PUBLISHERS OF LITERARY FICTION SINCE 1983
The Waterfall and the Spring
A foaming Waterfall, cascading from cliffs,
Haughtily said to a thermal Spring
(Which, though barely noticeable beneath the mountain,
Was renowned for its medicinal power):
“Is it not strange? You are so thin, so poor in water,
But you always have a multitude of visitors?
It is no wonder if many come to marvel at me;
But why do they come to you?”
“They come to be healed,” quietly murmured the Spring.
The Two Barrels
Two barrels were rolling downhill:
One was filled with wine,
The other was empty.
The first rolled quietly, ponderously;
The other bounced along at speed,
Banging and crashing on the road,
And raising a column of dust.
A passer-by nimbly and fearfully moved aside,
Having heard it coming from afar.
But however loud that barrel was,
It was of less worth than the other.
Over land exhausted from intense heat,
A great Storm-Cloud went scudding past.
Leaving not a single drop to revive the earth,
She shed a heavy rain over the sea,
And of her generosity boasted to the mountain.
But the mountain replied to her:
“What good have you done with such generosity?”
And how painful it is to look on.
Had you spilled your rain on the fields,
You would have saved the whole region from famine;
But in the sea, without you, my friend, there is water enough.”
The Elephant in Favour
An Elephant once found favour in the eyes of a lion.
In an instant through the woods went gossip about this.
And so, as usually happens, began the guesswork:
How did the Elephant insinuate himself into favour?
It is not as if elephants are handsome, or amusing;
Just look at their appearance, and at how they walk!
The animals talked among themselves.
“If,” said the fox, swishing her tail,
“He had such a fluffy tail, I would not be surprised.”
“Or, little sister,” said the bear, “At least if he had claws,
He would have been favoured:
No one would have thought that extraordinary;
But it is commonly known that he does not even have claws.”
Now the ox entered into the conversation.
“Did he not find favour because of his tusks?
Could they not be considered as horns?”
“So you do not know,” said the ass, flapping his ears,
“How he was able to catch the lion's fancy,
And be appointed to high rank.
But I have guessed the reason:
Without long ears he would never have enjoyed preferment.
A Hop came out in a kitchen garden
And suddenly began to twine around a dry stake.
In a field nearby was growing a young oak.
“What use is there in that freak,”
The Hop complained to the stake about the oak,
“And indeed in all of his kind?
How does he compare with you?
You are a lady compared to him by virtue of your straightness.
Though he is dressed indeed with leaves,
What rough bark he has, what dull colouring!
Why does the earth support him?”
Not even a week had passed after this
Before the master of the house broke the stick into firewood,
And transplanted the little oak to the kitchen garden.
His labour was rewarded with success:
The little oak took root and put forth branches;
But just look: around it my Hop had already begun to wind,
And to heap honour and praise on that oak.
The Curious Man
“Dear friend, hello. Where have you been?”
“At the exhibition of Curiosities, my friend. I spent three hours there;
I saw and examined everything.
Believe it or not, I have neither the ability
Nor the strength to tell you of my amazement.
It is indeed true that a palace of wonders is to be found there.
Oh, in creations nature is liberal!
What animals, what birds have I not seen there!
What butterflies, small insects,
Bugs, flies, little cockroaches!
One like emerald, another like coral!
What tiny little ladybirds!
There are, really, some smaller than a pinhead!”
“And did you see the elephant? What a sight it must have been!
I imagine you thought that you had met a mountain.”
“Was an elephant really there?”
“Well, brother, I confess:
I did not see the elephant.”
The Swan, the Pike and the Crayfish
When there is no agreement among friends,
Then their affairs will not run smoothly,
And all their efforts will prove to be in vain.
A Swan, a Crayfish and a Pike once
Undertook to pull a luggage-laden cart;
The three of them all harnessed themselves to it;
They did their utmost, but the cart wouldn't move.
They should have found the load light;
But the Swan struggled into the air,
The Crayfish moved backwards,
And the Pike pulled towards the water.
Which of them was at fault,
And which blameless, is not for us to judge;
But the cart is still there today.
Launched under the clouds,
A Kite, noticing from on high
A moth in the valley, cried:
“Would you believe it! You are barely visible to me;
Confess - you are envious
That I fly so high.”
“Envious? Indeed, no!
Mistakenly do you think so well of yourself.
Though high, you fly on a lead;
Such a life, my dear,
From happiness is far indeed;
I, on the other hand, while I fly less high,
Fly whither I want;
And so, unlike you, do not spend a lifetime
Frivolously snapping in the wind
As a pastime for another.”
The Wolf and the Fox
A Fox, having eaten chickens to her fill,
And stored away a nice little pile in reserve,
Lay down under a haystack for an evening nap.
She saw a hungry Wolf come plodding along to visit.
“What bad luck, neighbour!' he said.
“I have been unable anywhere to find even a bone;
I am so worn out with hunger.
The dogs are vicious, and the shepherd doesn't sleep.
The only thing to do is to hang myself!”
“Really?” - “Yes, it’s true.” - “My poor friend!
Would you like to eat some hay? Here is a whole stack;
I am willing to do my friend a service.”
However, it was not hay her friend wanted - but meat.
Yet about the store the Fox said not a word.
And my grey marauder,
Having been shown such great kindness by his friend,
Went home hungry.
A Pig once intruded into a manor-house yard,
Loitered around the stables and kitchen,
Rolled about in the rubbish and the manure,
Wallowed up to the ears in the mud:
And, after visiting,
Went home as dirty as a pig.
“So then, Havronya, what did you see there?”
A shepherd asked the Pig.
“You know, the rumour goes,
That rich people have nothing but jewellery and pearls.
So is one thing really richer than another in the house?”
Havronya grunted: “Well, really, that is nonsense.
I noticed no riches:
It was all just manure and rubbish;
And so, not sparing my snout,
I dug up there
All the back yard.”