'The Owl and the Birds'


Arthur Rackham (1867-1939): 'The Owl and the Birds',
illustration for Aesop's Fables, 1912

The Owl is a very wise bird; and once, long ago, when the first 
oak sprouted in the forest, she called all the other Birds together and said 
to them, 'You see this tiny tree? If you take my advice, you will destroy it now 
when it is small: for when it grows big, the mistletoe will appear upon it, from which 
birdlime will be prepared for your destruction." Again, when the first flax was sown, 
she said to them, "Go and eat up that seed, for it is the seed of the flax, out of which 
men will one day make nets to catch you." Once more, when she saw the first archer, 
she warned the Birds that he was their deadly enemy, who would wing his arrows 
with their own feathers and shoot them. But they took no notice of what she 
said: in fact, they thought she was rather mad, and laughed at her. When, 
however, everything turned out as she had foretold, they changed 
their minds and conceived a great respect for her wisdom. 
Hence, whenever she appears, the Birds attend upon 
her in the hope of hearing something that may be 
for their good. She, however, gives them 
advice no longer, but sits moping and 
pondering on the folly of her kind.




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