Kriloff’s Original Fables
A tomtit in the spring a schoolboy shot,
And with her fate the evil might have ended,
But no, her death left orphaned, undefended,
Three of her fledgelings, who must share her lot.
Just from the egg, no sense nor strength had got
The infant brood to hunger bear,
Nor yet the sharpness of the air, And lamentably for the mother whined in vain. ” How can one see the pain
Of infants such as these ; And not one’s heart with pity feel to beat ? ” A Fox said to the birds, his seat A boulder making, opposite the nest, at ease : ” Dear friends, abandon not the infant in its need
Though but a grain to the poor things ye bring,
Though with a single straw unto their nest ye wing : To life with that they still may cling
What’s holier than a charitable deed ?
Thou cuckoo, see, that idly now with life but toyest,
Were it not best to let thyself be plucked
A little, and that these in down were tucked ? Thou to no good at all thy plumes employest.
Thou lark, instead of circling high,
Mightst cease thy tumbling in the air, And o’er the valleys and the meadows fly Food with the orphans here to share. Thou pigeon, for thy younglings, who are grown, Need’st seek no fare, but let them find their own : Quit, then, thy nest, where thou art not required,
And care for these, by mother’s love inspired
Thine own young leaving to the love Of God above. Thou swallow, shouldst catch moths by rights,
To feast for once the hapless mites,
And thou, my gentle nightingale, —Thou knowest the delights thy voice gives best
The while that zephyr gently rocks their nest, Lull them to sleep with songs that never fail. And by such tenderness, ’tis my belief, Yell compensate for bitter grief. Then listen, birds, to me : let’s show the forest wild Hath good hearts too, and that # * * ” Here stopped
the speaking mild
The nurslings that above did sit, Seized with the pangs of cruel hunger’s fit,
Fell fluttering to the Fox’s feet. What did the Fox do ? Gobbled up the three,
And let his fine discourse unfinished be.
Reader, such things we meet
No waste of words with those that really are kind-hearted, In silence they their good deeds do
But he, whose empty talk of kindness buzzes through
All ears, by kindness is to action seldom started,
Unless another have the cost to pay, And nothing of his own be lost in any way. Once put to proof how few our Fox would shame,
For most men do the very .same.
[After the French war thousands of Russian families had to struggle with poverty, and many were deprived of the “breadwinners.” This distress led to a development of well-intended charity, but at the same time it was accompanied by a good deal of what may be seen elsewhere in such matters, vainglorious advertising and
boasting, not to speak of funds diverted from their purpose.]
Kriloff’s Original Fables