By Dahlia Tera
In these days, when we are living in unfailingly and rightly terrifying speeches and images, I would like to try to speak in lighter, more distracting terms, without however confusing lightness and superficiality….
In my childhood, there was an illustrated book at home, of animals’ fairy tales. How it got home, I don’t know… some foreign friend of my father maybe: French author: La Fontaine.
It had always fascinated me: short stories with a final teaching, animals instead of humans…
Later I studied this author at the University.
Fairy tales with animals, fables are part of all cultures.
In European culture, the first author is AESOP, writer of Greek Antiquity, lived around 500 BC. He staged turtles, hares, ants, crows, foxes, frogs, oxes.…….
Then comes PHAEDRUS in Roman Civilization, around the first century. Fairy tales were not regarded as a serious genre at that time. They just possessed a pedagogical character.
Then, in French literature, to circumvent the then virulent censorship, Jean de LA FONTAINE (1621-1695) resumed the form of fairy tales with animals as protagonists.
Today, as little ‘distraction’ in this context where we also need behavioral advices, I thought I had propose two fables whose teaching morality is so current….
Read for yourself!!
THE LION AND THE RAT
Be kind whenever you can’, should be your creed.
There’s none so small but you his aid may need.
This striking truth a fable now shall prove;
Matter enough is here your faith to move.
A blundering rat burst through the earth,
And fell into the lion’s paws.
The animal of royal birth
Scorned with such blood to stain his claws:
He spared his life, the kindness was repaid;
Who’d think the lion could ever requires his aid?
However, ’twas the lion’s lot,
Leaving the forest, in a net to fall,
Nor could his rage and roaring break the thrall.
The rat ran to his aid, and speedily
Gnawed through a mesh and set him free.
Patience and length of time will still
Much more than force and rage fulfil.
THE DOVE AND THE ANT
Yet lesser animals our moral prove.
Along a limpid stream a sipping dove
Beheld an ant , which , bending over its brink
Had fallen in whilst stooping there to drink.
To reach the shore the ant now vainly tried,
Amidst this dreaded raging ocean tide.
The kind bird promptly threw a blade of grass ,
By which the ant again the shore did pass.
A certain beggar wandered there,
Barefoot and hungry, seeking better fare;
A bow and arrow he had got:
The bird of Venus saw, sought to destroy,
Nay, thought he had her in his pot;
And licked hIs lips for joy.
While he prepared to make the dove his prey,
The ant severely stung his heel.
The fellow turned, for she had made him feel.
The dove, alarmed in time, flew far away,
“Pigeon” said he, at loss of dinner sad
“Are not, I see, so easy to be had.”
What these little tales teach us in the very difficult context in which we all find ourselves?
The value of SOLIDARITY , of MUTUAL AID, whether one is strong and powerful or weak and anonymous;
We are all equal in the face of the virus and we will only win together, doing our duty individually for the community.
So as a lion or as a rat, as a dove or as an ant…… each of us needs the other and UNITY IS SRENGTH.
Small pill of animal wisdom.