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The Works of J. W. von Goethe/Volume 9/The Fox and Crane


THE FOX AND CRANE.

Once two persons uninvited
Came to join my dinner table;
For the nonce they lived united,
Fox and crane yclept in fable.

Civil greetings passed between us;
Then I plucked some pigeons tender
For the fox of Jackal-genus,
Adding grapes in full-grown splendour.

Long-necked flasks I put as dishes
For the crane without delaying,
Filled with gold and silver fishes,
In the limpid water playing.

Had ye witnessed Reynard planted
At his flat plate all demurely,
Ye with envy must have granted:
"Ne'er was such a gourmand, surely!"

"While the bird, with circumspection,
On one foot as usual cradled,
From the flask his fish-refection
With his bill and long neck ladled.

One the pigeons praised,—the other,
As they went, extolled the fishes,
Each one scoffing at his brother
For preferring vulgar dishes.

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If thou wouldst preserve thy credit,
When thou askest folks to guzzle
At thy board, take care to spread it
Suited both for bill and muzzle.