The Bittern and the Hoopoe

This entry is part 19 of 208 in the series Grimm's Fairy Tales

Where do you like best to feed your flocks, said a man to an old cowherd. Here, sir, where the grass is neither too rich nor too poor, or else it is no use. Why not, asked the man. Do you hear that melancholy cry from the meadow there, answered the cowherd, that is the bittern.

He was once a cowherd, and so was the hoopoe also, I will tell you the story. The bittern pastured his flocks on rich green meadows where flowers grew in abundance, so his cows became wild and unmanageable. The hoopoe drove his cattle on to high barren hills, where the wind plays with the sand, and his cows became thin, and got no strength.

When it was evening, and the cowherds wanted to drive their cows homewards, the bittern could not get his together again. They were too high-spirited, and ran away from him. He called, come, cows, come, but it was of no use. They took no notice of his calling.

The hoopoe, however, could not even get his cows up on their legs, so faint and weak had they become. Up, up, up, screamed he, but it was in vain, they remained lying on the sand.

That is the way when one has no moderation. And to this day, though they have no flocks now to watch, the bittern cries, come, cows, come, and the hoopoe, up, up, up.

The Bittern and the Hoopoe

Grimm Brothers

Grimms' Fairy Tales, originally known as the Children's and Household Tales, is a collection of fairy tales by the Grimm brothers or "Brothers Grimm", Jakob and Wilhelm, first published on 20 December 1812. The first edition contained 86 stories, and by the seventh edition in 1857, had 211 unique fairy tales.

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