The Fire in the Grove – Jataka Tales

Kriloff’s Original Fables
With care we must select our friends,
Under the mask of friendship selfish ends
Dig but a pit beneath our feet, This truth a fable here to thee commends,
Look that its warning thou dost docile greet.
A Fire in winter smouldered in a Grove : Some careless visitors had left it there. From hour to hour still less and less it throve
No wood to feed it, for the Grove was bare. The dying Fire, seeing his end draw near, Addressed the Grove : “Tell me, my dear,
How is it fate hath thee bereft Of all, not one leaf on thy branches left, In nakedness condemned to freeze ? ”
“Because o’er all doth lie the snow;
In winter neither leaves nor flowers I know.”
Answered the Grove, the Fire continuing thus :
‘ A trifle, and for thee no need to fuss
Thyself about it, on thy friend rely
In him the rival of the sun behold,
For in the depths of winter cold He works no greater miracles than I
Ask in the hothouses what fire can give : While winter’s storms and sleet are in the air, The flowers blossom and fruits ripen there,
And ’tis through me alone they live
I am not one of those that love self-praise
The song of boasting I could never raise ; But to the sun in strength I yield no jot.
Brightly his rays have played upon this spot,
And yet the snow’s unharmed at his decline,
But melts around me rapidly at mine.
If, then, thou wouldst in winter still be green, As in the summer or the springtide scene, Give up to me some quiet nook.” —”Agreed.”—The Fire puts on another look,
And hastes to seize on branches green or dry;
The smoke in black clouds curls unto the sky
And the whole Grove is soon in fiercest blaze,
Which ceases not until it raze The Grove from off the ground,
And there, where once the traveller shelter found,
Are now but rows of blackened stumps around. No wonder thus it ends ; For how can wood and fire be ever friends ?

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