Aesop’s Fables-in-waiting

On Nov. 11, 2014, Warren Clements wrote:

The Nestlings Press list for the spring of 2015 is shaping up nicely. One of the titles will be a collection of Aesop’s fables in verse. To be honest, a couple of them don’t seem to have been written by Aesop. They were added later by people probably trying to cash in on the Aesop cachet. Of course, since we really only have the word of the Greek historian Herodotus that Aesop existed — and that was a century after Aesop lived, first as a slave and then as a freed man — it’s a pretty tenuous cachet anyway. But let’s assume that, as later writers wrote (speculated?), he was a marvellous fable-spinner who spoke truth to power and, as a result, was pitched off a cliff by the Delphians and died. Imagine the moral Aesop might have tacked on to that one. “If you speak truth to power, you’ll pass your last hour.”

While we scramble to get the spring list in shape, here’s a sample fable that I’ve newly adapted into verse. It will look even better with the illustration (being arranged even as I write).

The Boy Who Cried Wolf


The son of a shepherd was guarding his sheep,

And grew just a tiny bit bored.

In order to stop himself falling asleep,

He climbed to a hilltop and roared:

“A wolf is attacking the sheep! Come and help!

He’s vicious, and I am afraid!”

The townspeople, hearing the shepherd boy’s yelp,

Came rushing to offer him aid.

He laughed as they scrambled, and said, “It’s a lie.

I just felt like pulling a prank.”

They grumbled and cursed him for sounding his cry,

And said his behaviour was rank.

A day or two later, the shepherd boy saw

A genuine wolf on the prowl,

With glistening teeth and a sheen on each claw.

The lad gave a terrified howl.

“A wolf! There’s a wolf! Come and give him what-for!”

But nobody paid any mind.

They figured the boy was dissembling once more,

To falsehoods and mischief inclined.

Once bitten, twice shy, they would not be deceived.

The wolf cut the flock clean in two.

The moral: A liar will not be believed,

Not even if he should speak true.