La Fontaine: Birds (Larned)

These stories are part of the La Fontaine unit. Story source: Fables in Rhyme for Little Folks by W. T. Larned and illustrated by John Rae (1918).

The Raven and the Fox

Mr. Raven was perched upon a limb,
And Reynard the Fox looked up at him;
For the Raven held in his great big beak
A morsel the Fox would go far to seek.

Said the Fox, in admiring tones: "My word!
Sir Raven, you are a handsome bird.
Such feathers! If you would only sing,
The birds of these woods would call you King."

The Raven, who did not see the joke,
Forgot that his voice was just a croak.

He opened his beak, in his foolish pride —
And down fell the morsel the Fox had spied.

"Ha-ha!" said the Fox. "And now you see
You should not listen to flattery.
Vanity, Sir is a horrid vice —
I'm sure the lesson is worth the price."

The Raven Who Would Rival The Eagle

An Eagle swooped from out the sky,
And carried off a sheep.
A Raven seeing him, said: "I
Could do that too if I should try.
His meal comes mighty cheap."

Of all that well-fed flock was one
As fat as fat could be.
The Raven rose, and lit upon
Her back. She seemed to weigh a ton —
So very fat was she.

And, oh! Her wool was wondrous thick:
It would have made a mat.
The Raven's claws are caught, and stick!
He's played himself a pretty trick —
To fly with one so fat.
The Raven's claws are caught, and stick.

"Ba, ba!" "Caw, caw!" cry bird and beast.
The shepherd comes at last:
Sir Raven who would find a feast
Is from the woolly one released,
And in a cage kept fast.

The Heron Who Was Hard To Please

A long-legged Heron, with long neck and beak,
Set out for a stroll by the bank of a creek.

So clear was the water that if you looked sharp
You could see the pike caper around with the carp.

The Heron might quickly have speared enough fish
To make for his dinner a capital dish.

But he was a very particular bird:
His food fixed "just so," at the hours he preferred.

And hence he decided 'twas better to wait,
Since his appetite grew when he supped rather late.

Pretty soon he was hungry, and stalked to the bank.
Where some pondfish were leaping — a fish of low rank.

"Bah, Bah!" said the Bird. "Sup on these? No — not I.
I'm known as a Heron: as such I live high."

Then some gudgeon swam past that were tempting to see,
But the Heron said haughtily: "No — not for me.
For those I'd not bother to open my beak,
If I had to hang 'round come next Friday a week."

Thus bragged the big Bird. But he's bound to confess
That he opened his elegant beak for much less.
Not another fish came. When he found all else fail,
He was happy to happen upon a fat snail.

(400 words)

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