Kriloff’s Original Fables
The steel Blade of a sharp-edged sword
Was thrown into an ironmonger’s hoard,
And sent, with other odd things, to be sold
;
A peasant for it next to nothing paid.
He was not one that much ado e’er made,
So, thinking that it well might serve his trade,
He made for it a handle fit to hold,
And used it bark to cut for making shoes,
Or else, at home no time to lose, A pine-torch for a light he’d shave,
Or boughs for trellised fencework, or he gave
Himself to trimming trees of branches dry,
Or sharpening stakes to form his garden’s hedge.
So thus, a year had not gone by
Before the Blade got rusty, and like a saw its edge,
And all the children rode on him
As came the whim.
A hedgehog, lying in the shed
Where the Blade happened to be thrown, once said : ” Tell me, for what a life like thine
Is meant, and why
Men ever lie, Saying that Sword-blades brilliantly do shine ? Were’t so, thou’dst be ashamed a torch to cut, Or sharpen to a point a stake,
Or worse, a children’s toy to make !

The Sword-blade answered : ” But,
I once, held in a hero’s hand, inspired dread In hosts of foes, though here my gifts are vain ; At work that but degrades me I must toil with pain : But am I by my own will led ? No, not to me the shame, on those then let it sit, Who could not understand for what alone I’m fit.”
[This fable clearly refers to the undeserved neglect of some man of distinguished military talent, and the insult of bestowing on him uncongenial employment, but to whom it refers it is now impossible to say.]

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