The Leaves and the Roots – Jataka Tales

Kriloff’s Original Fables
One pleasant summer’s day
The while a dale in shadow lay, Unto the zephyr whispered the leaves upon a tree, Their density and greenness boasting of with pride,
And thus their babble went : ” You, surely, can’t but see That w e alone adorn this laughing valley’s side ?
That thanks to us the tree so bushingly is growing,
To us its stately foliage owing ? What’s left to it without us ? Showing
Such claims, no sin in us ourselves to praise !
Is it not we the shade who raise By which the shepherd and the wanderer are protected ? Not we, whose beauty to the dance
Hath hither oft the shepherdess directed ? When tints the sky the sun’s first latest glance,
Then pipes for us the nightingale
!
And zephyr, thou scarce quittest
The friends round whom thou gently flittest
!

—” And we too might have thanks within this dale,”
From ‘neath the ground was answered no way loudly —” Who ventures here to speak so proudly ? Who then are you, that wail And impudently claim our peers to be ? ” Ran the loud whisper through the trembling tree, —”We are Those in the dark that romage deep and far To give you food. You, surely, can’t but know
The Roots whose tree upon you deign to blow ! Then, flaunt you while you may ! Bethink you, though, at times this difference to weigh : That each new spring doth see the tree’s leaves fresh created;
But, let the Roots dry up, by rain unsated,

You and the tree have lived your day.”
[The roots are meant for the peasant serfs, the question
of whose emancipation was first raised in the commence- ment of the reign of Alexander I. Kriloff, though sympathizing generally with the old Conservative party, raised his voice in favour of freedom.]