Aesop's Fables: More Birds

Here you have Sir Brooke Boothby's poems about the birds of Aesop, with some notes from me to clarify the plot.

[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: More Birds

Here you have another kite (hawk), and this time he is repenting his life of violence and crime, as he even stole the animals that had been offered as sacrifices to the gods at their altars.

The Sick Kite

A Kite, long sick and like to die,
Begg'd of his mother to apply
With offerings at a neighbouring fane
And prayers that health he might regain.

"I will," says she; "though much I fear
Little can be expected there,
From Gods their shrines so oft who see
Defrauded and defil'd by thee."

In this story, the proverbial "gilded cage" is part of a fable about a bird's quest for liberty.

The Boy and the Goldfinch

"Let me, my pretty Bird, but know
Why from your gilded cage you go?"
A Stripling to his Goldfinch said
Who to a neighb'ring grove had fled;
"To give you all that you could ask
Has ever been my pleasing task."

"'Tis true," replies the Bird, "less good
Will be my lodging and my food,
But nothing will my wings confine,
And native liberty be mine.''

The enmity between the eagle and the serpent is a mythological motif that you find in cultures all over the world; here it becomes the subject of an Aesop's fable about unexpected consequences.

The Eagle and the Serpent

An Eagle, on the wing for prey.
Observed a Snake that sleeping lay,
And seiz'd him in her claws; the Snake
Us'd his last force revenge to take.
Dying, he writh'd his body round,
And gave his foe a mortal wound.

Tyrants will oft their ruin find
In ills for others they designed.

This fable juxtaposes two birds, one famed for beauty and one famed for flight.

The Peacock and the Crane

Shun vanity; the brave and wise
Show and appearances despise.

Spreading his moons, a Peacock ey'd
A Crane with supercilious pride.

"Fine are your feathers," says the Crane,
"But fixt to earth you still remain
While, borne aloft, I wing my way
Through regions of ethereal day."

This story of the wise mother lark is one of the oldest Aesop's fables in Latin, having been told in the form of a poem by the archaic poet in the second century B.C.E.

The Lark and her Young Ones

Those who rely on others' aid
Will often find their hopes betray'd.

A Lark, her young unfit to fly,
Alarm'd to see the harvest nigh,
Ere she went forth to seek their food,
Thus catechis'd her callow brood:
"To-day who comes, with watchful care
Observe, nor lose a word you hear."

At night the nest, with frighted mien,
Tell how the master they had seen;
"This corn admits of no delay,
'Tis ripe," he said, "so go this day,
My son, without returning home;
At sunrise bid our neighbours come."

"If this be all," the Mother said,
,As yet we nothing have to dread;
But be attentive as before."

At night again they cry, "All's o'er!
The neighbours fail'd, but friends and cousins
To-morrow they expect by dozens."

"Tis well," the cunning Lark replied;
"Another day we may abide
In safety, but still watchful be,
And all you hear report to me."

"The men," they say, "have been again,
And are determin'd to begin

                        The Mother cries, "Ho! ho!
If that's the case 'tis time to go.
Repose, and be prepar'd for flight
Tomorrow ere the dawn of light."

This Aesop's fable made the news recently when crows in a laboratory experiment did the same trick as Aesop's bird; you can see a video of the experiment at YouTube.

The Crow and the Pitcher

Patience and ingenuity
The want of natural means supply.

A thirsty Crow some water found,
But in a vessel so profound,
That with her neck at utmost stretch,
A single drop she could not reach.

Then stones she in the pitcher places,
Which to the top the water raises,
And by this innocent device
Her thirst at leisure satisfies.

(400 words)

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