Multilingual Folk Tale Database


Author: Ivan Krylov - 1807

Translated into English
  by Charles Coxwell - 1920

Translated from (Russian):
Ворона и лисица

Country of origin: Russia

Story type: Raven with a Cheese (ATU 57)

Based on Le Corbeau et le Renard (Jean de La Fontaine)


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The Raven and the Fox

Ivan Krylov / Charles Coxwell

This truth within the heart is graven :—
All flattery is false ; and so, there's no excuse,
If listeners succumb when flatterers seduce.

Up on a little fir-tree lightly hopped a raven
That wished to breakfast at her ease,
And carried in her mouth a piece of fragrant cheese.
But while she pondered, then a morsel tasted,
A fox adjudged the chance too perfect to be wasted.
Was taken captive by the cheesy scent ;
On looking up, no further on his journey went.
The rogue, on tip-toe, to the fir-tree slow approaches.
Upon the bird's attention sly encroaches.
And gently says, in accents low and clear :—
"Oh, songster exquisite and dear.
Your eyes are soft with love and pity,
I humbly bow to one so pretty.
Ne'er have I seen such feathers, such a beak !
Oh, queen of all the birds ! but let me hear you speak.
Or rather, deign to sing ! Enjoy a moment's leisure
And charm the world with tones delightful beyond measure.
Pour forth fine notes, my gracious treasure ! "
The raven held her breath, and nearly died from choking,
And then, as if a wild ambition in her burned.
She opened wide her mouth for harsh discordant croaking.
And the fox gained the cheese his cunning skill had earned.