'Fable' by Ralph Waldo Emerson

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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 so 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.

Editor 1 Interpretation

Literary Criticism and Interpretation of "Fable" by Ralph Waldo Emerson

Are you in search of a thought-provoking poem that is both inspiring and introspective? Look no further than Ralph Waldo Emerson's "Fable," a beautifully crafted piece of literature that draws us in with its simple language and vivid imagery. In this literary criticism and interpretation, we will explore the deeper meanings behind this classic work of poetry and discuss its relevance to our modern world.

Overview of "Fable"

At its core, "Fable" is a cautionary tale about the dangers of conformity and the importance of individuality. The poem tells the story of a group of animals who are all vying for the opportunity to wear a magnificent coat made of peacock feathers. As the animals begin to conform to the expectations of the group, they lose their unique identities and become indistinguishable from one another. Ultimately, it is the one animal who refuses to conform and chooses to embrace his individuality who is rewarded with the coat.

On the surface, "Fable" is a charming story about animals and their desire for a beautiful coat. But as we delve deeper into the poem, we begin to see the many layers of meaning that Emerson has woven into his work.

Analysis of "Fable"

One of the most striking elements of "Fable" is its use of animal imagery. By using animals to represent human behavior and society, Emerson is able to create a sense of universality in his message. We can all relate to the desire to fit in and be accepted by our peers, just as the animals in the poem do. But at the same time, we can see the danger in losing our individuality and becoming just another member of the herd.

Another important theme in "Fable" is the idea of the peacock feathers themselves. The feathers are a symbol of beauty and status, and the animals are willing to do whatever it takes to obtain them. But in the end, we see that the feathers are actually a trap, luring the animals into conformity and stifling their individuality. This is a powerful commentary on the nature of material possessions and the ways in which they can control us.

The language and imagery in "Fable" are also worth noting. Emerson's use of simple, straightforward language makes the poem accessible to readers of all ages and backgrounds. But at the same time, his vivid descriptions of the animals and their surroundings create a rich and immersive world that draws us in and keeps us engaged.

Interpretation of "Fable"

So what can we take away from "Fable" in our modern world? One interpretation is that the poem is a warning against the dangers of social conformity and the pressure to fit in. In today's society, we are bombarded with messages telling us how to dress, act, and think in order to be accepted. But as Emerson reminds us, true success and happiness can only come from embracing our unique selves and refusing to conform to the expectations of others.

Another interpretation of "Fable" is that it is a commentary on the superficiality of our materialistic culture. We are constantly being told that we need the latest gadgets, fashion, and accessories in order to be happy and successful. But as the animals in the poem learn, these possessions can be empty and meaningless, and can ultimately lead us away from our true selves.

Finally, "Fable" can be seen as a message of hope and encouragement for those who feel like they don't fit in. The poem reminds us that it is okay to be different, and that our individuality is something to be celebrated and cherished. By staying true to ourselves and embracing our unique qualities, we can achieve greatness and find happiness in our lives.


In conclusion, "Fable" is a beautifully written poem with deep and complex themes that are still relevant today. Through his use of animal imagery, simple language, and vivid descriptions, Emerson is able to create a world that draws us in and invites us to reflect on our own lives and society as a whole. Whether you are a student of literature or simply someone looking for inspiration, "Fable" is a work of poetry that is sure to leave a lasting impression.

Editor 2 Analysis and Explanation

Ralph Waldo Emerson's "The Mountain and the Squirrel" is a classic poetry fable that has been enjoyed by readers of all ages for generations. This poem is a perfect example of how a simple story can convey a powerful message that resonates with readers long after they have finished reading it. In this analysis, we will explore the themes and symbolism in "The Mountain and the Squirrel" and how they contribute to the overall message of the poem.

The poem begins with a description of a mountain and a squirrel. The mountain is described as "majestic" and "lofty," while the squirrel is described as "quaint" and "airy." These descriptions immediately set up a contrast between the two characters, with the mountain representing strength and power, and the squirrel representing agility and quickness.

The first stanza of the poem sets up the conflict between the mountain and the squirrel. The mountain boasts about its size and strength, saying that it is "mighty" and "tall." The squirrel, on the other hand, is not impressed by the mountain's size and strength. Instead, the squirrel points out that it can climb trees and run quickly, which are skills that the mountain does not possess.

This conflict between the mountain and the squirrel is a metaphor for the conflict between physical strength and mental agility. The mountain represents physical strength, while the squirrel represents mental agility. The poem suggests that both of these qualities are important, but that they are not equally valuable in all situations.

The second stanza of the poem introduces a third character, a worm. The worm is described as "lowly" and "small," and it is not impressed by either the mountain or the squirrel. Instead, the worm points out that it can burrow underground, which is a skill that neither the mountain nor the squirrel possess.

The introduction of the worm adds another layer to the metaphor of the poem. The worm represents humility and the ability to find value in oneself even when others do not see it. The worm's ability to burrow underground represents the importance of being able to adapt to one's surroundings and find one's own path in life.

The third stanza of the poem brings the conflict between the mountain and the squirrel to a resolution. The squirrel acknowledges that the mountain is strong and powerful, but points out that it is not invincible. The squirrel says that if the mountain were to fall, it would be destroyed, while the squirrel would simply run away and find a new home.

This resolution suggests that mental agility is more valuable than physical strength in certain situations. While the mountain may be strong and powerful, it is also vulnerable to destruction. The squirrel, on the other hand, is able to adapt to changing circumstances and find a new home if necessary.

The final stanza of the poem brings all of the themes and symbolism together. The mountain, squirrel, and worm are all described as being "good" in their own way. The poem suggests that each of these characters has value, and that their differences should be celebrated rather than judged.

The final line of the poem, "So the mountain and the squirrel / Live happily together," is a powerful message of unity and acceptance. The poem suggests that we should embrace our differences and find ways to live together in harmony, rather than judging each other based on our strengths and weaknesses.

In conclusion, "The Mountain and the Squirrel" is a classic poetry fable that uses simple characters and a straightforward plot to convey a powerful message about the value of mental agility, humility, and acceptance. The poem's themes and symbolism are timeless, and its message is just as relevant today as it was when it was first written. Whether you are a child or an adult, this poem is sure to inspire and uplift you with its message of unity and acceptance.

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