Kriloff’s Original Fables
A practised Horseman once his Steed, by dint of schooling,
To do his will had taught; no time for fooling
Before a motion of the rein was made,
The Horse his slightest will obeyed.
” Useless the spirit of such steeds to curb,”
His well-pleased Master one day said : ” I’ve hit upon a thought superb !
And to the Steed unbridled gave in a field his head. His mouth thus free, the Steed
Began by gently adding to his speed,
And, prancing yet, With head up, tossing in the wind his mane,
He gambolled gaily o’er the plain,
His Master to amuse, not fret, But, finding o’er him no strong guidance set, His fiery instinct ruled again : His blood got heated, and his eyes flashed light
No longer to his Rider’s beck he yields,
But carries him, in headlong flight, Over the distant fields. In vain our Horseman every effort makes,
With hand that shakes,
The bridle o’er his head to throw
The Steed but shies, and hotter still doth grow
Throwing his Rider off, into mad race he breaks,
And, like a whirlwind, hardly touching ground,
The way not seeing ‘neath his feet, Into a ravine doth he jump, to meet
Death at a bound.
The grieving Owner came to greet
For the last time his Steed : ” ‘Tis I alone Have caused thy woe !
If without bridle I’d not let thee go,
I had controlled thee, and the right path shown : Me thou wouldst not have bruised, half stunned,
And thou such sorry death thyself hadst shunned !”
A people’s welfare, if, unfitted For wisdom’s guiding rein, it goes unbitted.
[The Rider is intended for Louis XVI., and the Steed
for the French nation.]
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