The Steed

Kriloff’s Original Fables
A rider, ’twas a daring partisan,
Had once a Steed, whose like No drove could show that o’er the steppes e’er ran. A shape the eye to strike !
A growth, a beauty and a strength ! For bounteous nature gave him all her gifts * * * How grandly through the battle he his rider lifts ! How boldly rushes the abyss, and climbs the mountain’s
length ! But, with the leader’s death, the fiery Steed belongs
Unto another chief, a bad one, who but wrongs
The past. He sends the Steed into a stall, That he may eat and drink, fast tethered to the wall
And, to reward his zeal and service bold,
They’re bid to hang on him for aye a bridle all of gold * * * For long, long years, no work to do, our Steed there stays ; The owner often comes to delight in him and praise ; But fears on him to take his seat, Lest with a fall he meet. The Steed’s years lengthened grow, The fire that once was in his eyes burns low,
His limbs look thin, And slight. And how should idle hours not work this in The nursling of the roar of battle’s might ?
All to see this, e’en to the grooms, felt sad
Ay, and the chiefs together met,
To this would their conclusion set
” That none such Steed to see, would not be glad, In other and more skilful hands.” The master too himself this understands
He tries to make him serve his need,
But is unable ;
To drag a load the Steed
Not once will leave the stable.
Yes, there are Steeds, that have from nature got
Such blood, that though
You kill them, they will not In harness go.
[This fable is not to be found in any Russian edition of
Kriloff, not even in the best, that by EgorofF, because
Pletneff, —who, if he did not edit it, was at least consulted
in its arrangement, and wrote a short biography for it,

like the rest of the Russian public then, doubted its authenticity. Kenevitch also does not speak of it, evi- dently for the same reason. Though published in a
periodical in 1859, after having circulated for a long time
in manuscript copies, and though the publication led to many disputes among the critical judges, the question was
only settled in August 1881, by an article in “The Russky
Staring,” in which the author, who was evidently personally
connected with General Ermoloff, asserts that Kriloff sent the fable in his own handwriting as his own composition,
accompanied by a letter of dedication to the General on
the occasion of the General’s namesday, and that he himself not only read, but copied it. Ermoloff had been one
of the heroes of the Caucasus, but on the accession of Nicholas he was deprived of his command there, and re- legated to a nominal dignity. Later the Emperor wished
to employ him more actively in the service, but he always
refused, and passed his life in retirement. That this fable breathes the spirit of Kriloff in every line, no one can
doubt who has ever read his fables in Russian.]

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