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Fable or History:
Fable or history
translated by Geoffrey Barto
Possessed of royal appetite, and feeling rather thin,
A monkey one day dressed himself in a tiger's skin
The tiger had been nasty; the monkey was atrocious,
Wearing on his back the right to be ferocious.
He set himself to gnashing teeth and let loose with this cry:
Conqueror of the jungle, the night's dark king am I!
As a bandit of the forest, in the bushes he lurked,
And snatched away and murdered and other horrors worked.
Laid waste the forest, slit the throats of those passing through,
And with the skin that covered him did all it used to do.
He lived within a cave, knee-deep in butchery,
And all who saw the skin believed the tiger was he.
He would cry out, would bring forth a truly terrible roar:
Behold within my cave the bones of victims before.
Before me all draw back and shudder, everyone doth flee,
All tremble - I am tiger! Look! and worship me!
The animals were all awe-struck and fled with great alarm,
A lion-tamer came and grabbed him with his arm,
And ripped off the tiger's skin like a flimsy piece of tissue,
Laid bare this "conqueror" and said, "You're just a monkey, you!"
Copyright Geoffrey Barto, 2002
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