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FableVerse fable, as well as prose, is an ancient literary genre that can be found in the works of almost every country and is one of the most enduring forms of folk literature. It is a fictional story that features a myriad of mythical creatures, animals, plants, inanimate objects or forces of nature all bestowed with human qualities –such as the ability to speak and reason – and through such human attributes are able to illustrate and express a simple moral or lesson.  This can be seen reflected in Denny Bradbury’s poem “Hare in the Moonlight” from her new collection “De-versify” where she bestows insight upon an animal :

“.. Hare knows the old ways
Hare knows what we lack

Hare sees all the mystery
Hare keeps it all back..”

There have been numerous verse fabulists over the centuries, such as Marie de France, Jean de la Fontaine, Ignacy Krasicki, Ivan Krylov, Ambrose Bierce and, possibly the most well-known of all, Aesop.   Many of Aesop’s fables are characterised by animals and inanimate objects that speak, solve problems and generally behave in the manner of human beings.

Verse fables use a variety of meter and rhyme patterns and are renowned for telling the story of talking animals that are wise, or whimsical or foolish creatures that happily mimic the faults and foibles of humans.  The moral can usually be found at the end of the story, sometimes explicitly expressed, at other times merely inferred, and verse fables often have a “twist” or a surprise at the end that the reader would not have been expecting.

Unlike fairy tales, verse fables do not generally have the fantastical elements to them that re synonymous with fairy tales and are usually written as a child’s story, conveying a simple message or lesson.  The word fable itself comes from the Latin word ‘fabula’ meaning ‘a story’. Denny Bradbury, in her poem from her new collection “De-versify” entitled “Broken in Time” writes about one particular force of nature – the sea – and refers to the boulders and pebbles as if they have human characteristics:

“..Proud boulders that thought they were ‘it’
Smart pebbles gathered en masse
Thinking safety in numbers all right…”

Over the years, verse fables became a vehicle for conveying simple moral truths, incorporating humour and giving the reader the opportunity to laugh at the mistakes made by humans by demonstrating their behaviour through animals, or forces of nature or, as in Ignacy Krasicki’s “Bread and Sword”, things inanimate:

“..As the bread lay next to the sword, the weapon demurred,
You would certainly show me more respect if you heard
How by night and by day I conscientiously strive
So that you may safely go on keeping men alive.”
“I know”, said the bread, “the shape of your duty’s course
You defend me less often than you take me by force.”