Aesop's Fables in Rhyme for Little Philosophers

Aesop's Fables in Rhyme for Little Philosophers


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As generations have learned from these ancient animal stories, fine feathers don't necessarily make fine birds, slow and steady helps win the race, and it's a mistake to count your chickens before they're hatched. Twenty-four timeless fables, recounted in verse, are complemented by distinctive wood engravings featuring black-and-red silhouettes of the legendary creatures.
Readers of all ages will delight in tales of the lordly lion whose generosity is repaid by a tiny mouse, the miser who destroys his own good fortune by killing the goose that laid golden eggs, and the greedy dog who loses his ill-gotten gains because he's jealous of his own reflection. Many of the fables are accompanied by charming poems that note the healing power of song, the futility of quarrels, the worth of kindly deeds, and other sage advice.

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Product Details

ISBN-13: 9780486781808
Publisher: Dover Publications
Publication date: 09/17/2014
Pages: 96
Product dimensions: 8.20(w) x 10.70(h) x 0.30(d)
Age Range: 6 - 11 Years

About the Author

John Martin was the pseudonym of Morgan van Roorbach Shepard (1865–1947) who began writing children's stories and verse while recovering from an injury sustained during the 1906 San Francisco earthquake. He founded an independent publishing house for his own work and served as Juvenile Director for the National Broadcasting Company.
Artist George L. Carson frequently collaborated with John Martin and is best known for illustrating the original dust jacket for Gone with the Wind. He also illustrated several Uncle Wiggily books and Harlan Ellison comics.

Read an Excerpt

Aesop's Fables in Rhyme for Little Philosophers

By John Martin, George L. Carlson, W. Fletcher White

Dover Publications, Inc.

Copyright © 2014 Dover Publications, Inc.
All rights reserved.
ISBN: 978-0-486-78180-8


    The STAG at the SPRING

    A Fable from Aesop

    THERE was a stag (so Aesop says)
    That wandered through the woodland ways.
    He ate the forage of the wood
    And found it plenty, sweet and good.

    At times he drowsed where shadows creep
    'Mid tangled brushes, green and deep;
    He seemed content; well might he be,
    So sleek and stalwart, safe and free.

    Now with all things well satisfied,
    A little meadow spot he spied;
    Among its shadows, still and cool,
    There was a clear and pretty pool.

    "Ah," said the stag, "ere sleeping, first
    I'll seek to quench my growing thirst."
    Across the meadow green he went,
    And o'er the silent pool he bent
    To take a long, refreshing drink,
    Cool from the water's mossy brink.

    But no! He started up instead
    With widened eyes and lofty head.
    Reflected in the waters bright
    He saw himself — a pleasant sight.
    He did not drink, but stood quite still
    In foolish pride to get his fill
    Of looking at his form, for he
    Was somewhat spoiled by vanity.

    "Ah," said the stag, "to say the least
    I am a very handsome beast.
    No creature has such horns as min,
    So beautiful, and strong, and fine.
    How well they balance, wide they spread
    From tip to tip above my head.
    If only all the rest of me
    Were half so splendid, I should be
    The envy of the forest wide,
    And mayhap all the world beside.
    But oh, alas, those legs of mine!
    Behold their thin and shapeless line.
    I am ashamed to look and see
    Such graceless things a part of me."

    Scarce had he spoken his last word
    Than he in stricken panic heard
    The very worst of forest sounds —
    The bay of swift pursuing hounds.

    Quick as the light, off sped the stag
    O'er open places, moor and crag.
    The legs he so despised bore him
    Beyond the reach of danger grim.

    But, at the moment when he thought
    Himself quite safe his antlers caught
    In some thick brushes, holding him
    Fast as if tethered limb by limb.

    Alas, alack, the horns which he
    Had so admired proved to be
    The very parts of him to lend
    The means to his unhappy end.
    For, bound and helpless in his shame
    The pack of baying hunters came
    And bore him down. Thus, dears, you see
    The danger of such vanity.

    * * *

    Yes, let us in our very hearts
    Do honor to our humbler parts,
    For beauty too much glorified
    Is sure to trouble and misguide.

    The OLD MAN and his SONS

    A Fable from Aesop

    There was a man, respected, old, and kind,
        With six big sons who quarreled constantly.
        This grieved him sorely, and he sought to find
    A way to peace at home — where peace should be.

    He tried commands and kindlier appeal;
        He pled respect for age and home and name,
    But still they quarreled on and did not feel
        The least regret, nor see the growing shame.

