It′s not enough that you run fleet;
Start early,—that′s the way to beat.
The Tortoise said unto the Hare,
"I′ll bet you, free, and frank, and fair,
You do not reach a certain place
So soon as I, though quick your pace."
"So soon?" the nimble creature cries;
"Take physic for your brains;—be wise"—
"Fool or no fool, I make the bet."
The bet is made, the stakes are set;
But who the sporting judges were
Is neither your nor my affair.
Our Hare had but a bound to make,
From him the swiftest hounds to shake.
They run themselves almost to death,
Yet he is scarcely out of breath;
Plenty of time for him to browse,
To sleep, and then again to rouse;
Or boldly turn the while he′s going,
And mark which way the wind is blowing.
Careless, he lets the Tortoise pace,
Grave as a senator. To race
With such a thing is but disgrace.
She, in the meanwhile, strives and strains,
And takes most meritorious pains;
Slow, yet unceasing. Still the Hare
Holds it a very mean affair
To start too soon; but when, at last,
The winning-post is almost past
By his dull rival, then, ′tis true,
He quicker than the arrow flew.
Alas! his efforts failed to win,
The Tortoise came the first one in.
"Well," she said then, "now, was I right?
What use was all your swiftness: light
I held your speed, and won the prize;
Where would you be, can you surmise,
If with my house upon your shoulders,
You tried to startle all beholders?"