The Wild Goats

Kriloff’s Original Fables
A Shepherd found in winter some Wild Goats in a cave, And to the gods with tears of joy his thanks he gave ; “A splendid chance ! ” he says. ” I want no better treasure, A double flock redoubles now my pleasure
;
With less to eat, less time to sleep,
My gentle Goats well fed and warm I’ll keep,
And for a man of means be widely known.”
Flocks to a shepherd are the lands the gentry own : From them he gets his yearly rent
;
Butter and cheese he sells besides
;
And e’en the skins to market oft are sent
;
If only food he carefully provides : And for the winter’s need shepherds have all a store. Behold our shepherd now, as from his flock he takes Half of their food, and more ; It is his guests he makes
His fondlings, as with words of love he strokes them o’er :
A hundred times a day to them he goes
;
Their comfort is the only care he knows.
His sheep may go without a meal,
For them no time hath he to feel
;
Easy with those depend on us to deal
:
Their hay he throws them bit by bit, And each that comes to beg his staff doth hit, By way of teaching them their place.
But still there’s something wrong : when comes the
spring,
The Wild Goats to the hills set off to race
;
Their life seemed sad without a rock o’er which to fling : The flock meanwhile grew thinner,
Dying without a dinner
;
And off our shepherd sets, his gains unpursed,
Sure, at the worst,
Of threefold profits with the winter’s snow. Shepherd, a word ! ‘Twould wiser be, and fairer, Thy love away on strangers not to throw,
But for those nearer to thee be a carer.
[A reference to the “Chronological List” and “The
Sources of the Borrowed Fables,” will show that Kriloff began to translate directly from Esop in 1818. This
fable is one of those thus taken ; it is found in James’s Esop under the title of ” The Goatherd and the Goats.” A comparison will show that Kriloff has only borrowed
the general idea, and modified both the circumstances
and the moral. It has been chosen for translation because
Kriloff does not appear to have succeeded as well as usual
in the other fables of the same class. The very common
practice in Russia of keeping goats with sheep probably
led Kriloff to choose the subject.]