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Musings: A Few Fables…

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“The wisdom of the wise and the experience of the ages is preserved into perpetuity by a nation’s proverbs, fables, folk sayings and quotations.” William Feather

Musings: A Few Fables...

The Turtle Who Couldn’t Stop Talking ~ Jataka Tale
A TURTLE lived in a pond at the foot of a hill. Two young wild Geese, looking for food, saw the Turtle, and talked with him. The next day the Geese came again to visit the Turtle and they became very well acquainted. Soon they were great friends.
“Friend Turtle,” the Geese said one day, “we have a beautiful home far away. We are going to fly back to it to-morrow. It will be a long but pleasant journey. Will you go with us?”
“How could I? I have no wings,” said the Turtle.
“Oh, we will take you, if only you can keep your mouth shut, and say not a word to anybody,” they said.
“I can do that,” said the Turtle. “Do take me with you. I will do exactly as you wish.”
So the next day the Geese brought a stick and they held the ends of it. “Now take the middle of this in your mouth, and don’t say a word until we reach home,” they said.
The Geese then sprang into the air, with the Turtle between them, holding fast to the stick.
The village children saw the two Geese flying along with the Turtle and cried out: “Oh, see the Turtle up in the air! Look at the Geese carrying a Turtle by a stick! Did you ever see anything more ridiculous in your life!”
The Turtle looked down and began to say, “Well, and if my friends carry me, what business is that of yours?” when he let go, and fell dead at the feet of the children.
As the two Geese flew on, they heard the people say, when they came to see the poor Turtle, “That fellow could not keep his mouth shut. He had to talk, and so lost his life.”

The Ant and the Grasshopper ~ Aesop’s Fable
In a field one summer’s day a Grasshopper was hopping about, chirping and singing to its heart’s content. An Ant passed by, bearing along with great toil an ear of corn he was taking to the nest.
“Why not come and chat with me,” said the Grasshopper, “instead of toiling and moiling in that way?”
“I am helping to lay up food for the winter,” said the Ant, “and recommend you to do the same.”
“Why bother about winter?” said the Grasshopper; “we have got plenty of food at present.” But the Ant went on its way and continued its toil. When the winter came the Grasshopper had no food, and found itself dying of hunger, while it saw the ants distributing every day corn and grain from the stores they had collected in the summer. Then the Grasshopper knew: “It is best to prepare for the days of necessity.”

According to Wikipedia, A fable is a succinct fictional story, in prose or verse, that features animate and inanimate objects (given human qualities), illustrates a moral lesson, and may be expressed explicitly in a pithy maxim. In short, they are moral stories with fantastical characters. I’ve added a few above and below for your enjoyment.

“Fable is more historical than fact, because fact tells us about one man and fable tells us about a million men.” Gilbert K. Chesterton

Musings: A Few Fables...

The Ox Who Envied The Pig ~ Jataka Tale
ONCE upon a time there was an Ox named Big Red. He had a younger brother named Little Red. These two brothers did all the carting on a large farm.
Now the farmer had an only daughter and she was soon to be married. Her mother gave orders that the Pig should be fattened for the wedding feast.
Little Red noticed that the Pig was fed on choice food. He said to his brother, “How is it, Big Red, that you and I are given only straw and grass to eat, while we do all the hard work on the farm? That lazy Pig does nothing but eat the choice food the farmer gives him.”
Said his brother, “My dear Little Red, envy him not. That little Pig is eating the food of death! He is being fattened for the wedding feast. Eat your straw and grass and be content and live long.”
Not long afterwards the fattened Pig was killed and cooked for the wedding feast.
Then Big Red said, “Did you see, Little Red, what became of the Pig after all his fine feeding?”
“Yes,” said the little brother, “we can go on eating plain food for years, but the poor little Pig ate the food of death and now he is dead. His feed was good while it lasted, but it did not last long.” Don’t envy others for you know not what fate has planned for them.

