The Pond and the River

Kriloff’s Original Fables
” How is it,” to a River a Pond his speech began,
” That, look at thee whene’er we may,
Thy waters ever run ? Art thou, then, never tired by night or day ? Besides I see that thou dost bear Not only many a raft, long, bound with care, But ships that carry heavy freight
;
The barks and boats on thee, a countless score,
I speak not of; when wilt thou change thy state?
I should have dried up in thy place, so sore Had been my grief. Compared with thine, a lot Humbler, perhaps, but pleasanter I’ve got
:
I fill not up a page upon a map,
Harpists to jingle in my praise I’ve not

All that’s not worth a rap ! But then, within my soft and oozy banks,
Like dames in feather beds, I thanks
Give that I live in ease and rest
;
Not only that I fear not, lest A ship or raft on me should float,
I know not what it is to feel a cockle-boat
‘Tis much, if e’er it chance
That o’er my surface e’en a leaf, Wind-wafted, dance. What can replace a life so free from care and grief? Unruffled by the wind from any side,
I overlook the world’s vain pride,
And meditate in philosophic dream.” — ” And thy philosophy, as it would seem, Forgets this law,” the Stream replies : ” That4 water only can its freshness keep,
The while it stagnant never lies ! And if a mighty stream I leap
Myself unto the sea,
‘Tis but that I, all rest and sleep
Thrown off, am free That law to well obey
:
Therefore it is, that every year I bring,
With my abundant waters, pure as spring,
Profit to all I meet upon my way ; Therefore it is, to me so many sing
A song of praise,
And it, may be, shall raise Through ages yet to come, For I shall flow and pour, When of thee shall not live a memory more, And that thou ever wert mankind be dumb.”
His words came true : he flows on as of yore
;
But the poor Pond from year to year did dry
Still faster up, choked by the sedges high,
Till one great waste of mire,
Beneath the sun its last drops did expire.
Thus talent, profitless to all, doth fade,
And each day weaker grow,
If laziness upon it once hath preyed,
And healthy work hath never made
The blessings of an active life to know.