In this fable – written by Ralph Waldo Emerson, the American essayist, poet, and leader of the Transcendentalist movement – a squirrel and a mountain have an argument!

Mountain Fable


Do the Preparation task first. Then go to Text and read the poem or story (you can also listen to the audio while you read). Next go to Task and do the activity.

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Mountain fable

The mountain and the squirrel
Had a quarrel;
And the former called the latter "Little Prig."
Bun replied,
"You are doubtless very big;
But all sorts of things and weather
Must be taken in together,
To make up a year
And a sphere.
And I think it no disgrace
To occupy my place.
If I'm not as large as you,
You are not so small as I,
And not half so spry.
I'll not deny you make
A very pretty squirrel track;
Talents differ; all is well and wisely put;
If I cannot carry forests on my back,
Neither can you crack a nut."

by Ralph Waldo Emerson

Task 1

Decide if the statements about the poem are true or false.






I studied Emerson at the University and many of his thoughts and analysis about United States' society inspired paragraphs of my thesis. Though, the irony and freshness of this poem above make me smile and think, at the same time. Probably because I was used to read his essays about philosophy, specially about Self Reliance, that I had completely forgot he would compose poetry too.
Anyway, I find this poem like a real fable, two metaphorical characters having arguments with deep reflection underneath. The message I get is that it is too obvious to judge others from our point of view, taking in mind only their weak points, and thence feeling like 'god'. Unless we consider how hard their condition might be, we cannot understand which are their points in acting and thinking according their own principles. Wearing someone else's shoes may show us unconventional skills even in someone we judge insignificant.

I stand up in front of you
What a monument you are too,
With those amazing tops of air...
Then I start climbing slowly
Though your tracks are not so fair.
Anyway, I stand still and lonely
No friends to give me shelter.
But I want to know you better,
All your trees and rocky chairs.
Tell me fables of my mistakes
I should thank you with no disgrace.
Forcing also your steel brakes,
'Cause I know your empty lakes
Could be filled up with my slow steps.
So, let me reach out my next day
And I'll reveal what you can't say.

You are so high and beautiful mountains
Like intouchable
But at top we see how wonderful
The World is
Oh beautiful mountains
Allow people to know
About your wondrous.

Hello Lisa,

Thanks very much for sharing your inspiring poem!

All the best,
The LearnEnglish Team

Hi.! I am new to this. I find this site very helpful and I'm glad I subscribe.
And I'm looking forward to learn a lot here. I would also like to contribute or maybe share my poems even I'm not that good.

People need someone
That can be their anyone,
But when people say nothing
They really mean something.

I am not a poet
but I will try
to write something
and make it right

Hi David,

Thanks for your contribution - it's great!

Best wishes,

The LearnEnglish Team

Mountains you are too big
are you hiding anything?
You give me the creeps
I feel so tiny
I prefer my flat country
Where I can see
till the infinity

Hi ipjmac,
Thanks very much for sharing your poem - it's great!
Best wishes,
The LearnEnglish Team

It is meaningful to learn lots of good things by which we will do wisely and behave well. Never think that others can not do something like things you have done.