The Fox and the Goat – Aesop’s Fable
By an unlucky chance a Fox fell into a deep well from which he could not get out. A Goat passed by shortly afterwards, and asked the Fox what he was doing down there. “Oh, have you not heard?” said the Fox; “there is going to be a great drought, so I jumped down here in order to be sure to have water by me. Why don’t you come down too?” The Goat thought well of this advice, and jumped down into the well. But the Fox immediately jumped on her back, and by putting his foot on her long horns managed to jump up to the edge of the well. “Good-bye, friend,” said the Fox, “remember next time, “Never trust the advice of a man in difficulties.”

If feasible, I’ll add a few stories from other parts of the world as we find them in all cultures and many have been passed down through the oral tradition and modified over the years. Two of my blog friends regularly add wonderful stories, rich with wisdom, to their blogs. You may check out their posts: Zendictive shares many from a Zen perspective and I thought you’d enjoy The Owl…  Subhanzein also offers a wonderful series of tales including The Three Gifts… Visit their blogs for more… More below 😉

“I had rather believe all the Fables in the Legend, and the Talmud, and the Alcoran, than that this universal frame is without a Mind.” Francis Bacon

Musings: A Few Fables...

Why The Owl Is Not King Of The Birds ~ Jataka Tales
WHY is it that Crows torment the Owls as they sleep in the daytime? For the same reason that the Owls try to kill the Crows while they sleep at night.
Listen to a tale of long ago and then you will see why.
Once upon a time, the people who lived together when the world was young took a certain man for their king. The four-footed animals also took one of their number for their king. The fish in the ocean chose a king to rule over them. Then the birds gathered together on a great flat rock, crying:
“Among men there is a king, and among the beasts, and the fish have one, too; but we birds have none. We ought to have a king. Let us choose one now.”
And so the birds talked the matter over and at last they all said, “Let us have the Owl for our king.”
No, not all, for one old Crow rose up and said, “For my part, I don’t want the Owl to be our king. Look at him now while you are all crying that you want him for your king. See how sour he looks right now. If that’s the cross look he wears when he is happy, how will he look when he is angry? I, for one, want no such sour-looking king!”
When the Crow flew up into the air crying, “I don’t like it! I don’t like it!” The Owl rose and followed him. From that time on the Crows and the Owls have been enemies. The birds chose a Turtle Dove to be their king, and then flew to their homes.

The Donkey of Guizhou ~ Hao Zhuo
Once upon a time there was no donkey in Guizhou. So someone officious shipped one there, but finding no use for it, he set it loose at the foot of the mountain.
A tiger ran out from the mountains. When he saw this big tall thing, he thought it must be divine. He quickly hid himself in the forest and surveyed it from under cover. Sometimes the tiger ventured a little nearer, but still kept a respectful distance.
One day the tiger came out again. Just then the donkey gave a loud bray. Thinking the donkey was going to eat him, the tiger hurriedly ran away. After a while he sneaked back and watched the donkey carefully. He found that though it had a huge body it seemed to have no special ability.
After a few days the tiger gradually became accustomed to its braying and was no longer so afraid. Sometimes he even came near and circled around the donkey.
Later the tiger became bolder. Once he walked in front of the donkey and purposely bumped it. This made the donkey so angry that it struck out his hind legs and kicked wildly.
Seeing this the tiger was very gleeful, ‘Such a big thing as you can do so little!’ With a roar he pounced on the donkey and ate it up.