    At last the father found a goodly way
        To show their folly and at once to prove
    That discord breeds a host of sins that prey
        Upon the works of peace and deeds of love,

    At once our good man called his wrangling brood,
        And taking up a bundle of short sticks
    Well bound together and of stalwart wood,
        Straight, smooth, and clean, and numbering just six,

    "My sons," said he, "I want you each to try
        To break those sticks in any way you please.
    You have not strength enough, and I defy
        Your brawn to shatter or to splinter these."

    Each son in turn tried with his burly might
        To break the bundle, but no jerk nor strain
    Could even bend the fagots bound so tight;
        No strength availed, all struggle was in vain.

    Then our old man without a word unbound
        The wood and gave a stick to every son.
    Of course, those boys without an effort found
        It easy to break fagots one by one.

    "There, sons of mine," the wise old father said,
        "You see the strength, of all, united things!
    By quarreling you're weakened and misled,
        And think of all the needless pain it brings!

    Stay bound together by the bonds of love,
        And naught in life can hurt you and no power
    Can meet such might as yours. I pray you, prove
        The truth of this each passing day and hour.
    But, sons of mine, divided as you are,
        Unloving and unloved in bitter pique,
    You wreck your peace, and is it singular
        That you who should be strong are dull and weak?
    Oh, sons, let not dissension's spell disarm
        Your manhood lest great evil come to you;
    For easy it would be to do you harm
        As breaking unbound, single sticks in two."


    There is no good in quarreling;
        There is no use in it.
    A quarrel only hurts our Hearts,
        And doesn't help a bit.

    A quarrel is a lot of words
        And angry sounds that start
    The very worst of feelings in
        The middle of the Heart,

    Nobody quarrels if he wants
        To wisely use his wits,
    For quarrels muddle up our brains
        In useless little bits.

    A quarrel only weakens us
        And wastes good energy
    That should be used to make our lives
        More what they ought to be.

    Let's throw all quarrel feeling out.
        You see, it really pays,
    Because our POWER can be used
        In lots of better ways.


    It seems to me not only wise
        But always really well
    Just to forget what we have heard
        That isn't right to tell.

    It seems to me it's wise to be
        Quite careful what we teach,
    Unless we're very sure that we
        Can practice what we preach.

    It seems to me, pie up too high
        Looks very great and grand;
    But I'll not be ambitious with
        Two cookies well in hand.

    The fox may howl, "Sour grapes!"
        When they are out of reach,
    But my bread spread with gratitude
        Is better than a peach.

    THE FOX and the GRAPES

    A Fable from Aesop

    There was a fox — a sly old fox;
        A most ill-tempered beast was he,
    He had not had a meal for days,
        And he was hungry as could be.

    An empty stomach calling out.
        For filling made his manners grim.
    And, being cross and impolite.
        Nobody symphatized with him.

    He hunted here and groveled there
        In search of food, but none he spied.
    The more he sought, more noisily
        His very empty stomach cried.

At last his staggering footsteps led into a trellised garden where
Grapes hung above his very head in purple clusters ripe and fair.
But they hung high, where sun and air contrived with evening's gentle dew
To give them flavor and sweet bloom. Yes, thus those juicy clusters grew.

    "Good food!" cried fox, as up he leaped
        With smothered growlings, rude and gruff.
    His two jaws snapped, but never could
        That hungry fox jump high enough.
    He leaped again, this way and that,
        In far more ways than I can tell,
    And all he got of those fair grapes
        Was but a most far-distant smell,

Oh, yes, he was a stalwart fox, with muscles very hard and stout,
But so much jumping, all in vain, soon wore the snapping beastie out,
At last, convinced that juicy meal could not be captured to devour,
He walked away and said,–

    Ah, foolish fox, we children see
        Into your mean, begrudging speech.
    You can't say good words of the things.
        You are not big enough to reach.
    March on, old fox, perhaps in time
        You'll learn the lesson good taste teaches.
    Don't let your own shortcomings force
        You into harsh, unpleasant speeches.


    A gentle word, dropped here and there,
        Is very like a little seed
    That grows into a flower fair,
        For troubled hearts that bleed.

    A gentle, thoughtful little word,
        May slip into some Heart and bring
    The help that heals, and like a bird
        That aching Heart may sing.

    Oh, what a garden life might be
        If every day such seeds were sown.
    And oh, the happiness when we
        May claim then as our own!


