The Roach

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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