Kriloff’s Original Fables
Although no prophet I, When moths I see around a candle wind,
My prophecy come true I often find
:
That they to burn their wings will fly. Thou, my good friend, the lesson may apply :
It grown-up men will suit, children as well.
Is this thy fable, then ? thou askest, wait a bit, No fable here as yet I tell, Though into one it fit
Which I thus introduce with moral teaching.
I read thine eyes in, thou dislikest preaching
;
At first ’twas brevity that scared thee, now I see Thou fearest tediousness from me.
What’s to be done, my friend ? Without that look beseeching,
Myself the same I fear. How can it other be ? Old age draws near : Autumn brings always rainy weather,
And age and talking go together ; But, not to leave the business out of sight, Listen : I’ve heard a hundred times, or might,
That counting smaller errors not for much,
Men for them seek excuse, and say : ” ‘Tis but my way ; A foolish trick; pray, count it such’.” Such ways the first steps are that lead us to our fall
:
They take the form of habit, to passion rising next, Until by vice’s power gigantic we’re perplexed,
So that our better selves we can’t recall. That I to thee may clearly show,
How over-confidence in self works ill, Permit that I to please myself on go ; The pen now of itself the page would fill, And through it thou, perhaps, a truth mayst know.
I know not where, nor e’en the name The river bore, but near the same
Those foes of the great kingdom came
That’s called the realm of water ; Some fishermen there built a hut. The bank so steep, the clear tide brought her,
I mean a Roach, to live there, but
She was so active, bold, and cunning,
That, though too fond of rashly running,
They never caught her. Around the rods she wheels, like to a buzzing fly, And through her fault the fishermen their trade at swear. When one at last a prize off hopes to bear,
With line thrown out, upon his float resting his anxious
eye, ” There, that’s a bite ! ” he cries ; his heart beats fast with joy;
He strikes, and pulls his line in, and—the worm is off
his hook
;
It looks as if, on purpose the anglers to annoy, The little rogue, by hook or crook,
Whips off the bait, and makes of it a toy. ” Listen !” to her another roach did say
:
” ‘Twill end ill with thee, sister, some fine day
!
Is there no room here free to go, That thou must always round the lines be flitting ?
I fear thou’lt soon be out of water sitting. The nearer to a rod thou art, the nearer unto woe. To-day ’tis well, to-morrow—who can guarantee ? ”
But on the foolish, like the deaf, wise words we only
waste.” See there,” replies the Roach in haste, ” Shortsighted I am not, and free !
Though sly the fishermen, thy fears thou mayst lay by
:
Who sees through all their tricks as I ? Look at that line ! And there’s another thrown ! A third, a fourth ! Come now, dear sister, own
That I can their devices guess !

And to the line she like an arrow darts :
Pulls at the one, the other drags, and for the third she
starts, But there she’s caught, and in a fatal mess ! The poor thing then, too late, confessed That danger to avoid at first is best.

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