“Then the Mosquitoes, big and little, flew around him. Many went into his ears, and the smallest ones went into his nose, and the big old ones went into his mouth to sting. A thousand and a thousand hung in the air just over his head and made a great noise, and the Lion soon knew that he could not conquer.
“He roared and jumped, and two of his front feet went down into the well. The well was narrow and deep and he could not get out, for his two hind feet were in the air and his head hung downward. And as he died, he said to himself:
“’My pride and anger have brought me this fate. Had I used gentle words, the Mosquitoes might have given me water for my thirst. I was wise and strong in the wilderness, and even the greatest of the animals feared my power. But I fought with the Mosquitoes and I die—not because I have not strength to overcome, but because of the foolishness of anger.”
EE-SZE (Meaning): The wise can conquer the foolish. Power is nothing, strength is nothing. The wise, gentle and careful can always win.
“Of Fables judge not by their face;
They give the simplest brute a teacher’s place.
Bare precepts were inert and tedious things;
The story gives them life and wings.”
JEAN DE LA FONTAINE
Translated by Elizur Wright, Jr.
FABLES OF LA FONTAINE
The Grasshopper and the Ant
A Grasshopper gay
Sang the summer away,
And found herself poor
By the winter’s first roar.
Of meat or of bread,
Not a morsel she had!
So a-begging she went,
To her neighbour the Ant,
For the loan of some wheat,
Which would serve her to eat,
Till the season came round.
“I will pay you,” she saith,
“On an animal’s faith,
Double weight in the pound
Ere the harvest be bound.”
The Ant is a friend—
(And here she might mend)
Little given to lend.
“How spent you the summer?”
Quoth she, looking shame
At the borrowing dame.
“Night and day to each comer
I sang, if you please.”
“You sang! I’m at ease,
For ’tis plain at a glance,
Now, ma’am, you must dance.”
The Swan and the Cook
The pleasures of a poultry yard
Were by a Swan and Gosling shared.
The Swan was kept there for his looks,
The thrifty Gosling for the Cooks;
The first the garden’s pride, the latter
A greater favourite on the platter.
They swam the ditches, side by side,
And oft in sports aquatic vied,
Plunging, splashing far and wide,
With rivalry ne’er satisfied.
One day the Cook, named Thirsty John,
Sent for the Gosling, took the Swan,
In haste his throat to cut,
And put him in