One day, on his stilt legs, walked, here and there,
A Heron, with long neck and searching beak;
Along a river side he came to seek.
The water was transparent, the day fair,
Gossip, the Carp, was gambolling in the stream:
The Pike, her neighbour, was in spirits, too.
The Heron had no trouble, it would seem,
But to approach the bank, and snap the two;
But he resolved for better appetite
To calmly wait:—he had his stated hours:
He lived by rule. At last, there came in sight
Some Tench, that exercised their finny powers.
They pleased him not, and so he waited still,
Scornful, like rat of whom good Horace wrote.
"What! eat a tench?—I, who can take my fill,
Munch such poor trash?"—he′ll sing another note.
The tench refused, a gudgeon next came by:
"A pretty dish for such as me, forsooth!
The gods forgive me if I eat such fry:
I′ll never open beak for that:"—and yet, in truth,
He opened for far less. The fish no more
Returned. Then Hunger came;—thus ends my tale.
He who′d rejected dishes half a score,
Was forced, at last, to snap a paltry snail.
Do not be too exacting. The cleverer people are
The sooner pleased, by far.
We all may lose by trying for too much;—
I have known such.
Hold nothing in contempt, and the less so,
If you are needing help, for know
In that trap many fall, not only birds,
Like Herons, to whom now I gave some words.
Listen, my fellow-men,—another fable:
Some lessons can be found amid your lords.