Posts Tagged ‘mouse’

Actually, I just wanted to post another classic with this famous fable by Aesop but incidentally – I’m also keeping with the idea of posting a tale from a nation in the football world cup. As Greece played today, winning against Nigeria as well.

The Fox and the Grapes
by Aesop

One evening in autumn, a mouse and a sparrow sat beneath a grape-vine chatting about this and that. Suddenly, the sparrow chirped to his friend: “Hide yourself, the fox is coming!” And he himself quickly flew up into the vine’s foliage.

trying to get to those grapes

The fox sneaked closer and closer to the grape-vine, his eyes longingly on the fat, blue, overripe grapes. Carefully he peeked into all direction. Then he pounced, put his fore-paws against the vine’s stem, stretched his body and tried to catch a few grapes with his mouth. Alas, they were hanging too high.

Somewhat angered, he tried his luck again. This time he took a giant leap but again he only caught empty air.

He tried a third time and he tried as hard as he could, jumping with all his might. Almost beside himself with greed, he snapped after the juicy grapes and stretched and stretched until fell down on his back. Not a single leaf had moved.

The sparrow who had silently observed the fox’s attempts until now, could no longer contain himself and chirped cheekily: “Mister fox, you have your sights set too high!”

The mouse peeked out from her hiding place and piped up: “Do not bother, you will never get the grapes.” And like an arrow she shot back into her mouse-hole.

The fox bit his teeth, turned up his nose and said loftily: “They are simply not ripe enough yet. I don’t like my grapes sour.” And with his head held high he pranced back into the forest.

Copyright for this fable’s translation: TaleTellerin
Copyright for image used: The Fox and the Grapes, from ”The Æsop for Children”,


Re-reading this fable, I’m wondering about hens and eggs. Because has this one become a classic because it successfully and entertainingly embodies the lesson about over-ambition and pride which is at the heart of Western societies. Or has this critical stance on ambition and pride become central because it has been advocated in central socio-cultural texts such as these? Huh.

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Let’s get back to Martin Luther today.

The Frog and the Mouse
by Martin Luther

A mouse would have liked to cross the water, alas she could not do it. So she asked the frog for help. The frog was a jokester and the mouse’s enemy and so he said to the mouse: “Tie your foot to my foot and I will swim across the water pulling you with me.”

But as they were in the water, the frog took a dive and wanted to drown the mouse. And while the mouse is struggling and fighting, a harrier comes a-flying, snatches the mouse with the frog still tied to her leg and eats them both.

This fable shows that the world is filled by evil and betrayal. But in the end, betrayal beats her master.

Copyright for the fable’s translation: TaleTellerin


The jump from past tense to present tense is actually in the original text and it’s very interesting. Obviously, we know this from novels and stuff as a technique to quicken the pace so the reader is pulled in and left breathless. It’s interesting to see it in such a short text. Not sure it’s quite working.

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illustration showing Luther as Devil's Bagpipe

The tradition of fables used for didactic purposes did not start with Lessing and Co. Martin Luther knew all about it as well.

The Town Mouse and the Field Mouse
(by Martin Luther)

A town mouse was taking a walk when it met a field mouse. The latter was enjoying acorns, grains and nuts and whatever else she could find. But the town mouse said: “Why would you want to live in poverty like this! Come with me and I will secure enough delicious foods for both of us.”

The field mouse moved with her into a wonderfully pretty house in which the town mouse lived. And they went into pantries which were bursting with meat, bacon, sausages, bread, cheese and so much more. The town mouse said: “Now eat and enjoy! Such foods I have every day in abundance.”

But then the waiter came and rumbled with the key at the door. The mice started and ran off. The town mouse soon found her hole but the field mouse did not know where to go, she ran along the walls and believed her life over. (more…)

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Today I bring you a Mongolian legend/animal tale. Again this obviously came to Mongolia via India. In this case, via buddhism. But read for yourselves!

Why the Camel Rolls in the Ashes

sore loser?

A long time ago the names of the animals representing the twelve years of the Mongolian calendar, that is the buddhist calendar, were being chosen and eleven names were called at once. But then there was the question which animal should begin the circle of the twelve years. The camel and the mouse both proposed their names and quarreled about who should be included in the circle. Not wanting to offend either of them, Buddha said: “Settle this between yourselves!”

And so the two animals made a bet to decide who would have the honour to start the calendar: Whoever saw the first rays of the rising sun the next morning, would start the twelve years. (more…)

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Kafka, approx. 5 years old

tiny Kafka with neither mouse nor cat

Something a little different to start off the week. Instead of the usual folktale, we’ll have a Little Fable by Franz Kafka. I am not one of those obsessive Kafka-fans (I’m rather taken with his ancestor-in-spirit Kleist) but ever since I first came upon this tiny little gem of literature, I’ve loved it dearly. So let me share with you the experience of puzzled perplexity that comes from reading:

Little Fable
(by Franz Kafka)

“Alas,” said the mouse. “The world is growing closer every day. In the beginning it was so wide, that I was afraid. So I went on further and was happy when, in the distance, I saw walls to the left and to the right. But these walls race towards each other so quickly that I am already in the last room and there in the corner is the trap, into which I run.” – “You only need to change directions,” said the cat and ate her.

Copyright for translation: TaleTellerin
Copyright for image: Wiki Commons


And because I by no means claim to be an experienced translator of modern literature, have the original German text as well. So you can compare/skip mine. 😉

Kleine Fabel
(von Franz Kafka)

»Ach«, sagte die Maus, »,die Welt wird enger mit jedem Tag. Zuerst war sie so breit, daß ich Angst hatte, ich lief weiter und war glücklich, daß ich endlich rechts und links in der Ferne Mauern sah, aber diese langen Mauern eilen so schnell aufeinander zu, daß ich schon im letzten Zimmer bin, und dort im Winkel steht die Falle, in die ich laufe.« – »Du mußt nur die Laufrichtung ändern«, sagte die Katze und fraß sie.

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Since I personally love the Mongolian animal tales dearly. For their lack of bloodiness and crass black-and-white-painting, for their lovely simple yet poetic language and their promotion of wit and cleverness. So, here is another one.

The story of a lame magpie, a cunning fox and an even more cunning mouse is not only a typical example for the genre but also one of the most beautiful ones. In my humble opinion.

The Lame Magpie Who Had Seven Green Eggs

Once upon a time there lived a lame magpie who had seven green eggs. The family lived in peace and quiet until one day, a fox came along and said: “Give me one of your seven eggs! I want to eat it!” (more…)

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