Why Wisdom Is Everywhere ~ Nigeria
A long time ago, Anansi the spider, had all the wisdom in the world stored in a huge pot. Nyame, the sky god, had given it to him. Anansi had been instructed to share it with everyone.
Every day, Anansi looked in the pot, and learned different things. The pot was full of wonderful ideas and skills.
Anansi greedily thought, “I will not share the treasure of knowledge with everyone. I will keep all the wisdom for myself.”
So, Anansi decided to hide the wisdom on top of a tall tree. He took some vines and made some strong string and tied it firmly around the pot, leaving one end free. He then tied the loose end around his waist so that the pot hung in front or him.
He then started to climb the tree. He struggled as he climbed because the pot of wisdom kept getting in his way, bumping against his tummy.
Anansi’s son watched in fascination as his father struggled up the tree. Finally, Anansi’s son told him “If you tie the pot to your back, it will be easier to cling to the tree and climb.”
Anansi tied the pot to his back instead, and continued to climb the tree, with much more ease than before.
When Anansi got to the top of the tree, he became angry. “A young one with some common sense knows more than I, and I have the pot of wisdom!”
In anger, Anansi threw down the pot of wisdom. The pot broke, and pieces of wisdom flew in every direction. People found the bits scattered everywhere, and if they wanted to, they could take some home to their families and friends.
That is why to this day, no one person has ALL the world’s wisdom. People everywhere share small pieces of it whenever they exchange ideas.

What are your thoughts? Have you read any of these fables? Do you have any obscure ones to share? Do you have any that were childhood favorites? Do share! Thank you. 😉

*Please bear with me as I continue to catch up on your blogs and commenting… Thank you all for your patience! 🙂

Positive Motivation Tip:
Fables/Stories/Poems/Songs, and other forms of the creative arts, shed light on the moral fabric of a culture even as they entertain and delight us.

PHOTO CREDITS/ATTRIBUTIONS: All photos Ant and Grasshopper, Fox and Goat, Fox and Crane, Thanka of Jataka Tales via Wikipedia and/or via Flickr Fables via various sources: The Turtle Who Couldn’t Stop Talking, The Ant and the Grasshopper, The Ox Who Envied The Pig, The Fox and the Goat, Why The Owl Is Not King Of The Birds, The Donkey of Guizhou ~ Hao Zhuo, Why Wisdom Is Everywhere, via multiple sources all attributed.

Until Next Time…
Ask. Believe. Receive. ©
Elizabeth Obih-Frank
Mirth and Motivation
Positive Kismet

44 Comments leave one →
  1. 03/04/2012 2:51 am

    Love fables! They delight and make me think all at the same time. Thanks for these stories.

    • 04/04/2012 2:17 am

      TY and I do love them too! Sort of an easy way to get the message across when we need to do so without lecturing. TY! 🙂

  2. 03/04/2012 4:01 am

    WONDERFUL post! 🙂 I shall revisit when I have more time.

  3. 03/04/2012 5:40 am

    I thoroughly enjoyed this post! I used to read fables to my children when they were growing up, and have several books of fables from around the world (all in storage until we move into a house!) Thanks for posting. 🙂

    • 04/04/2012 2:59 am

      TY! and same story here… We still have some of the books. Others we gave away or my kids, as they got older, exchanged them for other types of books. 🙂

  4. Bree permalink
    03/04/2012 6:41 am

    Great stories and I love that you tried to add a few new voices. I loe fables and especially because most add an element of humor to the story.
    Life lessons in short prose. I will read up on the Jataka Tales as its new to me.

    • 04/04/2012 3:01 am

      Yes, I enjoy the humor when it appears… The stories always give me something to ponder and a great image to visualize. TY! 🙂

  5. 03/04/2012 6:47 am

    I know a couple but not all.

    • 04/04/2012 3:01 am

      TY! I’m glad you found new ones on the list to read. 🙂

  6. 03/04/2012 10:33 am

    I especially liked the one about the fox and the goat. The message was simple (like all fables) and true! Thanks for sharing. Miriam

    • 04/04/2012 3:02 am

      TY Miriam… Interesting isn’t it…? Fits nicely with that old adage that misery likes company. 😆

  7. 03/04/2012 12:22 pm

    Ah thanks for posting Anansi Elizabeth, you’ve made my day 🙂

    • 04/04/2012 3:03 am

      Oh, TY for your kind feedback Gilly! I love the Anansi stories too. 😉

  8. 03/04/2012 12:52 pm

    Fables are STILL my favorite literature. Next to the Holy Bible, they are what I continue to learn from the most, even into my “senior years.” I am so very grateful for the honor you do the worth of fables in this post.

