Tuesday, May 31, 2016

Aesop's fables in verse ... the price of greed ...

     The farmhouse* in which I grew up had a room we called "The Library" because of its small bookshelf with my father's books -- including selections from Kipling and Twain and Aesop's Fables.  I liked to read.  And a lot of the morals are now stored in my head.  Recently I have found and enjoyed poetry versions of some of these in Jean de La Fontaine's Selected Fables (Dover, 2000) -- see also Project Gutenberg.  Here is one about the mathematics of greed ... .

The Hen with the Golden Eggs    by Jean de La Fontaine (1621-1695)
                                   translated by Walter Thornbury
My little story will explain
An olden maxim, which expresses
How Avarice, in search of gain,
May lose the hoard that it possesses.
The fable tells us that a Hen
Laid golden eggs, each egg a treasure;
Its owner -- stupidest of men --
Was miserly beyond all measure.
He thought a mine of wealth to find
Within the Hen, and so he slew it.
He found a bird of common kind --
And lost a pretty fortune through it.

For money-worms, who now and then
Grow poor through trying to be wealthy,
I tell my fable of the Hen;
My tale is good, my moral healthy.

*Painted on a plate, the farmhouse in the 1950s.  NOW the farm is a golf course and the farmhouse is a B&B.

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