The Works of J. W. von Goethe/Volume 9/The Dilettante and the Critic


A boy a pigeon once possessed,
In gay and brilliant plumage dressed;
He loved it well, and in boyish sport
Its food to take from his mouth he taught,
And in his pigeon he took such pride,
That his joy to others he needs must confide.

An aged fox near the place chanced to dwell,
Talkative, clever, and learned as well;
The boy his society used to prize,
Hearing with pleasure his wonders and lies.

"My friend, the fox, my pigeon must see!"
He ran, and stretched 'mongst the bushes lay he.
"Look, fox, at my pigeon, my pigeon so fair!
His equal I'm sure thou hast looked upon ne'er!"

"Let's see!"—The boy gave it.—"'Tis really not bad;
And yet, it is far from complete, I must add.
The feathers, for instance, how short! 'Tis absurd!"
So he set to work straightway to pluck the poor bird.

The boy screamed.—"Thou must now stronger pinions supply,
Or else 'twill be ugly, unable to fly."
Soon 'twas stripped—oh, the villain!—and torn all to pieces.
The boy was heartbroken,—and so my tale ceases.


He who sees in the boy shadowed forth his own case,
Should be on his guard 'gainst the fox's whole race.