    • 04/04/2012 3:04 am

      I love both too… I grew up with them and still find meaning and gifts in them… The visuals are great too. 😉

  9. Bree permalink
    03/04/2012 2:02 pm

    Do you have anymore Anansi stories to share? Also the jataka ones too.

    • 04/04/2012 3:04 am

      Oh yes, I will share more down the road… TY for asking! 😉

  10. 03/04/2012 7:22 pm

    I know Aesop’s very well…and have never heard the Jataka Tales! I was a Kindergarten teacher in a former life…and loved to share the Anansi stories. I enjoy being introduced to fables from other cultures. They do contain a lot of wisdom. I enjoyed this post, Elizabeth. Debra

    • 04/04/2012 2:57 am

      TY! I love these stories too… Easy to digest and remember wisdom. The Jataka Tales are a new one for me and I’m grateful to have stumbled into them. Anansi stories always make me smile. 🙂

  11. 03/04/2012 7:58 pm

    I don’t think I’ve ever read “The Ox Who Envied The Pig” before. It’s wonderful! Don’t envy others for you know not what fate has planned for them…

    • 04/04/2012 2:55 am

      TY! It is a pretty strong story and a great reminder that being green with envy is a waste of time… 🙂

  12. 04/04/2012 2:46 am

    Hadn’t read any fables in a very long while, Elizabeth. I enjoyed these and the Chesterton quote. Thx

    • 04/04/2012 2:48 am

      TY Bluebee! Still playing catch up on blogs… Altogether I suspect I’m good with yours. 😉

  13. 04/04/2012 9:09 am

    I’ve always liked Aesop’s Fables!

    • 04/04/2012 10:05 am

      Me too and I love discovering other writers from around the world who’ve written fables. TY! 🙂

  14. 04/04/2012 2:49 pm

    This is a fantastic post. I love how you wove all those stories into it. Amazing work!

    • 06/04/2012 2:07 pm

      TY for your feedback! I love stories and find them informative and humbling.:-)

      • 06/04/2012 2:28 pm

        You are so right!

      • 07/04/2012 12:51 am

        TY for your enthusiasm! I agree with the message of the stories too. 🙂

  15. 04/04/2012 6:46 pm

    I adore fables. I still like to read them.

    • 06/04/2012 2:11 pm

      Same here and I love finding ones I’ve never read before… 🙂

  16. 04/04/2012 7:31 pm

    The geese and the turtle…The moral of the story, some things are best left unsaid…

  17. 04/04/2012 10:58 pm

    My grandmother on my mother’s side used to tell me all these fables when I was little, to illustrate a point. I remember those days. It brought me back to the 70’s.

    • 06/04/2012 2:14 pm

      Yes, and you really need to write about them. You left a beautiful comment once explaining the magic both of you shared in the storytelling and I was touched by it. There’s gold in that relationship and do share it. TY! 🙂

  18. 05/04/2012 3:13 am

    In Africa, fables are a way of keeping society in check through the various pieces of advice inherent in the tales; these nuggets of wisdom enable society learn and acquire norms, morals and values to aid in the day to day living and interaction with members of the society. In Ghana, together with Ananse stories, fables are told to most children to inculcate good values into them. Thanks for sharing this.

    • 06/04/2012 2:16 pm

      Yes and it was an important part of my memories of time spent in my father’s village in Nigeria… So true! TY! 🙂

  19. 05/04/2012 3:54 am

    I’d forgotten The Ant and The Grasshopper. Memories of childhood again……

  20. 08/04/2012 6:39 am

    Love fables! Grew up listening to the Jataka tales!

  21. 09/04/2012 9:06 pm

    Anansi is very popular here — we all grew up on Anansi stories — but I’d never heard that one before. Thanks for sharing, Elizabeth!


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