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Group Three

21 The tortoise

22 A thin reed survives

23 The lion and the mouse

24 The goat and the lion

25 The mother lion

26 The donkey's shadow

27 The dove and the ant

28 The greedy boy's hand

29 The greedy woman

30 The tricky donkey

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22. A Thin Reed Survives Where a Great Oak Dies

An oak, torn up by a typhoon,
Went floating down a river soon--
        Where reeds grew lithe and tall.
Astonished, Oak called to a reed,
You must be powerful indeed
        To live through such a squall!

Oh, no, said Reed, It isn't power
That helps us hour after hour
        To live through wind and blast,
You foolish oak, you fought the wind!
Were you less stiff and disciplined,
        You'd not fall down so fast.

        From centuries of wind and chance
        We've learned to bend and yield and dance,
            Pretending not to strive,
        So-- diplomatic to the core--
        We lose some fights, but win the war,
             And in the end survive.

MORAL: It's better to bend the rules a little when they begin to stifle life.

from the book Prayers and Fables and the forthcoming book Aesop's Best: 80 Fables in Verse by William Cleary

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