve poured into the comb.” —o—
[Gogol quotes this fable as a proof of Kriloff’s nobleness
of mind. There is no reason to suppose that it was written from a conscious feeling, but it does not the less apply to the motives that guided his own quiet and unambitious
career.]