Sunday, September 12, 2010

Verse fable

The fable is an ancient, near-ubiquitous literary genre, often (though not invariably) set in verse. It is a succinct story that features anthropomorphized animals, plants, inanimate objects, or forces of nature that illustrate a moral lesson (a "moral"). Verse fables have used a variety of meter and rhyme patterns; Ignacy Krasicki, for example, in his Fables and Parables, used 13-syllable lines in rhyming couplets.

Notable verse fabulists have included Aesop (mid-6th century BCE), Vishnu Sarma (ca. 200 BCE), Phaedrus (15 BCE–50 CE), Marie de France (12th century), Robert Henryson (fl.1470-1500), Biernat of Lublin (1465?–after 1529), Jean de La Fontaine (1621–95), Ignacy Krasicki (1735–1801), Félix María de Samaniego (1745–1801), Tomás de Iriarte (1750–1791), Ivan Krylov (1769–1844) and Ambrose Bierce (1842–1914). All of Aesop's translators and successors owe a debt to that semi-legendary fabulist.

An example of a verse fable is Krasicki's "The Lamb and the Wolves":

Aggression ever finds cause if sufficiently pressed.
Two wolves on the prowl had trapped a lamb in the forest
And were about to pounce. Quoth the lamb: "What right have you?"
"You're toothsome, weak, in the wood." — The wolves dined sans ado.

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