The Titmouse – Jataka Tales

Kriloff’s Original Fables
A Titmouse spread her wings above the sea, • And boasted: she
Would set the waves on fire. Throughout the world all hear it, all admire. Fear seized the dwellers in the watery regions ; The birds flocked there in legions
And beasts rushed from the forests to the spot,
To see the ocean burn, and watch it getting hot.
‘Tis even said that, when the winged report
Reached to the ears of certain city sinners,
They set off to the shore, at notice short,
With spoons all ready for their turtle dinners,
To taste a soup so rich no purse-proud buck
E’er gave it to the Lord he asked to share potluck.
The crowds assembled stand, with wide eyes gazing In silence on the sea : it should be blazing
It only murmurs still
” There, it is boiling, soon the bright flames will Burst forth.”—Of burning not one sign, ” If it but bubbled ! “—but no bubbles rise. How ended, then, the plan benign ? Our Titmouse took her flight unto the skies,
Covered with shame
The sea remained unburnt, but she earned fame.
A final word may be permitted,
Though for ourselves, of course, unfitted ;
That, what we have not yet begun,
Had better not be boasted of till’ done.
[Probably this applied to a writer of the time, one
Polevoi, whose history, long expected and much noised
beforehand, turned out a failure.]

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