The Fox and the Grapes

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The Fox and the Grapes
by Aesop

Caxton's translation (1484)[edit]

Of the foxe and of the raysyns

He is not wyse / that desyreth to haue a thynge whiche he may not haue / As reciteth this fable Of a foxe / whiche loked and beheld the raysyns that grewe vpon an hyghe vyne / the whiche raysyns he moche desyred for to ete them / And whanne he sawe that none he myght gete / he torned his sorowe in to Ioye / and sayd these raysyns ben sowre / and yf I had some I wold not ete them /

And therfore this fable sheweth that he is wyse / whiche fayneth not to desyre that thynge the whiche he may not haue /

L'Estrange's translation (1692)[edit]


There was a Time when a Fox would have ventur’d as far for a Bunch of Grapes as for a Shoulder of Mutton; and it was a Fox of those Days, and that Palate, that stood gaping under a Vine, and licking his Lips at a most delicious Cluster of Grapes that he had spy’d out there; he fetch’d a hundred and a hundred Leaps at it, till at last, when he was as weary as a Dog, and found that there was no Good to be done; Hang ‘em (says he) they are as sour as Crabs; and so away he went, turning off the Disappointment with a Jest.

THE MORAL OF THE TWO FABLES ABOVE. ‘Tis Matter of Skill and Address, when a Man cannot honestly compass what he would be at, to appear easy and indifferent upon all Repulses and Disappointments.

Townsend's translation (1887)[edit]

The Fox and the Grapes

A famished Fox saw some clusters of ripe black grapes hanging from a trellised vine. She resorted to all her tricks to get at them, but wearied herself in vain, for she could not reach them. At last she turned away, hiding her disappointment and saying: "The Grapes are sour, and not ripe as I thought."

Jacobs' translation (1894)[edit]

The Fox and the Grapes

One hot summer's day a Fox was strolling through an orchard till he came to a bunch of Grapes just ripening on a vine which had been trained over a lofty branch. "Just the thing to quench my thirst," quoth he. Drawing back a few paces, he took a run and a jump, and just missed the bunch. Turning round again with a One, Two, Three, he jumped up, but with no greater success. Again and again he tried after the tempting morsel, but at last had to give it up, and walked away with his nose in the air, saying: "I am sure they are sour."

It is easy to despise what you cannot get.