PUBLISHERS OF LITERARY FICTION SINCE 1983
Translator: Stephen Pimenoff Cover design: Marie Lane Cover illustration: Viktor Vasnetsov
The Hare on the Hunt
A big crowd of animals
Got together and caught a bear:
They felled him on the open field -
And were deciding among themselves
Who was to receive what in reward.
A Hare came forward and tugged at the bear's ear.
“Well, well, you, slant-eyed creature,”
They shouted at him. “Where did you come from?
No one saw you on the hunt.”
“Look, brothers,” the Hare replied.
“Who do you think frightened the beast out of the woods,
And drove it straight to you on the field, if not I?”
Although such boasting was too transparent,
Still, it seemed so amusing
That a tuft of the bear’s ear was given to the Hare.
Though they laugh at a braggart
He often receives his share of the spoils.
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.”
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.
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 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.
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.”
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.
No. of pages: 268
Publication date: 24.02.2017
978 1 910213 51 3
978 1 910213 55 1
World English in this translation.