The Fire and the Diamond – Jataka Tales

Kriloff’s Original Fables
A Fire, arising from the merest spark,
Its bright flames casting through the dark,
Over a pile of buildings poured in the dead of night.
Amid the troubled scene, A diamond its light
Gave from the dusty road with faintest sheen. “How worthless thou !” the Fire did say;
” How in my presence dimmed thy vaunted play ! And what long habit’s use must eyes demand
Thee to distinguish, e’en when close at hand
Or from a bit of glass, or water drop,
On which a ray of mine, or of the sun’s, hath strayed !
I would not say, that misery alone with thee can stop,
That on thee never weighed

Thou useless one ! —some ribbon’s rags ; How oft thy beams are lost in shade,
When o’er thee but a single hair-lock drags ! But not so easy to eclipse my glow,
When, I in all my rage, Lay mighty buildings low,
See, how the efforts both of youth and age
Against me I despise
;
How with a crash all that I meet asunder flies

While the red glare, which through the clouds I spread,
O’er a vast space inspires dread ! ”
“Though, when compared with thine, my beams are
naught,”
The Diamond answered, ” Harm I never wrought
:
In no one’s misery have I had part ; My rays within an envious heart Alone can cause the lightest smart
;
But thou canst glitter only to destroy ; So that, their strength uniting all,
See, how men work that thou shouldst faster fall. The higher thou dost flame in angry joy,
The nearer is perhaps thy end.” Now to the Fire, to put it out, a vast crowd dashes
;
By morning on the spot is left but smoke and ashes
;
The diamond, picked up, they send
To a king’s crown its chiefest grace to lend.
[The strange predilection of Kriloff for fires has been
mentioned in the account of his life ; he everywhere
describes the action of fire with an admirable truth and
vividness.]