Aesop's Fables: Lions

Here are some more poems by Sir Brooke Boothby and, as poetry can sometimes be harder to follow than prose, I have provided a brief note for each poem to help make the plot more clear.

[Notes by LKG]

These fables are part of the Aesop's Fables (English) unit. Story source: Fables and Satires by Sir Brooke Boothby (1809).

Aesop's Fables: Lions

In this fable, the lion is able to hold a conversation with the man, but that does not mean the lion is able to do all that a human can. In particular, lions cannot create sculptures!

The Lion and the Man

Lion and Man, on some pretense,
Disputed for preeminence.
In marble wrought, the latter show'd
A man who o'er a lion strode.

"If that be all," the beast replied,
"A lion on a man astride
You soon assuredly would view,
The sculptor's art if lions knew."

Each nation would the rest excel,
If their own tale allow'd to tell.

This story shows the lion as a more crafty and dangerous creature, using a strategy of "divide and conquer" to defeat the bulls.

The Lion and the Bulls

This tale a double moral bears:
'Gainst calumny to shut our ears —
And that on unity of friends,
Their common safety oft depends.

Four Bulls in friendly league agreed
Together they would always feed;
With rage a hungry Lion saw
They were too powerful for his paw,
And sent out mischief-making spies,
Well vers'd in calumnies and lies.

The simple beasts they circumvent,
Sow jealousy and discontent
Till lost affection ends in hate
And by consent they separate.

The Lion now his ends had gain'd,
And easily his prey obtain'd.

While the bulls in the previous fable fell victim to the scheming lion, the goat in this fable proves more wise!

The Lion and the Goats

Prefer a safe and humble lot
To luxuries by danger got.

A Lion, seeing from below
Goats feeding on a craggy brow,
"Come down," he says; "you here will find
Grass of a much superior kind."

"We thank you for your royal care,"
Says one, "but here we better are;
The pasture, if not quite so good,
In safety we can crop our food."

Here the lion poses a danger to his own courtiers because it proves fatal both to tell the truth and to likewise to tell flattering lies! Not surprisingly, it is the fox who manages to find a solution.

The Lion King

Than truth we nought more useful know,
And yet the following tale may show
The danger to be too sincere,
With those all-powerful who are.

A Lion o'er the beasts who reign'd
An equitable conduct feign'd,
And, satisfied with moderate food,
Appear'd to seek the nation's good.

But weary, nature to restrain,
Yet show of justice to maintain,
He with this plot his courtiers snar'd:
That he was sick, the King declar'd,
That sleep and appetite he wanted,
And he believ'd his breath was tainted.

The Bear was ask'd; who, blunt and rough,
Says, "Yes, you stink, Sir, sure enough."
Decided quick poor Bruin's fate is;
Guilty of Laesus Majestatis.

The Ape then swore that to his nose
"'Twas cassia, cinnamon, and rose;"
And by the law was doom'd to swing,
For lies and flattery to the King.

The Fox came next, who from the scrape
Did by this subterfuge escape:
"I with a cold am so unwell,"
He says, "I've neither taste nor smell;
But here's the Fox-hound, who for scent,
As we all know is excellent."

True courtier, he avoids the snare
To place his adversary there.

Finally, in this famous lion fable, you will see a better side of the mighty beast.

The Lion and the Mouse.

The following fable may advise
Never inferiors to despise
Or harm the weak.

                     Some Mice at play,
Where once a slumb'ring Lion lay,
A young one, giddier than the rest,
Leapt on and wak'd the royal beast.
Caught in his paws, she grace implor'd.

Leo forgave her, and restor'd
To liberty. Ere many days
The woodlands as by night he strays,
Caught in a toil, the hills around
Rebellow with his roar.

                                     The sound
Soon draws the grateful Mouse, who said,
"Fear nothing, Sir; I bring you aid,
"For kindness past," and with these words,
She set to work to gnaw the cords
That bound the toil, and persever'd
Till Leo was from durance clear'd.

(500 words)

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