Monday, May 3, 2010

Bishop Daniel’s Fables, VI

The Farmer and the Ewe (I. A. Krylov, “Krest’janin i ovtsa”):
Against his ewe a farmer brought an accusation.
The charge was criminal: besides a satisfaction
She’d have to make, she’d also face
A penalty, not speaking of disgrace.
The fox was judge. Not taking any chances
He had instructed both, according to the form
To tell him all, and orderly inform
Him on the evidence and all the circumstances.
The farmer spoke and this to him did say:
“Upon my oath, on such and such a day
Two of my chickens died as victims of a theft:
Some feathers and some bones is all that had been left.
The ewe had been with them, where animals are kept.”
To this the ewe replied: “That night I soundly slept.
But I am innocent and can rely
Upon my neighbors all to swear and testify
To my good character. Besides, I never eat
No kind of meat.”
Below is given, with precision,
The court’s remarkable decision:
“Ewe’s alibi, in the opinion of this court,
Is inadmissible as evidence; in short,
All criminals have alibis in store.
But there is evidence, and that uncontroverted,
That on the mentioned night she never once deserted
The scene of murder. And therefore,
She having a good change, we find it vain
To hope that the defendant could abstain
And fail to eat the birds: they taste to good,
They are such wonderful, delicious food!
Now, she must die for this her sin;
But as to costs, we deem it meet
That we be given all the meat,
And let the plaintiff keep the skin.”

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