    A Fable from Aesop

    There was a fox; though sly as sly could be
        This did not save him from the sad mishap
        Of losing his fine tail most carelessly
        When sitting down too near a thoughtless trap.
    When he was well enough to be around,
        He sallied forth to make a little call
    Upon some neighbor foxes, and he found
        They didn't sympathize with him at all.
    What's more, the neighbors, without mercy, chaffed
        And ridiculed and impolitely teased.
    A fox without a tail! Oh, how they laughed!
        Of course, that injured fox was much displeased.
    He didn't like such treatment in the least
        But hid his shame beneath a foxy smile,
    And then he thought (the silly, scheming beast),
        "I'll fix the teasers by a little guile.
    Watch me persuade these animals to let
        Their tails be cut off, too; this cannot fail
    To make us all alike, then they'll forget
        To notice that I've lost my precious tail."

    So pleased was he with this most clever plan
        Concocted in his selfish, scheming head,
    That off he ran and gathered all the clan
        Of foxy beasts, to whom he slyly said:
    "I am surprised to see you wearing tails!
        They're not in style, are always in the way.
    They weigh enough to make you run like snails.
        Come, cut them off. What earthly use are
    they? I wouldn't wear a nuisance that depends
        Upon mywits to keep it out of traps.
    Cut off your tails! Be comfortable, my friends;
        Discard such trash with other worthless scraps.
    Without a tail, joys follow by the score!
        My figure? Oh, such gracefulness of line!
    I never half enjoyed my life before
        I lost my tail. Good luck is surely mine,"

    "Hear, hear!" exclaimed the foxes gathered round,
        Who waved their tails and tittered all in chorus,
    "Hear, hear! When was such wisdom ever found?
        A tailless prophet surely stands before us."

    But wait — for then a sly old fox arose.
        That he was wise 'twas very plain to see.
    Yes, he was stiff of joint, but his sharp nose
        Was long and gray with guile and dignity.

    "See here, young fox," said he, "it seems to me
        You offer us too many bobtailed lures.
    Concern about our tails much less would be
        If you were not so much deprived of yours.

    "We doubt so much your real and true concern
        That we will keep our tails where tails should be,
    For it is said that selfish foxes yearn
        For company to share their misery."


    That word sympathy; a good word to hear;
    When honest and tender, how blessed and dear!
    And what does it mean? Not just what is heard.
    And what is its value? Not merely a word.
    True sympathy glows with love from the heart;
    With things cold and selfish it carries no part,
    It asks no reward; in serving it lives;
    In loving concern it ungrudgingly gives,
    Not pitiful words, nor quick-falling tears,
    Not thoughtless expressions of evil and fears.
    No — true sympathy goes not by the road
    Of keeping the trouble or bearing the load;
    But from its own faith it asks us to share
    The knowledge that we are in God's constant care.
    It sees as we see, and feels as we feel,
    But thinking as love it hastens to heal.

    True sympathy is a balm to the soul
    Its love, ever living, makes perfect and whole.



    One morning in May,
        Or maybe in June,
        The old rascal Tom —
        Old Thomas, the cat,
    Dressed up to look like
        A doctor and he
        Just fitted the part
        With pills and high hat.

    With great dignity and whiskers profound,
        He licked off his smile, and winked out a tear,
    And went forth to call on birds in a cage —
        Such nice little birds who chanced to live near.

    "Good morning," said he,
        "I heard you were ill.
        My heart aches for you;
        I've hurried to see
    If I could help you
        Or serve you and yours.
        Command me, I pray.
        (Don't mention the fee.)

    To hear Doctor Tom
        Express sympathy
        Would soften the heart
        Of a stone, good and quick,
    To look at his eye,
        His tearful old eye,
        Would make any one
        Quite glad to be sick.

    But the birdies just winked, and then winked again
        And said, "Many thanks, but you've come in vain.
    We're perfectly well. See how we can wink.
        We can't rake or scrape an ache or a pain,

    "We're quite well, indeed,
        And so shall remain.
        The door's locked
        The key's on the shelf.
    Good-bye, Doctor Tom,
        Go look in the glass
        And wink all the winks
        You can wink at yourself."


    When things don't go quite right,
        Like washing dirty faces;
    When toys and books and dolls
        Are never in their places;
    When all goes wrong with everything,
        We SING — SING — SING.

    When rainy weather comes
        And many duties press us;
    When being good is hard
        And likely to distress us;
    When little disappointments sting,
        We SING — SING — SING,

    There's nothing in the world
        Like pretty music stealing
    Into our little hearts
        For happy, wholesome healing.
    We clear up all that's going wrong
        With SONG — SONG — SONG.


Excerpted from Aesop's Fables in Rhyme for Little Philosophers by John Martin, George L. Carlson, W. Fletcher White. Copyright © 2014 Dover Publications, Inc.. Excerpted by permission of Dover Publications, Inc..
All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
Excerpts are provided by Dial-A-Book Inc. solely for the personal use of visitors to this web site.

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